Special Report

25 Best Counties to Live In

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25. Middlesex County, Massachusetts
> Bachelor’s degree attainment rate: 54.1%
> Poverty rate: 8.2%
> Life expectancy: 81.6 years
> Median household income: $92,878

Middlesex County is located in eastern Massachusetts, covering Cambridge and extending north to the New Hampshire border. Middlesex is the only county in Massachusetts and the broader New England region to rank among the 25 best counties to live in. One of the wealthiest counties in the U.S., Middlesex has a median household income of $92,878 — about $35,000 more than the national median. High incomes are bolstered by a healthy economy. Just 2.4% of the county labor force was unemployed in October, well below the comparable 3.7% national unemployment rate.

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24. Santa Clara County, California
> Bachelor’s degree attainment rate: 50.0%
> Poverty rate: 8.6%
> Life expectancy: 83.1 years
> Median household income: $106,761

Santa Clara County in California contains San Jose and much of the Silicon Valley area, a tech innovation hub. Companies like Google, Apple, and Hewlett Packard are all headquartered in the county, providing thousands of high-paying jobs to residents. In Santa Clara County, 22.4% of households earn at least $200,000 annually. Santa Clara also ranks as one of the best places to live because its residents tend to live a long time. Only a handful of other counties have a longer life expectancy than Santa Clara, at 83.1 years.

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23. San Mateo County, California
> Bachelor’s degree attainment rate: 48.5%
> Poverty rate: 7.3%
> Life expectancy: 83.1 years
> Median household income: $105,667

San Mateo is one of several counties in the San Francisco Bay region to rank among the best places to live. Over half of all households in San Mateo County earn over $105,000 a year and 22.5% of households earn over $200,000 a year — more than three times the share nationwide.

Wealthier Americans can afford a greater range of healthy options related to diet and lifestyle and, partially as a result, they often live longer, healthier lives. In San Mateo, the average life expectancy is 83.1 years — four years longer than the national average.

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22. Summit County, Utah
> Bachelor’s degree attainment rate: 53.5%
> Poverty rate: 7.5%
> Life expectancy: 82.4 years
> Median household income: $94,952

Summit is the only county in Utah to rank among the best places to live. Situated just east of Salt Lake City, Summit County extends into the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and is home to Park City, an upscale resort community.

As in other counties on this list, Summit’s population is well-educated and high income. Over half of all adults in Summit County have a bachelor’s degree or higher — the largest share in Utah — and the typical household earns about $95,000 year, also the most of any county in the state.

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21. Delaware County, Ohio
> Bachelor’s degree attainment rate: 53.8%
> Poverty rate: 5.1%
> Life expectancy: 81.4 years
> Median household income: $100,229

Delaware County is the only county in Ohio — and one of only a few in the broader Midwestern United States — to rank among the best places to live. Delaware is the only one of Ohio’s 88 counties where over a half of all households earn at least $100,000 a year. Delaware County is located just north of Columbus, providing area residents with access to jobs in and around the state capital. Partially as a result, just 3.3% of workers in the county are unemployed, well below the 3.7% national unemployment rate.