Special Report

25 Best Counties to Live In

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15. Somerset County, New Jersey
> Bachelor’s degree attainment rate: 53.1%
> Poverty rate: 4.8%
> Life expectancy: 82.0 years
> Median household income: $106,046

Somerset County, New Jersey, ranks among the wealthiest places in the country, as it is one of fewer than two dozen American counties in which the typical household earns at least $100,000. More than one in five households in Somerset earn at least $200,000 per year. High incomes are likely bolstered by the fact that more than half of adult residents have at least a bachelor’s degree, qualifying them for highly skilled, well-paying jobs. The county is less than 60 miles from New York City, and many Somerset residents likely commute to jobs in the city.

Somerset County also has a life expectancy — 82.0 years — that is nearly three years longer than the nationwide average.

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14. Montgomery County, Maryland
> Bachelor’s degree attainment rate: 58.3%
> Poverty rate: 7.0%
> Life expectancy: 81.5 years
> Median household income: $103,178

Home to the federal government and the countless jobs supported by it, parts of Washington D.C. and the surrounding area are among the wealthiest areas in the country. Montgomery County, Maryland, is one of them. Montgomery County is home to several D.C. commuter towns, including Bethesda and Rockville, and the headquarters of several major corporations, including Lockheed Martin, the largest defense contractor in the world.

Montgomery has one of the wealthiest and best educated populations of any U.S. county. Most households in the area earn over $100,000 a year and 58.3% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, nearly double the 30.9% of adults nationwide.

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13. Eagle County, Colorado
> Bachelor’s degree attainment rate: 45.1%
> Poverty rate: 7.7%
> Life expectancy: 85.9 years
> Median household income: $83,803

Eagle County contains the city of Vail, and is near Aspen and Breckenridge, all well-known skiing destinations. Residents of Eagle County, Colorado, tend to live longer than those in almost every other part of the country. The county’s life expectancy of nearly 86 years is about seven years longer than the nationwide average.

A long life expectancy in Eagle County may be closely tied to high incomes as wealthier Americans have access to a greater range of healthy options related to diet and lifestyle. The typical household in Eagle County earns $83,803 a year, about $26,000 more than the typical American household.

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12. Hamilton County, Indiana
> Bachelor’s degree attainment rate: 57.5%
> Poverty rate: 5.0%
> Life expectancy: 81.8 years
> Median household income: $90,582

Like many of the best counties to live in, Hamilton County, Indiana, is located just outside of a major metropolitan area. The county’s close proximity to Indianapolis, the largest city in the state, provides residents with easy access to job opportunities. This likely contributes, at least in part, to the fact that just 2.9% of Hamilton County residents are unemployed, well below the 3.7% national unemployment rate.

A strong job market has also helped reduce financial hardship in Hamilton County as just 5.0% of the population live below the poverty line, nearly a third of the 14.7% national rate. Hamilton is the only county in Indiana to rank among the best places to live in.

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11. Teton County, Wyoming
> Bachelor’s degree attainment rate: 54.1%
> Poverty rate: 6.8%
> Life expectancy: 83.5 years
> Median household income: $80,049

Teton County residents are some of the least likely to face extreme poverty. Just 1.9% of households in the area live on less than $10,000 annually — one of the smallest shares in the country, and well below the 6.7% share nationwide. Financial security is closely tied to educational attainment, and with a bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 54.1%, Teton County is one of the best educated places in America.

With fewer than 23,000 residents, Teton County is one of the least populous places on this list. It is largely comprised of federal land, like Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.