Special Report

25 Best Counties to Live In

Source: SWKrullImaging / Getty Images

10. Summit County, Colorado
> Bachelor’s degree attainment rate: 47.8%
> Poverty rate: 10.3%
> Life expectancy: 86.8 years
> Median household income: $73,538

Summit County, Colorado, which is west of Denver and largely located in the White River National Forest, has one of the healthiest populations anywhere in the United States. Life expectancy at birth in Summit County is about 87 years, nearly eight years longer than the national average and the highest life expectancy of any U.S. county.

A relatively wealthy area, Summit County is home to several upscale ski resorts, including Copper Mountain and Breckenridge.

Source: mnx / Getty Images

9. Williamson County, Tennessee
> Bachelor’s degree attainment rate: 58.1%
> Poverty rate: 4.6%
> Life expectancy: 81.9 years
> Median household income: $103,543

Williamson County, located in central Tennessee, is the only county in the state that ranks among the best places to live in the country. The county, which is just south of Nashville, is one of the wealthiest in the nation, with a median household income of $103,543. It is also one of the best educated places in the country, with a 58.1% bachelor’s degree attainment rate .

Williamson County has many positive attributes, including a strong job market and close proximity to a major metro area, which is likely why it is one of the fastest growing parts of the country. The county’s population has grown 15.2% over the past five years, nearly four times the comparable 3.8% national rate.

Source: JGkatz / Wikimedia Commons

8. Marin County, California
> Bachelor’s degree attainment rate: 57.5%
> Poverty rate: 8.1%
> Life expectancy: 83.8 years
> Median household income: $104,703

Marin County is located across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. County residents are among the most likely to be very wealthy. Nearly a quarter of Marin County households earn $200,000 a year or more. That’s nearly four times higher than the comparable national share. Additionally, Marin County’s poverty rate of 8.1% is well below the 14.6% national rate.

As is often the case in wealthy areas, Marin County residents tend to be relatively healthy. Average life expectancy in the county is 83.8 years, about five years longer than the national average .

Source: Karol Olson / Wikimedia Commons

7. Howard County, Maryland
> Bachelor’s degree attainment rate: 61.2%
> Poverty rate: 5.2%
> Life expectancy: 83.0 years
> Median household income: $115,576

Howard County, Maryland, is one of the wealthiest parts of the country, with the typical household earning more than $115,000 per year. Residents are also among the least likely to face poverty, as just 5.2% of them live below the poverty line. Nationwide, 14.6% of Americans live in poverty.

High incomes are partially attributable to high educational attainment. Howard is one of just seven counties in which at least 60% of adults have a four-year college degree. This means that residents are more likely to be qualified for high-paying careers. The county is commuting distance to both Washington, D.C. and Baltimore and most working residents do commute to jobs outside of Howard County.

Source: JacobH / Getty Images

6. Fairfax County, Virginia
> Bachelor’s degree attainment rate: 60.7%
> Poverty rate: 6.1%
> Life expectancy: 83.7 years
> Median household income: $117,515

Across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., Fairfax County provides easy access to high-paying jobs in and around the nation’s capital. The area’s median household income of $117,515 is nearly the highest in the country, and more than double the U.S. median of $57,652. Fairfax County has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, at just 2.3%. Income and health are closely linked, as people with higher incomes can afford a greater range of healthy options related to diet and lifestyle. As one of the wealthiest places in the country, Fairfax County residents tend to live longer, on average, than Americans in most other parts of the country. Life expectancy in the county stands at 83.7-years, compared to 79 years nationwide.