U.S. GDP has grown steadily since the end of the Great Recession, and GDP per capita stands at $62,590, a record high. By these benchmarks, the United States is in a period of historic prosperity.
As with any single economic measure, however, this data falls short of painting a complete picture. To better capture prosperity at an individual level in a given area, the United Nations Development Program uses the Human Development Index, or HDI. The HDI is based on three core concepts: public health, education, and standard of living.
To identify the best counties to live in every state, 24/7 Wall St. constructed an index of three measures inspired by the HDI: poverty, the percentage of adults who have at least a bachelor’s degree, and average life expectancy at birth.
Only counties with populations of at least 10,000 were considered. County equivalents like Census areas, parishes, and independent cities were all included in our analysis. Data on life expectancy is from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent population health research center at the University of Washington. We also considered April 2019 unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Unlike the worst counties to live in every state, nearly all of the counties on this list have higher than average educational attainment rates, lower than average poverty rates, and longer than average life expectancy at birth. Most also contain a major city or are in close proximity to one. Cities that counties on this list are within commuting distance of include Atlanta, Boston, Kansas City, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.
As with most desirable places to live, many of the counties on this list are prohibitively expensive for most Americans. In fact, well over half of the counties on this list also have the most expensive housing markets in the state.