Special Report

Best County to Live in Every State

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Kansas: Johnson County
> 5-yr. population change: +6.0% (state: +1.8%)
> Poverty rate: 5.6% (state: 12.8%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 54.6% (state: 32.3%)
> Life expectancy: 81.7 years (state: 78.7 years)

Johnson County, Kansas, is located just outside of Kansas City, one of the largest cities in the Midwest. The richest county in the state, Johnson County’s median household income of $81,121 is about $25,600 greater than what the typical Kansas household earns. As is often the case in affluent communities, residents of Johnson County are generally healthy. Life expectancy at birth in the county is nearly 82 years, the highest of any county in the state and well above the 79 year life expectancy nationwide.

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Kentucky: Oldham County
> 5-yr. population change: +7.1% (state: +1.9%)
> Poverty rate: 5.6% (state: 18.3%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 40.4% (state: 23.2%)
> Life expectancy: 79.6 years (state: 76.3 years)

With a median annual household income of $46,535, more than $10,000 below the national median, Kentucky is one of the poorest states in the country. Not all parts of the state are poor, however. In Oldham County, located along the Ohio River just outside of Louisville, more than one in every 10 households earn at least $200,000 a year, and at least half of all households earn $92,000 or more a year.

Not only the wealthiest, Oldham County is also the healthiest county in Kentucky. The county’s average life expectancy at birth is nearly 80 years — more than three years longer than it is across the state.

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Louisiana: St. Tammany Parish
> 5-yr. population change: +6.4% (state: +3.0%)
> Poverty rate: 10.8% (state: 19.6%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 32.5% (state: 23.4%)
> Life expectancy: 77.6 years (state: 75.8 years)

St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana is located directly across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. Serious financial hardship is far less common in the parish than it is in much of the rest of the state as just 10.8% of residents live below the poverty line, nearly half the 19.6% state poverty rate.

Louisiana as a whole ranks among the states with the lowest life expectancy. Even in St. Tammany Parish, one of the healthiest regions in the state, life expectancy is 77.6 years, about a year and a half below the national average.

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Maine: Cumberland County
> 5-yr. population change: +2.5% (state: +0.1%)
> Poverty rate: 10.7% (state: 12.9%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 45.0% (state: 30.3%)
> Life expectancy: 80.4 years (state: 79.3 years)

Cumberland County is by far the most educated county in Maine. Of all county adults, 45% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, at least 10 percentage points above any other county in the state.

Population growth in Maine has been stagnant in recent years, but Cumberland County, located in southwestern Maine, is one of only a few counties in the state to report population growth. With the city of Portland serving as the county seat, the number of people living in Cumberland County climbed by 2.5% over the last five years, the most of any of the state’s 16 counties.

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Maryland: Howard County
> 5-yr. population change: +8.3% (state: +3.6%)
> Poverty rate: 5.2% (state: 9.7%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 61.2% (state: 39.0%)
> Life expectancy: 83.0 years (state: 79.2 years)

Largely situated in between Baltimore and Washington D.C., Howard County residents live within commuting distance of two major cities. Partially as a result, the county’s 2.5% unemployment rate is the lowest of any county or county equivalent in the state and among the lowest in the country.

Due in part to the concentration of government contractors in the area, including some of America’s biggest defense contractors, many jobs in the Washington D.C. region pay high salaries. In Howard County, the poverty rate is far lower than average, and the typical household earns over $115,000 a year, more than in all but two other counties nationwide.

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