Special Report

25 Best Counties to Live In


To identify the best counties in which to live, 24/7 Wall St. created an index composed of three socioeconomic measures — the poverty rate, the percentage of adults who have at least a bachelor’s degree, and life expectancy at birth — and ranked counties based on the index. The selection of these three measures was inspired by the United Nations’ Human Development Index.

Poverty, median household income, and bachelor attainment rates came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and are five-year averages from 2013 to 2017. Population data and the share of workers 16 and over commuting to work outside of their home county also came from the ACS.

Life expectancies at birth are from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a health research center affiliated with the University of Washington, and are for 2014.

Unadjusted unemployment rates for July 2019 are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data on the share of adults who smoke, the share of adults who are obese, the share of adults who do not exercise regularly, and the share of residents with access to locations for physical activity came from the 2019 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program. All data are for the most recent period available.

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