Special Report

The Best Counties to Live In

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40. Bergen County, New Jersey
> Poverty rate: 6.7%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 49.3%
> Life expectancy at birth: 83.2 years
> Total population: 930,390
> Largest place in county: Hackensack

Many of the best counties to live in are in close proximity to a major city. Bergen County, New Jersey, located across the Hudson River from New York City, is one of them. Located in perhaps the most concentrated job market in the United States, job opportunities are widespread in and around Bergen County, and partially as a result the local poverty rate of 6.7% is half the comparable 13.4% national rate.

Bergen County also has a well-educated population and a high average life expectancy. An estimated 49.3% of adults in the area have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to just 32.1% of adults nationwide. Additionally, life expectancy at birth in the area is 83.2 years, four years longer than the national average.

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39. Oconee County, Georgia
> Poverty rate: 6.2%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 52.3%
> Life expectancy at birth: 81.4 years
> Total population: 38,132
> Largest place in county: Watkinsville

Oconee County, Georgia, is located in the northern part of the state, just south of Athens. At 81.4 years, life expectancy in the county is nearly the highest in the state and over two years longer than the national average. Across broad populations, higher educational attainment is linked to healthier lifestyles and better health outcomes. In Oconee County, 52.3% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, well above the 32.1% share of adults nationwide.

High quality of life in Oconee County is partially the result of relative financial security. Just 6.2% of local residents live below the poverty line, less than half the 13.4% of all Americans who do.

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38. Chester County, Pennsylvania
> Poverty rate: 6.4%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 53.0%
> Life expectancy at birth: 81.4 years
> Total population: 519,560
> Largest place in county: West Chester

Chester County, located in southeastern Pennsylvania along the state borders of Delaware and Maryland, is one of the best places to live in the United States. Over half the local adult population have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and at 81.4 years, life expectancy at birth in the county is over two years higher than the national average. Chester County residents are also less than half as likely to live below the poverty line than the typical American.

Many of the best counties to live in are in close proximity to a major urban area — and most of Chester County is well within commuting distance of Philadelphia.

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37. Dallas County, Iowa
> Poverty rate: 5.2%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 50.4%
> Life expectancy at birth: 82.1 years
> Total population: 87,099
> Largest place in county: Waukee

Dallas County, Iowa, located just west of Des Moines, is the only county in the state to rank among the top 50 U.S. counties to live in. Over half of the local adult population have a bachelor’s degree or higher, well above the 32.1% share of adults nationwide who do. Incomes tend to rise with educational attainment, and the likelihood of financial insecurity tends to fall. In Dallas County, just 5.2% of the population live below the poverty line, less than half the comparable 13.4% national poverty rate.

Like many of the best places to live in the country, Dallas County is growing rapidly. In the last five years alone, the local population has expanded by over 20%.

36. Ouray County, Colorado
> Poverty rate: 7.2%
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 47.8%
> Life expectancy at birth: 85.2 years
> Total population: 4,796
> Largest place in county: Ridgway

Ouray County, located in southwestern Colorado, is one of several counties in the state to rank among the top 50 places to live in the United States. Ouray County’s high ranking is due in large part to health outcomes in the area. Life expectancy at birth in the county is 85.2 years — six years longer than the national average.

Healthier lifestyles are more common among adults with higher educational attainment, and in Ouray County, 47.8% of the 25 and older population have a bachelor’s degree or higher, well above the 32.1% national share. Adults in Ouray County are far less likely to smoke or be obese and more likely to exercise regularly than the typical American adult.

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