The Best Counties to Live Methodology

The Best Counties to Live ranking provides a comprehensive assessment of the overall livability of an area at the county level. This grade takes into account several key factors of a location, including the quality of local schools, housing trends, employment statistics, and access to amenities in an attempt to measure the overall quality of an area. Learn where our data comes from.

Factors Considered

Higher Education RatePercentage of residents who have received a bachelor’s degree or higher.U.S. Census15.0%
Cost of Living GradeBased on the consumer price index and access to affordable housing. Niche12.5%
Housing GradeBased on home values, property taxes, housing costs, local schools, and more.Niche12.5%
Public Schools GradeBased on the average Niche K-12 Overall Grade for every public school serving the area, where each school is weighted by the number of students it serves.Niche10.0%
Diversity GradeBased on ethnic, generational and economic diversity. Niche10.0%
Composite Overall ScoreNiche survey responses scored on a 1-5 scale regarding the overall experience of the county.Self-reported by Niche users5.0%
Family GradeBased on school quality, safety, and family-friendly living.Niche5.0%
Health & Fitness GradeBased on community health statistics and access to healthcare.Niche5.0%
Jobs GradeBased on employment rates, job and economic growth, and cost of living.Niche5.0%
Nightlife GradeBased on access to bars, restaurants, theaters, and other attractions. Niche5.0%
Outdoor Activities GradeBased on weather, air quality, and access to parks, and other recreational opportunities.Niche5.0%
Shortest Commute GradeBased on typical commute times and methods.Niche5.0%
Weather GradeBased on the number of sunny days, precipitation, and average temperatures in an area.Niche5.0%


The same methodology is used to produce the Overall Niche Grade for each ranked county as well as additional places. Statistics are primarily obtained from the U.S. Census and represent the most recent data available.

For more details about how we calculate our rankings, click here.