2017 Best Counties to Live Methodology

The 2017 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, crime rates, 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

Factor Description Source Weight
Higher Education Rate Percentage of residents who have received a bachelor’s degree or higher. U.S. Census 15.0%
Cost of Living Grade Based on the consumer price index and access to affordable housing. Niche 10.0%
Housing Grade Based on home values, property taxes, housing costs, local schools, and more. Niche 10.0%
Public Schools Grade Based 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. Niche 10.0%
Diversity Grade Based on ethnic, generational and economic diversity. Niche 7.5%
Shortest Commute Grade Based on typical commute times and methods. Niche 7.5%
Composite Overall Score Niche survey responses scored on a 1-5 scale regarding the overall experience of the county. Self-reported by Niche users 5.0%
Crime & Safety Grade Based on violent and property crime rates. Niche 5.0%
Family Grade Based on school quality, safety, and family-friendly living. Niche 5.0%
Health & Fitness Grade Based on community health statistics and access to healthcare. Niche 5.0%
Jobs Grade Based on employment rates, job and economic growth, and cost of living. Niche 5.0%
Nightlife Grade Based on access to bars, restaurants, theaters, and other attractions. Niche 5.0%
Outdoor Activities Grade Based on weather, air quality, and access to parks, and other recreational opportunities. Niche 5.0%
Weather Grade Based on number of sunny days, precipitation, and average temperatures in an area. Niche 5.0%

This ranking assesses 2,774 counties in the U.S. 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.