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Is Fairfax County One of the Happiest Places in America?

by Karen Goff June 1, 2016 at 10:30 am 6 Comments

Run with Santa 5K 2014/Courtesy PR RacesA new study says Fairfax County and its western neighbor Loudoun are some of the happiest places in America.

In its second annual survey, the financial website Smartasset.com looked at nearly 1,000 counties with populations of 50,000 or more. Smartasset then looked at eight factors, some positive and some negative.

The positive factors were each county’s marriage rate, income ratio (the ratio of median income to cost of living), life expectancy and physical activity rate (the percentage of the population getting adequate physical activity each week). The negative factors were each county’s poverty rate, unemployment rate, divorce rate and personal bankruptcy rate.

Not included were factors that residents who live here experience: high home costs, long commutes and an overcrowded public school system.

Here is what Smartasset found:

No. 1 — Loudoun County takes the top spot for the second year in a row. The unemployment rate and poverty rate are both under 4 percent. Smartasset says Loudoun’s poverty rate was the lowest of any county in the study. Also, Loudoun’s income ratio is over 2.5, which means the median income is more than twice the cost of living.

Loudoun came in with a happiness rating of 1oo, partly due to a 3.2 percent unemployment rate, a 3.8 percent poverty rate and a life expectancy of 82.6 percent, the study showed.

No. 2 — Fairfax County, which is “one of just three counties in our study to have a life expectancy over 83 years,” says Smartasset.

The median income in Fairfax County is high, at $100,584. That’s almost twice the national median income. That’s impressive since the county’s population of 1.1 million is greater than that of eight states and the District of Columbia. Still, the poverty rate is 6 percent.

Fairfax’s unemployment rate is also 3.2 percent, according to Smartasset’s numbers. The county’s physical activity rate scores above 52. Overall, Fairfax received a mark of 99.96.

See the full ratings scale and the top 25 counties on Smartasset.com.

Rounding out the top 10:

3. Carver County, Minn.

4. Chester County, Pa.

5. Hunterdon County, NJ

6. Morris County, NJ

7. Howard County, Md.

8. Douglas County, Colo.

9. Somerset County, NJ

10. Ozaukee County, Wis.

Photo: Fairfax County has one of the highest physical activity rates, which contributes to the happiness scale, says Smartasset.

  • Greg

    Added to bucket list: visit Ozaukee County, WI.

  • EliteinReston

    Being elite is what makes us happy. Look at the happy people in the photo. They are celebrating getting the new paid parking app. Now they’re skipping to a restaurant where they’ll pay a meals tax. Then they’re rushing home to take their barking dogs to the park across from Longwood Grove. Our women are strong in Fairfax County, our men are good-looking and our children are above-average.

  • Duh!

    Seems as if you live in one of the two wealthiest counties in the country, you somehow end up happier than most. Shocking . . . absolutely SHOCKING!

  • Nyla J.

    Ridiculous. If the study looked at factors like time spent with family and friends, vacation time, time spent working, horrendousness of traffic, housing to income ratio, grumpiness and/or self righteousness of neighbors, time rushing around, etc. I don’t think we’d be seen as “happy” here in Fairfax County.

  • Fairfax Watcher

    There’s NO happiness in FAIRFAX if you are a home owner and you understand that your County Supervisors are doe-doe birds that tax you to pay for their MANY welfare programs!! The last time the BOS had leadership was way back when Gerry was the Chairman – now we have nothing to brag about. Happiness? Good Luck Fairfax!!

  • Stormy_Fireriver

    Nobody polled me. I can’t wait to get out of this city and state. The schools have gone down hill, my neighbors let their dog crap on my patio, my condo (which I rent) has had roaches for years, my neighbors leave their cigarette butts and trash on the front stoop. Yeah it’s great here. I guess they only polled people that live in McLean.


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