Loudoun ranks first and Fairfax third in list of top U.S. counties

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An online real estate brokerage lists Loudoun first and Fairfax third in its list of “10 Best Counties in America.”

The rankings by San Mateo, Calif.-based Movoto Real Estate were based on criteria such as:

• Unemployment rate (the lower the better)
• Median household income (the higher the better)
• Median rent (the higher the better, to indicate area’s desirability)
• Median home price (the higher the better, to indicate desirability)
• Percent of families below the poverty line (the lower the better)
• High school graduation rate (the higher the better)

Using data from the 2010 U.S. Census, the company started with a list of 640 counties that had information in all these categories. Counties that did not have data in each area were omitted.

“Then, we ranked each county in each category from one to 640, with scores closer to one being better,” Movoto said. “Finally, we averaged each county’s rankings into one Big Deal Score, and the county with the lowest Big Deal Score number was our winner.”

In Loudoun’s case, the company said, “This is one of those instances where the winner was a pretty obvious one, just by the rankings.”

The county’s median household income ranked was No. 1 in the survey while its median rent also topped the list.

Loudoun had the fourth-lowest unemployment rate, 4.85 percent, and only 2.51 percent of its families had incomes below the poverty line.

Finally, Loudoun had a high school graduation rate of more than 93 percent.

In ranking Fairfax County third, Movoto said “scores for this very large Virginia county (1,086,743 people) were pretty good across the board.”

Its standout rankings included the second-highest median household income ($103,010), the third-highest median rent, 12th in terms of fewest number of families below the poverty line, and a low unemployment rate.

Also, it didn’t hurt that the county is home to 10 Fortune 500 companies.

The complete top 10 counties list includes:

1. Loudoun County
2. Douglas County, Colo.
3. Fairfax County
4. Chester County, Pa.
5. Somerset County, N.J.
6. Morris County, N.J.
7. Washington County, Minn.
8. Montgomery County, Md.
9. Frederick County, Md.
10. Rockingham County, N.H.

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