The United States Department of Agriculture in the 1990s came up with a metric for deciding which counties were — essentially — the nicest. It’s called the natural amenities scale and it looks like this in map form:
As you can see, Maine doesn’t fare so well — which you might find odd considering it’s known for its natural beauty.
The Washington Post recently put together a great interactive map that allows you to hover over each county and see how it rates.
Based on that analysis, Southern California (overrated) and southern Florida (not that great) rate higher than any area of Maine.
It turns out that sunshine is a big deal for people. That’s part of the reason why these places rated so high.
Washington County is the best place in Maine by this measure, ranking 342th out of 3,111 counties.
- how warm winter is
- how much winter sun a place gets
- how temperate its summer is
- whether it has low humidity in the summer
- variation in topography
- the area covered by water
It chose those in part because they “reflect environmental qualities most people prefer.”
The feds and I disagree about what makes a place livable. I require good fishing, bitter winters with which to fuel my moral superiority and the ability to get away from people by driving only 10 minutes.
What do you look for?