Many Americans have a growing interest in escaping urban
sprawl and the hectic pace of big city life for the clean air
and wide open spaces of rural counties. But which county
offers the simpler life so many Americans long for?
Progressive Farmer magazine just ranked their choice for the
best rural counties in America.
Rural lake lot in the beautiful Ozark
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Kent County, Maryland led the list in the magazines annual
edition of the "Best Places to Live in Rural America"
rankings. Each year, the rankings name the top 10 rural
counties in the nation, according to several quality-of-life
indicators and statistics.
The top 10 rural counties are ranked based on rural
quality-of-life indicators such as great schools, access to
health care, low crime and affordable farmland. In 2008, the
editors of The Progressive Farmer added extra criteria by
focusing on counties that have been able to protect farmland,
control growth pressure from urban and suburban areas, and
strike a good balance between agriculture, manufacturing and
modern conveniences. For instance, No. 1 Kent County has
doggedly maintained its rural heritage by preserving farmland,
says Senior Editor Jamie Cole. "They have determined there
that the best use of their land is for farming. The level of
commitment to that idea is extraordinary.
The Top 10 List of "Best Places to Live in Rural America"
1. Kent County, Md., was selected as the best place to
live in rural America this year. The county of 20,000
residents was chosen in part because of its commitment to
preserving the county's rural roots, despite being within
driving distance to Washington, D.C., Baltimore and
Philadelphia. A testament to this long-term planning is the
stately farmhouses-many dating pre-Civil War-that dot the
countryside and the average local who can trace his or her
ancestry to the Revolutionary War. Many local farmers have
sold development rights of their land to the state to keep
sprawl at bay.
2. Ellis County, Kan. -- Located between Kansas City
and Denver, this county is known for its frontier spirit, with
agriculture and oil sustaining its economy. Like many
agricultural areas, Ellis County saw hard
times in the 1980s, but has since revitalized the area by
forming a coalition to ensure economic vitality.
3. Livingston County, Mo. -- In the heart of this
top-ranked county is Chillicothe, an inventive and industrious
town known as the "Home of Sliced Bread." This can-do attitude
extends past the town's city limits and can be seen through a
regional marketing plan that attracted employers and residents
to the county through services that make the area more livable
as a whole.
4. Obion County, Tenn. -- This sprawling rural county
is a place where agriculture and industry go hand in hand,
forming a strong economy despite little or no population
growth. The county also features great schools,
great farmland and legendary wildlife populations.
5. Columbia County, Penn. -- Located near New York, New
Jersey and Philadelphia, Columbia County is certainly facing
development pressures. But conservation easements and
agricultural security areas are helping
preserve farming for future generations.
6. Wexford County, Mich. -- Set amid rolling meadows
and thick forests, this county and its habitants are
adaptable, migrating their industry from primarily lumber and
small farms to Christmas tree production and tourism. It's
this adaptability that has helped Wexford County flourish over
7. Fayette County, Texas -- Fayette County is prime
cattle country, ranking as the top in the state for beef cow
numbers and herds. Winters are mild, and blankets of
wildflowers cover the fields and hills in the spring.
8. Coffee County, Ala. -- If overcoming challenges is a
criterion for our list this year, this top 10 county has
certainly done that. In fact, a statue of a woman holding a
boll weevil sits squarely downtown as a tribute
to the insect that forced Coffee County to become economically
diversified. The town is also recovering and rebuilding from a
destructive tornado that hit a year ago, but will keep on
thriving, thanks to a tight-knit community.
9. Gilchrist County, Fla. -- Urban development is fast
approaching this scenic and wildlife-rich county, which shares
a boundary with the county housing the University of Florida.
However, Gilchrist County is trying to
protect its rural areas with acre requirements for home sites.
10. La Plata County, Co. -- Gorgeous scenery, abundant
wildlife, a booming economy and friendly, welcoming locals
would put this county on anyone's top 10 list. It made our
list in part due to its alliance for
educating locals on how to buy locally grown food and its work
on zoning laws.
This year, the magazine is debuting the "Reader's Choice
Award," where any of our nation's 2,000-plus rural counties
can solicit the most votes and win this reader-driven
distinction, which will be announced in August 2008. Voting on
http://www.progressivefarmer.com opens Feb. 1 and runs
through May 31. Web visitors can vote once a day and will be
able to see real-time results.
See More Maryland Real Estate
See More Kansas Real Estate
See More Missouri Real Estate
See More Tennessee Real Estate
See More Pennsylvania Real Estate
Wexford County, Michigan
See More Michigan Real Estate
See More Texas Real Estate
Coffee County, Alabama
See More Alabama Real Estate
See More Florida Real Estate
La Plata County,
See More Colorado Real Estate