When it comes to scenery, Kansas and Missouri have some beautiful places. But good climate? Forget it.
At least that’s the verdict of a federal “natural amenities index” for rating 3,111 counties by “a measure of the physical characteristics of a county area that enhance the location as a place to live.”
The index, says the Department of Agriculture, combines “measures of climate, topography and water area that reflect environmental qualities most people prefer,” including “mild, sunny winters, temperate summers, low humidity, topographic variation and access to a body of water.”
By that index, Ventura County, Calif., is the most desirable place to live in America. And coastal areas and other regions with mild winters dominate the top rankings. (Fans of Hawaii and Alaska should note they aren’t included because some data weren’t available.)
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But Johnson County? It’s 2,468. (Even though, as I write this, it’s 55 degrees — in August — and it’s a beautiful little walk to Lake Lenexa from where I sit. Maybe I should have the USDA folks over for breakfast.) And Jackson County comes in at 2,370.
Wyandotte County, for some reason, fares much better, at 1,572, as do Clay County, at 1,337, and Platte County, at 1,354. Maybe it’s their higher river bluffs to land mass ratio.
Even the Ozarks region gets little respect, with Ozark County, Mo., topping out at 570th.
Must be the weather.
Want to check out your home county or favorite vacation spot? The Washington Post’s Wonk Blog has an interactive map.