Columbia-Pacific counties in top 5% nationwide as ‘nice places to live’

Pacific and Clatsop counties — linked by the Astoria-Megler Bridge — are ranked in the top 5 percent nationwide in terms of scenery and other attributes making them pleasant places to live.

A recent story in the Washington Post ranked Clatsop County 126th and Pacific County 141st out of 3,111 mainland counties in the U.S. in terms of physical characteristics or “natural amenities” making them nice places to live.

Ventura County, Calif., was ranked first in the nation, based on a federal index that combines “six measures of climate, topography, and water area that reflect environmental qualities most people prefer.” Red Lake County, Minn., was rated last.

Our two counties at the mouth of the Columbia ranked very high in terms of temperate summers, topographical variation and water area. Our unsurprising weak point was the amount of winter sun we receive.

High rankings have economic benefits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which released the original report on which rankings were based, found these measurements “drive rural population change.”

The states with the most top-rated counties are California, Colorado and Arizona. Nearly all counties bordering the Pacific Ocean are highly rated. Grays Harbor County in Washington is lowest, but even it comes in at 203rd in the U.S.

In Oregon, the highest-rated county overall is Douglas, at 39th. In Washington, Clallam County at the north end of the Olympia Peninsula is highest-rated, at 45th.

In Oregon, the lowest-rated county is Grant, at 1,116th. In Washington, the lowest is Adams County, at 2,296th.

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