Summit County in Colorado and Billings County in North Dakota earned top spots when it comes to the average lifespan of its residents.

Less than an hour away from the world-class ski resort of Vail, the small town of Breckenridge, Colorado, is known for its mountain views and its residents’ long lifespans.

The surrounding Summit County can feel like an oasis in a country where many struggle to access not just time outdoors but even basic access to health services. Summit’s residents, many of them retired, spend ample time skiing and hiking outdoors, eat more local and vegetable-rich foods and have access to ample health and wellness resources.

“I moved here for the mountains and the outdoor life, not for the life expectancy,” one local resident once told CBS.

On Monday, released a study of life expectancies in different cities across the U.S. — after Summit County, Billings County in North Dakota and Marin County in California earned top spots when it comes to the average lifespan of its residents.

Overall, the counties that scored highest had several things in common: good weather, access to healthy food and ample medical services and the ability to lead an active lifestyle.

Nationally, the average life expectancy is 79 years old — but in counties like Summit and Billings, residents live to an average of 86.8 years old and 84 years old, respectively. (Conversely, some parts of the country can see a life expectancy as low as 68 due to a poor environment and socioeconomic factors such as poverty and bad access to health care services.)

“If you want to live a long time, the best thing you can do is move to a place where people are verifiably living the longest,” Dan Buettner, founder of wellness initiative Blue Zones and regular researcher of life expectancies around the world, told

Throughout his research, Buettner found that coastal areas such as Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Icaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California, all saw very high global life expectancies.

These are the six counties in which Americans live the longest:

1. Summit County, Colorado

  • Median life span: 86.8 years

2. Billings County, North Dakota 

  • Median life span: 84 years

3. Marin County, California

  • Median life span: 83.8 years

4. Fairfax County, Virginia 

  • Median life span: 83.7 years

5. Aleutians East Borough, Alaska

  • Median life span: 83.7 years

6. Presidio County, Texas

  • Median life span: 83.7 years

Email Veronika Bondarenko

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