Falls Church, Arlington Rank Among Healthiest U.S. Communities
Northern Virginia had another strong showing in this year's U.S. News rankings, with the City of Falls Church claiming the No. 2 spot nationwide.
Arlington County claimed the No. 13 slot and Fairfax County came in at No. 17 in the 2022 study, which rated more than 3,000 U.S. counties and municipalities using 89 metrics that are indicators of health and well-being.
Weighing in with an overall score of 98, The Little City (population of 14,617) was the only community nationwide to receive a perfect score of 100 in both population health (a category that factors in access to health care, healthy behaviors, health conditions and mental health) and education. Falls Church earned a sub-score of 98 for economic stability, as measured by the unemployment rate, median household income and poverty rate; and a 97 for infrastructure, including broadband access, walkability, transit access and commute times.
Falls Church City has maintained a strong showing in the annual rankings ever since it claimed the No. 1 spot in 2018, the study’s inaugural year. The city held steady at No. 3 in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
“The City is proud to once again be recognized as one of the healthiest communities in the nation,” Falls Church Mayor P. David Tarter said in a release. “We strive to improve the health, fitness and quality of life of our residents through a walkable, bikeable city with excellent recreational facilities, a popular farmers market and world class schools. We send our congratulations—and sodas, chips and other junk food—to Los Alamos, this year’s winner.”
Arlington County, with a population of 236,842, earned an overall score of 87 in this year’s rankings, receiving high marks for its population health (97), economic strength (93) and public safety (91).
Housing, however, was a weak point for both locales. On the measure of housing affordability as an indicator of community vitality, Falls Church’s score dropped to 43 and Arlington earned a 50.
In related health news, Arlington this week was named among the nation’s Top 5 Walk-Friendly Platinum Communities—joining rank with the notably larger metropolises of New York City, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco—by Walk Friendly Communities, an initiative of the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center. Those rankings made particular note of the county’s success with transit-oriented planning and public outreach.
This designation, “highlights Arlington’s ongoing commitment to increasing walkability throughout our neighborhoods,” County Board Chair Katie Cristol said in a release. “We are committed, through many infrastructure projects and countywide initiatives, to continuing to make walking a viable, enjoyable and safe way for both residents and visitors to get around Arlington.”
Arlington has 527 miles of sidewalks, more than 50 miles of paved, multi-use trails, and 14.5 miles of hiking/natural trails, according to a county announcement about the award. Arlington’s multimodal Master Transportation Plan prioritizes pedestrian access to public transit, and the county’s WalkArlington program offers resources to encourage foot travel as a sustainable, healthy way to commute around and explore Arlington.