With its beautiful shoreline, world-famous diners, and abundance of fresh produce, New Jersey is the kind of state we all kind of wished we lived in. Or not. Competing for attention with all the great attractions are sky-high taxes (and equally pricey homes), insane traffic, landfill sites galore, and far, far too many people crammed into its tiny borders.
Fortunately, look closely enough and you’ll still be able to find a handful of places that allow you to experience all the benefits of the Garden State with none of the negatives. To help you out, we’ve rounded up 20 of the very best places to live in New Jersey… although while we promise you none come with a landfill in sight, we can’t do much about the taxes, unfortunately.
If you’re considering a move to Camden County, you may want to cast your sights on Greentree. Close enough to Philadelphia to benefit from the abundance of jobs and amenities on offer, but far enough away to profit from a low crime rate and a safe, family-friendly vibe, it straddles the divide between small-town living and big city lifestyle beautifully.
For $419,400, you can grab yourself a nice chunk of prime real estate in Heathcote, one of the very nicest suburbs in the whole of New Jersey. Competing for your attention among the great schools, thriving local economy, and an abundant range of amenities is a low crime rate and a diverse, friendly community. If that $419,400 sounds too much of a stretch, $1,737 will get you a very decent rental property.
Want to live somewhere where the year on year crime is down by 31% (giving you less than a 1 in 137% chance of becoming a victim)? Somewhere where you might need to fork out $682,100 for a property, but where you can expect a median income of $151,875 in return? If you do, you may want to cast your eyes in the direction of Allendale. It may be small, but it's packed to the seams with treats, including a must-visit bird sanctuary, a stunning lake, open spaces by the boatload, masses of parks, fantastic schools, and a welcoming, engaged community.
17. Glen Ridge
If you’re wondering what to do with that spare $623,700 in your bank account, you may want to consider investing it in the quiet little haven of Glen Ridge. 7668 people already have, and thanks to its easily accessible public transportation, great combination of local businesses and chain stores, good schools, extensive range of community outreach and engagement opportunities, and proximity to the kind of jobs that support a staggering median household income of $196,821, we very much doubt they regret it.
Clean, walkable streets, a low crime rate, a distinctly above-average median household income of $163,026, a good handful of first-class public schools, a cute downtown, close enough to NYC to offer plenty by way of nightlife and big-city attractions, a highly educated citizenship (41% of Chatham’s 9,003 population has a bachelor’s degree, while another 34% have a masters)… if all of this sounds your kind of thing, then be prepared to spend around $730,700 on a property to buy, or an equally significant $1690 on a property to rent.
15. New Providence
Small but perfectly formed, New Providence has that rare thing: a community that actually cares. “New Providence is a rare gem of a town - really hearkens back to the time when communities really know (and want to know) and care about each other,” says one resident on Niche, “Newcomers feel welcome and most importantly safe. Though it is an affluent town, it does not have the air or reputation of clichés.
The community is diverse and fosters a feeling of inclusiveness. You truly get the feeling of being home in this town, even if you did not grow up there. It's a small town that has a lot of character and amenities with the convenience of top-rated schools, shopping, gym, restaurants, and a great community and recreational facilities. Great for commuters with two direct train stations to NYC and less than 20 mins drive to Morristown.” With a comment that effusive, it would be rude not to give this lovely little suburb a spot on our list.
The little suburb of Ho-Ho-Kus is proof that sometimes, the best things really do come in small packages. It may only have 4,162 residents, but its extensive list of attributes would please a population more than double the size. The crime rate is exceptionally low, while the median income is almost triple the US national average at $176,518. The schools are among the best in the state, while the family orientated community, great restaurants, and superb range of local businesses and shops give the town a buzzy, vibrant vibe that can’t fail to please.
13. Monmouth Junction
According to Livability, Monmouth Junction’s median home price of $373,500 is 102% more than the national average… which may sound extreme, but is more than accounted for by an average household income that sits 123% above the national average. Want more facts and figures as to why this superb little suburb deserves a place on our round-up? The consider a crime rate that’s 73% lower than the national average (giving residents a lower than 1 in 138 chance of becoming a victim of either a property or violent crime), an unemployment rate that’s 59% lower than the national average, and a high school graduation rate that’s 13% higher than the national average (with test scores coming in at 32% higher than average).
For the very reasonable price of $353,500, you can grab yourself a home in delightful Springdale. Close enough to Philadelphia to offer all the delights of the big city, but far enough away to offer peaceful, clean streets and a small-town vibe, the suburb is a hotspot for New Jersey residents looking to raise their families somewhere kids can still play safely on the streets. Thanks to its proximity to Philly, residents have easy access to a plentiful supply of jobs, resulting in a very robust median income of $129,550. Completing the picture are some excellent schools, a diverse, well-educated population, and a great lineup of local amenities and services.
11. Plainsboro Center
Quiet, affluent Plainsboro Center may not have much in the way of a buzzing nightlife, but what it does have instead is supremely safe, walkable streets, first-rate schools, a booming agricultural industry, superb natural beauty, a non-existent crime rate, and house prices that, while still above the national average, are some of the most affordable for this region of New Jersey.
Historic Haddonfield regularly ranks as one of the very best places to live in Camden County, and with just cause. While the average home will set you back $492,500, what you get in return (a low crime rate, a job market healthy enough to support a median income of $138,920, excellent schools, a great atmosphere, and a bountiful supply of boutiques and restaurants) is more than worth the price.
9. Highland Park
Small, quaint Highland Park may not seem the cheapest of places to live when compared to the national average, but at $360,000 for the average home, it still manages to be among the most affordable on our list. Crime is low, and there’s plenty of amenities and recreational facilities on offer. The real star attraction, however, is the community, which is richly diverse, welcoming, and fully committed to making their little corner of the world the best it possibly can be.
8. Short Hills
The picture-perfect little town of Short Hills gets an A+ all the way. Its welcoming community of 13,092 residents put the close in close-knit, its schools are among the best in the state, and its crime rate is among the lowest. The range of amenities on offer is excellent, while its proximity to the financial and business districts of NYC puts the median household income at a whopping $250,001. As you’d expect of somewhere so desirable, property isn’t cheap: expect to pay a massive $1,316,600 for a decently sized home, or an equally hefty $1,857 for a rental.
“Westfield, New Jersey is a place like that of a television dream town. Crime is extremely low, so low that you can leave your door unlocked for many days and nights, without worrying about break-ins. Noise at night is rare, neighbors are very friendly, schools are very close by, and jobs pay great,”… so says one resident of Westfield on Niche and we’re enough in agreement to offer the friendly superb a 7th place spot on our roundup.
Ranked by Niche as #1 in Best Neighborhoods to Live in Jersey City, Waterfront offers a safe, welcoming home to over 30 thousand residents. House prices certainly aren’t cheap (expect to pay around $520,059 for a decently sized family home, or $2473 for a rental), but the range of attractions on offer more than justify the price. Crime is negligible, the job market grants a median income of $142,714, schools are excellent, and there’s no shortage of amenities and services on offer. All in all, a very sound addition to our list.
Full of Victorian homes, turn of the century farmhouses and abundant natural beauty, pretty little Ridgewood is, as The Crazy Tourist notes, a postcard come to life. With its low crime rate, excellent job market, a plentiful supply of cute ’n’ quirky shops and cafes, tight-knit community, and abundance of top-rated schools, there’s every reason in the book for it to claim such a high ranking among New Jersey’s most desirable places to live.
4. Princeton Meadows
$367,600 for a family home in Princeton Meadows may be well above the national average, but considering what you get for the price, it’s something few would quibble over. The local economy is doing well enough for itself to support a distinctly above average median income of $95,041, while the crime, unemployment and poverty levels are all too low to warrant a mention. The public-school system is excellent, while the range of amenities and services is faultless. Throw is some well-maintained greenspaces and clean, walkable streets, and you’re looking at one very desirable town indeed.
Fun, charming, diverse Princeton is home to over 30 thousand residents – and very happy ones at that. As you’d expect of a town that’s home to one of the most famous Ivy League institutions in the world, the schools are exemplary. The amenities aren’t exactly lacking either, with plenty of shops, restaurants, night spots, and leisure facilities. Crime is extremely low, as are unemployment and poverty rates, while the median income of $125,506 is more than twice the national average. Property prices are high at $809,200 for a family home, but considering the very desirable quality of life on offer, it’s a price worth paying.
2. Upper Montclair
Granted, house prices in Upper Montclair are on the higher end of the spectrum (by which we mean $726,200 for a single-family home), but with excellent schools; a superb range of restaurants, local grocery stores and boutiques; clean, walkable streets; a diverse, welcoming community; a year-round schedule of events (including the excellent Montclair Film Festival); and the kind of economy that supports a $196,285 median household income, you’re unlikely to hear too many complaints.
1. Princeton Junction
With only 2,427 residents, Princeton Junction is in no danger of bringing home the cash prize for New Jersey’s biggest town, but thanks to its abundant array of great qualities, it’s certainly front of the line when it comes to the most desirable town in the state. Peaceful, but with enough amenities and recreational facilities to keep all but the most hard-core thrill seekers entertained, it’s an ideal place to raise kids, especially considering the plentiful supply of first rate schools. Housing prices are, as expected, high (expect to pay no less than $517,600 for a family home) but the median income is more than sufficient at $173,661 to support the high cost of living.
You can also read:
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn