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The 20 Best Places to Live in the Northeast

Bar Harbor, ME

The Northeast is the most economically developed, densely populated, and diverse region in the US. Bordered by Canada to the North, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Southern United States to the south, and the Midwestern United States to the west, it’s as vast as it is varied.

Covering a plethora of states (including New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, and Connecticut), it attracts millions of tourists every year, some of whom end up making it their permanent base.

If you’re interested in becoming one of them, take some inspiration from our rundown of the 20 very best places to live in the Northeast.

Cape May, NJ

20. Cape May, NJ

Cape May may not be the cheapest town in New Jersey, but it’s unquestionably one of the best. If you can afford the $570,900 median home price, you can expect a very decent standard of living.

The crime rate is reassuringly low, with below-average levels of both violent and property crime. The community is diverse, friendly and welcoming, while the outstanding beauty of the surrounds (not to mention the plethora of pick-your-own farms, breweries, and wineries, and the usual glut of shops, restaurants, and local businesses) ensures plenty by way of recreational fun.

Clinton. NJ

19. Clinton. NJ

The New Jersey Tourism Board describes Clinton as looking like it was “made with a painter’s brush”, a description few of the 2,690 residents of this idyllic New Jersey town would disagree with.

Home to some of the state’s most historic and charming sites, not to mention numerous cultural venues (including the 10-acre Red Mill Museum Village and Hunterdon Art Museum), there’s no shortage of things to see, do, and experience.

Crime is too low to warrant much of a mention, while the average median income of $103,125 probably deserves a lot more space than we’re equipped to provide.

18. Woodstock, VT

With a population of just 2,959, Woodstock certainly isn’t in danger of winning the prize for biggest town in Vermont. It is, on the other hand, in contention for the best.

Tourists flood into the area throughout the year, attracted to the abundance of outdoor pursuits on offer (including hiking, fishing, and winter sports activities) and the charming, quaint feel of the town. Locals, meanwhile, are probably more than happy with the low crime rate and friendly, welcoming community on offer year-round.

Lee, NH

17. Lee, NH

Drive less than an hour from Boston and you’ll find the rural town of Lee.

Despite its easy commuting distance into the big city (something that no doubt helps explains the $108,462 average household wage), it’s the kind of peaceful, safe community that most of us wouldn’t hesitate at forking out the $323,900 median home price for (especially when you take into account the stunning scenery that surrounds it on all sides, not to mention its close proximity to the Pawtuckaway State Park).

Cambridgeport, MA

16. Cambridgeport, MA

Property prices in Cambridgeport, MA aren’t for the squeamish (prepare to pay around $673,078 for a decently sized family home here) but if you can stretch to it, you’re in for a treat.

Thanks to the abundance of well-paid jobs, most households are sitting pretty on the very respectable median income of $93,031. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of local businesses, restaurants, shops, and cultural attractions for them to spend their hefty salaries at.

The school system is one of the best in the state, making it a highly attractive destination to families (who no doubt have few complaints about the low crime rate and array of parks either). Peaceful, quiet, but with enough on offer to keep most residents well and truly entertained, it’s easy to see the attraction.

East Greenwich, RH

15. East Greenwich, RH

Despite the high average property of $424,600, East Greenwich remains one of Rhode Island’s most desirable destinations. Why? How about the distinctly low crime rate, the top-rated schools, the bountiful array of restaurants, bars, and activities? If that still isn’t enough to convince you, the median income of $108,828 just might.

Kennebunk, ME

14. Kennebunk, ME

As reports, there’s a lot to love about the small town of Kennebunk. Blessed with a superb location on Maine’s seashore, it’s a nature lovers dream, affording residents easy access to almost any water sport and outdoor activity they can think of.

Crime is reassuringly low, while the $73,105 median income says much about the plentiful job opportunities.

The education system is one of the best in the state (Mildred L. Day School, Kennebunk Elementary School, Sea Road School and Middle School of the Kennebunks all come particularly highly recommended), while the quaint, historic town center is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

Essex, CT

13. Essex, CT

If $87,857 sounds the kind of average household income that appeals, you might want to cast your eyes in the direction of Essex, Connecticut.

Along with a hefty income, newcomers can expect a great community spirit (summer bloc parties, Halloween bonfires, and Christmas festivals are just a small selection of what’s on offer), walkable streets, a stunning riverside location, good schools, and a plethora of parks, green areas, and wildlife. Property might not be the cheapest (expect to pay around $360,600 for a good-sized family home) but the cost-benefit ratio is still seriously attractive.

West Hartford, CT

12. West Hartford, CT

For the best Connecticut has to offer, head to West Hartford. With a population of 63,360 by the last count, it’s a decent enough size to offer everything anyone could want by way of cultural, dining, and shopping opportunities.

That said, it still manages to retain a friendly, small-town vibe that’s impossible not to fall a little in love with. High property prices come with the territory (expect to pay around $326,000 for a good-sized family home) but with a living standard this good, you’ll hear few complaints.

Wayne Township, NJ

11. Wayne Township, NJ

If you’re considering moving to New Jersey, why not make it Wayne Township? You’ll have to scrape together around $454,500 if you want a decently sized family home, but do that and you stand to benefit from one of the lowest crime rates in the state, access to the kind of jobs that afford a $108,092 median household income, some top-rated public schools, plenty of shopping, dining, and cultural opportunities, and a small town, welcoming vibe.

Bar Harbor, ME

10. Bar Harbor, ME

With its idyllic location, easy access to the Acadia National Park, and almost endless array of outdoor activities (including surfing at Sand Beach and hiking at Cadillac Mountain), Bar Harbor is one of Maine’s most visited towns.

It's not only tourists that love it: thanks to its excellent school system, friendly neighborhoods, low crime rate, and great transportation links, it's as much a hit with locals as summer seasoners.

Madbury, NH

9. Madbury, NH

The cost of property in Madbury may be considerably higher than the national average ($342,900 compared to an average of $184,700), but considering life in this small Stafford County town comes with next to no crime (last year, there was zero violent crime and only 378.4 thefts per 100k residents, compared to an average of 2042.8), access to a clutch of outstanding schools, and an easy commute into the wider Boston area, not many would complain about spending a little over budget to move in.

Brookline, NH

8. Brookline, NH

In certain quarters, Brookline is considered one of the best towns in New Hampshire for retirees. And indeed, the low crime rate, excellent transportation links into Boston and the surrounding area, small-town feel, and plentiful number of parks are sure-fire senior citizen pleasers.

They’re not exactly unattractive to the younger crowd either, while the outstanding arrays of dining options, shops, cultural events, and affordable housing options are pretty much going to suit everyone.

Longmeadow, MA

7. Longmeadow, MA

Next up is Longmeadow, a mid-sized town in Hampden County. Boasting an excellent school district, an active, friendly community, plenty of restaurants and amenities, safe, walkable streets, an easy commute into the surrounding cities of Springfield, MA and Hartford, CT, and more highly paid jobs than you could shake the average household wage of $112,831 at, it’s understandable why so many consider it the crème-de-la-crème of Massachusetts

Chelsea NY

6. Chelsea NY

If you want lively, if you want vibrant, and most importantly, if you want all of New York’s delights on your very doorstep, you want Chelsea. Yes, you’ll need to pay the big bucks for a property here (the average family home sells for around $883,503), but if you do, you’re unlikely to be disappointed.

With most households pulling in the average income of $111,665, there’s no shortage of wealth floating around- which may explain both the sky-high property prices and the abundance of boutiques, first-rate restaurants, and outstanding bars on offer. It’s not just an urban playground, though; thanks to its location on the Hudson, you’ll not be short of peaceful riverside walks or serene picnicking spots.

Cape Elizabeth, ME

5. Cape Elizabeth, ME

If you like nature, you’re going to love the beautiful coastal town of Cape Elizabeth. Packed with more beaches, trails, playgrounds, parks, ponds, marshes, and fields than one person could ever need, it’s little wonder so many tourists flock to its shores in the summer.

Even off-peak, there’s plenty of entertainment to be found in the numerous shops and cultural sites (those looking for more in the way of big-city amenities, meanwhile, will find Portland an easy 7-mile drive away). Excellent schools, safe streets, and an active, friendly community round off the pretty picture.

Hanover, NH

4. Hanover, NH

According to Niche, Hanover is the #1 best place to live in New Hampshire, and after a quick peruse of some of the comments residents have left on the site, we’re loathe to disagree. “Hanover is a very safe city, with an adorable downtown area where you can do some shopping and enjoy some local restaurants.

The local supermarkets known as Co-Op are an amazing opportunity to shop organic local produce, dairies, and meat. Plus, small town life gives you the opportunity to create strong communities. Dartmouth library offers free craft classes. Dartmouth green is a beautiful place to have a picnic during summer time.

The fall foliage brings beautiful rich colors to the city and during winter there is a frozen lake that you can ice skating for free. Hanover is an endearing city, worth visiting,” says one, while another comments, “Hanover is an amazing place to live and grow up! It has excellent opportunities for learning, leisure, and jobs.”

Kingston, RI

3. Kingstown, RI

If living in a town with a strong sense of community is top of your wish list, you’ll be hard pushed to do better than Kingstown, Rhode Island. The town is alive throughout the year with a wealth of community events like concerts, bloc parties, festivals, farmers markers, live performances, and street bazaars, all designed to bring (and keep) people together.

Other than friendly neighbors, residents can expect to enjoy an excellent public-school system, easy access to the surrounding beaches and countryside, and, for those in need of some serious entertainment, the big city delights of Providence just 30 minutes away.

Devon, PA

2. Devon, PA

Granted, you may need to put down a considerable amount on a property in Devon (the average family home comes in at around $558,100), but the benefits of living in this small suburb of Philadelphia far outweigh the costs.

Crime is next to non-existent, while the abundance of highly paid jobs is reflected in the median household income of $183,438 (well over three times the national average).

The community is tight knit and friendly and served by some top-ranking public and private schools. Capping of the list of benefits is its combination of small-town living and easy proximity to the bustle of the big city: if you want quiet, safe streets within an easy 15-minute drive of some of the best shopping outlets in the country, this is where you’ll find it.

Chesterbrook, PA

1. Chesterbrook, PA

Pennsylvania has some superbly desirable destinations within its borders, few more so than the Philadelphia suburb of Chesterbrook. Small (the current population amounts to around 4675) but with more diversity, vibrancy, and perks than a town twice its size, it delivers safe, clean living in a neighborhood served with some of the best schools and highest paid jobs in Penn (most residents are managing on a very healthy income of $115,446), and one of its lowest crime rates. Amenities are abundant, while the plentiful array of parks and green spaces guarantees plenty of outdoor fun.

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Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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