The 10 Best Places To Live In New Jersey For 2021


We crunched the numbers to find out the best place to live in the best state in the good ole US of A.

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We all know New Jersey is the best state in the Union. What with the bagels, diners, the shore, and all the great produce.

But because the whole state is so awesome, it’s hard to choose the best place to live within New Jersey. Thankfully for you, we decided this question needed to be answered once and for all. So we turned to data and analytics to understand the best place to live in New Jersey. In particular, we looked at home prices, crime rates, unemployment, and other quality of life factors across the state. You know, the things that people from New Jersey would find important when looking for a new place to live.

And while you might have heard about Hoboken, Trenton, or Newark, New Jersey has some awesome smaller places that we’re going to highlight today.

After analyzing over 175 places in New Jersey, we came up with this list as the best places in the Garden State to call home.

There you have it, the best that New Jersey has to offer when it comes to finding a place to live.

What’s the best place to live in the Garden State? That would be Park Ridge, the best place to live in New Jersey based on FBI and Census data. At the end of the day, it looks like the places with low unemployment and high incomes like Park Ridge outmatched their short commute counterparts.

However, in our humble opinion, there’s no better state in the nation than New Jersey, so any place inside the state boundaries is a great place to live.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

For more New Jersey reading, check out:

The 10 Best Places To Live In New Jersey For 2021

Park Ridge, NJ

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 8,766
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 16)
Median Home Value: $588,900
Unemployment Rate: 2.9%
More on Park Ridge: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Coming in as the best place to live in New Jersey is Park Ridge, a borough of 8,766 located about a half-hour north of Newark.

For starters, Park Ridge ranked as one of the safest places in New Jersey, recording the 2nd lowest overall crime rate statewide — the crime rate in Park Ridge is nearly half the national average.

It’s not just safe streets, though. Park Ridge has some of the best schools in New Jersey, with their elementary school scoring in the top 5% statewide and their high school receiving a College Success Award from GreatSchools.

Education has undoubtedly played a key role in reducing poverty and unemployment numbers to incredibly low levels. In fact, the median household income in Park Ridge is $137,903, and the median home price here is $588,900.

If you’re looking for fun things to do locally, the Wortendyke Dutch Barn Museum provides a unique historical perspective on Bergen County’s roots. And having Newark down the road helps meet your entertainment needs as well. After all, you can always catch a New Jersey Devils’ game or a concert at the Prudential Center.

Allendale, NJ

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 6,765
Rank Last Year: 31 (Up 29)
Median Home Value: $757,000
Unemployment Rate: 3.3%
More on Allendale: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

We’re hanging around Bergen County for New Jersey’s 2nd best place to call home, Allendale. 50.77% of households have kids in Allendale, but that’s just part of the family-friendly picture.

GreatSchools gave Allendale an average rating of 9.5/10, the test scores here are in the top 1% among New Jersey public schools, and the high school dropout rate is the 7th lowest in New Jersey. From young to old, Allendale is one smart community, considering that 74% of adult residents are highly educated.

Big brains earn big paychecks, as evidenced by Allendale having the 12th highest median household income in New Jersey ($170,968). That’s sort of essential when the cost of living in Allendale is quite pricey, and homes sell for a median price of $757,000. But everyone gets a slice of the pie in Allendale, what with a sub-2% poverty rate that ranks as the 8th lowest statewide.

Outdoors enthusiasts will also be delighted to know that the local Celery Farm offers 107 acres of trails and bird-watching opportunities. And history buffs will be pleased that the community managed to save The John Fell House, a staple of the local heritage.

Westfield, NJ

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 29,877
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $743,400
Unemployment Rate: 2.7%
More on Westfield: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Located just west of Newark, Westfield is a town of 29,877, making it the biggest place on this list. Downtown Westfield is a regional destination with plenty of shopping, restaurants, and nightlife, so this just might be the most exciting place to live among the places we’re covering here.

Roughly 75% of Westfield residents have at least a bachelor’s degree, so you know people take education seriously here. That dedication to learning has translated into a number of economic successes. Like having the 13th highest median household income in the state at $170,798/year. Or having a poverty level of just 3.1% and the 17th highest percentage of residents with health insurance in the state, 97.9%. And with a perfect 10/10 SnackAbility score for education, you’d better believe that Westfield’s up-and-coming generation is set up nicely to continue the community’s tradition of excellence.

And since my wife grew up here, I think it’s pretty great.

Haddonfield, NJ

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 11,345
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $511,700
Unemployment Rate: 2.3%
More on Haddonfield: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Located just 10 miles east of Philadelphia, Haddonfield ranks as the 4th best place to call home in New Jersey. You may want to do a quick study session before going out to a pub quiz in Haddonfield, because over 35% of residents here have at least a master’s degree. And since the hyper-educated tend to have an easier time finding good-paying jobs, it’s no surprise that Haddonfield has the 7th lowest poverty level in New Jersey.

The median household income in Haddonfield is $150,958/year and the median home price is $511,700. That combination of stats gives Haddonfield the lowest cost of living among the places we’re covering on this list. On top of that, 98.6% of residents have health insurance, which is the 9th highest in the state.

Literature buffs will also appreciate the fact that the Walt Whitman House in Camden is just fifteen minutes away.

Glen Rock, NJ

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 11,780
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $646,600
Unemployment Rate: 3.9%
More on Glen Rock: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Glen Rock is a borough of 11,780 located about 5 miles northeast of Paterson. We named Glen Rock one of the best places to raise a family in New Jersey, and a lot of those same factors land Glen Rock in the #5 spot on this list. Like having a GreatSchools rating of 8/10 for local public schools, including a college success award-winning high school. And the proximity of family friendly activities like the Paterson Great Falls.

At 40, Glen Rock has the youngest median age on this list, so if living in a hip, vibrant place is a priority for you, this might be your top choice. And these young-uns have the crime situation well under control, because the crime rate is about 80% lower than the national average, and ranks as the 34th lowest in New Jersey.

Woodcliff Lake, NJ

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 5,832
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $812,300
Unemployment Rate: 2.0%
More on Woodcliff Lake: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Woodcliff Lake is the first of many Bergen County representatives to make this list. GreatSchools gave Woodcliff Lake’s public schools an average rating of 8.5/10, so you know that students get off on the right foot here. And with the 36th lowest crime rate in New Jersey, you won’t have to worry about your kiddos’ safety either. There are also plenty of family-friendly activities available at Wood Dale County Park if you’re worried about boredom setting in.

The poverty level and unemployment rate in Woodcliff Lake are 3.7% and 2.0% respectively, meaning that the economy is working for everyone here. You may want to lock down a lucrative job before making the move though, because the median household income in Woodcliff Lake is the 11th highest in the state at $171,103/year.

Fair Haven, NJ

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 5,873
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 6)
Median Home Value: $731,900
Unemployment Rate: 3.4%
More on Fair Haven: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Fair Haven is a Monmouth County borough of 5,873 and ranks as the 7th best place to live in New Jersey. Whether you’re after a heady meal complete with live jazz or piano music at Raven & the Peach or looking for outdoors serenity at the nearby Hartshorne Woods Park, Fair Haven has you covered.

As for being family-friendly, 54.83% of Fair Haven’s households have kids, so you know that people consider it an excellent place to raise children. The statistics actually prove the truth of that, considering that GreatSchools gave Fair Haven an average score of 9/10 for its public schools, and test scores here are in the top 5% statewide.

If you don’t want to embarrass yourself at a pub quiz night in Fair Haven, you’d better get studying because 71% of adults are highly educated here (including an incredible 30% of adults with master’s degrees or higher). Additionally, 99.0% of residents have health insurance in Fair Haven, the 4th highest rate in New Jersey.

But you won’t need that insurance for any crime-induced injuries. Fair Haven had the 7th lowest total crime rate over 2019.

Cresskill, NJ

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 8,699
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 8)
Median Home Value: $677,500
Unemployment Rate: 2.9%
More on Cresskill: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Cresskill is yet another Bergen County representative on this list, ranking as the 8th best place to call home in New Jersey. There’s something special about living in a place where you’re only a half-hour (on a good traffic-day) from New York City’s Broadway, but still have your fill of nature.

The Tenafly Nature Center is just a town over and offers all sorts of events in addition to maintaining countless miles of gorgeous trails. Now, to be fair, Cresskill is one of the richest places in New Jersey, so you’ll want some savings or a lucrative job lined up before making the move.

Cresskill’s median household income is $151,442 and the median home value is $677,500. Aside from steep housing prices, the cost of living in Cresskill is basically on par with the national average. In any case, it’s a small price to pay for safe streets, smart neighbors, excellent local schools, rock-bottom unemployment, and world-class amenities at your doorstep.

Waldwick, NJ

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 9,986
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $448,900
Unemployment Rate: 2.1%
More on Waldwick: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

We’re sticking around Bergen County for our 9th best place to live in New Jersey, Waldwick. At $448,900, homes in Waldwick are some of the cheapest you’ll find on this list. Residents still enjoy a high median household income of $124,803/year, which helps give Waldwick the second lowest cost of living among the cities we’re covering here. And an unemployment rate of 2.1% is the 6th lowest in New Jersey. Just 0.8% of folks in Waldwick are on food stamps, so you know the economy is working just fine here without government assistance.

Low crime numbers and solid scores in education also make Waldwick an attractive place to live. Fans of railroad history will also be interested in visiting the Waldwick Museum.

Madison, NJ

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 16,377
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $724,700
Unemployment Rate: 3.9%
More on Madison: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

We’re wrapping up our list with Madison, a borough of 16,377 situated a half-hour west of Newark. Madison topped our list of the best places to raise a family in New Jersey, and a lot of those same factors came into play here.

Like how 36.6% of households have kids, the public school system got an 8/10 average score on GreatSchools, and family-friendly amenities like the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey and the Museum of Early Trades & Crafts abound.

Madison is also exceptionally safe, recording a crime rate roughly 80% below the national average. Homes in Madison sell for a median price of $724,700, but beyond housing, the overall cost of living here isn’t super high (in the context of New Jersey, anyway). Not to mention that your typical Madison household earns a median income of $146,157.

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in New Jersey

The Pressing Question: Size

Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Trenton with a population of 83,412 against places with a population of 18?

We firmly decided no, that just isn’t fair.

So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:

  • Cities — Populations over 5,000
  • Towns — Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
  • Small Towns — Populations below 1,000

This left us with 175 cities, 209 towns, and 67 small towns.

We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in New Jersey have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,000 people to truly be ‘the best’.

Now we also realize that city living might not be your cup of tea, so we ran the following analysis on towns and then again for small towns.

You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.

How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In New Jersey

Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.

We ranked each place in New Jersey across a number of criteria from one to 175, with one being the best.

We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title “Best Place To Live In New Jersey”.

The criteria we looked at were:

  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Population Density (Higher better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data. You can download the data here.

After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in New Jersey? That would be Park Ridge.

If your city or town isn’t among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in New Jersey.

Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Park Ridge at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In New Jersey

If you’re looking at areas in New Jersey with the best economic situations, where there’s lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

Park Ridge made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in New Jersey for 2021.

Best Towns To Live In New Jersey

  1. Plainsboro Center (Pop. 2,733)
  2. Brielle (Pop. 4,745)
  3. Allenwood (Pop. 1,002)
  4. Barclay (Pop. 4,340)
  5. Ho-Ho-Kus (Pop. 4,139)
  6. Pennington (Pop. 2,567)
  7. Spring Lake Heights (Pop. 4,646)
  8. Robbinsville (Pop. 3,321)
  9. Navesink (Pop. 1,699)
  10. Hopewell (Pop. 1,904)

Best Small Towns To Live In New Jersey

  1. Skillman (Pop. 211)
  2. Belle Mead (Pop. 196)
  3. East Rocky Hill (Pop. 223)
  4. Hainesburg (Pop. 59)
  5. Blawenburg (Pop. 305)
  6. Interlaken (Pop. 806)
  7. Mantoloking (Pop. 276)
  8. Loch Arbour (Pop. 202)
  9. Clyde (Pop. 243)
  10. Rocky Hill (Pop. 618)

If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in New Jersey according to the data:

  1. Newark (Pop. 281,054)
  2. Lindenwold (Pop. 17,320)
  3. Bridgeton (Pop. 24,540)

For more New Jersey reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Live In New Jersey?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Park Ridge 8,766 2.9% $588,900
2 Allendale 6,765 3.3% $757,000
3 Westfield 29,877 2.7% $743,400
4 Haddonfield 11,345 2.3% $511,700
5 Glen Rock 11,780 3.9% $646,600
6 Woodcliff Lake 5,832 2.0% $812,300
7 Fair Haven 5,873 3.4% $731,900
8 Cresskill 8,699 2.9% $677,500
9 Waldwick 9,986 2.1% $448,900
10 Madison 16,377 3.9% $724,700
11 North Caldwell 6,615 1.7% $738,300
12 Midland Park 7,244 4.4% $513,400
13 Hillsdale 10,346 2.6% $566,200
14 Upper Saddle River 8,227 4.7% $885,900
15 Emerson 7,596 4.1% $492,000
16 Roseland 5,834 3.0% $485,100
17 Ramsey 14,940 3.0% $598,900
18 Ridgewood 25,179 3.4% $763,300
19 Rumson 6,792 3.4% $1,171,900
20 Chatham 8,816 5.2% $746,300
21 Oradell 8,141 4.9% $615,500
22 New Providence 13,049 5.1% $607,100
23 River Edge 11,500 2.6% $520,800
24 Wood-Ridge 8,769 4.9% $411,800
25 Kinnelon 10,054 5.4% $570,800
26 Franklin Lakes 10,946 5.2% $945,900
27 Florham Park 11,623 3.8% $645,800
28 Fair Lawn 33,017 3.7% $424,000
29 Norwood 5,812 2.6% $626,700
30 Glen Ridge 7,584 3.6% $653,400
31 Tenafly 14,632 4.5% $829,600
32 Fanwood 7,660 6.8% $467,800
33 Morris Plains 5,748 4.3% $517,500
34 Little Silver 5,844 5.5% $642,500
35 Hawthorne 18,784 3.6% $381,000
36 Oakland 12,972 3.7% $468,700
37 Westwood 11,115 1.8% $463,500
38 Montvale 8,489 5.3% $619,400
39 New Milford 16,545 4.6% $426,800
40 Hoboken 53,193 3.0% $720,700
41 Metuchen 14,048 3.0% $437,400
42 Old Tappan 5,914 5.9% $790,300
43 Caldwell 7,969 3.4% $466,700
44 Closter 8,565 3.6% $674,000
45 Mountainside 6,826 4.7% $626,100
46 Hasbrouck Heights 12,082 3.9% $429,100
47 Englewood Cliffs 5,371 4.4% $997,100
48 Leonia 9,086 2.0% $506,100
49 Point Pleasant 18,598 4.9% $386,200
50 Manasquan 5,829 5.1% $679,300
51 Bernardsville 7,678 4.2% $681,500
52 Edgewater 12,403 3.5% $600,600
53 Matawan 8,747 3.8% $350,400
54 Haddon Heights 7,514 4.8% $287,400
55 Summit 21,913 5.5% $890,100
56 Butler 7,679 4.4% $355,200
57 Dumont 17,624 5.6% $376,100
58 Lincoln Park 10,262 4.0% $330,900
59 North Haledon 8,437 5.2% $435,700
60 Maywood 9,661 5.1% $389,300
61 Bergenfield 27,373 3.8% $358,200
62 Ringwood 12,251 4.1% $366,400
63 Rutherford 18,398 4.2% $473,500
64 West Long Branch 7,908 4.4% $448,800
65 Watchung 6,039 5.1% $674,500
66 Rockaway 6,384 5.0% $344,800
67 Mount Arlington 5,637 2.9% $305,100
68 Audubon 8,661 4.1% $212,700
69 Linwood 6,742 5.1% $290,000
70 Boonton 8,398 3.3% $386,100
71 Tinton Falls 17,632 3.4% $354,300
72 Ridgefield Park 12,922 3.7% $349,100
73 Oceanport 5,725 4.4% $520,200
74 Elmwood Park 20,059 3.9% $362,700
75 Hopatcong 14,281 4.6% $237,000
76 Totowa 10,828 3.1% $371,200
77 Bogota 8,360 5.8% $336,000
78 Raritan 7,865 4.7% $343,600
79 Cliffside Park 25,126 3.2% $447,900
80 Fort Lee 37,430 3.2% $324,600
81 Roselle Park 13,581 5.3% $284,000
82 Paramus 26,503 4.5% $600,200
83 Highland Park 13,883 5.6% $373,700
84 Brigantine 8,832 3.9% $354,200
85 Pompton Lakes 11,029 4.4% $302,700
86 East Rutherford 9,584 3.1% $381,100
87 Ridgefield 11,227 5.7% $442,500
88 Wanaque 11,709 5.2% $318,000
89 Barrington 6,716 4.3% $195,300
90 Secaucus 20,125 3.8% $460,800
91 Spotswood 8,269 5.2% $305,100
92 Somerville 12,085 5.2% $322,000
93 Carlstadt 6,178 2.0% $408,600
94 South Plainfield 23,956 6.9% $340,200
95 North Arlington 15,677 3.5% $363,400
96 Woodland Park 12,547 3.7% $365,900
97 South Amboy 8,772 6.7% $294,500
98 Rahway 29,543 4.4% $272,700
99 Bloomingdale 8,088 5.6% $303,300
100 Wallington 11,540 4.5% $375,800

How Is Your Town In ?

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the best places to live in New Jersey.

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.