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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.
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.
For more New Jersey reading, check out:
- Best Counties To Live In New Jersey
- Cheapest Places To Live In New Jersey
- Best Places To Raise A Family In New Jersey
The 10 Best Places To Live In New Jersey For 2021
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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'.
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
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
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
- Plainsboro Center (Pop. 2,733)
- Brielle (Pop. 4,745)
- Allenwood (Pop. 1,002)
- Barclay (Pop. 4,340)
- Ho-Ho-Kus (Pop. 4,139)
- Pennington (Pop. 2,567)
- Spring Lake Heights (Pop. 4,646)
- Robbinsville (Pop. 3,321)
- Navesink (Pop. 1,699)
- Hopewell (Pop. 1,904)
Best Small Towns To Live In New Jersey
- Skillman (Pop. 211)
- Belle Mead (Pop. 196)
- East Rocky Hill (Pop. 223)
- Hainesburg (Pop. 59)
- Blawenburg (Pop. 305)
- Interlaken (Pop. 806)
- Mantoloking (Pop. 276)
- Loch Arbour (Pop. 202)
- Clyde (Pop. 243)
- Rocky Hill (Pop. 618)
If you're curious enough, here are the worst places to live in New Jersey according to the data:
- Newark (Pop. 281,054)
- Lindenwold (Pop. 17,320)
- Bridgeton (Pop. 24,540)
For more New Jersey reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In New Jersey
- Richest Cities In New Jersey
- Safest Places In New Jersey
- Worst Places To Live In New Jersey