How do you pick the best places to live in what many agree is the best darn state in the nation? If you do a survey, you’ll get opinions based on most likely, emotions.
That’s why we use science. After all, the data never lies.
After analyzing everything from weather and amenities to crime and education, we’ve come up with the following list as the best places to live in Connecticut. Read on below to see how we calculated the results and where your home town ranked. Hint: If you live in New Haven County, consider yourself lucky.
The Top 10 Best Places to Live in Connecticut
- West Hartford
- New Canaan
- East Lyme
- Rocky Hill
Small Towns vs. Big Cities. Which is Better?
In order to rank the best places to live in Connecticut, we had to first determine if a bigger city should weigh heavier than a tiny town with 52 people. We firmly decided that yes, bigger cities should be given a bigger ranking factor because there are more things to do in a larger town. So we counted cities of 10,000 or more in the rankings.
After that, it was a matter of entering the data of all 268 cities in Connecticut and asking the computer to tell us who is best.
Using FBI data, the government census, Sperling’s Best Places data and Bureau of Labor Statistics, we used the following criteria in the rankings:
- Population Density (The higher the better)
- Lower Unemployment Rates
- Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
- Low Housing Vacancy Rate
- Education (Expenditures per student and Student Teacher Ratio)
- Short Commute Times
- Low Crime
- The Best Weather
If your city isn’t in the Top 10, scroll to the bottom of this post to see a complete list of the larger cities or click here for a chart with all cities and their data.
Unemployment rate: 5%
Median household income: $106,372
Crime: 29th best in Connecticut
As is the case with most of our rankings, suburbs of the larger towns rank higher as best places to live based on lower crime rates and higher school ratings. This is the case as well with Orange, a town of 14,000 people just outside of New Haven.
Orange not only came in first as the best place to live based on the criteria, it won by a lot. It finished a full three points higher than runner-up Wallingford. That’s no surprise; lots of employed, wealthy people living in a safe community is a great combination.
Unemployment rate: 6.2%
Home vacancy rate: 22nd in CT
Crime: Best 20% in state
Wallingford, one of the larger cities in our top ten places to live in the state, is also located in New Haven County. Despite the fact that the city has a higher than average unemployment rate (6.2%), it ranks lower in crime and has a high education ranking.
Wallingford is also home to Chaote Rosemary High School, which has produced many notable names, including John F. Kennedy.
3. West Hartford
Population density: 9th lowest in the state
Commute time: 16th best
Median household income: $81,588
West Hartford, population 63,000, is the largest ‘big’ city to make the top of this list. When you combine a short commute time, high employment rates and a very low population density, you get a very nice place to live.
West Hartford has ranked high on other similar lists in America by major news media, including its most recent ranking as one of the ‘coolest’ suburbs in the U.S. by Travel and Leisure. West Hartford’s ranking at No. 3 on this list puts Orange and Wallingford’s rankings into perspective.
4. New Canaan
Unemployment rate: 4%
Commute time: 16th best
Crime: 17th lowest in Connecticut
New Canaan has some of the most employed as well as the highest earning residents in the entire state of Connecticut. Factor in a very low crime rate, and this New Canaan is a real gem.
With high incomes comes a high cost of living, and only Berlin, Fenwick, Georgetown and Trumbull have a higher cost of living cost in the entire state. Additionally, the commute time for New Canaan residents to work is significantly higher than average.
Median household income: $110,587
Population density: 30th lowest
Crime: Lower 20% in the state
Another city in New Haven County, Cheshire, population 30,000, is a typical great place to live. Low crime and the 20th highest income levels in the state make it desirable across the board.
The hometown of ESPN legend Chris Berman has also ranked high on other lists, including Money Magazine’s description as one of the top 75 places to live in America two years in a row.
Crime: Lowest in the state of Connecticut
Income: 25th highest in the state
House vacancy rate: Lowest 20%
Tiny Prospect (population 9,842) packs a big punch when it comes to desirability in the state of Connecticut.
It looks like Mayor Robert Chatfield has things going in the right direction: Crime is lower here than any other place in the Constitution state, which is most likely a key reason he’s been in office since 1978.
7. East Lyme
Student expenditure: Tied, highest in the state
Income: Top 25%
Household income: $81,599
East Lyme is one of the only cities not in New Haven County at the top of the list. The town, with a population of just under 20,000, is located in the southeastern part of Connecticut.
Schools spend, on average, just over $18,000 per student in East Lyme schools, which is about $1,000 more per student than in the next highest brackets.
Sunny days: 9th highest in the state
Unemployment: 10th lowest in Connecticut
Household incomes: Third highest
Woodbridge is the tiniest town in the top ten, with a population just over 8,000. Located in New Haven County, Woodbridge has huge median incomes (households average $120,000 a year) and almost everyone in town has a job.
Factor in 206 sunny days a year on average, and you have a great place to live.
9. Rocky Hill
Commute time: Lowest 15% in CT
Cost of Living: Lowest 75%
Rocky Hill, population 20,000, is just outside of Hartford. It has been named as one of the top places to live in the United States by Money Magazine, which cited its central location between Boston and New York City, as well as an easy commute time into Hartford.
For such as great place to live, the cost of living is relatively low, meaning residents are most likely getting a bargain.
Sunny days: 9th most in the state
Income: 32nd in Connecticut ($112,605)
The town of Monroe, an hour’s drive north of New York City (with little traffic) rounds out the top 10. Monroe (population 20,000) has a higher earning income level than most of the state, but a slightly higher percentage of its residents are unemployed.
There You Have It
Looking at the data, you can tell that anything within a 15-minute drive of New Haven is the most desirable, according to science and data. But as most Connecticut residents would agree, almost every place here is awesome.
Other notable cities:
65. Stamford (Population 122,878)
88. Norwalk (Population 85,853)
137. Bristol (Population 60,502)
171. New Haven (Population 129,898)
217. Hartford (Population 124,879)
235. Bridgeport (Population 144,466)
Detailed Data For Connecticut Best Places