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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.
The 10 Best Places To Live In New Jersey For 2020
- North Caldwell (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Woodcliff Lake (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Haddonfield (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Glen Rock (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Waldwick (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Westfield (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Upper Saddle River (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Roseland (Homes For Sale)
- Midland Park (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Franklin Lakes (Photos | Homes For Sale)
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 North Caldwell, 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 North Caldwell 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 2020
There are a number of reasons why the affluent NYC suburb of North Caldwell is the best place to live in New Jersey. For starters, the crime rate in North Caldwell is roughly 90% lower than the national average and ranks as the 3rd lowest within New Jersey.
One of the factors that helps keeps North Caldwell so safe is the high standard of living residents enjoy. For example, both the poverty level and unemployment rate in North Caldwell are below 2%. And with 99.5% of people having some form of health insurance, North Caldwell ranks as the 2nd most insured place in New Jersey.
It's important to note that the good life North Caldwell offers doesn't come cheap. It was named the richest place in New Jersey after all. The median home price is steep at $722,400, but residents also earn the 2nd highest median household income in the state at $190,028/year. If you're into (fictional) mobster lore, Tony Soprano's house is in North Caldwell and, as of last summer, was up for sale.
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 13th 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 2.7% and 2.6% 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 9th highest in the state at $167,344/year.
Located just 10 miles east of Philadelphia, Haddonfield ranks as the 3rd 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 10th lowest poverty level in New Jersey.
The median household income in Haddonfield is $145,850/year and the median home price is $508,100. That combination of stats gives Haddonfield the lowest cost of living among the places we're covering on this list. On top of that, 98.7% of residents have health insurance, which is the 6th highest in the state.
Glen Rock is a borough of 11,826 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 #4 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 18th lowest in New Jersey.
We're sticking around Bergen County for our 5th best place to live in New Jersey, Waldwick. At $440,800, homes in Waldwick are some of the cheapest you'll find on this list. Residents still enjoy a high median household income of $119,434/year, which helps give Waldwick the second lowest cost of living among the cities we're covering here. And an unemployment rate of 2.7% is the 12th lowest in New Jersey. Just 0.5% 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.
Located just west of Newark, Westfield is a town of 30,086, 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 6th highest median household income in the state at $168,721/year. Or having a poverty level of just 2.9% and the 10th highest percentage of residents with health insurance in the state, 98.2%. 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.
Upper Saddle River is a Bergen County borough of 8,242. It's one of the safest places in New Jersey, so you'll never need to fear unsavory characters swiping your Amazon packages from your porch. It's also the place with the 12th lowest poverty level in the state at just 1.7%.
Upper Saddle River is far from cheap; at $884,500, the borough has the 4th costliest homes in New Jersey. However, residents also earn the 8th highest median household income in the state at $167,589/year. If you're new in town and want some insight on the lore of Upper Saddle River, the Hopper-Goetschius Museum is a great place to start.
It's not hard to stop and smell the roses in Roseland, our 8th best place to live in New Jersey. New Jersey Monthly frequently lists Roseland as one of the top spots in New Jersey, so we're not alone in handing out hosannas here. At 48, Roseland is the oldest place on this list, so those seeking a mature and balanced lifestyle will find plenty to love here.
A word to the wise, though: if you're a diehard member of the Grand Old Party, Roseland might not smell so sweet to you. With over 75% of residents as registered Democrats, Roseland is among the most liberal places in New Jersey. But hey, living in the place with the 8th highest rate of health insurance coverage and 7th lowest unemployment in New Jersey might help overlook your political differences.
A nice feature of living in Roseland is its proximity to Newark. In just twenty minutes you can be snapping photos of the cherry blossoms at Branch Brook Park or losing your voice shouting at an event at the Prudential Center, depending on your inclination.
We're heading back to Bergen County for our 9th best place in New Jersey, Midland Park. A borough of 7,263, Midland Park makes this list thanks to strong statistics across the board. Like having a crime rate about 80% below the national average and 70% lower than the average in New Jersey. Or having the 15th lowest unemployment rate in the state at 2.8%. And the fact that a median household income of $119,231/year is actually the lowest on this list ought to tell you something about living in any of the best places in New Jersey: they're all super wealthy.
Those into snow sports will appreciate having Campgaw Mountain Ski Area in the neighborhood. Just be careful not to hurt yourself if you're one of the 3.8% of people in Midland Park without health insurance.
Franklin Lakes' inclusion on this list means that places in Bergen County make up more than half of the best spots to live in New Jersey. Whether you're fishing at Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve or glimpsing a view of the NYC skyline from High Mountain Park, Franklin Lakes has an abundance of natural beauty on display.
It also has quite a bit of money. At $955,000, homes in Franklin Lakes are the 3rd priciest in the state. In other words, you may want to make sure you can get your household income up around the $159,883/year mark if you want to live comfortably here. The good news is that, at 1.2%, Franklin Lakes has the 4th lowest poverty level in New Jersey.
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 83,734 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 North Caldwell.
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 North Caldwell 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.
North Caldwell made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in New Jersey for 2020.
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:
- Lindenwold (Pop. 17,354)
- Newark (Pop. 280,463)
- Bridgeton (Pop. 24,841)
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