Contributed by 10 Guru Lindsay Shugerman
Sure, there are lots of jokes made about New Jersey. But this East Coast state really does have a lot to offer new residents.
Whether you’re new to the Garden State, or are just looking for a new home town without moving out of state, here are my picks for the top 10 places to live in New Jersey and love it.
10. Essex Fells
Imagine living in a town with no apartment buildings. No townhouses, no malls, not even a traffic light. That’s the law in Essex Fells, where all the homes are free-standing and many are on lots that measure in acres instead of feet.
Locals love it, because it means no one comes to town unless they either live there or are visiting. That means safety is high and traffic is low. Housing in this exclusive area doesn’t come cheap. The mean house price is about $912,655.
Median resident age: 43.8 years
Median household income: $171,870
Median house or condo value: $905,881
9. Cranbury Township
Antique stores, quaint shops and historic buildings characterize Cranbury, yet another town that shatters the popular image of New Jersey. In fact, this town is listed on the Register of Historic Places as one of the best preserved areas of early 19th century architecture. Not surprisingly, many local events are centered around the area’s long history and unique character.
Housing is lower than in some of the other towns in my list, with a mean price of about $602,941.
Median resident age: 44.7 years
Median household income: $130,462
Median house or condo value: $602,941
8. Upper Saddle River
Upper Saddle River started as one of New Jersey’s many farming towns. But over time, the fields and pastures have given way to beautiful neighborhoods shaded by large trees. And the one room school house has been replaced by one of the very best school districts in the state.
This town in northern New Jersey has seen its share of history, too. From early cave dwellings to a march through by George Washington to lush agriculture, the area has always kept pace with the best that’s new and exciting, while maintaining the best for local families. That’s what earned it a spot on the top 10 places to live in New Jersey list.
Housing here does tend to be expensive, however, with single family homes coming in just under the one million dollar mark.
Median resident age: 42.9 years
Median household income: $161,779
Median house or condo value: $926,150
7. Montgomery Township
If you’re looking for an old town, Montgomery Township fits the bill. Not only is it one of the original townships in New Jersey, dating back to the 1700’s, but it was also home to the Lenape Indians for an estimated 20,000 years before that!
Today, this southern New Jersey community is home to about 22,000 residents. Nearly one-third of the land is preserved as open space or farmland, making this area an excellent choice for those who want to avoid urban crowding or suburban sprawl. History is taken seriously here, so historic buildings and homes abound. With excellent schools and easy access to Princeton, Philadelphia and New York, the area is an ideal choice for commuters who want a more relaxing lifestyle at home.
Housing is more affordable than in some NJ towns, with median home prices around $629,500.
Median resident age: 36.9 years
Median household income: $53,441
Median house or condo value: $125,648
6. Mountain Lakes
A relative newcomer among New Jersey towns, Mountain Lakes was established in 1911 as a planned community, a new idea that was taking formerly rural areas by storm. Some 100 years later, this area has retained its unique charm and character, with much of the planned design still intact.
Located only about 25 miles from Manhattan, this cozy town of about 4,500 residents offers a welcome respite after the bustle of the city. Housing had jumped to nearly the million dollar mark, but with recent economic issues, single family homes are selling for just under $900,000 on average.
Median resident age: 41.8 years
Median household income: $182,828
Median house or condo value: $868,679
It’s hard to classify Ho-Ho-Kus in a single word. It’s the kind of town residents and visitors alike have nicknamed “Mayberry” … but it’s also in easy commuting distance to Manhattan. It’s one of the most affluent towns in the state, but it’s far from pretentious. Locals pride themselves on knowing their neighbors and participating in community events. And with only about 4,000 people in town, there are lots of chances to get to know those neighbors.
Homes in this commuter/small town community average $844,174.
Median resident age: 43.3 years
Median household income: $156,784
Median house or condo value: $777,086
When you see the views from Alpine, NJ it’s easy to see how it got its name, but it might be hard to remember all those stereotypes about New Jersey.
But that’s not all that’s surprising about this small N.J. town. An article in British newspaper, The Guardian, called Alpine “the richest place you never heard of”, thanks to several hip-hop stars who call Alpine home.
The average home price in Alpine is about $986,527, but that doesn’t reflect the $4 million dollar plus cliff-top homes that also dot the area. Despite a few high-profile residents, locals work hard to keep this small town just the way it’s always been…a great little town most people have never heard of.
Median resident age: 48.2 years
Median household income: $166,988
Median house or condo value: over $986,527
3. Barnegat Light
It’s just under 60 miles from Philadelphia, but in so many ways Barnegat Light might as well be a million miles away. This is coastal New Jersey, far from the highways and factories and even further from the popular image of New Jersey.
Here on one of the state’s barrier islands, life is slower. The sound of the waves is heard everywhere in the town, which isn’t surprising since it’s only about one square mile. With 600 residents, and housing prices hoovering around $850,000, it’s not the home town for everyone. But for those who love the sea, and can do without easy access to big city amenities, it’s a definite dream home among other New Jersey cities and towns.
Median resident age: 60.3 years
Median household income: $64,939
Median house or condo value: $854,704
Home to Princeton University, one of the Ivy League heavy-hitters in the college world, this Princeton, New Jersey town is also a great place to call home. From the rolling, forested areas surrounding the town, to the unique shops for everything from books and art supplies to home decor and boutique fashion, residents here enjoy a unique version of the college-town lifestyle.
And if all of that wasn’t enough, NYC and Philly are just a train ride away. As for prices, single family homes here average around $631,430. Less expensive homes are available as you move away from town, but truly low cost homes for sale are rare.
Median resident age: 22.9 years
Median household income: $106,377
Median house or condo value: $631,430
Forget all the stereotypes you have about New Jersey, because Bernardsville defies them all. Not only is this town the 10th weathiest in the U.S., it’s also home to mile after mile of tree lined streets, beautiful homes, spacious parks and a charming downtown. Crime is low, and unemployment is well-below both state and national averages.
Housing is affordable, but only if your budget matched that of other Bernardsville residents. Houses average $$872,818, with many well over the million mark.
Median resident age: 41.1 years
Median household income: $130,128
Median house or condo value: $681,345
Source: all statistics from city-data.com