15 Best Places to Live in New Hampshire

Written by Darren Griffiths
Updated on
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In the northeastern United States of America, right on the Canadian border, you will find New Hampshire. This idealistic state has it all; bustling and bright cities, national forests galore and snow-capped mountains for good measure.

Although small, New Hampshire certainly holds its own between Vermont and Massachusetts. If you are a lover of the great outdoors and want to be close to the coast too, New Hampshire is the place for you. In the White Mountains, there are great wildernesses to explore. Moose and black bears all feature along the Appalachian Trail, so be sure to watch your step!

There are plenty of great places to live in New Hampshire and each one has its own merits. We have looked at what local people love about each area to make sure that we are offering you the most rounded and authentic look at each neighbourhood.

With that in mind, the hard facts like public school ranking, median home value and crime statistics don’t lie. Joining all these factors together, we have created a list of the 15 best places to live in New Hampshire.

1. Hanover

Hanover, New HampshireSource: Edward Fielding / shutterstock

Located on the Connecticut River is the town of Hanover, one of the best places to live in New Hampshire. Hanover is known as one of the best college towns in New England and is home to major corporations such as the United States Army Corps of Engineers and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

Throughout the town of Hanover, you’ll find gorgeous neighborhoods, the Appalachian Trail, the Connecticut River, and the Rail Trail. Residents don’t need to go far for entertainment opportunities here. Hanover has art galleries, shopping, restaurants, and many outdoor activities.

Hanover is also home to excellent schools such as Dartmouth College, Tuck School of Business, and Geisel School of Medicine. With its thriving economy and beautiful nature, Hanover is a great place to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Hanover are:

  • Hood Museum of Art
  • Dartmouth College
  • Nugget Theaters
  • Molly’s Restaurant & Bar
  • Base Camp Cafe
  • Clark’s Bears
  • Killdeer Farm
  • Thompson Arena

2. Bedford

Bedford, New HampshireSource: NNECAPA / Flickr

Located just north of Manchester, you’ll find the town of Bedford, one of the best places to live in New Hampshire. Bedford has gorgeous scenery, picturesque forests, rivers, hiking trails, golf courses, and much more!

Even with its proximity to Manchester, it offers abundant shopping, entertainment, museums, and libraries to provide its residents with everything they need. Known for its highly-educated population, attractive downtown area, and favorable tax climate, it is a desirable town for people to live in.

The cost of living in Bedford is around thirty-one percent higher than the national average, but that’s to be expected living in the north. With its excellent school system, Bedford continues to be a famous town for people to raise a family.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Bedford are:

  • Copper Door
  • Bedford Mall
  • Cowabunga’s Indoor Kids Play & Party Center
  • River Road Tavern
  • Mel’s Funway Park
  • SEE Science Center
  • Currier Museum of Art
  • Manchester Country Club
  • The Palace Theatre

3. Portsmouth

Portsmouth, New HampshireSource: Sean Pavone / shutterstock

Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has a rich history and is just a fifteen-minute car ride from York. Portsmouth is known for its tax-free shopping, beautiful waterfront views, and historic landmarks, and is just sixty miles away from Boston.

While living in Portsmouth, you can take advantage of their downtown shopping area, which is filled with boutiques and local shops. In the center of downtown, you’ll find Market Square, which has art galleries and 17th-century buildings.

Portsmouth is one of the safest cities in America and is very walkable, so that you can get to just about anywhere on foot.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Portsmouth are:

  • Prescott Park
  • Strawbery Banke Museum
  • The Music Hall
  • Water Country Water Park
  • Warner House
  • Earth Eagle Brewings
  • Seacoast Science Center
  • Portsmouth Book & Bar
  • USS Albacore Museum

4. Amherst

Amherst, New HampshireSource: NNECAPA / Flickr

Amherst is another quaint and charming town in gorgeous Hillsborough County. Amherst is very much worthy of its top five placement and has been voted as one of the best places to raise a family in New Hampshire, but why so?

For one, incidences of crime in the area are few and far between. The occasional shoplifting or petty theft debacle is dealt with by the local police quickly and efficiently.

Home value in Amherst is consistent with the rest of the state but frustratingly above the national average. With higher home value comes access to better schools and facilities so it’s a give and take situation.

Located in Southern Amherst is the city of Amherst, one of the best places to live in New Hampshire. Route 101 and 101-A are the two major highways that pass through Amherst, making it a convenient location for commuters. It’s also less than fifteen minutes from the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport that connects to other major airports.

With a population of around twelve thousand residents, Amherst thrives as a suburban community that maintains its history and rural characteristics.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Amherst are:

  • Amherst Village Green
  • Joshua’s Park
  • Beaver Brook Park
  • Birch Park
  • Amherst Town Beach
  • Bragdon Farm
  • Baboosic Lake
  • Break Free 603
  • Black Forest Cafe & Bakery
  • LaBelle Winery

5. Hollis

Hollis, New HampshireSource: Dougtone / Flickr

The small town of Hollis has a population of just over three thousand residents and is one of the best places to live in New Hampshire. Hollis has lush, green forests and loving and friendly residents.

If you ask its residents, they’ll tell you they love being outdoors to take advantage of their hiking trails, as well as their golf courses. With a vibrant downtown district, you’ll be able to find everything you need without traveling to the big city.

The unemployment rate is well below the national average, at 2.8%, while the cost of living is around thirty-eight percent higher than the national average.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Hollis are:

  • Lull Farm
  • Silver Lake State Park
  • Fright Kingdom
  • Leda Lanes
  • Mine Falls Park
  • Overlook Golf Club

6. Durham

Durham, New HampshireSource: Olivier Aumage / Wikimedia

Meandering around the Great Bay, Durham is a small town north of Newmarket in Strafford County. Crime in the area is almost non-existent which is a real bonus point next to Durham’s name.

Located next to Great Bay, Durham boasts excellent schools, recreational activities, and cultural opportunities. Durham is also home to The University of New Hampshire, the state’s largest University that contributes enormously to the state’s thriving economy.

Thanks to the University of New Hampshire campus in the northeast of the suburb, there is a greatly diverse community here.

There are some magnificent properties available in Durham. Although a little out of range for many young families, it is certainly worth looking at property in Durham as an investment as well as your next home.

The median home value may be above average, but at the higher end of the scale at a punchy million, you can get a picturesque, waterfront home with 4-bedrooms and 4-bathrooms; not to mention the double garage and long private driveway.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Durham are:

  • Market & Cafe at Emery Farm
  • Wagon Hill Farm
  • UNH Observatory
  • Children’s Museum of New Hampshire
  • Wildcat Stadium
  • University of New Hampshire
  • Woodman Museum
  • Chuckster’s

7. Madbury

Town Hall, Madbury, NHSource: Myself / Wikimedia
Town Hall, Madbury, NH

Nestled between Durham and Dover lies the small village of Madbury. Two thousand people call this charming rural neighbourhood home. There is a fantastic variety of people who live in the area making the small population greatly diverse; the area is an up and coming hotspot for millennials, as well as the young families and retirees that all live here too.

Although recreational activities like 10-pin bowling or nightclubbing aren’t readily available in Madbury, there is still plenty to keep you occupied.

Pudding Hill Town Forest is more than just a cute name! Bolstridge is a vast parkland that is frequented by dog walkers and runners alike.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Madbury are:

  • Dante’s Pasta & Vino
  • DeMerritt Hill Farm
  • Seacoast Science Center
  • The Strand
  • Stalk

8. Lee

Lee, New HampshireSource: Dougtone / Flickr

Located in New Hampshire is the small town of Lee, a city in the gorgeous White Mountains and one of the best places to live in New Hampshire. The town has locally-owned stores, dining, art galleries, annual festivals, and more. 

As a resident of Lee, you’ll enjoy various outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing. The town of Lee also has an excellent education system, making it a desirable town for families to call home.

The unemployment rate in Lee sits around two percent, well below the national average, making it a great small town for jobs. The cost of living in Lee is approximately twelve percent higher than the national average, which is excellent considering its location.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Lee are:

  •  Flag Hill Distillery & Winery
  •  Bedrock Gardens
  • Avenue Victor Hugo Books
  • Lee Library
  • Lee USA Speedway
  • Little River Park
  • Pawtuckaway State Park

9. Greenland

Greenland, New HampshireSource: Dougtone / Flickr

When you mention Greenland, people will say they move here for its incredible outdoor scenery. With its gorgeous view, it’s no wonder that residents say its landscapes are one of the best parts of living here. In the town of Greenland, you’ll wake up to mountain valleys and unforgettable waterfront views.

Greenland’s median income is around seven thousand over the state’s average, while its home value sits approximately two hundred thousand above the national average. As no surprise, Greenland’s economy continues to thrive with its competitive wages, healthy job market, and many tax breaks.

Once you live in Greenland, you’ll fall in love and find it hard to leave!

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Greenland are:

  • Water Country Water Park
  • Breakfast Hill Golf Club
  • Canobie Lake Park
  • Pease Golf Course
  • Vida Cantina
  • Fuller Gardens
  • New England Aquarium

10. Windham

Windham, New HampshireSource: Diana Nault / shutterstock

Good schools, low crime rates and plenty of quality housing, On paper it is hard to find fault with Windham. 

With fourteen thousand people calling this suburb their home, Windham is just a stone’s throw away from Boston city centre, offering residents a great many job opportunities with easy commuting options.

Windham is the most popular suburb for millennials and with that in mind, as well as all the great features of the suburb, we can expect to see Windham climbing up the ranks in the New Hampshire area in the years to come.

Renting property in Windham would not be the most cost-effective way to live, with median rent sitting at above average, there are more affordable suburbs out there for tenants.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Windham are:

  • Park Place Lanes
  • Griffin Park
  • Windham Rail Trail
  • Snow Pond Farm
  • Windham Town Beach
  • Salem Town Forest
  • Windham Country Club
  • America’s Stonehenge

11. Stratham

Stratham, New HampshireSource: Dougtone / Flickr

The town of Stratham is a small town in New Hampshire with a population of just around eight thousand people. This town is where everyone knows everyone and loving and friendly neighbors come naturally here.

Stratham is best recognized for its excellent education system, arts and culture, and historical interest. You won’t have difficulty finding work here, as Stratham’s unemployment rate is only two percent, well below the national average.

In this quiet town, you’ll enjoy the scenery on its quiet back roads while driving through the countryside. Stratham is also known for its yearly festival, the Stratham Fair. At the Stratham Fair, residents come together to enjoy live music, local events, baking completions, and plenty of vendors.

If you’re looking for a town that’s just like out of a movie, Stratham takes the cake and is the perfect place to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Stratham are:

  • Legacy Lane Farm
  • Lindt Chocolate Shop
  • Kidstrong Stratham
  • American Independence Museum
  • Stratham Hill Park
  • Throwback Brewery
  • Cider Hill Farm
  • Rinks at Exeter

12. Mont Vernon

Mont Vernon, New HampshireSource: Dougtone / Flickr
Mont Vernon

The very rural area of Mont Vernon is home to a tiny population of just 2,620 people. An impressive 96% of residents live in owned homes. Despite this, there are plenty of properties on the market offering buyers ample choice.

Mont Vernon is proud to offer residents access to some of the best schools in the state; that said, there are only two to choose from!

The reason why Mont Vernon comes in lower down the ranks is that it’s so far out in the sticks. This makes commuting a bit of an issue and job opportunities are few and far between.

This is very much a place for people who want to feel part of a community and play an active role in maintaining this atmosphere. Business-focused folk are not the ideal candidates for living in Mont Vernon.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Mont Vernon are:

  • Purgatory Falls
  • The Hampshire Dome
  • Fun City Trampoline Park
  • Purgatory Brook
  • Wingspeed Adventures
  • Vertical Dreams

13. Hampton

Hampton, New HampshireSource: Jon Bilous / shutterstock

Set right on the Atlantic coast is the quaint town of Hampton. There is little to fault with in Hampton. There is plenty of green spaces in Hampton, perfect for those who like to keep fit, have dogs to walk or enjoy getting out and about as a family. Football fields, as well as baseball, softball and basketball courts for community members to enjoy.

Locals say that Hampton is very safe, the kind of place where children can play in the street, like the good old days!

This quiet area would be deemed too sleepy for those you like the busy and bustling cities. If you’re looking for a leisurely pace of life and a strong community ethos, Hampton would be a serious contender.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Hampton are:

  • Hampton Beach State Park Campground
  • The 401 Tavern
  • Smuttynose Brewing Company
  • Casino Ballroom
  • Captain’s Cove Adventure Golf
  • Blue Ocean Discovery Center
  • Tuck Museum
  • Hampton Beach State Park

14. Hopkinton

Hopkinton, New HampshireSource: Erika J Mitchell / shutterstock

Situated in Merrimack County, you’ll find the town of Hopkinton, one of the best places to live in New Hampshire. When considering moving to Hopkinton, you’ll quickly find out the town has three communities: Hopkinton Village, Contoocook, and West Hopkinton.

The town of Hopkin is home to the Hopkinton State Fair, an annual and largest fair in the state of New Hampshire. Compared to other districts, Hopkinton has an excellent public school system with high rankings, making this a desirable town to raise a family.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Hopkinton are:

  • Beech Hill Farm & Ice Cream Barn
  • Elm Brook Park
  • Hopkinton Parks & Recreation
  • Contoocook Farmers Market
  • Carter Hill Orchard
  • Hopkinton-Everett Lake
  • Red River Theaters
  • Clough State Park

15. Atkinson

Atkinson, New HampshireSource: nlnnet / Flickr

New Hampshire’s best-kept secrets. Situated along the pine trees, you’ll find a quaint and comfortable neighborhood with a booming economy. It’s no wonder Atkinson made the list as one of the best places to live in New Hampshire.

Atkinson has everything you need to be a hidden gem. It has excellent schools, nature parks, restaurants, and so much more! Atkinson is the perfect place to call home as it is ideally located to make for easy commutes to nearby locations such as Boston and Manchester. 

If you’re looking for a new home in a friendly and loving town, Atkinson caters to people of all ages and is the perfect place to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Atkinson are:

  • Field of Dreams Park
  • Merrill’s Tavern
  • Willow Spring Vineyards
  • Mystic Aquarium
  • Currier Museum of Art
  • New England Aquarium
  • Roger Williams Park Zoo
  • Saddle Up Saloon

15 Best Places to Live in New Hampshire:

  • Hanover
  • Bedford
  • Portsmouth
  • Amherst
  • Hollis
  • Durham
  • Madbury
  • Lee
  • Greenland
  • Windham
  • Stratham
  • Mont Vernon
  • Hampton
  • Hopkinton
  • Atkinson