15 Best Places to Live in New Jersey

Written by Darren Griffiths
Updated on
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New Jersey is often associated with many bad things, and neighboring its hipper, grander sister, New York, doesn’t help matters. The Garden State is accused of having some of the highest taxes in the country. And being too populated. Scratch that – and it is the most densely populated state with 9 million people cramped up in its tiny shores (it’s the fourth smallest state by area but 11th largest by population).

A land mostly made of highways, yet traffic is a constant theme here. And rude people. And factory fumes. And landfills. And pricey homes.

The thing is, though, every place has its ups and downs. And while Jersey has some nasty ones, it is not short of its fair share of plusses. Like its enviable location – it is possible to work in New York and live in New Jersey or spend a Saturday in Philadelphia and be back home for dinner.

New Jersey is a beautiful state (give credit where it’s due) with plenty of shore towns and beloved diners. Its rural farmland is a source of fresh local produce that you’ll find displayed on farm stands, albeit mostly in summer.

It is a beautifully diverse state, famous for high-performing public schools, with one of the country’s highest high school graduation rates (ranked #2 in 2016, for instance).

Here are the best places to live in New Jersey:

1. North Arlington

North Arlington, New JerseySource: sevenMaps7 / shutterstock
North Arlington

Located in Bergen County, North Arlington takes the top spot as one of the best places to live in New Jersey. North Arlington has around sixteen thousand residents and many outdoor venues.

Residents in North Arlington enjoy venues like Schuyler Park, an excellent location for exploring nature. Many families move to North Arlington for its arts and cultural scene, economic center, and excellent educational opportunities.

While North Arlington is one of the best places to live, you’ll have to travel to the big city or outside of town for more job opportunities. The average commute time in North Arlington is 34 minutes, which isn’t bad considering the location.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near North Arlington are:

  • Brunswick Zone
  • Serene Dreams Spa
  • Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
  • Arlington Diner
  • Roma Restaurant
  • Branch Brook Park
  • New Jersey Performing Arts Center
  • The Newark Museum of Art

2. Ridgewood

Ridgewood, New JerseySource: Rich B-S / Flickr

Ridgewood, New Jersey, a charming small village in Bergen County, is situated only miles from the George Washington Bridge. As one of the best places to live in New Jersey, it exceeds expectations with its old and new style of living.

You’ll find lovely shops, restaurants, and colonial-style homes in its quaint downtown area. While living in Ridgewood, you’ll experience a suburban lifestyle with excellent schools, beautiful nature, and endless outdoor activities.

Even living in this small suburban town, you’ll have access to extensive city amenities and job opportunities close to Manhattan. Known for its arts & cultural scene, economic center, and education, Ridgewood is a great place to settle and raise a family.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Ridgewood are:

  • James Rose Center
  • Schoolhouse Museum
  • Stable Art Gallery
  • Steel Wheel Tavern
  • Rey Sol Coffee Roasters
  • Saddle River County Park
  • Pinot’s Palette

3. White Meadow Lake

White Meadow LakeSource: Rock nj / Wikimedia
White Meadow Lake

In New Jersey, you’ll find the small town of White Meadow Lake, located just outside New York City. This tight-knit community of neighbors is always ready to lend a helping hand when needed.

While living in White Meadow Lake, you’ll enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and the convenience of being close to the big city. While living in this small town, you can take advantage of their many outdoor activities, such as fishing and hiking through trails.

White Meadow Lake is the perfect place to call home with its low crime rate and relaxing atmosphere.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in White Meadow Lake are:

  • White Meadow Lake Festival Days (summer)
  • Morristown National Historical Park
  • Hopatcong State Park
  • Jefferson Diner
  • Trailside Nature & Science Center

4. Princeton

Princeton, New JerseySource: Helen89 / shutterstock

Located in southwest Trenton in Princeton, New Jersey, a city with a population of thirty thousand residents. It boasts various entertainment options like bowling, movie theaters, and laser tag facilities.

Princeton is known for being located near a famous college town, with historical interests and a moderate cost of living.

The cost of living can be steep in Mercer County town, with median home value at a quarter of a million. But the residents also bank six figures per household. If you can afford it, few places in the state can promise you a better place to call home.

Niche.com named Princeton the third best place to live in New Jersey in 2017. Princeton was #1 on the list of “Best College Towns to Live in” by Smartasset.com. Wallethub.com named it the best small city in America from a list comprising over 1,200. And it came in at position 15 on Money Magazine’s top towns to Live and Work in America.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Princeton are:

  • Princeton University
  • Princeton Public Library
  • Princeton University Art Museum
  • Carnegie Lake
  • Morven Museum and Garden
  • Princeton Battle Monument

5. Oradell

Oradell, New JerseySource: JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ, M.D. / Wikimedia

If you’re looking for a small and cozy town, Oradell is one of the best places to live in New Jersey. With plenty of nature parks to explore, residents enjoy a laid-back style of living. Located nearby are the cities of Hackensack and Newark, which boast many extensive city amenities.

The town of Oradell has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere with plenty of amenities, making it a great place to live for families. Oradell also has an excellent public school system, making it a desirable location for families. With its easy access to multiple cities, Oradell is a great place to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Oradell are:

  • Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum
  • The Little Firehouse Theatre

6. Edison Township

Edison, New jerseySource: Andrew F. Kazmierski / shutterstock
Edison Township

Edison is a small city in Middlesex County with a population of 102,000, which makes it the fifth-largest municipality in New Jersey in terms of population.

In case you’re wondering, the city gets its name from the one and only Thomas Edison, whose home and main research lab were based here – yes, including the lab where the famous “10,000” light bulbs were tested before he finally cracked the puzzle.

As with several entries in our list of best places to live in the Garden State, Edison has been featured multiple times on many a “Best list.” And the driving factors behind this are multiple. One is the low unemployment rate due to many big-name businesses in the area, including the John F. Kennedy Medical Center and Johnson & Johnson.

The education system is top-notch; surprisingly, the cost of living remains lower than in the rest of the state.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Edison are:

  • Roosevelt Park
  • Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park
  • Menlo Park Mall
  • Supercharged Entertainment
  • Monster Mini Golf Edison
  • Rutgers Gardens
  • Topgolf

7. Saddle Brook

Saddle BrookSource: www.saddlebrooknjapts.com
Saddle Brook

Located northeast of Patterson is the attractive town of Saddle Brook, one of the best places to live in New Jersey. Saddle Brook offers many walking trails, shopping centers, and outdoor activities. Saddle is known for having some of the best arts and cultural scenes, economic center points, and education for its residents.

The area is crisscrossed by multiple major highways like Interstate 80, the Garden State Parkway, and Route 17. This is considered one of the best places for commuters, and the fact that New York City is just minutes away says it all.

Regarding recreation, there is plenty in Saddle Brook to keep you occupied, with numerous community events, including baseball game outings, community movie nights, and even walks with the mayor!

Money Magazine listed Saddle Brook as the 24th best place to live in America in 2017. The median home value stands above the national average.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Saddle Brook are:

  • Saddle River County Park
  • Westfield Garden State Plaza
  • Bergen Town Center
  • Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park
  • AMC Garden State 16
  • Maywood Station Museum
  • Friends of the Bergen County Zoo

8. Succasunna

Succasunna, New JerseySource: sevenMaps7 / shutterstock

Situated in New Jersey is the city of Succasunna, one of the best places to live in New Jersey because of its convenience. Succasunna is located near major cities and has a calming atmosphere most residents enjoy.

Succasunna offers its residents many outdoor activities, such as hiking, walking trails, golf courses, and parks, to keep its families entertained. This town has a low crime rate, which makes it a desirable location for families looking to start a family or retire. This small town, hidden in northern New Jersey, has something for everyone to enjoy.

Beyond that, the crime rate here is slim to none, the unemployment rate is low, and the community ranks favorably for its married families. More than 75% of the residents have a college degree and above, and it naturally follows that the local school district in the area is among the best in the state. Which it is.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Succasunna are:

  • Circle Bowl & Entertainment
  • Ramsey Outdoor Store
  • Horseshoe Lake Recreation Complex
  • Clubhouse Golf Center & Grill
  • Turkey Brook Park
  • Randolph Park Beach

9. Ho-Ho-Kus

Ho-Ho-Kus, New JerseySource: Roadgeek Adam / Flickr

Located in Bergen County is the charming small town of Ho-Ho-Kus. Known for its quiet neighborhoods and relaxing atmosphere, Ho-Ho-Kause is one of the best places to live in New Jersey for those looking for a peaceful location and to remain close to amenities.

Ho-Ho-Kus has many beautiful parks and family-friendly outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, and fishing. The residents living in Ho-Ho-Kus are a tight-knit community that gathers for local events such as local farmer’s markets and annual festivals. For additional employment opportunities, Ho-Ho-Kus is also conveniently located close to public transportation for easy access to New York City.

Residents can navigate the big city in Manhattan and New Jersey areas. If you’re searching for a relaxing atmosphere, a loving community, and easy access to the big cities, Ho-Ho-Kus is a great place to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Ho-Ho-Kus are:

  • The Hermitage Museum
  • The Newark Museum of Art
  • Graydon Park
  • Ridgewood Historical & Preservation
  • Lake Tappan

10. Little Silver

Little Silver, New JerseySource: Dougtone / Flickr
Little Silver

Little Silver is considered one of the happiest places in New Jersey for a reason. Just a few minutes from the famous beaches of the Jersey Shore, the town is more of a coastal borough.

Known as a small town with around six thousand residents, Little Silver has a tight-knit community of loving residents. Despite being a small town, many amenities are available to its residents, such as stores, restaurants, and beautiful parks.

Little Silver also has some of the best schools in the nation, making it a desirable town for families to live in. Incidents of crime are foreign news in this small town of Monmouth County, with a high employment rate and many outdoor activities to keep the residents smiling. The welcoming town is a little gem, as the name hints; probably silver.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Little Silver are:

  • Monmouth Park
  • The Grove at Shrewsbury
  • Twin Lights State Historic Site
  • Monster Mini Golf Eatontown
  • Jenkinson’s Aquarium
  • Deep Cut Gardens Parking Lot
  • Beach Bee Meadery

11. Parsippany-Troy Hills

Parsippany-Troy HillsSource: mandritoiu / shutterstock
Parsippany-Troy Hills

In the 2017 Money Magazine list of best places to live in America, Parsippany-Troy Hills grabbed position 33, and it is not hard to see why.

Parsippany-Troy Hills is the largest town in Morris County and one of the best places to live in New Jersey. Parsippany-Troy Hills has a population of fifty-three thousand residents and a wide range of recreational activities.

Parsippany-Troy Hills has a highly-rated public school system that provides an excellent educator for the children there. In addition, the average commute time in Parsippany-Troy Hills is twenty-eight minutes, making it an excellent location for job opportunities.

Parsippany-Troy Hills also feature a bustling art scene, and this, along with its 25 parks, were some of the reasons Money Magazine ranked it so highly. The area also has a museum, a school for the arts & crafts movement, and Craftsman Farms.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Parsippany-Troy Hills are:

  • The FunPlex Amusement Center
  • Essex County Turtle Back Zoo
  • The Stickley Museum of Craftsman Farms
  • Lurker Park
  • Sky Zone Trampoline Park
  • Central Park of Morris County
  • The Polar Express Train Ride
  • Farmers Market Denville

12. Bergenfield

BergenfieldSource: Ken Lund / Flickr

Located in Bergen County is the town of Bergenfield, which sits next to many New Jersey communities. Bergenfield, New Jersey, consists of mainly middle-class families who flock to its neighborhoods because of its close location to New York City.

The cost of living in Bergenfield is low compared to the state average, with homes going way above the national average. This is about the price of a three- or four-bedroom single-family property, depending on the street.

Indeed, Bergenfield got the nod from Bloomberg Businessweek when they named the town the second-best place to raise children in the state. Manhattan is only about 13 miles away.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Bergenfield are:

  • Bergen County Zoo
  • Cooper’s Pond
  • Tommy Fox’s Public House
  • Rony’s Rockin’ Grille
  • Tenafly Nature Center
  • Teaneck Cinemas
  • Teaneck Speedway

13. Waldwick

Waldwick, New JerseySource: Daniel Case / Wikimedia

Situated in north Bergen County is the city of Waldwick and one of the best places to live in New Jersey. Waldwick continues to see rapid growth and has slowly become one of the largest towns in the state.

Waldwick has never considered itself a crime hotspot, and who doesn’t want a safe area to live in, right? The cost of living reflects Jersey’s high costs, with a single-family home going above the national average.

The high cost of living is the only major deterrent when gauging the viability of this area, but if the money is happy, you can’t wish for a nicer place to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Waldwick are:

  • Kidstrong Waldwick Education Center
  • W’s Village Grille
  • The Celery Farm
  • Giant Farmers Market
  • Amster’s Prospect Tavern

14. Concordia

ConcordiaSource: Mr. Matté (if there is an issue with this image, contact me using this image's Commons talk page or my English Wikipedia talk page; I'll know about it a lot faster) / Wikimedia
Concordia Golf Course

Concordia warrants a mention on our list of best places to live in New Jersey for its invitingly low cost of living, first and foremost.

Middlesex County has one of the lowest median home values at $164,800, and surprisingly, the population has remained below 3,500.

Then again, this is a neighborhood best suited for retirees and anyone who fancies a low-key, low-cost living. There are some great schools in the area, with plenty of outdoor activities ranging from tennis courts to golf; the 18-hole Concordia Golf Course is a perfect place to shoot some rounds.

The residents also enjoy an almost non-existent crime rate, and while the area may be a little dull when it comes to nightlife, it so happens that some of us prefer it this way.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Concordia are:

  • Thompson Park
  • Long Live Paintball
  • Etsch Farms

15. Chatham

Chatham, New JerseySource: Dougtone / Flickr

Chatham has a population of 9,000, with an adult population that holds a minimum of a college degree.

The high levels of education in the town are reflected in two major aspects.

One is that the children of these residents get to be schooled with some of the brightest tools in the box. And second, the area has a high per capita income, outperforming the national average by a massive 139%.

Families take home six figures, which is reasonable considering the high cost of living in the area where home values are above average. Nightlife is a little wanting, but this is negated by other perks that include a short commute time, many outdoor activities, and a low crime rate.

If a neighborhood populated by smart, affluent folks sounds appealing, Chatham may be your place.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Chatham are:

  • Atwood Museum
  • Chatham Lighthouse Beach
  • Chatham Lighthouse
  • Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge
  • Chatham’s Godfrey Windmill
  • Ridgevale Beach
  • Harding Beach
  • Shark Center
  • Veterans Field
  • Chatham Railroad Museum
  • Chatham Village Market
  • Chatham Pier and Fish Market


15 Best Places to Live in New Jersey:

  • North Arlington
  • Ridgewood
  • White Meadow Lake
  • Princeton
  • Oradell
  • Edison Township
  • Saddle Brook
  • Succasunna
  • Ho-Ho-Kus
  • Little Silver
  • Parsippany-Troy Hills
  • Bergenfield
  • Waldwick
  • Concordia
  • Chatham