The Garden State is a beautiful place to live. From our lush parks to great restaurants and diverse neighborhoods – what’s not to love? To that end, you may wonder where the best places to live in New Jersey are.
I’ve been a resident of New Jersey for over 30 years, and have traveled extensively throughout the state. This article lists some of the best towns and cities I’ve visited that you’ll love to call home.
Just planning a quick trip? You can also check out my list of places to visit in New Jersey.
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15 Best Places to Live in New Jersey
A college town filled with rich history
Located in Mercer County, Princeton is one of the top places to live in New Jersey. However, its popularity means that you can expect to pay a pretty penny on a house here, but locals say it’s worth it.
This peaceful college town is pleasant, diverse, and a great place to raise a family. Along with the Gothic-style Princeton University and art museums, the area is rich in historic charm. And if you love to golf, it’s home to some of the best golf courses in New Jersey. Princeton has a very low crime rate, making it also one of the safest places to live in New Jersey.
I also recommend Princeton as one of the best places to stay in New Jersey while you’re on your home scouting trip.
A commuter town with a cozy feel
Located in Middlesex County, Metuchen is yet another great place to live. This mid-sized town has great schools with friendly residents. It’s known as a commuter town because of the amount of traffic its sizable train station receives. The NJ Transit Metuchen Station serves close to 180,000 riders every month!
Metuchen is also a very safe place to live, with crime rates well below the national average. The police also have a strong presence here.
A diverse historic town in Middlesex County
Like Metuchen, Edison is also located in Middlesex County. Edison boasts a very ethnically diverse population. It’s an ideal place for families, with top-rated public schools and a suburban atmosphere.
It’s also among the wealthier towns in New Jersey, with a median income of about $100k/year. With the highly-rated John F. Kennedy Medical Center in town, there are also many job opportunities. Edison is also home to the expansive Menlo Park Mal and Little India, a primarily South Asian shopping center.
A bustling Philly suburb with great shopping
Beautiful Cherry Hill is located in Camden County. Even though it’s located in New Jersey, it’s considered a suburb of Philadelphia because of its proximity. As a result, it’s a great choice for those who have to commute to Philly.
Cherry Hill is densely populated with over 70,000 residents, but that doesn’t take away from its comfortable, suburban feel. This wealthy town is home to great schools, lush parks, and recreational activities. It really is an ideal place to raise a family.
Cherry Hill is also home to one of the most popular malls in New Jersey, the Cherry Hill mall.
An all-around beautiful suburban township
Located in Burlington County, Mount Laurel is known as one of the safest areas to live in New Jersey. The schools are top-notch, and it has beautiful outdoor spaces for the little (and not so little!) ones to run around. I’ve been here quite a few times. The residents are friendly and the town has an all-around comfortable feel.
The housing market boasts affordable single-family homes, and the town is decently sized with a population of about 41,000. This pleasant town is a great option, especially for those who commute to Philadelphia for work.
A small town with a rural vibe
Chesterfield is a township in Burlington County. It has a small population of almost 8,000, but it’s slowly growing. The new construction homes add to the beauty of the neighborhoods.
Most of the residents are white-collar workers whose average commute is about 30 minutes. Chesterfield is family-friendly and has an almost rural feel due to its pace and population. Because the town is so small, they only have one elementary school, but no Middle or High School. Middle and High Schools are located in neighboring Columbus, NJ.
Because of its pace, Chesterfield is an ideal place to raise a family. It’s also great for older individuals who like peace and quiet.
A beautiful seaside resort town with a family-friendly atmosphere
Located in Cape May County, Ocean City is well-known for its beautiful beaches and is even featured as one of the best beaches in New Jersey. But it’s also a great place to live. This beautiful town right by the Jersey Shore gives you great ocean views while providing all the amenities you need.
To maintain its family-friendly status, Ocean City has been designated a ‘dry town’. This means that you won’t find any clubs or bars here. They don’t even serve alcohol in restaurants. This might be a deal-breaker for some, but you can always travel to neighboring towns if you want a drink.
There’s a wide variety of housing available for every need. Single-family homes, condos for rent, and vacation homes are all options.
A diverse city with multiple housing options
Located in Hudson County, Jersey City is a large suburb in the New York Metropolitan area. It offers easy and quick transportation to New York. The downtown area is bustling with nightlife, amazing restaurants, and shopping.
Many come to live here because of the variety of housing available. Upscale luxurious accommodations near the waterfront are popular. Further into Jersey City, you’ll find less expensive options. You also get beautiful scenic views from many of the parks, including Liberty State Park (my fave!)
Depending on which part of Jersey City you live in, school ratings vary. You can opt for private or charter schools if you prefer.
NYC vibes across the Hudson
The birthplace of Frank Sinatra, Hoboken is also located in Hudson County. This bustling city is small and best suited for young professionals that work in Manhattan. The train station is centrally-located making a commute to NYC very easy. There are even ferries should you decide to travel that route.
Hoboken is as close as you can get to city life without paying city prices. They have buzzing nightlife which draws in the younger crowd as well. The city also has a low unemployment rate, meaning more jobs. Most people rent out here, which can be pricey because of its proximity to New York.
👉 Pro Tip: Parking is pretty rough. If you don’t need to, don’t drive. Hoboken is very walkable. Take your vehicle only if you must leave Hoboken, or use a rideshare service.
Upscale suburbia with a little bit of everything
Located in Essex County, Upper Montclair is a section of Montclair. This section sits at a higher elevation than the rest of Montclair. It’s characterized by larger houses and a quieter nature.
Montclair is a nice place to live because it gives you a little bit of everything. You get quaint boutiques and lush parks like the suburbs. Further down the main street, Bloomfield Avenue offers a city feel. Upscale restaurants and classy nightlife grace the walkable downtown area. Everything is within a short driving distance.
It’s a great place for most people, but a toss-up for families as Montclair’s schools have mixed reviews. If you want to avoid public schools, private and charter schools are available.
A diverse suburban town
Also located in Essex County, Livingston is a well-to-do area with excellent schools and beautiful homes. It has an ethnically diverse community lending to its popularity as a place to live. The chances of becoming a victim of crime here are slim, about 1 in 112 on average. A heavy police presence ensures that!
Downtown Livingston is big and has many great shops, restaurants, and hair salons. On the other side of Livingston, you’ll find its namesake mall – Livingston Mall, a place I’ve spent a lot of time in.
Homes in Livingston can be pricey, but smaller more affordable options exist. It’s close to major highways that can take you to the city. Livingston is an ideal place to live for families, singles, and older individuals alike.
A classic small town with historic charm
Peaceful Madison is in Morris County. This quiet town gives you a quiet, small-town vibe. They provide excellent schools and beautiful parks. Crime rates are well below the national average, resulting in safe, peaceful living.
Stepping into Madison is almost like stepping a few years back in time. The quaint town offers a homey feel with mom-and-pop shops and a close-knit community. Younger individuals might find Madison a little quiet and boring. Those with families or older, retired individuals will love it – unless you like a little more action.
An NYC suburb with quiet vibes
Paramus is in Bergen County, further up north in the state, close to Upper Manhattan. Many residents who commute typically use the George Washington Bridge to enter New York City.
Paramus has great schools, a quick commute to Upper Manhattan, and low crime rates. There’s also a heavy police presence. Paramus is rather expensive to live in, with home prices higher than the national average. There is also no real downtown, so most residents rely on the malls for dining and entertainment.
If money is no object, Paramus is a nice, quiet, safe place to live for just about everyone. It’s well suited for families and older individuals. It’s also great for those who work in the city, particularly Upper Manhattan.
👉 Pro Tip: All of Bergen County, including Paramus, has what’s called “blue laws”, a rather old law that bans secular activity on Sundays. This means that you won’t be able to go to the mall or any major shops on Sundays in Bergen County.
A suburbia in the hills of the Watchung Reservation
Beautiful Summit is in Union County. It’s considered a city, but it has a suburban feel. One of Summit’s distinct characteristics is its elevation. It sits at about a 370-foot elevation giving you great views of certain areas of the city.
Summit gives you a nice mix of city and suburban living, though it is more on the suburban side. A seasonal farmer’s market that graces downtown every Sunday adds to Summit’s charm. The schools are great, so Summit is perfect for families. It has a nice, calm pace to it which makes it a great place to live for older individuals as well.
A riverside town with an eclectic vibe
Also located in Union County, Cranford is a small suburban area with a little over 20,000 residents. The eclectic atmosphere has a little something for everyone. The top-notch schools are great for those with families with kids of all ages. The hip atmosphere downtown offers great restaurants and nightlife. This makes it great for young singles or couples.
The Cranford NJ Transit train station is right in the heart of downtown, in a convenient location for those who commute. The township is clean and well-kept, and the residents are friendly. You have a variety of living options as well, such as single-family homes, condos, and apartments.
👉 Pro Tip: Cranford has a very strong police presence. They’re very concerned about the safety of Cranford residents, and this includes on the road. Make sure to observe all traffic signals and signs – they don’t miss a thing!
The Garden State is a beautiful place to live whether you have a family, or are single. This list isn’t all-inclusive. There are many more areas that make more than ideal places to settle down. While you’re here, be sure to check out some of the best things to do in New Jersey to make the most out of your scouting trip!
I hope I’ve helped you find the best places to live in New Jersey!
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