Waterfront buildings in Hoboken, one of the best places to live in New Jersey

15 Best Places to Live in New Jersey (By a Local)

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.

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

15 Best Places to Live in New Jersey

Princeton

A college town filled with rich history

View of a big Starbucks cup in Princeton, New Jersey
Downtown Princeton (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | 🌆 City Website | 🏫 School District Website | 👉 Browse Princeton Hotels on Booking for Your Scouting Trip

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.

Metuchen 

A commuter town with a cozy feel

Cars parked outside an apartment complex building in Metuchen
Apartment Complex in Metuchen (photo: quiggyt4 / Shutterstock)

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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.

Edison

A diverse historic town in Middlesex County

People outside the entrance of a diner in Edison
Diner in Edison (photo: Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock)

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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.

Cherry Hill

A bustling Philly suburb with great shopping

View of a park in Cherry Hill during autumn
Park in Cherry Hill overlooking the Philadelphia skyline (photo: Krtz07 / Shutterstock)

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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.

Mount Laurel

An all-around beautiful suburban township 

A water tower under a clear blue sky in Mount Laurel
Water Tower in Mount Laurel (photo: Alan Budman / Shutterstock)

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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.   

Chesterfield

A small town with a rural vibe 

Close up view of a grain field in Chesterfield
Grainfield in Chesterfield (photo: Matt Smith Photographer / Shutterstock)

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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.

Ocean City

A beautiful seaside resort town with a family-friendly atmosphere

People wandering in Ocean City Boardwalk
Ocean City Boardwalk (photo: Alan Budman / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | 🌆 City Website | 🏫 School District Website | 👉 Browse Ocean City Hotels on Booking for Your Scouting Trip

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. 

Jersey City

A diverse city with multiple housing options

Aerial view of buildings in Jersey City during sunset

📍 Google Maps | 🌆 City Website | 🏫 School District Website | 👉 Browse Jersey City Hotels on Booking for Your Scouting Trip

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.

Hoboken

NYC vibes across the Hudson

People crossing the street in Downtown Hoboken
Downtown Hoboken (photo: James Andrews1 / Shutterstock)

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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.

Upper Montclair

Upscale suburbia with a little bit of everything

View of cars in the road of Upper Montclair
(photo: Brian Logan Photography / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | 🌆 City Website | 🏫 School District Website | 👉 Browse Montclair Hotels on Booking for Your Scouting Trip

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. 

Livingston

A diverse suburban town

View of a house in Livingston from the outside
Home in Livingston

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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. 

Madison

A classic small town with historic charm

A welcome sign and cars parked in Downtown Madison
Downtown Madison (photo:  Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | 🌆 City Website | 🏫 School District Website | 👉 Browse Madison Hotels on Expedia for Your Scouting Trip

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.

Paramus

An NYC suburb with quiet vibes

View of a water fountain in Paramus
(photo: James R. Martin / Shutterstock)

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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.

Summit

A suburbia in the hills of the Watchung Reservation

View of a street in Downtown Summit
Downtown Summit (photo: quiggyt4 / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | 🌆 City Website | 🏫 School District Website | 👉 Browse Summit Hotels on Booking for Your Scouting Trip

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. 

Cranford

A riverside town with an eclectic vibe

A train station from afar in Downtown Cranford
Downtown Cranford by the train station (photo: Joseph Tarr / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | 🌆 City Website | 🏫 School District Website | 👉 Browse Cranford Hotels on Booking for Your Scouting Trip

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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30 Comments

  1. You left out some of the areas in Sussex County with the lakes, like Sparta (Lake Mohawk) and Lake Hopatcong. Also Millburn.

    1. I agree!
      Living in beautiful Sussex County NJ for over 25 years. My two new neighbors from Manhanttan would agree.
      Nothing like having tranquility and spectacular nature to admire.
      School systems are wonderful and kind people.
      New Jersey Transit in nearby locations and accesible to all highways. route 80 etc.
      I guess nature would do that to the human soul.
      Love Sussex County!!

  2. I grew up in Metuchen. Wish I had stayed there. You picked just about the same places to live in NJ I picked!

  3. Areas like Asbury Park and the small towns on both sides of it are quite lovely. Nice food and light traffic except in the summer, plus we have the ocean and lots of pretty lakes.

  4. Loved this piece. Something for everyone in Jerz. Your selections for the best of the best certainly coincides with mine. NJ ALL DAY!

  5. No disagreements, except Paramus. Good shopping experience, but Routes 17 and 4 are bad news (i used to work there)

  6. Cherry Hill is no longer a safe place. Some areas have drastically changed in the last 5-10 years. Schools should be individually checked because not all are good or safe .

  7. I think the Upper Freehold and western Jackson area is the absolute best place to reside in NJ. Crime is basically non existent. The new Great Adventure Entertainment complex is growing with all sorts of entertainment, hotels, restaurants, great shopping, a huge amusement complex with a water park, and plenty of employment opportunities.
    The home prices can be very reasonable as well as some high priced areas. The new Great Adventure complex is working on being the largest of its kind in the country. I live in Cream Ridge which is only a stones throw from the area. The area is located in the very center of the state. It’s the very best in every way NJ has to offer!

  8. Places I would add: Morristown, Morris Plains, Morris Twp Hanover, Denville, Montville, Parsippany Troy Hills, Mountain Lakes. Morris County, known as “The Crossroads of the American Revolution,” has a rich history dating from Colonial days. Morristown, the county seat, was the site of George Washington’s winter headquarters during the American Revolution and remains the cultural and commercial center. Basically, people need to drop what they saw on the opening of the Sopranos (GREAT show by the way!) Jersey is called the Garden State for a reason! 😀

  9. Thank you. I’ve lived in Jersey for 50 years and still don’t know the half of it! Your brief insightful summaries help since I’m considering moving in state. Now I know where to look! Of course there’s no way you can include every town as some seem to suggest but you get the just of it with your submission. Passing along to my daughter’s who also wants to move back with her son.

  10. How about Bridgewater (excellent school system, TD Bank Baseball Stadium, mall, beautiful scenery,) Somerville (downtown Somerville with car and music shows, restaurants, beautiful downtown,) and New Brunswick (Rutgers, State Theatre, etc.) They are rich in history, education, the arts, fine dining, entertainment, sports, great job opportunities, excellent health care system just to mention a few.

  11. Jersey city is not a suburb. It is one of the largest cities in New Jersey. It is in Hudson County which is one of the most densely populated areas in the country. Thanks to all the recent and continuing construction of high rises and condos the narrow streets of Jersey City are more crowded and congested than ever. It is a convenient location as far as driving out of the area but good luck getting where you want to go.

  12. You left out some of the most beautiful shore towns, here’s just a few LBI, Cape May, Seaside Park , Barnegat Light !

    Summertime fun is abundant in Southern Ocean and Atlantic Counties 🙏

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