Best Places To Live In New Jersey: Top 5 Garden State Cities, According To Experts

For many people, New Jersey is seen as just a place for New York City employees to rest their heads at night before commuting back to the big city. But the truth is that the Garden State has an abundance to offer on its own. The state is rich with culture and community, and boasts great education, access to nature, and countless restaurants and bars. You just have to know how to find the best places to live in New Jersey to reap the benefits.

Thanks to its many safe cities and towns, New Jersey is a great place to raise a family. A 2021 study found that New Jersey is among the top five best states for working fathers, likely attributable to its easy access to multiple cities and job markets.

And if you hope to put down roots with one partner, statistics bode well. A recent survey found New Jersey as one of the states with the lowest divorce rates. If you’re still looking for love, two New Jersey cities make the list for most available singles. There’s something for everyone!

Whether you’re pondering a move to New Jersey for its great bagels, social scene, or NYC suburbs, you’re likely to find multiple options to weigh. To help break the tie, StudyFinds collected expert opinions to compile this list of the top five best places to live in New Jersey. If you have a suggestion that we didn’t list, let us know in the comments below!

The List: Best Places to Live in New Jersey, Per Experts

1. Princeton

As the home of an Ivy League university, Princeton is a college town with a thriving and unique culture. “This peaceful college town is pleasant, diverse, and a great place to raise a family,” says Travel Lemming. “Along with the Gothic-style Princeton University and art museums, the area is rich in historic charm.”

And if you’re worried about living in a town full of rambunctious college students, Princeton will quickly assuage your concerns. “Instead of rowdy bars and dirty streets, students are incorporated into the local community. The area around the university is very walkable, with restaurants, coffee shops, and parks available,” UpHomes says. 

Centrally located within commuting distance of New York City and Philadelphia, Princeton is a charming town to call home for people of all ages. “One of the most desirable places to live in the state,” claims Touropia. “Although house prices and the cost of living are high, residents benefit from superb schools and public service with Princeton’s intellectual air and beautiful scenery also attracting many others.”

Princeton University in fall
Princeton University in the fall (Photo by Tim Alex on Unsplash)

2. Jersey City

Perfect for all kinds of go-getters, Jersey City is a hub for industries ranging from biotechnology to education. “Jersey City’s waterfront location on the Hudson and a short commute to Manhattan make it ideal for young professionals, millennials, and college students alike,” says Apartment List

Located close enough to New York City to make traveling to and from easy, but far enough to allow for its own culture and personality, Jersey City is popular for commuters. “Often referred to as New York’s ‘sixth borough’, it shares much of its history, geography and culture with the massive metropolis,” Touropia says.

“The suburb is vibrant and trendy and has a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury condos by the water to more affordable inner-city digs,” adds Nomad Lawyer.

Jersey City
Jersey City skyline (Photo by Tomas Martinez on Unsplash)

3. Ridgewood

For those who want to raise a family away from the hustle and bustle of the city but aren’t ready to give up access to the Big Apple, Ridgewood has the perfect fit. “Ridgewood has some of the highest-rated schooling, outdoor activities, jobs, nightlife, and health and fitness scores for its population,” says UpHomes. “Living in Ridgewood gives you a suburban feel with easy access to large cities such as Manhattan or Jersey City but the convenience of living in a quiet, family-friendly area.

But life in Ridgewood is far from boring. “This desirable Bergen County destination impresses out-of-towners with its tight-knit feel and a wonderful sense of community. (It’s the sort of place where you actually know your neighbors and probably invite them over for barbecues in the summertime,” PureWow claims.

“The village offers access to plenty of parks, a thriving downtown and other family-friendly activities,” adds The Crazy Tourist.

4. Ocean City

Ocean City is a place for those who prefer the slower pace of a cozy beach town to the rush of city life. “Often called ‘America’s Greatest Family Resort,’ Ocean City is jam-packed with exciting attractions and entertainment options,” says Touropia. “The family-friendly resort town is also a great place to live thanks to its top-class schools and scenic seaside setting.”

Arguably, Ocean City is best suited for families. “A haven for summer holiday-goers and full-time residents, Ocean City has a wholesome reputation,” PureWow says. “From a livability standpoint, you can’t beat the pleasant coastal climate and tons of year-round outdoor activities. Ocean City also wins points for its pristine beaches and overall cleanliness.”

One interesting thing to note about Ocean City is its lack of bars or alcohol in restaurants. This is in an effort to keep the town safe, calm, and family friendly. “Ocean City has been designated a dry town,” explains Travel Lemming. Therefore, says PureWow, ​​”you don’t have to worry about noisy nightclubs or booze-fueled escapades.” Of course, if you’re looking for a cocktail with your dinner, nearby towns still have plenty to offer.

5. Newark

Newark is an ever-evolving city, making it an exciting place to call home. “The population of Jersey City is a mix of families and young professionals looking for an easy commute to Manhattan or wanting easy access to everything the city has to offer,” says UpHomes. “Surprisingly, the city is also very walkable with its waterfront walkway, green spaces, and long streets, making it a great place to live for those who do not want to own a car.”

Located within commuting distance of New York City, Jersey City is home to a great many commuters. “Jersey City boasts stunning panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline and is a short 40-minute commute into New York City,” UpHomes says.

But the city has more to offer than its proximity on the map to the Big Apple. “Many newcomers think you need to commute into Manhattan to soak up the culture, but Newark also offers its share of attractions,” Apartment List says. “Oft-overlooked in favor of nearby Manhattan, New Jersey’s largest city Newark is a culturally rich place, home to countless museums, galleries and theaters,” adds Touropia.


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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links.


  1. Not even close. There are a hundred better communities in N.J. To raise a family, with really good public schools,and after school activities that the so-called top five are so lacking. Shoddy journalism or just a paid advertisement.

  2. Newark? Are you serious? Why not put Camden on the list as well. Cape May would be the right answer.

  3. Just so we’re clear, two cities on this list where you’re most likely to get murdered (Outside of Camden) are the best places to live in NJ? Go to know I can get a job as a writer if I get laid off in this wave.

  4. Gotta laugh. Newark? Take a drive down Mccarter highway along the vaunted “waterfront” west of the Passaic River . Nice try though.

  5. I wouldn’t live in Newark or Jersey City if you paid me. Try a nice lakefront home in beautiful Sussex County. Not over crowded. Less expensive.

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