Best Place to Live in New Jersey for families

10 Best Places to Live in New Jersey for Families (2024)

Are you looking for the best places to live in New Jersey for families? Choosing the right place to live in New Jersey for your family is a significant decision. In our search, we’ve focused on two key factors: great schools and family-friendly communities. Plus, we’ve included New Jersey towns with direct train access to NYC for commuting families. In this article, we’ll explore the best places to live in NJ for families.

Best Places to Live in New Jersey for Families

1. Short Hills, NJ

Short Hills is the best place to live in New Jersey for families. The town has it all, from great schools to a direct train to NYC, making it a top NJ town for families who want to enjoy the best of both worlds. 

Short Hills, NJ

The Millburn Township school district consistently ranks as one of the best in New Jersey, and Niche.com has ranked it as the #1 school district in the state. 

In addition to its excellent schools, Short Hills is also one of the best commuter towns in NJ, with a direct train to NYC from Short Hills taking only 38 minutes. This means that families can easily commute to the city for work without having to worry about transfers or long travel times.

Short Hills is an upscale suburb located in the town of Millburn, with winding roads and multimillion-dollar mansions. It is home to some of the wealthiest residents in NJ, with a population of 14,422 and an impressive mean household income of $428,352. The residents of Short Hills are well-educated, with 88% having obtained a Bachelor’s Degree or higher.

Despite its exclusivity, Short Hills is a family-friendly community, with 33.2% of the population being children under 18 years old. This means that families with children will find plenty of opportunities to socialize and make friends in the town.

While Short Hills may not be cheap to live in, with a median sales price of $2,081,069, the homes in the town are primarily owner-occupied, with only 10% rentals. 

Median Home Price

The Median Home Price in Short Hills is $2,081,069.

Why Short Hills is a Great Place to Live in for Families 

Short Hills is the best place to live in New Jersey for families because it has excellent schools, direct trains to NYC, and is a family-friendly community.

Learn more about Short Hills, NJ: Short Hills profile page with infographic

2. Summit, NJ

Summit is one of the best places to live in New Jersey for families. This is evident from the fact that nearly 28% of its population is made up of children under 18 years old, making it a great town for families in New Jersey.

Summit, NJ

Families move to Summit for its top-rated schools, with Niche.com ranking Summit Public Schools as the #8 school district in NJ. 

Aside from its highly rated public schools, Summit also has a vibrant downtown area and a plethora of parks and recreational activities. The town has a vibrant restaurant scene, and families can spend their weekends at the Summit Farmers Market, enjoy a play at the Summit Playhouse, or burn off energy at the Watchung Reservation.

Summit is also an easy commute to NYC, as there is a train station right in town with direct trains to NYC. Mom and dad can take the train to Manhattan without transfers, and it takes around 50 minutes. 

Plus, it’s conveniently located near major highways such as the Garden State Parkway, NJ Turnpike, and I-78, making it easy for families to travel to other parts of the state.

While Summit is an affluent town, it’s more affordable than Short Hills, with a residential median sales price of $1,092,846. It is an upscale NJ suburb with a population of 22,719 people, and the mean household income in Summit is $266,124.

Median Home Price

The Median Home Price in Summit is $1,092,846.

Why Summit is a Great Place to Live for Families 

Summit is one of the best places to live in New Jersey for families, with top-rated schools, a vibrant downtown area, and lots of parks and recreational activities. It’s also an easy commute to NYC and is conveniently located near major highways. Families will find plenty of opportunities to socialize and make friends in the town, and the town is more affordable than other upscale NJ suburbs.

Check out the Best Suburbs in New Jersey

3. Montclair, NJ

Montclair is one of the best places to live in New Jersey for families. If you are looking for a NJ suburb that is not too quiet, with a bustling downtown that is walkable and family-friendly, then Montclair could be perfect for you. 

Montclair, NJ

Montclair is a great town for families who need to commute to NYC because there are direct trains to NYC, and Montclair has 6 train stations right in town. The direct train from Montclair takes about 38 minutes, making it an easy commute for families who work in the city.

The town is family-oriented, with lots of families living there. 30.2% of Montclair residents are children under 18.

It has highly rated schools, with Niche.com ranking Montclair Public Schools as the #5 Best School Districts in Essex County. 

Located in Essex County, Montclair has a good mix of urban and suburban living, with a rich arts scene and vibrant restaurant scene. The town is a liberal community with strong ties to the arts, and it’s home to the Montclair Art Museum and Montclair Film Festival.

Montclair has a bustling downtown area with a mix of chain stores and local boutiques, including a range of restaurants from casual eateries to high-end dining options. 

Compared to the more expensive Short Hills and Summit, Montclair is more affordable with a median home price of $897,154.

The town attracts a lot of NYC families looking for a NJ suburb to raise their family, and it’s easy to see why.

Median Home Price

The Median Home Price in Montclair is $897,154.

Why Summit is a Great Place to Live for Families 

Montclair is one of the best places to live in New Jersey for families because it has a bustling downtown, highly rated schools, affordable home prices, and direct trains to NYC. 

Check out the Most Affordable Towns in Northern NJ

4. Ridgewood, NJ

Ridgewood is one of the best places to live in New Jersey for families. Ridgewood is a suburb of New Jersey known for its excellent school system, bustling downtown area, and charming homes. 

Ridgewood, NJ

The town’s schools are one of the best in New Jersey, with Niche.com ranking Ridgewood Public School District as the #5 Best School district in NJ. 

Ridgewood is an excellent place to raise a family, with lots of family friendly things to do in town. Families can spend summers in the town lake (Graydon Pool), and there are also a lot of community events in Ridgewood, such as the 4th of July parade and fireworks and summer concert series.

Lots of families live in Ridgewood with 29.3% of the population children under 18 years old.

The town has a charming downtown area with a vibrant restaurant scene, offering plenty of restaurant options for families to enjoy. 

Besides its vibrant food scene, Ridgewood is also a commuter’s dream, with convenient bus and train access to NYC, making it an appealing choice for those working in the city. For those who need to commute into NYC, Ridgewood has a train station in town, and it takes around an hour to get to Penn Station. Although you do have to transfer trains in Secaucus.

Ridgewood is also just a short drive away is the Paramus Mall, adding to the town’s convenience factor. 

Median Home Price

The median home sale price in Ridgewood is $897,317.

Why Ridgewood is a Great Place to Live for Families 

Ridgewood is one of the best places to live in New Jersey for families because it’s a family-friendly town with excellent schools, an easy commute to NYC, a charming downtown area and a vibrant restaurant scene. 

Check out the Richest Towns in New Jersey

5. Essex Fells, NJ

Essex Fells is a highly desirable place to live for families in New Jersey. The town is known for its secluded, upscale feel and large, beautiful homes, making it a haven for those seeking an upscale suburban lifestyle. 

Essex Fells, NJ

Additionally, the town is home to some of the top-rated schools in the state, including Essex Fells School, which is ranked #3 for Best Public Elementary School Teachers in New Jersey by Niche.com.

Essex Fells is a great place for families with children, as over 31% of the town’s residents are under the age of 18. 

While the town lacks a traditional downtown area, it is just a short drive away from larger New Jersey towns with more shopping and dining options.

One of the unique features of Essex Fells is its picturesque outdoor ice rink, known locally as “The Pond.” This charming town is a tight-knit community where everyone knows each other, despite its small population of only 2,244 residents.

The residents of Essex Fells are well-educated, with 84% having obtained a Bachelor’s Degree or higher. The poverty level in Essex Fells is almost zero, at only 2%, and the vast majority of homes in the town are owner-occupied, at 93.9%.

Median Sale Price

The median sale price for homes in Essex Fells is $1,113,583.

Why Essex Fells is a Great Place to Live for Families 

Essex Fells is a great place to live for families in New Jersey due to its excellent schools and family-friendly, tight-knit community.

Check out the Towns in NJ with the Highest and Lowest Property Taxes

6. Princeton, NJ

Princeton is one of the best towns in New Jersey for families. 

Princeton, NJ

The town is known for its excellent school system, with Niche.com ranking Princeton Public Schools as the #3 Best School District in New Jersey. 

Families in Princeton have a wealth of family-friendly activities to enjoy. Princeton is home to many parks and outdoor spaces, including the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park and the Princeton Battlefield State Park, where families can enjoy hiking, biking, and just burning off energy! 

There are also many family events in Princeton- from library storytimes to family events at the local orchards to kid-friendly theater shows.

Families can also enjoy cultural attractions such as the Princeton University Art Museum, as well as great shopping and dining downtown.

Princeton’s location in Mercer County also provides easy access to major cities like New York and Philadelphia, making it a convenient location for families. 

Median Sale Price

Homes in Princeton have a median sale price of $1,070,250.

Why Princeton is a Great Place to Live for Families 

Princeton’s combination of excellent schools, family-friendly activities, outdoor parks, and convenient location make it a top choice for families looking to settle down in New Jersey.

Are you also considering Westchester County? Check out our Pros and Cons to Living in New Jersey vs Westchester County

7. Tenafly, NJ

Tenafly is one of the best NJ towns to live in for families. 

Tenafly, NJ

One of the biggest draws of Tenafly is its highly rated school district, ranked as the #6 best school district in New Jersey by Niche.com. 

Lots of families live in Tenafly with 32.6% of Tenafly’s residents children under 18 years old.

Located in Bergen County, Tenafly has a bustling downtown, a diverse community, and beautiful homes. 

The town is walkable with a small, yet vibrant downtown area featuring a range of restaurants and a movie theater. 

Tenafly is a family friendly town with lots of family activities such as the Tenafly Nature Center Day, 4th of July fireworks and the beloved Halloween Parade.

Median Sale Price

The median home sale price in Tenafly is $1,142,923.

Why Tenafly is a Great Place to Live for Families 

Tenafly is a wonderful town for families with its excellent schools, diverse population, and range of recreational opportunities, Tenafly is truly one of the best towns to live in New Jersey.

Check out the Best NJ Commuter Towns to NYC

8. Demarest

Demarest is one of the best places to live in New Jersey for families. 

Demarest, NJ

The town’s highly rated schools are a significant draw for families looking for a quality education for their children. Niche.com ranks the Demarest schools (Northern Valley Regional High School District) as the #2 Best School Districts in NJ.

The small size of the school district in Demarest is also an appealing choice for families who want smaller public schools. This allows for a more personalized and individualized approach to education, which can be beneficial for students who need extra attention and support.

Additionally, lots of families with kids live in Demarest, with 28.5% of Demarest residents being children under 18 years old. 

Demarest is an upscale town with a mean income of $280,369. However, it’s important to note that living in Demarest is not cheap, with a median home price of $1,775,417. 

Demarest is about 20 miles from Manhattan. The commute by car is around 40 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic.

Median Sale Price

The median sale price for homes in Demarest is $1,775,417.

Why Demarest is a Great Place to Live for Families 

Demarest is a great place to live in for families because of its top-rated schools and close proximity to NYC.  

Check out the Richest Beach Towns in New Jersey

9. Mountain Lakes, NJ

Mountain Lakes is one of the best places to live in New Jersey for families who want great schools and the lake life. 

Kids Jumping in lake

Mountain Lakes residents have it all- lakeside living, beautiful outdoors, excellent schools, and a relatively easy commute to New York City. 

The Mountain Lakes School District is highly rated, with Niche.com ranking it as the #10 school district in New Jersey. 

In addition to the excellent schools, Mountain Lakes has beautiful lakefront homes with a median home price of $1,023,346. 

Mountain Lakes is all about lakeside living. The town’s multiple lakes gives families access to swimming, kayaking and boating.

Lots of families with children live in Mountain Lakes with 33.6% of residents under 18 years old.

If you have to commute to NYC from Mountain Lakes, you can catch the train from the train station in town. It will take approximately 1.5 hours to Penn Station because you do have to transfer train at Newark. The commute to NYC is doable, only if you have to go into the city occasionally.

Median Sale Price

The median sale price for homes in Mountain Lakes is $1,023,346.

Why is Mountain Lakes One of the Best NJ Towns to Live in for Families 

Mountain Lakes is one of the best NJ towns for families because of its highly rated schools, lake life and relatively easy commute to NYC.   

Learn more about Mountain Lakes: Mountain Lakes, NJ profile page

10. Livingston, NJ

Livingston is one of the best places to live in New Jersey for families. 

Suburban homes in NJ

Schools are a big draw for families moving to Livingston. Livingston has an excellent school system with highly rated public schools. Niche.com ranks Livingston School District as the #7 School District in New Jersey.

In addition to the schools, Livingston is a family-friendly town with lots of community events such as the annual Memorial Day Parade, Food Truck Festival and Summer Concerts. There is even a Youth Appreciation Week in Livingston with mini-camps, Lego workshops and a town-wide campout! 

Another reason why Livingston is a great place for families is its proximity to New York City. Many residents commute to the city for work, although it’s not the easiest commute depending on where you live in relation to the bus stop. It’s best to live in Livingston if you don’t have to commute into NYC daily. 

Why is Livingston One of the Best NJ Towns to Live in for Families 

Livingston is one of the best NJ towns for families because of its highly rated schools and family friendly community.   

Best New Jersey Towns for Families: Final Thoughts

When searching for the best New Jersey town for your family, remember that school rankings are just one aspect to consider. Your lifestyle matters too. If daily commuting to NYC is in your plans, focus on towns with direct train service and homes close to the train station. Short Hills, Summit, and Montclair fit this bill, these NJ towns have good schools and direct trains to NYC.

If you don’t need to commute daily, you can broaden your search. Mountain Lakes offers a lakeside lifestyle with good schools, while Demarest has excellent schools that is more intimate in size.

Budget-conscious? Montclair and Ridgewood are more affordable options. Keep in mind, though, that living in a sought-after school district often means higher property prices.

Remember, finding the perfect New Jersey town for your family takes time. Visit towns, tour schools, and explore beyond the list here to find the best New Jersey town for your family.

Best Places to Live in NJ for Families: Methodology

In order to come up with our list of the best places to live in New Jersey for families, the rankings are primarily based on school rankings as well as family friendly community. We took data from the US Census American Community Survey, Niche.com and residential housing market data. The median sales price is the average residential sales data for 12 month period ending July 2023.

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