When young families buy their first home, they buy more than a property. They buy into the community, including its job market and schools. We wanted to identify the communities with the best such opportunities, so we asked the following questions as we analyzed cities and towns across the state:
- Does the town have good public schools? We measured schools’ academic performance with ratings from GreatSchools. This non-profit compares a given school’s standardized test scores to the state average to obtain a rating on a 1 to 10 scale (10 representing the highest score). Higher ratings led to a higher overall score.
- Can you afford to live there? We looked at both median home values in each town and ongoing monthly home costs, including mortgage payments, real estate taxes, insurance costs, utilities, fuel and other bills. Lower costs led to a higher overall score.
- Is the town growing and prospering? We assessed a town’s economy by looking at average household income and income growth over the last decade. Higher income and greater growth led to a higher overall score.
The Best Towns for Young Families
Orange is a small, 17.6-square mile community just west of New Haven. Schools in the area are excellent, having earned a 9 out of 10 from GreatSchools. On the 2012 CMTs, students at Turkey Hill School outperformed the state average by over 10 percentage points in reading, math and writing. In 2012, Orange’s economy built up quite a bit; while six businesses closed, 32 new businesses opened their doors.
Trumbull is a 34,000-person community near Bridgeport and is a part of the Greater New York metro area. Earlier this year, the town was named the top booming suburb in Connecticut by Coldwell Banker. Their analysis showed which towns were prospering, with year-over-year increases in employment, and all the suburban amenities, like grocery stores, banks and quality schools. The community’s residents are also well equipped for the workforce. 47 percent hold a bachelor’s degree – about 12 percent more than the state.
Newington is just 10 minutes from Hartford, the state capital and a major player in the insurance industry. Newington High School offers dozens of college scholarships through its guidance department. Over 30 percent of the school’s seniors take an AP exam – a 5 percent leg up over statewide participation.
4. West Hartford
West Hartford was recently rated the most educated town in the Greater Hartford region – as well as the best for families and seniors. Education beyond the working-age population is strong, too, with schools that have been ranked the most rigorous by the Washington Post and the best in the state by US News & World Report.
Wethersfield is in the Hartford region, and it is one of the most scencic communities around. The Old Wethersfield district features pre-Revolutionary War architecture, an antique shop and galleries. The town includes over 644 acres of parkland, with space for basketball and tennis as well as a 10-mile bike trail.
Darien is a residential community – most people who live here will commute to a nearby city like Norwalk, Stamford or the Big Apple, approximately 40 miles away. Real estate may be pricier here, but the community is also one of the 10 top-earning towns in the U.S., according to CNNMoney. Residents here also enjoy some of the most scenic views around, with waterfront property on the Long Island Sound. The schools are excellent, too; Darien High School consistently outperforms its rivals on the SAT’s math portion.
Milford sits between Bridgeport and New Haven on the Long Island Sound coastline, which runs into the Wepawaug River in the heart of the city’s downtown district. The city is the sixth-oldest town in Connecticut, and the town green is the second-longest in all of New England. Top employers in the area include the city schools’ board of education, Milford Hospital and Subway, whose world headquarters are in town.
8. Wallingford Center
Wallingford’s central business district – Wallingford Center – is a census-designated place of its own. The community sits between New Haven and Hartford. The community works hard to support new businesses, with discounts on utilities and property tax cuts in certain sections of the town. Wallingford is home to several industrial parks, too, which has helped pave the way for medical, healthcare, service and high-tech enterprises to open up shop.
9. North Haven
North Haven is in New Haven County, just 10 minutes from New Haven and Yale University. The Greater New Haven area prides itself on having a diverse mix of urban, suburban and rural communities as well as being close to the natural beauty of the nearby Long Island Sound. Top employersin the town of North Haven include Covidien – the medical-device design and manufacturing firm – and Quinnipiac University, a private university in Hamden. According to Lynn Bushnell, the vice president for public affairs at the university, ”Quinnipiac is proud to be an active member of the North Haven community and a partner in its economic growth. In fact, Quinnipiac’s presence in North Haven will grow even stronger next fall when the School of Law moves to the North Haven Campus.” The university also hosts a walk to cure diabetes and sponsors public-service fellowships.
Westport is a coastal town between Bridgeport and Stamford. It boasts three beaches on Long Island Sound as well as a state park, Sherwood Island, where residents can swim and picnic. The community is one of the most affluent in the area – it has been recognized as such by Money Magazine – with a median household income of $155,792.
|Rank||City||Nearest big city||GreatSchools rating||Median home value||Monthly owner costs||Median household income||Growth,’99-’11||Overall score for young families|
|1||Orange||New Haven, Bridgeport||9||$415,900||$2,655||$104,335||31.5%||69.2|
|2||Trumbull||New Haven, Bridgeport||9||$450,200||$2,978||$106,058||33.4%||68.1|
|7||Milford||New Haven, Bridgeport||7||$334,800||$2,261||$79,956||30.7%||62.2|
|8||Wallingford Center||New Haven, Hartford||7||$253,300||$1,835||$57,515||25.5%||60.9|
|9||North Haven||New Haven||7||$328,800||$2,289||$81,789||24.5%||58.2|
|14||Middletown||Hartford, New Haven||5||$239,000||$1,957||$59,966||27.1%||53.5|
|15||East Haven||New Haven||4||$240,500||$1,890||$63,136||31.7%||53.0|
The overall score for each city was derived from the following measures:
- GreatSchools city rating. GreatSchools city ratings are calculated by averaging the weighted overall rating for each school in the city (weighted by the number of students enrolled at the school)
- Median home value from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, data set DP04, half-weighted)
- Monthly homeowner costs from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, data set DP04, half-weighted)
- Median household income from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, data set DP03, half-weighted)
- Income change between 1999 and 2011 from the U.S. Census (data sets P053 and DP03, half-weighted)
38 Connecticut cities and towns designated as places by the U.S. Census were included in this analysis. Only places with a population greater than 10,000 were considered.