Best Places for Homeownership in Connecticut

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Connecticut

Although its median home value is substantially higher than the national average, Connecticut’s proximity to New York and Massachusetts, and its many commuting options, make the state a top destination for homeownership.

Although small in size, Connecticut is big in natural beauty—with 96 miles of coastline, 104 state parks, two national parks and eight national natural landmarks. For those still uninterested in the Nutmeg State, it’s worth mentioning that Connecticut has once again scored first among all 50 states on Measure of America’s Human Development Index.

Interested now? NerdWallet has crunched the numbers to find the 10 best places for homeownership in Connecticut. Here’s what we found:

  • Owning a home is very expensive in Connecticut, with median monthly homeownership costs constituting more than 30% of household income in seven cities on our list. This in a state with an average monthly income in excess of $6,000.
  • The Land of Steady Habits seems an apt nickname for Connecticut. In addition to residents’ reputed moral steadfastness, population changes in the state are very minor. All but two of our top 10 cities exhibited less than 3% population growth.
  • Unlike most states we’ve studied, there was not one part of Connecticut where our top places were clustered. However, all of our places were right off major interstate highways, suggesting commutes might play a large factor in homeownership.

NerdWallet looked at 60 communities in Connecticut with populations of at least 5,000 to determine what places were the best for homeownership. Our analysis answers three main questions:

1. Are homes available? We looked at the area’s homeownership rate to determine the availability of homes. A low homeownership rate is likely a signal of competitive inventory, more options for renters rather than buyers and expensive housing. Areas with a high homeownership rate led to a higher overall score.

2. Can you afford to live there? We looked at median household income, monthly homeowner costs and median home value to assess affordability and determine whether residents could live comfortably in the area. We used monthly homeowner costs to measure cost of living. Areas with high median incomes and low cost of living scored higher. Are you thinking about buying a home? Learn more about current mortgage rates and mortgage refinancing options in our mortgage guide, as well as whether it’s best to rent or buy.

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3. Is the area growing? We measured population growth to ensure that the area is attracting new residents and showing signs of solid growth. This is likely a signal of a robust local economy, which is another attractive characteristic for homebuyers.

For more information on these and other places, check out NerdWallet Cities. For a full ranking of all 60 places analyzed in Connecticut for this study, click here. For more details on our methodology, please see the section at the end of the report.

Does the data tell you truth? Let us know what you think about our list in our comments section. 

1. Glastonbury Center

With a two-year population growth of 6.95% and an unemployment rate of just 1.4%, Glastonbury Center has all the signs of a top home destination. Less than 10 miles from Hartford, and near the Meshomasic State Forest, Glastonbury Center gives residents access to both outdoor beauty and the dining and nightlife options in the state’s capital. While there is already a good retail scene downtown, Glastonbury Center plans to further develop its downtown district with a number of “streescaping” and zoning modifications by 2020.

2. Southward Acres

Up north, near the border with Massachusetts, Southwood Acres is within driving distance of Hartford and Springfield, Mass., and boasts the highest homeowner rate among our top 10. Home prices are very reasonable, and median monthly homeownership costs are less than 30% of income. Southwood Acres is a neighborhood within the larger town of Enfield, whose claims to fame include housing Hallmark and the U.S. headquarters for Lego.

3. Terryville

Terryville is the largest village within the town of Plymouth. It has shown relatively strong population growth (2.57%), and is the most affordable median home value among our top 10. Situated near both Bristol and Waterbury, Terryville grants its residents easy access to the attractions of both cities. And in town, Terryville features a number of local treasures, including a historic waterwheel, Horseshoe Falls and the Lock Museum of America.

4. Kensington

Each year, Kensington celebrates its rural roots with the Berlin Fair, staging everything from art exhibits and concerts to livestock shows. For year-round fun, residents can enjoy a hike at nearby Ragged Mountain Memorial Reserve or Sunset Rock State Park. Kensington also benefits from being neighbors with New Britain, with its Museum of American Art, Symphony Orchestra and minor league baseball team, the Rock Cats.

5. Simsbury Center

Simsbury Center sits within the larger town of Simsbury, in Hartford County. At its core lies a historic district with intact period buildings including a library, an 18th-century cottage and an ice house. Although proud of its heritage, Simsbury is by no means behind the times: the town was the first in the state to be named bicycle-friendly by the League of American Bicyclists, and the community is actively engaged in preserving its trails. Additionally, Simsbury houses not one, but three state forests: Darling-Hilles, Massacoe and Talcott Mountain. Finally, no description of Simsbury would be adequate if it didn’t mention the Simsbury Meadows Performing Arts Center, whose guests have included the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Willie Nelson and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

6. Cos Cob

Incorporated as part of prestigious Greenwich, Cos Cob has worked hard to maintain its identity as a small, tight-knit community. Located along the water, Cos Cob is only a few miles from both the economically vibrant Stamford and from the border with New York State. Cos Cob is a great home for commuters to New York City: the Metro-North rail line has a station in Cos Cob and can get residents to Grand Central in an hour. On the weekends, locals can enjoy a break from the city by sailing out to Cos Cob Harbor to a choice of islands including Island Beach and Great Captain Island.

7. Trumbull

Trumbull says of itself that it “combines small-town New England character and charm with extensive retail, commercial, and light manufacturing activity.” Located about five miles from Bridgeport, Connecticut’s largest city, Trumbull combines accessibility to the city with safety and high performing schools. In addition to a central high school (which ranks a 9 out of 10 on Greatschools.org), the town also provides education opportunities such as the Regional Agriscience and Biotechnology Program and the Trumbull Business Education Initiative. Through these programs students can explore organic chemistry and plant science in state-of-the-art labs, or learn necessary work skills through partnerships with a number of local businesses.

8. Windsor Locks

Nestled between Hartford and Springfield, Mass., Windsor Locks is named for a set of canal locks that date back to the mid-19th century. The town is accessible by land, water (the Connecticut River) or air (Bradley International Airport). Visitors flying out have the option of making a quick stop at the New England Air Museum, next to the airport. With the second-lowest homeownership costs on our list, Windsor Locks makes a great destination for owners looking to save on spending while still keeping accessibility.

9. Orange

Just a few miles outside New Haven, Orange is proud of its rural roots; indeed, it still maintains some active farmland and puts on a local country fair, with an emphasis on its agricultural origins. Yet the town also takes care to maintain economic viability, housing the North American headquarters for the candy maker Pez, the United Illuminating Company and Southern Connecticut Gas. Efforts by the Orange Economic Development Corporation have also been largely successful, with 32 new businesses in 2012 alone.

10. North Haven

North Haven, in New Haven County, borders the campus of Quinnipiac University and is not far from Yale. These nearby universities—and institutions such as the Yale New Haven Hospital Medical Center and the Quinnipiac School of Health Sciences—contribute greatly to the North Haven economy. However, the North Haven economy is also well diversified, with major employers including medical-device design company US Surgical, United Aluminum and sealing systems manufacturer Parker-Hannifin.

Check out the interactive map for our top 10 places in Connecticut. The darker the color of of the point, the more affordable it is according to our affordability score. Click on points to view more information.

City Home Ownership Rate (%) Selected Monthly Homeowner Costs (SMOC) Monthly Median Income Homeowner costs as a percentage of household income Estimate Median Home Value 2010-2012 Population Growth Overall Score for Homeowners
1 Glastonbury Center 67.4 $2,230 $6,613 33.72% $311,500 6.95% 79.0
2 Southwood Acres 90.2 $1,685 $6,029 27.95% $205,000 0.61% 78.0
3 Terryville 78.6 $1,785 $5,878 30.37% $198,600 2.57% 76.8
4 Kensington 87.4 $1,986 $7,061 28.13% $276,600 1.15% 76.6
5 Simsbury Center 87.1 $2,346 $8,776 26.73% $302,100 1.03% 76.1
6 Cos Cob 77.0 $3,653 $11,587 31.53% $935,700 7.82% 73.8
7 Trumbull 89.5 $2,935 $9,056 32.41% $429,100 1.45% 73.8
8 Windsor Locks 82.1 $1,689 $5,220 32.36% $209,800 0.65% 72.9
9 Orange 87.4 $2,724 $8,864 30.73% $405,400 0.64% 71.9
10 North Haven 84.9 $2,271 $6,924 32.80% $311,600 0.46% 71.5
11 Shelton 82.2 $2,375 $6,980 34.03% $360,700 1.48% 71.4
12 Newington 83.0 $2,461 $6,270 39.25% $235,300 0.52% 70.1
13 Stratford 80.4 $2,203 $5,615 39.24% $276,200 1.22% 69.8
14 Wethersfield 78.8 $1,987 $6,350 31.29% $266,200 0.21% 69.6
15 West Hartford 73.1 $1,807 $6,799 26.58% $305,600 0.41% 68.3
16 Bethel 67.6 $2,260 $6,130 36.87% $296,100 2.60% 67.8
17 Riverside 81.6 $4,000 $12,278 32.58% $1,000,000 4.94% 67.3
18 East Haven 73.9 $1,894 $5,298 35.75% $233,100 0.39% 67.0
19 Milford 77.5 $2,275 $6,627 34.33% $320,300 0.19% 66.8
20 Winsted 53.6 $1,791 $5,367 33.37% $181,300 3.35% 66.8

The overall score for each place was derived from these measures:

1. Homeownership rate made up 33.3% of the total score. A higher rate earned a higher score. The rate comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 04.

2. Selected monthly owner costs as a percentage of median household income made up 16.7% of the total score. A lower percentage earned a higher score. Monthly homeowner costs as a percentage of median household income made up one-half of the affordability score. Median household income comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 03. The figure for monthly homeowner costs comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 04.

3. Median home value made up 16.7% of the total score. A lower value earned a higher score. Median home value made up one-half of the affordability score. Median home value comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 04.

4. Population change from 2010 to 2012 made up 33.3% of the total score. A higher percent change earned a higher score. The 2010 population comes from the 2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 05. The 2012 population data comes from the 2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 05. NerdWallet calculated the percent change.


Litchfield Hills image via Shutterstock.

Best Places For Homeownership Connecticut: Full Rankings

City Home Ownership Rate (%) Selected Monthly Homeowner Costs (SMOC) Monthly Median Income Homeowner costs as a percentage of household income Estimate Median Home Value 2010-2012 Population Growth Overall Score for Homeowners
1 Glastonbury Center 67.4 $2,230 $6,613 33.72% $311,500 6.95% 79.0
2 Southwood Acres 90.2 $1,685 $6,029 27.95% $205,000 0.61% 78.0
3 Terryville 78.6 $1,785 $5,878 30.37% $198,600 2.57% 76.8
4 Kensington 87.4 $1,986 $7,061 28.13% $276,600 1.15% 76.6
5 Simsbury Center 87.1 $2,346 $8,776 26.73% $302,100 1.03% 76.1
6 Cos Cob 77.0 $3,653 $11,587 31.53% $935,700 7.82% 73.8
7 Trumbull 89.5 $2,935 $9,056 32.41% $429,100 1.45% 73.8
8 Windsor Locks 82.1 $1,689 $5,220 32.36% $209,800 0.65% 72.9
9 Orange 87.4 $2,724 $8,864 30.73% $405,400 0.64% 71.9
10 North Haven 84.9 $2,271 $6,924 32.80% $311,600 0.46% 71.5
11 Shelton 82.2 $2,375 $6,980 34.03% $360,700 1.48% 71.4
12 Newington 83.0 $2,461 $6,270 39.25% $235,300 0.52% 70.1
13 Stratford 80.4 $2,203 $5,615 39.24% $276,200 1.22% 69.8
14 Wethersfield 78.8 $1,987 $6,350 31.29% $266,200 0.21% 69.6
15 West Hartford 73.1 $1,807 $6,799 26.58% $305,600 0.41% 68.3
16 Bethel 67.6 $2,260 $6,130 36.87% $296,100 2.60% 67.8
17 Riverside 81.6 $4,000 $12,278 32.58% $1,000,000 4.94% 67.3
18 East Haven 73.9 $1,894 $5,298 35.75% $233,100 0.39% 67.0
19 Milford 77.5 $2,275 $6,627 34.33% $320,300 0.19% 66.8
20 Winsted 53.6 $1,791 $5,367 33.37% $181,300 3.35% 66.8
21 Portland 75.2 $1,963 $6,395 30.70% $252,400 -0.61% 66.5
22 Darien 88.5 $4,000 $16,727 23.91% $1,000,000 1.69% 65.5
23 Westport 86.2 $2,780 $12,716 21.86% $1,000,000 1.56% 64.8
24 Naugatuck 68.7 $1,833 $5,215 35.15% $211,100 0.15% 64.7
25 Sherwood Manor 93.7 $1,804 $6,405 28.17% $200,900 -5.98% 63.7
26 Manchester 58.5 $1,733 $4,619 37.52% $185,500 1.72% 63.6
27 Old Greenwich 89.4 $4,000 $16,243 24.63% $1,000,000 0.82% 63.6
28 Cheshire Village 80.1 $2,286 $7,583 30.15% $326,300 -2.25% 63.4
29 Bristol 66.5 $1,779 $4,901 36.30% $211,700 0.06% 63.1
30 Danbury 61.8 $2,253 $5,523 40.79% $317,200 2.12% 62.3
31 Ridgefield 72.0 $3,648 $9,257 39.41% $686,900 2.77% 61.6
32 Torrington 67.2 $1,653 $4,212 39.24% $183,200 -0.51% 61.6
33 Meriden 62.4 $1,783 $4,486 39.75% $198,200 0.31% 60.9
34 Wallingford Center 55.9 $1,819 $4,908 37.06% $248,800 1.21% 60.1
35 Norwich 55.4 $1,783 $4,275 41.70% $198,000 1.20% 59.3
36 Norwalk 64.9 $2,797 $6,287 44.49% $440,700 1.47% 58.4
37 Middletown 55.8 $1,956 $5,045 38.77% $237,600 0.38% 57.7
38 Oakville 74.4 $1,910 $5,671 33.68% $227,300 -4.01% 57.4
39 East Hartford 56.5 $1,789 $4,037 44.32% $184,200 0.39% 57.2
40 Derby 57.5 $1,934 $4,547 42.54% $232,200 0.25% 57.0
41 Conning Towers Nautilus Park 19.6 $2,110 $4,990 42.29% $244,000 7.20% 56.6
42 Pawcatuck 54.9 $1,877 $4,493 41.78% $285,500 0.59% 55.8
43 New Milford 61.1 $1,730 $4,962 34.87% $248,900 -2.10% 55.2
44 Ansonia 56.7 $2,093 $4,560 45.90% $253,200 0.13% 54.7
45 West Haven 55.7 $2,239 $4,326 51.76% $222,400 0.57% 54.0
46 Stamford 55.3 $2,898 $6,400 45.28% $537,300 1.63% 52.3
47 Waterbury 49.2 $1,680 $3,406 49.33% $158,300 0.12% 52.1
48 Thompsonville 42.1 $1,717 $3,894 44.09% $188,100 0.51% 51.0
49 Branford Center 47.5 $2,109 $5,200 40.56% $302,500 -0.43% 50.1
50 New Britain 41.7 $1,674 $3,325 50.35% $169,900 0.23% 48.4
51 Bridgeport 43.5 $2,046 $3,319 61.65% $206,300 1.31% 47.3
52 New London 36.3 $1,853 $3,676 50.41% $196,400 0.43% 45.9
53 Putnam 47.5 $1,621 $3,312 48.94% $184,400 -2.45% 44.7
54 Rockville 33.4 $1,715 $3,371 50.88% $182,800 -0.52% 42.4
55 Willimantic 35.7 $1,610 $2,996 53.74% $165,400 -1.17% 41.2
56 Storrs 44.4 $1,926 $2,910 66.18% $256,600 -0.73% 40.2
57 New Haven 30.8 $1,976 $3,207 61.62% $219,000 0.79% 40.0
58 Groton 39.7 $1,768 $4,319 40.93% $234,600 -4.80% 37.2
59 Hartford 24.7 $1,712 $2,411 71.01% $178,300 0.10% 33.2
60 Greenwich 52.6 $4,000 $7,408 53.99% $948,900 -2.34% 30.4