12 Best Places to Live in New England for the Highest Quality of Life

by Jem
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New England is more than just a region; it’s a lifestyle. From its quaint coastal towns to lush green landscapes and vibrant cities, New England offers a diverse array of lifestyles and settings. Choosing the perfect spot in this richly varied region can seem daunting. That’s why I’ve crafted this guide to the best places to live in New England.

I’ve journeyed through New England extensively and can vouch for its breathtaking beauty and diversity. From the rugged coasts of Maine to the historic charm of Boston, and from the serene countryside of Vermont to the bustling streets of Providence, New England’s diversity is unparalleled. Whether you’re drawn to the charm of small towns, the tranquility of rural life, or the energy of urban centers, there’s a place in New England that feels just right for you.

But where do you begin? The perfect location varies for everyone. Some may seek historical richness, others prioritize proximity to nature, and many consider the cost of living a key factor.

Join me as I delve into the best places to live in New England, tailored to what matters most to you. From scouring research and data and engaging with locals, I’ve compiled a list that addresses various lifestyles and budgets. Let’s start exploring!

The top places to live in New England for all

The Best Places to Live in New England     

Eager to explore the most charming places in New England? Located in the northeastern United States, this region offers a diverse array of attractive living options. Continue to uncover the top spots to call home in New England.

Searching for the perfect place to settle in New England? Whether it’s coastal charm or urban vibrancy, New England has it all.

  • Best for academic excellence: Cambridge
  • Best for coastal charm: Newport
  • Best for urban living: Providence
  • Best for outdoor activities: Burlington
  • Best for small-town feel: Hanover
  • Best for suburban comfort: Brookline
  • Best for family-friendly living: Newton
  • Best for cultural diversity: Manchester
  • Best for educational environment: Wellesley
  • Best for revitalized urban areas: Worcester
  • Best for historical significance: Concord
  • Best for economic opportunity: Portsmouth

Discover the finest locations in New England that you need to know about:

1. Cambridge, MA

Cambridge stands proudly as a beacon of intellect and diversity, rightfully earning its spot among the best places to live in MA. Here, the air buzzes with scholarly debates and the clink of coffee cups in cozy cafes. Each street corner tells a story, steeped in history yet vibrantly modern.

In this city, education isn’t just found in the hallowed halls of Harvard. It’s in the art-filled alleyways, the eclectic food scene, and the lively discussions that unfold in its charming bookstores. Cambridge’s neighborhoods are a patchwork of global cultures, offering an array of experiences from avant-garde art exhibitions to sumptuous culinary delights.

Green spaces dot the urban landscape, offering serene retreats from the city’s energetic pace. Cambridge is not merely a city but a living, breathing hub of ideas and innovation. It’s the best city to live in New England for those who thrive on intellectual stimulation and cultural richness.

Cambridge has earned its place among the top places to live in New England by being a shining example of diversity and intelligence.
Cambridge has earned its place among the top places to live in New England by being a shining example of diversity and intelligence.

2. Portsmouth, NH

Discover Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where the old-world charm meets a vibrant coastal lifestyle. It’s a place where the scent of the sea mingles with rich historical tales. This makes it one of the coolest places to live in New Hampshire. The town’s heart beats in its bustling harbor, alive with boats and local tales.

Stroll down the cobblestone streets, and you’re transported into a world where history is not just preserved. It’s a part of daily life. The city’s architectural gems narrate stories of the past, while its lively cafes and galleries pulse with contemporary energy. Portsmouth is a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity, a haven for those who appreciate the arts, fine dining, and the tranquility of seaside living.

This coastal gem is not just visually stunning but culturally rich. Events year-round celebrate everything from music and food to history and art, fostering a strong sense of community. Life here is an ever-unfolding tapestry of experiences. This makes it clear why it’s regarded as New England’s best cities to live.

Portsmouth has become the best city in New England to live in, and this is evident from its tapestry of experiences that it offers.
Portsmouth has become the best city in New England to live in, and this is evident from its tapestry of experiences that it offers.

3. Newport, RI

Imagine a city where the elegance of historic mansions fuses with a lively coastal vibe. Newport, Rhode Island, is exactly that – a stunning blend of history and modern allure. This makes it a great place to live in Rhode Island. Its famed Cliff Walk offers breathtaking ocean views, a reminder of the city’s seamless blend of natural beauty and architectural grandeur.

Here, every street whispers tales of the Gilded Age, while the harbor buzzes with contemporary energy. Newport is a great weekend getaway, it’s sailing paradise where marinas are dotted with yachts, and its calendar packed with regattas. The city’s vibrant cultural scene, from jazz festivals to art galleries, adds a dynamic layer to its serene seaside setting.

What truly sets Newport apart is its ability to embrace its past while forging a lively present. From oceanfront dining to sunset sails, life in Newport is an exquisite balance of relaxation in spa resorts and excitement for different adventures. This proves it is one of the best place to live in New England for those seeking an elegant yet spirited lifestyle.

Newport, Rhode Island, is a great place to live in New England since it is precisely a remarkable fusion of modern charm and history.
Newport, Rhode Island, is a great place to live in New England since it is precisely a remarkable fusion of modern charm and history.

4. Burlington, VT

Cradled by the picturesque Green Mountains and the beautiful Lake Champlain, Burlington in Vermont is a scenic wonder. It stands as one of the best areas to live in New England, where nature’s beauty and a vibrant urban life merge harmoniously. The city’s heart beats in the Church Street Marketplace, a pedestrian paradise brimming with lively cafes and unique shops.

Burlington has lot of fun things to do, music festivals and art shows that reflect its eclectic spirit. Here, community and sustainability are not just buzzwords but a way of life, evident in its bustling farmers’ markets and community gatherings. The city’s commitment to the environment and progressive values makes it a standout destination.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Burlington offers year-round activities. Whether it’s staying on lake houses in summer or hitting the ski slopes in winter, there’s always something exhilarating to do. This city exemplifies the perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and community-focused living. This makes it a nice place to live in Vermont for those seeking a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.

Burlington is a hive of culture, known for its eclectic ethos, which is reflected in its music festivals and art exhibitions.
Burlington is a hive of culture, known for its eclectic ethos, which is reflected in its music festivals and art exhibitions.

5. Hanover, NH

Enveloped in the lush landscapes of New Hampshire, Hanover is a town where natural beauty meets academic excellence. This gem is celebrated as one of the best towns to live in New England, offering a unique blend of small-town charm and intellectual vibrancy. The presence of Dartmouth College infuses the town with a youthful spirit and cultural richness.

Strolling through the downtown area, you’re greeted by a blend of historic architecture and modern amenities. Hanover’s community is close-knit, marked by local festivals and events that bring residents together, showcasing a deep sense of belonging and community pride.

Outdoors, the Connecticut River and nearby trails offer endless adventures, from tranquil walks to exhilarating hikes. The changing seasons paint the town in various hues, each more breathtaking than the last. Living in Hanover is an experience that combines serene natural settings with a lively community atmosphere, establishing it as places to move in New England for those who appreciate a balanced, enriched lifestyle.

Hanover, a town in New Hampshire covered in lush surroundings, is where academic brilliance and natural beauty collide.
Hanover, a town in New Hampshire covered in lush surroundings, is where academic brilliance and natural beauty collide.

6. Brookline, MA

A stroll through the tree-lined streets of Brookline reveals why it’s hailed as one of the best New England towns to live. This Massachusetts town effortlessly blends suburban tranquility with urban convenience, offering residents the best of both worlds. Renowned for its top-notch schools and community-focused spirit, Brookline is a haven for families and professionals alike.

The town boasts an array of architectural marvels, from Victorian homes to modern apartments, each telling a story of Brookline’s rich history and progressive growth. Culinary enthusiasts revel in the diverse dining scene, where local eateries serve up everything from gourmet fare to comforting classics.

Recreational spaces abound, from the lush landscapes of Larz Anderson Park to the serene paths of the Emerald Necklace. These green oases provide a perfect escape from the bustling city life. For those seeking a balanced lifestyle, where community, culture, and comfort converge, Brookline stands out as New England’s best places to live.

Brookline's tree-lined streets make it easy to see why it's regarded as one of the greatest places in New England to live.
Brookline’s tree-lined streets make it easy to see why it’s regarded as one of the greatest places in New England to live.

7. Newton, MA

In the heart of Massachusetts lies Newton, a city that perfectly encapsulates the charm and sophistication of New England living. Its unique village-like neighborhoods offer a sense of small-town community amidst the bustle of city life, marking it as one of the most livable cities in New England. The city’s commitment to education is evident in its top-rated schools and engaged community.

Green spaces like the Crystal Lake and Chestnut Hill Reservoir offer residents a peaceful retreat, where nature’s beauty is on full display. These serene spots are ideal for leisurely strolls, picnics, or simply soaking in the scenic surroundings. Newton’s appreciation for the outdoors is matched by its vibrant cultural scene, featuring local theaters, art galleries, and seasonal festivals. Especially during the autumn months, when the trees are ablaze in fall colors.

With its blend of historical homes and modern amenities, Newton provides a living experience that’s both rich in heritage and forward-thinking. The city’s dedication to maintaining a balanced, family-friendly environment makes it one of the top cities to live in New England for those seeking a harmonious lifestyle.

Newton, a community in central Massachusetts, epitomizes the opulence and class of New England living.
Newton, a community in central Massachusetts, epitomizes the opulence and class of New England living.

8. Providence, RI

The charm of Providence, Rhode Island, lies in its ability to marry historic allure with a vibrant, creative spirit. As the state’s capital, it stands out as the nice city to live in New England for those who revel in a rich tapestry of culture and history. The city’s streets are lined with architectural marvels, each telling tales of a storied past.

Providence offers lots of things to do. In fact, it is a haven for artists and creatives, evident in its thriving arts scene, from the renowned Rhode Island School of Design to the colorful murals adorning city walls. WaterFire, the city’s signature event, transforms the rivers into a magical display of fire-lit braziers, music, and art, symbolizing the city’s dynamic and inventive spirit.

This city isn’t just about visual appeal. It’s a culinary hotspot, with an impressive array of dining options reflecting its diverse community. From gourmet cuisine to authentic ethnic dishes, Providence is a foodie’s delight. The city’s mix of academic institutions, artistic endeavors, and gastronomic excellence. This makes it a good places to live in New England for those seeking a lifestyle that’s both culturally rich and delightfully livable.

Providence, Rhode Island, has a certain charm that comes from the way it combines a dynamic artistic spirit with historic elegance.
Providence, Rhode Island, has a certain charm that comes from the way it combines a dynamic artistic spirit with historic elegance.

9. Concord, NH

Steeped in American history and brimming with natural beauty, Concord, Massachusetts, invites you to experience a blend of the past and the present. This town, renowned for its role in the American Revolution, is a living museum, with historic sites and stories at every turn. Its rich heritage secures its place as one of the best New England cities for history buffs and nature lovers alike.

Walden Pond, immortalized by Henry David Thoreau, offers a serene escape, perfect for reflection and connection with nature. Concord’s commitment to preserving its natural and historical landscapes is evident in its well-maintained trails and conservation lands. Here, history isn’t just in the books; it’s a part of daily life.

The town center, with its quaint shops and local eateries, provides a cozy yet vibrant atmosphere. Community events, from author readings at the local bookstore to seasonal festivals, foster a strong sense of togetherness. Concord’s blend of historical significance, natural beauty, and a close-knit community make it one of the good places to live in New England for those seeking a tranquil yet culturally rich lifestyle.

Concord, Massachusetts allows you to immerse yourself in a historical and contemporary fusion.
Concord, Massachusetts allows you to immerse yourself in a historical and contemporary fusion.

10. Manchester, NH

Venture into Manchester, New Hampshire, and discover a city where urban vitality meets a rich historical tapestry. This bustling city, often hailed as one of the best cities to live in New England, presents a unique blend of old-world charm and modern convenience. The historic mills along the Merrimack River have been transformed into vibrant spaces for living, working, and playing, symbolizing the city’s successful blend of past and present.

In Manchester, cultural experiences abound. The Currier Museum of Art and the Palace Theatre offer a slice of culture and entertainment, reflecting the city’s appreciation for arts and history. The city’s dining scene is a delightful surprise, featuring a range of cuisines that cater to every palate.

The outdoor spaces here add another layer to Manchester’s appeal. From serene parks to the nearby Lake Massabesic, nature is just a stone’s throw away. Manchester’s dynamic urban environment, coupled with its commitment to preserving green spaces, makes it what are the best places to live in New England for those seeking a lively yet balanced urban lifestyle.

Manchester is one of the best places to live in New England due to its vibrant city life and devotion to protecting green spaces.
Manchester is one of the best places to live in New England due to its vibrant city life and devotion to protecting green spaces.

11. Wellesley, MA

Wellesley, a suburban jewel in Massachusetts, unfolds as a picturesque tableau of New England charm. With its verdant landscapes and esteemed educational institutions, it’s recognized as one of the best areas to live in New England. The town boasts a rich academic atmosphere, courtesy of Wellesley College, enhancing its cultural fabric.

The local community life in Wellesley is vibrant, anchored by a bustling town center where cafes, boutiques, and galleries converge. Seasonal events and farmer’s markets foster a warm, inclusive environment, making residents feel a deep sense of belonging. It’s a town that balances community spirit with the solitude of its numerous trails and parks.

Wellesley’s commitment to education and the arts, along with its natural beauty, provides an ideal setting for families and individuals seeking a nurturing yet stimulating environment. This town exemplifies the quintessential New England lifestyle, making it evident why it is a nice part of New England for those who value community, culture, and education in their living spaces.

Wellesley is a hidden gem of a Massachusetts suburb that presents a charming scene reminiscent of New England charm.
Wellesley is a hidden gem of a Massachusetts suburb that presents a charming scene reminiscent of New England charm.

12. Worcester, MA

As Massachusetts’ heart, Worcester combines urban charm with a community-centric ethos, making it a hidden gem among New England‘s best cities to live. This city is a tapestry of cultural diversity, reflected in its rich array of restaurants, museums, and music venues. Worcester’s revitalization has turned it into a burgeoning hub of innovation and creativity.

The city’s commitment to growth and development is palpable in its thriving arts scene. The Worcester Art Museum and the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts are just a glimpse of its cultural offerings. Meanwhile, the city’s green spaces, like Elm Park and Green Hill Park, provide a refreshing escape into nature.

Worcester’s blend of historical charm and modern dynamism offers a unique living experience. It’s a city that never forgets its roots while boldly stepping into the future, proving to be the best places in New England to live for those seeking an urban environment rich in culture and community spirit.

Worcester is an unseen gem among the top towns in New England to live in as it blends urban beauty with a community-centric mindset.
Worcester is among the top towns in New England to live in as it blends urban beauty with a community-centric mindset.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Best Places to Live in New England

Interested in learning more about top living spots in New England? Below are some frequently asked questions about the region’s best places to reside.

What is the best state to live in New England?

Deciding on the best state to live in New England hinges on individual preferences and lifestyle choices. Each state offers unique attributes:

  • Massachusetts: Renowned for its rich history, world-class education, and vibrant cultural scene. Cities like Boston blend historical charm with modern amenities. Ideal for those seeking an urban lifestyle with a touch of history.
  • Connecticut: Offers a mix of coastal cities and rural areas. Known for its charming small towns and proximity to major urban centers like New York City. Perfect for those wanting a balance between city and suburban life.
  • Rhode Island: The smallest state, but packed with coastal beauty. Its capital, Providence, is known for its creative community and culinary scene. A great choice for lovers of the arts and oceanfront living.
  • Vermont: Famous for its stunning natural landscapes and outdoor recreational activities. Ideal for those who love a quieter, nature-focused lifestyle.
  • New Hampshire: Offers a mix of city life and natural retreats, with no state income tax. Attracts those looking for a balance of economic opportunity and outdoor activities.
  • Maine: Known for its rugged coastline and seafood cuisine. Appeals to those seeking a peaceful, scenic environment.

Each state in New England has its own charm, making the region diverse and appealing for various preferences, from bustling city life to serene natural settings.

What is the most affordable New England state to live in?

When considering affordability, Maine often emerges as the most affordable New England state to live in. Factors contributing to Maine’s affordability include:

  • Lower Housing Costs: Compared to other New England states, Maine generally has more affordable housing options. This is true both in urban and rural areas.
  • Cost of Living: Overall, the cost of living in Maine, including utilities, groceries, and healthcare, tends to be lower than in its neighboring states.
  • Tax Structure: While property taxes can be high, Maine’s overall tax structure can be favorable. This is especially so in comparison to some of its New England neighbors.
  • Rural Lifestyle: Many areas in Maine offer a rural lifestyle. They typically come with a lower cost of living compared to urban settings.

It’s important to note that while Maine may offer more affordable living on average, specific costs can vary widely depending on the exact location within the state. Smaller towns and rural areas generally provide more budget-friendly options compared to cities like Portland.

Which New England town should I live in?

Choosing a New England town to live in depends on your personal preferences and lifestyle needs. Here are a few suggestions based on various interests:

  • For History and Education: Cambridge, Massachusetts. Home to prestigious universities and rich in historical significance, it’s ideal for those who value education and culture.
  • For Coastal Charm: Newport, Rhode Island. Known for its beautiful beaches, historic mansions, and vibrant sailing culture, it’s perfect for ocean lovers and history enthusiasts.
  • For Outdoor Activities: Burlington, Vermont. With its proximity to the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain, it’s a haven for those who love outdoor adventures like hiking and skiing.
  • For Arts and Food: Portland, Maine. Renowned for its culinary scene and artistic community, it’s a great choice for foodies and creatives.
  • For Small-Town Feel: Hanover, New Hampshire. Offers a blend of small-town charm with the vibrancy of a college town, suitable for families and those seeking a close-knit community.
  • For Suburban Comfort: Brookline, Massachusetts. Combines suburban tranquility with close proximity to Boston, making it ideal for families and professionals.
  • For Urban Living: Providence, Rhode Island. Offers a rich mix of cultural amenities, diverse communities, and an evolving arts scene, suitable for those who enjoy city life.

Each town in New England has its unique charm and attractions. Your choice should align with your lifestyle, career goals, and personal interests. Consider visiting these towns to get a feel for their communities and what they have to offer.

Discovering New England reveals an array of experiences, each with its distinct charm and allure.
Discovering New England reveals an array of experiences, each with its distinct charm and allure.

Where is the safest place to live in New England?

When considering safety, several New England towns and cities are notable for their low crime rates and strong sense of community:

  • Weston, Massachusetts: Known for its excellent schools and close-knit community. Weston consistently ranks high for safety due to its low crime rates.
  • Cumberland, Rhode Island: Offers a suburban feel with a strong community presence, contributing to its status as a safe and welcoming place to live.
  • Hanover, New Hampshire: Home to Dartmouth College. This town not only boasts educational prestige but also a high level of safety and community involvement.
  • Shelburne, Vermont: With its small population and rural charm, Shelburne is recognized for its peaceful environment and low crime statistics.
  • Kennebunkport, Maine: This coastal town is not just scenic but also ranks well for safety, making it a great choice for families and retirees.
  • Simsbury, Connecticut: Known for its historical sites and quality education, Simsbury offers a safe and family-friendly environment.

Safety is a multifaceted aspect that includes low crime rates, strong community bonds, and efficient local services. These towns are examples of some of the safest places to live in New England, balancing tranquility with community vigilance and well-maintained public spaces.

What is the wealthiest New England state?

Connecticut is often regarded as the wealthiest New England state, particularly due to:

  • High Income Levels: Connecticut consistently ranks high in terms of median household income in the United States.
  • Affluent Communities: Towns such as Greenwich and Fairfield are known for their high property values and affluent residents.
  • Proximity to Major Financial Centers: Its closeness to New York City, a global financial hub, contributes to the wealth in the southwestern part of the state.
  • Corporate Presence: Connecticut is home to many Fortune 500 companies and finance-sector businesses. They boost the overall wealth of the state.

Connecticut’s combination of high incomes, affluent communities, and a strong corporate presence makes it the wealthiest state in New England. However, it’s important to note that wealth can vary significantly within the state, with pockets of both affluence and poverty.

Is it expensive to live in New England?

Living in New England can be expensive, but the cost varies widely depending on the specific location:

  • Housing Costs: Generally, housing prices in New England are higher than the national average. This is particularly true in urban areas and popular coastal towns.
  • Taxes: Some New England states have high property and income taxes, which can impact overall living expenses.
  • Utilities and Healthcare: These costs can also be higher than in other regions of the United States.
  • Rural vs. Urban: Typically, rural areas in New England offer a more affordable cost of living compared to urban centers.
  • State Differences: Among the New England states, Connecticut and Massachusetts are often on the higher end in terms of living costs. While states like Maine and New Hampshire can be more affordable.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Live in New England

Exploring New England uncovers a diverse tapestry of experiences, each unique in its charm and appeal. From the academic richness of Cambridge to the coastal allure of Newport, and from the vibrant streets of Providence to the serene landscapes of Hanover, New England offers a place for everyone.

Whether you’re drawn to bustling city life, peaceful countryside, rich history, or coastal living, this region caters to a variety of lifestyles and preferences. Each state and town in New England has its distinct personality. Yet all share a common thread of community, culture, and natural beauty.

As you consider your next move or visit in New England, remember that it is more than just a destination. It’s a mosaic of communities and experiences waiting to be explored. No matter where you choose to settle in this region, you’ll find something that resonates with you. New England, with its blend of past and present, truly offers a quality of life that’s as rich as its history.

The top places to live in New England right now
The top places to live in New England right now

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