12 Best Places to Live in New Hampshire (By Quality of Life)

by Jem
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New Hampshire is more than just a state; it’s a lifestyle. From its snow-capped mountains to its charming small towns and vibrant cities, the Granite State offers a diverse array of living experiences. But given its range of options, finding the perfect place to call home can be a bit overwhelming. To assist you in your search, I’ve crafted this guide on the best places to live in New Hampshire.

I’ve roamed New Hampshire extensively, and I can vouch for its stunning beauty and varied landscapes. From the scenic White Mountains to the tranquil lakes of the Lakes Region, and from the tech-forward atmosphere of Manchester to the historic charm of Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s diversity is truly captivating. Whether you’re drawn to the allure of outdoor adventures, the tranquility of small-town life, or the energetic vibe of cities like Concord and Nashua, there’s a part of New Hampshire that feels tailor-made for you.

So, where to live in NH? The perfect location varies for each individual. Some may prioritize proximity to nature, others may seek top-notch schools, and for many, the cost of living will be the deciding factor. With such a diverse range of experiences in New Hampshire, you’re sure to find a spot that aligns with your unique needs and preferences.

Join me as I delve into the best cities and towns to reside in, based on what matters most to you. Having experienced the state’s multifaceted offerings, I’m here to guide you through the best places in NH to live. I’ve pored over research, analyzed statistics, and conversed with locals to compile a list that accommodates every lifestyle and budget. Let’s get started!

The top places to live in New Hampshire for all

The Best Places to Live in New Hampshire   

Eager to explore the most enchanting places to call home in New Hampshire? Situated in the northeastern region of the United States, the Granite State has something for everyone. Continue reading to uncover New Hampshire’s best places to live.

Searching where to live in this New England gem? No matter what you have in mind, this state has a locale that will meet your needs.

  • Best for family living: Bedford
  • Best for history enthusiasts: Concord
  • Best for community events: Dover
  • Best for education: Exeter
  • Best for seaside living: Hampton
  • Best for academic atmosphere: Hanover
  • Best for arts and culture: Keene
  • Best for healthcare access: Lebanon
  • Best for suburban feel: Londonderry
  • Best for urban explorers: Manchester
  • Best for shopping and parks: Nashua
  • Best for coastal charm: Portsmouth

Here are all the top locations in New Hampshire you should consider:

1. Bedford

Imagine waking up to the sight of lush greenery and the sound of birds chirping. Welcome to Bedford, a suburban gem that offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle. Known for its excellent school system and family-friendly atmosphere, it’s no wonder Bedford ranks as one of the best places to live in New Hampshire.

The town is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether it’s hiking the trails of Pulpit Rock or enjoying a family picnic at Benedictine Park, nature is always within reach. The local farmers’ market is a hit among residents, offering fresh produce and artisanal goods that reflect the community’s focus on sustainability.

What sets Bedford apart is its sense of community. Annual events like the Strawberry Festival and Bedford Day bring residents together in a celebration of local culture and heritage. It’s this strong sense of belonging that makes it not just a good place to live in New Hampshire, but a great one.

For those who prioritize a balanced lifestyle, Bedford offers the best of both worlds. It’s close enough to Manchester for a taste of city life, yet far enough to maintain its serene ambiance. It’s not just a place to live; it’s a lifestyle.

Bedford is a hidden suburban treasure that provides a calm escape, it's one of the best places to live in New Hampshire.
Bedford is a hidden suburban treasure that provides a calm escape, it’s one of the best places to live in New Hampshire.

2. Concord

Step into a world where history meets modernity. Concord, the capital city of New Hampshire, is a blend of historical landmarks and contemporary attractions. As one of the best cities to live in New Hampshire, it offers a rich cultural experience that’s hard to find elsewhere.

Concord is a hub for arts and education. The Capitol Center for the Arts hosts a variety of performances, from Broadway shows to concerts. Museums like the New Hampshire Historical Society offer a deep dive into the state’s past, making it a great place to live in NH for history buffs.

But it’s not all about the past. The city is also home to a burgeoning food scene, featuring farm-to-table restaurants and craft breweries. The local farmers’ market is a weekend staple, offering everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts.

What makes Concord truly special is its sense of community. Frequent events like Market Days and the annual Christmas parade foster a close-knit atmosphere that’s welcoming to both newcomers and long-time residents.

New Hampshire's capital city, Concord, offers a combination of modern attractions and historical sites.
New Hampshire’s capital city, Concord, offers a combination of modern attractions and historical sites.

3. Dover

Uncover a hidden gem along the banks of the Piscataqua River. Dover, one of the best New Hampshire towns to live, offers a blend of natural beauty and urban convenience that’s hard to beat.

Dover is a paradise for those who love the great outdoors. Kayaking, hiking, and fishing are just a few of the activities you can enjoy here. The town’s proximity to the White Mountains and the Seacoast makes it one of the best places in New Hampshire to live for nature enthusiasts.

The town is also known for its vibrant arts scene. The Art Walk, held on the first Friday of every month, showcases local artists and musicians. Galleries, studios, and public art installations are scattered throughout the town, adding a creative flair to the community.

What sets Dover apart is its focus on sustainability. The town has various initiatives aimed at reducing its carbon footprint, including community gardens and a robust recycling program. It’s a place where you can live responsibly while enjoying all the amenities of modern life.

It's difficult to find a better mix of urban convenience and scenic beauty than Dover.
It’s difficult to find a better mix of urban convenience and scenic beauty than Dover.

4. Exeter

Discover a town where colonial charm meets modern sophistication. Exeter is a picturesque locale that’s steeped in American history, making it one of the best areas to live in New Hampshire for those who appreciate the past.

The town is famous for the Exeter Academy, one of the oldest and most prestigious prep schools in the country. But education in Exeter isn’t just for the elite; the public schools are also top-notch, making it a nice city to live in New Hampshire for families.

Outdoor activities abound in Exeter. The Exeter River provides opportunities for kayaking and fishing, while the numerous parks offer hiking and biking trails. The town’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty is evident in its well-maintained public spaces.

But what truly makes Exeter special is its sense of community. The annual UFO Festival may be quirky, but it’s a beloved tradition that brings the town together. From the weekly farmers’ market to the frequent community events, there’s always something happening in Exeter.

One of the best places to live in New Hampshire, Exter is a beautiful place rich in American history.
One of the best places to live in New Hampshire, Exter is a beautiful place rich in American history.

5. Hampton

Imagine waking up to the sound of waves crashing against the shore. In Hampton, that dream becomes a reality. As one of the coolest places to live in New Hampshire, this coastal town offers a laid-back vibe that’s perfect for beach lovers.

Hampton Beach is the star attraction, drawing both locals and tourists to its sandy shores. Whether you’re into surfing, sunbathing, or building sandcastles, this beach has something for everyone. It’s no wonder Hampton is considered one of New Hampshire’s best cities to live for those who crave a coastal lifestyle.

Beyond the beach, Hampton offers a variety of activities. The town is home to several parks and nature reserves, perfect for hiking and bird-watching. The local marina provides opportunities for boating and fishing, adding another layer to the town’s outdoor offerings.

What sets Hampton apart is its vibrant community. Seasonal events like the Seafood Festival and the Sand Sculpting Competition are community highlights, offering fun and entertainment for all ages. It’s a place where every day feels like a vacation, yet the sense of community makes it feel like home.

Imagine hearing the sound of waves lapping against the coast when you wake up.

6. Hanover

Ah, the allure of academia! Hanover is home to Dartmouth College, one of the Ivy League schools, and the intellectual vibe is palpable. As one of the best places in New Hampshire to live, especially for academics, artists, and professionals, Hanover offers a unique blend of intellectual rigor and natural beauty.

The Dartmouth campus is a focal point, not just for students but for the community at large. With an array of lectures, art exhibitions, and cultural events, there’s always something stimulating happening. The Hood Museum and the Hopkins Center for the Arts are local gems, offering a slice of culture that’s rare for a town of Hanover’s size.

But it’s not all about hitting the books. The Connecticut River and the nearby White Mountains offer endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. From relaxing cabin rentals, kayaking on the river to hiking in the mountains, Hanover is among the nice parts of New Hampshire for those who crave an active lifestyle.

The sense of community in Hanover is strong, thanks in part to the influence of Dartmouth. Local cafes are buzzing with discussions, and community events are a regular occurrence. It’s a place where minds meet, both inside and outside the classroom, making it a stimulating and enriching place to live.

There's an obvious intellectual aura in Hanover, home of Ivy League school Dartmouth College.
There’s an obvious intellectual aura in Hanover, home of Ivy League school Dartmouth College.

7. Keene

Step into a world where community spirit thrives and nature is just a stone’s throw away. Welcome to Keene, a city that’s got a small-town feel but offers big-city amenities. It’s one of the best areas to live in New Hampshire, particularly if you’re seeking a balanced lifestyle.

Keene State College adds a youthful energy to the city, making it a hub for education and cultural activities. The Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond is a cultural jewel, hosting everything from dance performances to art exhibitions. It’s a great place to live in NH for those who appreciate the arts.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to love here. The city is surrounded by lush forests, scenic lakes, and hiking trails that beckon adventure. Whether it’s a leisurely stroll in Ashuelot River Park or a challenging hike in the surrounding hills, Keene offers a natural playground for all ages.

The downtown area is a blend of historic charm and modern convenience. From boutique shops and antique stores to cafes and farm-to-table restaurants, you’ll find a variety of options for shopping and dining. The city’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its farmers’ markets and community gardens, making it a responsible and fulfilling place to call home.

Keene is a metropolis with big-city conveniences and a small-town atmosphere.
Keene is a metropolis with big-city conveniences and a small-town atmosphere.

8. Lebanon

Picture a place where innovation meets natural beauty, and you’ve got Lebanon. This city is a hub for tech companies and healthcare institutions, making it one of the best cities to live in New Hampshire for those in these sectors.

Lebanon is home to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, one of the country’s leading healthcare facilities. The presence of such an institution not only provides excellent healthcare but also contributes to the city’s economy. It’s the best city to live in New Hampshire if you’re in the medical or tech fields.

But Lebanon isn’t all work and no play. The city is surrounded by stunning landscapes, including the Connecticut River and the Mascoma Lake. Whether you’re into kayaking, hiking, or simply enjoying a picnic by the water, Lebanon offers a plethora of outdoor activities.

The city also boasts a vibrant arts scene. The Lebanon Opera House hosts a variety of performances, from classical concerts to contemporary dance. The AVA Gallery and Art Center is another cultural hotspot, offering art classes and exhibitions. With its blend of career opportunities and recreational activities, Lebanon is a city that truly offers the best of both worlds.

Imagine Lebanon as a location where innovation and scenic beauty collide.
Imagine Lebanon as a location where innovation and scenic beauty collide.

9. Londonderry

Unveil the charm of a town where history and modernity coalesce seamlessly. Londonderry, renowned for its apple orchards and annual fairs, is a slice of Americana that’s hard to resist. It’s one of those best New Hampshire towns to live in if you’re after a sense of community and a touch of nostalgia.

The town is famous for its apple orchards, most notably Mack’s Apples, which has been a family-run business for generations. Come autumn, the orchards become a hive of activity, with families and tourists flocking to pick apples and enjoy hayrides. It’s a nice city to live in New Hampshire for those who appreciate seasonal traditions.

But don’t let its quaint exterior fool you. Londonderry is also home to a burgeoning business district, with several tech companies and logistics centers setting up shop here. The town’s proximity to Manchester-Boston Regional Airport makes it a convenient location for business travelers.

Education is another strong suit for Londonderry. The public schools are highly rated, and the town’s commitment to quality education is evident in its modern facilities and well-funded programs. With its blend of old-world charm and new-world opportunities, Londonderry offers a living experience that’s as rich as its fertile soil.

Renowned for its yearly fairs and apple orchards, Londonderry offers an irresistible taste of America.
Renowned for its yearly fairs and apple orchards, Londonderry offers an irresistible taste of America.

10. Manchester

Step into a city where the pulse of urban life syncs perfectly with a sense of community. Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest city, is a bustling hub that offers a smorgasbord of experiences. From its thriving arts scene to its booming tech industry, Manchester is one of the best areas to live in New Hampshire for those who crave a dynamic lifestyle.

The city is a haven for foodies, boasting an array of restaurants that serve everything from classic New England fare to international cuisine. It’s a great place to live in New Hampshire if you’re a culinary adventurer. The Palace Theatre and the Currier Museum of Art add a dash of culture to the city, hosting events that range from Broadway shows to art exhibitions.

Manchester is also a city of opportunity. It has become a magnet for tech startups and established companies alike, thanks to its business-friendly environment and skilled workforce. The city’s commitment to innovation is evident in its numerous co-working spaces and business incubators.

For families, Manchester offers excellent educational opportunities. The city is home to some of the state’s top-rated public and private schools, as well as institutions of higher learning like the University of New Hampshire at Manchester. With its mix of cultural richness and economic vitality, Manchester stands as a city that truly has something for everyone.

The largest city in New Hampshire, Manchester, is a vibrant center with a wide range of activities.
The largest city in New Hampshire, Manchester, is a vibrant center with a wide range of activities.

11. Nashua

Imagine living in a city where you’re never far from both natural beauty and urban convenience. Welcome to Nashua, a city that effortlessly combines the best of both worlds. It’s one of the best cities to live in New Hampshire, especially if you’re someone who enjoys a balanced lifestyle.

Nashua is a shopper’s paradise, home to New Hampshire’s largest shopping mall, the Pheasant Lane Mall. It’s among the best New Hampshire cities to pick for those who love retail therapy but also appreciate the absence of sales tax. The city’s downtown area is a blend of historic charm and modern amenities, featuring a variety of boutiques, cafes, and galleries.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to love here as well. The city is dotted with parks and green spaces, including the beautiful Mine Falls Park, which offers hiking and biking trails, fishing spots, and kayaking opportunities. It’s a place where you can easily switch from a morning of shopping to an afternoon of nature exploration.

Education is another strong point for Nashua. The city’s public schools are among the best in the state, and there are also several private and charter options available. With its mix of leisure activities, career opportunities, and educational excellence, Nashua is a city that caters to a wide range of lifestyles and preferences.

The city of Nashua skillfully blends the greatest aspects of both worlds.
The city of Nashua skillfully blends the greatest aspects of both worlds.

12. Portsmouth

Imagine a coastal town where the salty sea air mingles with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and the sounds of live music. Welcome to Portsmouth, a charming port city that’s among the best New Hampshire towns to live in.

Portsmouth is a haven for history buffs. The city is one of the oldest in the United States, and its cobblestone streets and historic homes tell tales of centuries past. The Strawbery Banke Museum offers a glimpse into the city’s rich history, while the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse is a must-visit for panoramic views.

But don’t let the historic architecture fool you; Portsmouth offers a lot of fun things to do. The city has a vibrant arts scene, with galleries, theaters, and live music venues that offer something for every artistic palate. It’s a top city in New Hampshire to live if you’re into culture and the arts.

Foodies will also find their paradise here. From seafood shacks serving the day’s catch to gourmet restaurants offering international cuisine, the dining options are diverse and delicious. Add to that a range of craft breweries and you’ve got a city that caters to every taste.

Portsmouth is a lovely port city and one of the nicest places to reside in New Hampshire.
Portsmouth is a lovely port city and one of the nicest places to reside in New Hampshire.

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

Curious to learn what are the best places to live in New Hampshire? These are frequently asked questions I often receive about prime locations in the Granite State.

Where is the best place to live in New Hampshire?

Determining the best place to live in New Hampshire depends on various factors such as lifestyle, career opportunities, and personal preferences. For those seeking a vibrant urban experience, Manchester offers a mix of cultural activities, sports, and a bustling nightlife. If you’re looking for a blend of suburban comfort and natural beauty, towns like Londonderry and Keene might be more up your alley. For a coastal experience with a touch of history, Portsmouth is a top contender. Each location has its unique charm and amenities, making New Hampshire a state with diverse living options.

Is it a good idea to move to New Hampshire?

Absolutely, moving to New Hampshire can be a fantastic decision for a variety of reasons. The state offers a high quality of life, excellent educational institutions, and a range of outdoor activities that make it one of the coolest places to live in New Hampshire. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a young professional, or someone looking to retire, New Hampshire has something for everyone. The state has no sales tax and offers property tax exemptions for certain groups, adding financial incentives to the list of its merits.

Is New Hampshire a good place to raise kids?

New Hampshire is often considered a great place to live in New Hampshire for families, and for good reason. The state boasts some of the best public schools in the country, making it an ideal place for children’s education. Outdoor activities are abundant, from hiking and skiing to lake swimming, providing plenty of options for family outings. Safety is another strong point; New Hampshire consistently ranks as one of the safest states in the U.S. The sense of community in smaller towns, as well as the family-friendly events held throughout the year, add to its appeal for families.

There's a solid reason why families find New Hampshire to be an excellent area to reside.
There’s a solid reason why families find New Hampshire to be an excellent area to reside.

Where is the most affordable place to live in NH?

If affordability is a key concern, then cities like Keene and Concord offer a more budget-friendly lifestyle while still providing essential amenities. These locations are often cited as some of the most livable cities in New Hampshire, especially for those who are conscious about cost of living. Both cities offer a range of housing options that are generally more affordable than in larger cities like Manchester or Nashua. Additionally, the presence of farmer’s markets and local stores can help you save on groceries and other essentials.

Is life expensive in New Hampshire?

Life in New Hampshire can vary in cost depending on where you choose to live. Larger cities like Manchester and Portsmouth tend to be on the pricier side, especially when it comes to housing and dining out. However, the state offers financial benefits like no sales tax and lower car insurance rates, which can offset some of these costs. It’s worth noting that Manchester is often considered one of the best areas to live in New Hampshire for its overall quality of life, even if some expenses can be higher.

What is the richest part of New Hampshire?

For those interested in the more affluent areas, Bedford and Hanover are often cited as the richest part of New Hampshire. These areas are known for their luxurious homes, high-quality public and private schools, and proximity to cultural and recreational amenities. Bedford is close to Manchester, providing easy access to the city’s amenities, while Hanover is home to Dartmouth College, adding an intellectual vibe to the community. Both areas offer a high standard of living, making them popular choices for those who can afford it.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Live in New Hampshire                   

New Hampshire is a state that offers a little bit of everything, making it a compelling choice for a wide range of people. From bustling cities like Manchester to quaint towns like Keene, the Granite State provides diverse living options that cater to various lifestyles. Whether you’re a young professional, a family with kids, or someone looking to retire, you’ll find a place that feels like home in this charming state.

Financially, New Hampshire offers some unique benefits, such as no sales tax and property tax exemptions for certain groups. This adds an extra layer of appeal for those considering a move. The state’s commitment to education and safety makes it an ideal place for families, while the vibrant culture and outdoor activities attract individuals of all ages.

In summary, New Hampshire is more than just a state; it’s a community that welcomes you with open arms. From its stunning natural landscapes to its rich history and culture, it’s a place that captures hearts and imaginations. If you’re contemplating a move, New Hampshire should be at the top of your list.

So, what are you waiting for? Discover the best places in New Hampshire to live and start planning your move to this incredible state today!

The top places to live in New Hampshire right now
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