SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ — In its September “Best Places to Live” issue this week, New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked Fanwood No. 87 among its top 100 towns in New Jersey. Scotch Plains was listed at No. 127.

Ho-Ho-Kus -- with a population just over 4,100 -- was listed by the magazine as the top town in the Garden State, followed by 2) Chatham Township; 3) Glen Rock; 4 Rumson; 5) Bernards; 6) Berkeley Heights; 7) Montvale; 8) New Providence; 9) Denville; and 10) Chatham Borough. 

Berkeley Heights had the highest ranking in Union County at No. 6, followed by 8) New Providence;
12) Mountainside; 28) Summit; 34) Westfield; 40) Cranford; 73) Clark; 87) Fanwood; 127) Scotch Plains; 128) Garwood; 276) Union; 331) Roselle Park; 333) Kenilworth; 409) Elizabeth; 423) Rahway; 
436) Hillside; 440) Roselle; 443) Linden; and 457) Plainfield.  

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New Jersey Monthly determines the top towns by compiling research in five categories, including home values, property taxes, crime rate, school performance and a lifestyle factor. 

Fanwood   Scotch Plains
NJ Monthly Rank: 87 NJ Monthly Rank: 127
County: Union County: Union
Population: 7,651 Population: 24,149
2015* Average property tax: $11,721  2015* Average property tax: $12,803 
2016* Average property tax change: 5.8% 2016* Average property tax change: 5.4%
since 2014 Effective property tax rate: 2.756 since 2014 Effective property tax rate: 2.591
2016 3-yr. ave. debt per capita: $148,650 2016 3-yr. ave. debt per capita: $166,091
Median home sales price: $440,000  Median home sales price: $456,000 
2016 Median price change: 7.7% 2016 Median price change: 5.8%
since 2014 Average days on market: 46 since 2014 Average days on market: 55
2016 Crime rate per 1,000 residents: 7.7 2016 Crime rate per 1,000 residents: 10.7
2014 ASK4 % proficient or advanced: 96 2014 ASK4 % proficient or advanced: 96
2016 ASK8 % proficient or advanced: 85 2016 ASK8 % proficient or advanced: 85
2016 NJ Monthly Top High Schools rank: 76 2016 NJ Monthly Top High Schools rank: 76

According to the methodology, 513 towns were ranked based on the following:

  • home prices;
  • average residential tax bill;
  • change in average property tax bill;
  • effective property tax rate; median home-sales price;
  • change in median home-sales price over the last two years;
  • total crime rate combined with a score for violent-crime rate;
  • student proficiency on state-mandated standardized tests for students in grades 4, 8 and 11; and
  • a lifestyle factor that considers access to essentials and amenities such as hospitals, theaters and restaurants.

“Residential real estate is booming in New Jersey,” New Jersey Monthly editor Ken Schlager said. “Our chart is a popular tool that helps potential homebuyers understand which towns are the most desirable.”

The 100 Top Towns chart is part of the “Best Places to Live” cover story in the September issue of New Jersey Monthly, available on newsstands on Aug. 29. A complete ranking of 513 New Jersey municipalities is now online at njmonthly.com/top-towns.