FANWOOD/SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – Fanwood and Scotch Plains ranked No. 44 and No. 57 statewide in  in real estate website Niche.com’s rankings of the Best Places to Live in New Jersey and finished 5th and 7th respectively in the ratings of the “Best Places to Live in Union County” released today. The rankings were based on cost of living, housing prices, school systems, diversity, walkability, crime and safety, and other factors.

Princeton was ranked the top town in all of the Garden State, while its neighbor, Princeton Junction, was second, followed by Ridgewood, Mountain Lakes, Princeton Meadows, Springdale, Monmouth Junction, Westfield, and New Providence.

Westfield (pop: 30,086) finished atop the Union County rankings with an A+ overall Niche Grade, including an A+ grade for its public school system. New Providence (pop: 12,808), the runner up, also received an A+ overall Niche Grade and an A+ public school grade. Summit (pop: 21,291) was ranked third, followed by Berkeley Heights (pop: 13,417) at No. 4.

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Fifth-ranked Fanwood (pop: 7,602) was praised for offering residents “a sparse suburban feel.” Most residents of the borough (88%) own their homes. Niche reported that “many families live in Fanwood, and residents tend to be liberal.” The public school system, which Fanwood shares with Scotch Plains, are highly rated. The borough scored an A+ overall Niche Grade and an A+ for the schools.

  • Good for Families: A+
  • Public Schools: A+
  • Outdoor Activities: A
  • Crime & Safety: A-
  • Health & Fitness: A-
  • Housing: B+
  • Nightlife: B+
  • Diversity: B
  • Jobs: B
  • Commute: B-
  • Cost of Living: C

Fanwood’s median home value is $450,200 (compared to $184,700 nationally), while the median rent is $2,811 per month (vs. $949 nationally). Last fall, Fanwood was voted "Best Small Town in New Jersey" by New Jersey Monthly magazine.

"“The Fanwood you see and experience today took more than a decade to realize," said Mayor Colleen Mahr. "It is the results of our leaders and community putting for a vision and attractive investment to create a vibrant town center with folks living and working while keeping our family friendly small town charm and culture."

Cranford (pop: 23,882) snuck in between Fanwood and Scotch Plains to claim the sixth spot in the county.

Scotch Plains (pop: 24,183), which also has an A+ overall Niche Grade and an A+ for the schools, was rated the seventh best place to live in Union County.

In Scotch Plains Township, there are a lot of restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. Many families live in Scotch Plains and residents tend to have moderate political views. The public schools in Scotch Plains are highly rated.

  • Public Schools: A+
  • Crime & Safety: B
  • Housing: B
  • Nightlife: B+
  • Good for Families: A+
  • Diversity: A-
  • Jobs: B+
  • Cost of Living: C
  • Health & Fitness: A+
  • Outdoor Activities: A
  • Commute: B

The median home value in Scotch Plains is $484,800 (compared to $184,700 nationally), while the median rent is $1,509 (vs. $949 nationally).

"We are honored that Niche.com has given Scotch Plains an A+ rating. Scotch Plains is a loving, diverse community with a great school system and many activities for family and nightlife," said Mayor Al Smith. "As we continue on our journey to re-develop the downtown, care for affordable housing and build a new library, Scotch Plains will be even a better than ever town to live and raise a family."

Rounding out Union County’s Top Ten were: Springfield, Mountainside, and Garwood. The rest of the towns in Union County are Roselle Park, Clark, Kenilworth, Union Township, Winfield Park, Rahway, Hillside, Linden, Roselle, Plainfield, and Elizabeth.

Factors Considered

  • Cost of Living (based on the consumer price index and access to affordable housing) 12.5%
  • Higher Education Rate (percentage of residents who have received a bachelor’s degree or higher) 12.5%
  • Housing (based on home values, property taxes, housing costs, local schools, and more) 10.0%
  • Public Schools (based on the average Niche K-12 Overall Grade for every public school serving the area) 10.0%
  • Diversity (based on ethnic, generational and economic diversity) 7.5%
  • Composite Overall Score (survey responses by Niche users) 5.0%
  • Crime & Safety (based on violent and property crime rates) 5.0%
  • Family Grade (based on school quality, safety, and family-friendly living) 5.0%
  • Health & Fitness Grade (based on community health statistics and access to healthcare) 5.0%
  • Jobs Grade (employment rates, job and economic growth) 5.0%
  • Nightlife Grade (access to bars, restaurants, theaters, and other attractions) 5.0%
  • Outdoor Activities (based on weather, air quality, and access to parks and other recreational opportunities) 5.0%
  • Walkability (based on the proportion of residents that walk or bike, and proximity of amenities) 5.0%
  • Weather (based on the number of sunny days, precipitation, and average temperatures in an area) 5.0%
  • Shortest Commute Grade (based on typical commute times and methods) 2.5%