WESTFIELD, NJ — The town has dropped down two places from where it was a year ago on Niche.com’s ranking of “Best Places to Live in New Jersey,” but it’s farther up on the list than it was two years ago.

At number nine, Westfield remains among the top 10 places to live in New Jersey, according to the website, which ranked Princeton, Princeton Junction and Upper Montclair as the top three places to live in the state.

“We’re one of those towns because of all those things that we have to offer,” said Mary Ellen O’Boyle, a local realtor who has lived in the town for 40 years. “We’re sort of a bellwether for the state. We’ve certainly bounced back from the quarantine.”

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O’Boyle pointed to Westfield’s schools, its youth athletic programs and its downtown as among the positive offerings. She also reported an upswing in the real estate market she attributes to COVID-19.

“What we’re experiencing now is sort of what happened after 9/11. People want to come out of the city, cocoon their families and wrap their arms around them,” O'Boyle said.

Niche.com, which this year ranks Westfield as the best place to live among Union County’s 21 municipalities, gave the town an “A+” for its public schools, a “B” for its housing, a “B+” in terms of crime and safety, an “A-” in the nightlife category and a “B” in the category of diversity. Niche.com gave Westfield a “B” when grading residents' commutes.

“Living in Westfield offers residents a sparse suburban feel and most residents own their homes,” Niche.com states on its website. “In Westfield there are a lot of restaurants, coffee shops and parks. Many families live in Westfield and residents tend to have moderate political views. The public schools in Westfield are highly rated.”

According to Niche.com, the median home value in Westfield is $727,600. Following the town’s 2019 reassessment, municipal officials put the town’s typical assessed value at $795,159. And just 17% of Westfield residents rent, with the median monthly payment reported as $1,663, according to Niche.com.

The rankings and figures, Niche.com says, it draws from a series of public datasets, including the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, federal Department of Education data and Uniform Crime reports compiled by the FBI.

According to Niche.com, the rankings also take into account user reviews while giving higher weight to categories receiving more reviews.

“Factors built from Niche user data and student/parent-submitted surveys were based on aggregated data/responses across each places,” the website says. “We logically have a higher degree of confidence in the aggregated score for places with more responses.”

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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