Best East Coast small towns to live in
Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Best East Coast small towns to live in
If you are looking for a place to get away from the humdrum of life in the concrete jungles of a major city in the United States, one of these communities on the East Coast might be the best place for you.
Residents of these towns with rich histories have the chance to get to know and develop strong relationships with their neighbors, go on weekend getaways to the woods or a mountainside lake, and send their children to top schools. Several of the listed communities lie within commuting distances of major cities, giving residents the choice to work in the city during the day and retreat to tranquility in their small town homes in the evening.
Stacker developed this list using Niche’s 2022 Best Places to Live, which listed the top places to live in the country based on criteria such as living expenses, safety, weather quality, and access to healthy living.
In this list, Stacker narrowed down the listings to those located on the East Coast with no more than 5,000 residents. Furthermore, Stacker has added data on the resident population, median home value, median household rent, median rent, and median household income.
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#25. Berkeley Lake, Georgia
– Population: 2,503
– Median home value: $557,000 (97% own)
– Median rent: $2,154 (3% rent)
– Median household income: $138,182
This Gwinnett County, Georgia, town is a northern suburb of Atlanta with a history of being a summer retreat dotted with fishing cottages that slowly grew into a small town with the construction of permanent homes. The settlement envelops its namesake Berkeley Lake and is bounded to the north by the Chattahoochee River. In 2022, Berkeley Lake was recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation for good urban forestry management for the 23rd year.
Jay Gao // Shutterstock
#24. Roslyn, New York
– Population: 2,971
– Median home value: $619,700 (67% own)
– Median rent: $2,083 (33% rent)
– Median household income: $109,844
Roslyn is a historic village on Hempstead Harbor on what’s known as Long Island’s Gold Coast, named for the impressive estates built there in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The country home of the 19th-century poet William Cullen Bryant, Cedarmere, is nearby in Roslyn Harbor.
rj lerich // Shutterstock
#23. Chappaqua, New York
– Population: 3,062
– Median home value: $712,600 (85% own)
– Median rent: $2,720 (15% rent)
– Median household income: $196,141
Chappaqua became the post-White House residence of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and it has a rural, woodsy feel to it. A hamlet in the town of New Castle, Chappaqua is a commuter community about 35 miles north of Manhattan, where summer concerts are held in the downtown gazebo. Horace Greeley, the founder of the New York Tribune, was another prominent resident in the 19th century.
Brian Logan Photography // Shutterstock
#22. Piermont, New York
– Population: 2,525
– Median home value: $565,900 (63% own)
– Median rent: $1,995 (37% rent)
– Median household income: $114,526
Piermont, along the Hudson River and just north of New York City, is a village with outdoor cafes, unique boutiques, art galleries, and lots of history. The community’s old railroad station was built in 1873 and saved by the Piermont Historical Society to become part of the National Register of Historic Places. Exhibits in the train station are dedicated to a 1783 meeting between George Washington and Sir Guy Carleton on the village shore, as well as the Piermont paper mill, which opened in 1901. You can still even see the flywheel from the paper mill’s steam-driven electrical system.
Florenc.Elezi // Shutterstock
#21. Great Neck Estates, New York
– Population: 2,935
– Median home value: $1,563,900 (86% own)
– Median rent: $2,458 (14% rent)
– Median household income: $161,538
Located in the town of North Hempstead, this village on the northern shore of New York’s Long Island is the second-oldest incorporated village in the island’s Great Neck region. Great Neck Estates is about an hour’s drive from Manhattan, making it a convenient location for those who work in the city but want to live away from its concrete jungles. The town also has a waterfront park with facilities such as tennis, basketball, and handball courts, a marina and dock area, baseball and soccer fields, and a children’s playground.
E Pasqualli // Shutterstock
#20. Hartsdale, New York
– Population: 2,964
– Median home value: $334,800 (87% own)
– Median rent: $1,621 (13% rent)
– Median household income: $146,250
A hamlet in Westchester County, New York, Hartsdale offers an easy commute to New York City. With only 3 square miles, Hartsdale has a few quirky sections of town. One is called Poet’s Corner, with streets named for poets. And another is College Corners, where the streets have names like Harvard and Yale. During the American Revolution, the Odell House served as the headquarters for the French Gen. Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau.
karamysh // Shutterstock
#19. Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey
– Population: 4,248
– Median home value: $815,200 (95% own)
– Median rent: $2,773 (5% rent)
– Median household income: $244,493
Ho-Ho-Kus was once known for its racetrack, built in the late 1860s and which operated for 70 years. The track was used for horse racing, air shows, car racing, and even Victory Gardens during World War II. Ho-Ho-Kus was also the headquarters for a trolley that ran through towns in New Jersey and New York, beginning in the early 1900s.
LINYperson615 // Wikimedia Commons
#18. Herricks, New York
– Population: 4,163
– Median home value: $699,500 (97% own)
– Median rent: $3,375 (3% rent)
– Median household income: $170,078
A hamlet on Long Island, Herricks is a suburb of New York City with excellent schools that have been praised for innovations such as the Student Television Arts Company, which has turned out sound engineers, producers, and Emmy Award winners. The company also has a sophisticated foreign relations program. Herricks Pond Park is a popular destination within the town.
#17. Devon, Pennsylvania
– Population: 1,981
– Median home value: $663,300 (97% own)
– Median rent: $2,177 (3% rent)
– Median household income: $197,820
This suburb of Philadelphia is about a 50-minute drive from the city. Every year, the community hosts the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, one of the oldest and biggest horse shows in the U.S., dating back to the 1890s. According to Niche, the settlement is family-friendly with some of the top public schools in the area and good housing options for prospective residents.
James Andrews1 // Shutterstock
#16. Haworth, New Jersey
– Population: 3,341
– Median home value: $696,600 (95% own)
– Median rent: $3,501 (5% rent)
– Median household income: $196,932
Haworth was featured in the New York Times in 1908 under the headline “Growth of New Jersey’s ‘Concrete Town'” because of the concrete homes that were being constructed there. Among its notable residents in the 1930s was a dog named Heather Reveller, who had “the most sensational show record of any Scottish Terrier ever exhibited in America.” The dog’s owner, Willard H. Wright, wrote mysteries under the name S.S. Van Dine. Haworth, a 2.26-square-mile borough in Bergen County, is a short drive from New York City.
Gajus // Shutterstock
#15. Ardsley, New York
– Population: 4,984
– Median home value: $697,300 (80% own)
– Median rent: $3,501 (20% rent)
– Median household income: $226,218
A village in Westchester County and a suburb of New York, Ardsley was part of the Frederick Philipse Manor, which was broken up after the American Revolution. Philipse stayed loyal to England and fled after the war. Much of Ardsley’s original business district was lost to the New York State Thruway in the 1950s. Today, it has nine parks and more than 60 acres of parkland.
#14. Jenkintown, Pennsylvania
– Population: 4,681
– Median home value: $292,900 (65% own)
– Median rent: $1,337 (35% rent)
– Median household income: $120,172
This Montgomery County borough near Philadelphia is named after its founder William Jenkins, who settled in the area in 1697. The borough describes itself as a “pedestrian-oriented community” where residents can go to the post office, nearby stores and restaurants, and the settlement’s central business district on foot, and children can walk to school. Actor Bradley Cooper used to live here.
#13. Lemont, Pennsylvania
– Population: 2,335
– Median home value: $249,000 (74% own)
– Median rent: $965 (26% rent)
– Median household income: $59,000
Formerly known as “end of the mountain,” this village near the college town of State College, Pennsylvania, features in the National Register of Historic Places. The village gives visitors a “rural feel,” according to Niche. Niche has given the town high scores for access to public schools, suitability for family life, and housing options.
JWCohen // Shutterstock
#12. Cayuga Heights, New York
– Population: 4,023
– Median home value: $370,800 (51% own)
– Median rent: $1,131 (49% rent)
– Median household income: $98,563
Cayuga Heights adjoins Cornell University’s campus in Ithaca. Incorporated in 1915, the village has always had a close relationship with the university. Back then, two developers bought almost 1,000 acres of farmland and laid out lots for homes in the new community. Deed and other restrictions were meant to preserve views of the lake and the valley and maintain the village’s open feel.
David Papazian // Shutterstock
#11. Berwyn, Pennsylvania
– Population: 3,620
– Median home value: $550,100 (58% own)
– Median rent: $1,538 (42% rent)
– Median household income: $120,000
This suburb is a 40-minute drive from Philadelphia. According to Niche, this town feels like a mix of urban and suburban communities. Many residents are retirees. The town has good public schools and is home to many restaurants, cafes, and parks. Niche has given the town top scores for public education and family living.
Robert Hale // Shutterstock
#10. Aspinwall, Pennsylvania
– Population: 2,901
– Median home value: $337,700 (62% own)
– Median rent: $1,133 (38% rent)
– Median household income: $102,765
This Pennsylvania borough sits on the banks of the Allegheny River and falls within the Greater Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area. The suburb is a 12-minute drive from Pittsburgh, and is mainly a residential area, according to borough authorities. The land that now constitutes the town was mainly owned by the descendants of Pennsylvania politician James Ross until Allegheny County Workhouse superintendent Henry Warner came up with a plan to build a residential community along the river during the steel industry’s heyday.
LINYperson615 // Wikimedia Commons
#9. Kensington, New York
– Population: 1,299
– Median home value: $1,375,000 (96% own)
– Median rent: $3,501 (4% rent)
– Median household income: $193,417
Situated on Long Island’s North Shore, this New York suburb has highly rated public schools. Kensington is one of nine villages on the Great Neck peninsula and has a broad mix of residents from many different cultures. Large colonials and Tudors are common house styles here.
DanTD // Wikimedia Commons
#8. East Williston, New York
– Population: 2,637
– Median home value: $901,100 (98% own)
– Median rent: $3,501 (2% rent)
– Median household income: $191,544
East Williston on Long Island is a historic village that retains its many traditions, among them an annual Egg Hunt, the volunteer Fire Department’s Harvest Festival, and the Village Tree Lighting Ceremony in December. An East Williston Historic District encompasses some of the village’s earliest buildings and houses.
#7. Mountain Lakes, New Jersey
– Population: 4,464
– Median home value: $818,900 (93% own)
– Median rent: $1,441 (7% rent)
– Median household income: $250,001
Mountain Lakes is a planned residential park more than a century old. The 3-square-mile borough draws on its natural surroundings, including acres of woodland. Staying true to its namesake, nine lakes were created from springs and wetlands in town.
Krtz07 // Shutterstock
#6. Narberth, Pennsylvania
– Population: 4,467
– Median home value: $550,600 (57% own)
– Median rent: $1,528 (43% rent)
– Median household income: $128,889
Narberth is a borough located in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Getting from the town to the city takes only a 19-minute drive. The town has good schools and family-friendly living.
AITFFan1 // Wikimedia Commons
#5. Manhasset Hills, New York
– Population: 3,928
– Median home value: $871,000 (92% own)
– Median rent: $3,226 (8% rent)
– Median household income: $173,210
On Long Island, Manhasset Hills has highly rated schools and two parks within its borders. While it is known today as a relatively small place, a 1957 New York Times article noted that 88 split-level homes were to be built on 24 acres in Manhasset Hills, a boom for the time.
Doug Kerr // Wikimedia Commons
#4. Boalsburg, Pennsylvania
– Population: 4,376
– Median home value: $360,000 (83% own)
– Median rent: $1,127 (17% rent)
– Median household income: $109,160
This unincorporated community is a nine-minute drive from the college town of State College, Pennsylvania. Boalsburg is considered to be the place where the practice of commemorating Memorial Day began, after three women living in the town in 1864 decorated the graves of soldiers who died in the Civil War. Niche gives the town high grades for housing, public schools, and family living.
EQRoy // Shutterstock
#3. Princeton Junction, New Jersey
– Population: 2,208
– Median home value: $574,100 (77% own)
– Median rent: $1,040 (23% rent)
– Median household income: $196,364
Princeton Junction is a neighborhood in West Windsor Township and was originally a farming community dating back to the Revolutionary War. It has a small-town feel within commuting distance of Philadelphia and New York. Princeton—with its university, historic homes, and international community—is a short drive away.
John Penney // Shutterstock
#2. Great Neck Gardens, New York
– Population: 1,258
– Median home value: $941,500 (67% own)
– Median rent: No data available (33% rent)
– Median household income: $218,603
Great Neck Gardens is a New York City suburb on the Great Neck peninsula of Long Island. Near where F. Scott Fitzgerald set “The Great Gatsby,” newspaper listings in the early 20th century featured pricy real estate sales from Great Neck Gardens. Today, the 13-acre Allenwood Park—with a pond, ball fields, tennis courts, and a gazebo—is a favorite among locals.
Lucky-photographer // Shutterstock
#1. Houserville, Pennsylvania
– Population: 2,037
– Median home value: $266,400 (82% own)
– Median rent: $1,654 (18% rent)
– Median household income: $102,479
According to Niche, this unincorporated community located near the college town of State College, Pennsylvania, gives visitors a “rural feel” with good public schools, housing options, and family living.