Connecticut is known for its rich history, its academia, its beautiful autumns, and its sunny summers by the beach. It's known as the Constitution State, the Provisions State, and, for some reason, the Nutmeg State-which is just adorable.
Common knowledge and cute nicknames aside, though, Connecticut is so much more. It has some of the most desirable real estate in the country, some of the best classrooms for your kiddos, low crime rates, and even more still, particularly in a select few places.
According to Movoto Real Estate's most recent ranking, the 10 places below are the tops in Connecticut; they are the sweetness to the Nutmeg State; they are what constitute greatness in the Constitution State; they. well, they're just the best.
1. City of Stamford
2. Town of Bethel
3. City of Danbury
4. City of Middletown
5. Town of Ridgefield
6. Town of West Hartford
7. Town of Darien
7. Town Groton
9. Town of Westport
10. Town of Newtown
We know these 10 places are the best in the state-our entire ranking was dedicated to proving just that. But why is Stamford at the top of the list, and how exactly did we come up with this order? Keep on reading to find out the method of our ranking, and just why each of these cities ranked the way it did.
How We Did It
Perhaps Connecticut should be known as the land of nicknames, because it has yet another one: The Land of Steady Habits. So, in the theme of keeping our habits steady for all you Connecticuters out there, we are using the same criteria we have used for other Best Places posts, like Kentucky and Oklahoma. They are the following seven criteria:
- Total amenities
- Quality of life (cost of living, median home price, median rent, median household income, and student-teacher ratio)
- Total crimes
- Tax rates (sales tax and income tax)
- Commute time
- Weather (temperature and air quality)
Once we got our criteria, we looked at a list of all of the places in Connecticut with populations over 10,000, for which there was full. This left us a total of which left us with a total of 42 places. From there, we ranked each of these places with a score of one to 42, with one being the best. After that, we averaged each ranking for an overall Big Deal Score, with the lowest score being the winner.
To find out where your city placed, you can skip down to the bottom of the post to see the overall rankings. Otherwise, we'll take a look at each of our top 10, starting with our winner, Stamford.
Source: Happy Haha Studios
If we asked Stamford residents just what makes their city so great, chances are we'd get a variety of responses, from the Mexican hot chocolate at Lorca to the Stamford Museum and Nature Center.
Amenities aside, though (and Stamford did rank among the best in this category), Stamford excelled in several of our other criteria as well. For example, this Fairfield County city placed highly in our ranking for a low student-teacher ratio of just 12 to 1, a median household income 89 percent higher than the rest of the state, and a median home price of $574,900-89 percent higher than the Connecticut average, giving it an overall high score for quality of life.
With just 1,934 crimes per 100,000 people, Stamford came in as one of the safest communities in our ranking-great news for residents and commuters alike, and there are plenty of each. After all, Stamford is home to four Fortune 500 Companies, nine Fortune 1000 Companies, and 13 Courant Companies, making it the largest financial district in the New York Metro outside of New York City.
Also located in Fairfield County, this town came in high on our list, not for Dr. Mike's Ice Cream Shop, or even, believe it or not, the curly fries at the Sycamore Drive-In.
No, Bethel came in near the top of our list for its high number of amenities, including the ones mentioned above, and for its overall high score in quality of life. This was mostly due to its low student-teacher ratio, just 13 to 1, and high median rent price of $1,168, which indicates the area's desirability.
What makes Bethel so desirable? Well, the weather may have something to do with it. With an average summer temperature of 68 and an air quality score of 35, Bethel was one of our highest ranking in terms of weather.
Source: Flickr user Jaxzin
Danbury may be best known for being the home of Western Connecticut State University-or for its rich history in the hat industry. Okay, maybe this is a less known fact, but indeed, Danbury has a rich history in the industry of making hats, and in fact, is nicknamed Hat City.
Hat trivia aside, Danbury ranked highly in our analysis for its overall rank in quality of life, mostly due to a student-teacher ratio of just 13 to 1 and some of the higher median rent and home prices in the state; for its good score in weather; and for its high number of amenities (including, we'd imagine, many hat stores).
Source: Jim Tourtellotte Global Design and Publishing
Middletown is the hub of Middlesex County. Though it is not large, within its borders are an historic downtown, large parks and open spaces, and tons of restaurants and things to do, including, of course, O'Rourke's Diner, which is really all the dining option you'll need.
Delicious banana bread French toast aside, Middletown scored well in our ranking as one of the least expensive places in our analysis, with a cost of living of just 111 (where the national average is 100). Middletown also had one of the lowest student-teacher ratios in our ranking, just 12 to 1, and while it may not have ranked the highest in median household income or home/rent prices, it more than made up for this with its unemployment rate of just 6.5 percent-one of the best in the state.
Situated in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains, Ridgefield is a quaint and beautiful town, known throughout the state for its stellar schools and world-class dining options (case in point: Bernard's, Luc's Cafe and Restaurant, and Sagi Cucina Italiana).
It also ranked well in almost all of our criteria, including a high number of amenities. Things to do and places to eat aside (as we could probably devote an entire post to this alone), Ridgefield residents have an overall high quality of life, as seen in their high median household income of $116,597 and some of the highest median home and rent prices in the state, $719,500 and $1,570 respectively-a good indication of the town's desirability. Plus, with just 271 crimes per 100,000 people, Ridgefield was the safest on our list.
6. West Hartford
Source: Wikipedia User Ragesoss
This affluent suburb of Hartford did well in our ranking for its lower than average commute time of just 22 minutes, its warm weather and clear skies in the summer, but mostly for an overall great quality of life score. What does this quality of life look like exactly? Well, in West Hartford, it looks like this: tons of total amenities, a student-teacher ratio of just 13 to 1, a median household income of nearly $79,000, and median home and rent prices of $317,400 and $1,077 respectively.
Even outside of our ranking, West Hartford sounds more like a town in a fairytale than one in Connecticut. The Center and the Square is always buzzing with some kind of festival or market going on, the West Hartford Reservoir looks like something straight out of Hyrule, and you can even take your kids to Westmoor Park where they can meet llamas, donkeys, horses, cows, goats, and more.
Source: Carol Wilder-Tamme
This town in Fairfield County may have a relatively small population-just over 20,000-but that is about the only small thing about it. With a median household income of $175,766 and a median rent price of $3,550, Darien ranked as both the best paid and the most expensive in rent in our entire ranking. The median home price was not far behind; Darien ranked No. 2 in this criterion with a price of $1,005,800.
If you're not too busy walking around gawking at the beautiful homes that dot Darien, there's plenty else going on in the area. For nature lovers, Cove Island Park and Cummings Park are just a few miles away; there is the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium nearby; and for foodies, Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza alone is reason enough to give Darien a try.
If all that weren't enough, Darien was also ranked the safest place in our ranking, with just 751 crimes per 100,000 people. Of course, all these benefits don't come cheaply; with a cost of living score of 200 (where the national average is 100), Darien is easily the most expensive place on our list.
Source: Flickr user David, Bergin, Emmitt and Elliott
Along the Thames River in New London County, this No. 7 spot on our list just sounds quainter than a British button. It isn't just the town's adorable name or its location, straight out of a children's tale, that give Groton an air of coziness and community; the numbers show it too.
For instance, Groton was ranked one of the safest places on our list, with a crime rate of just 1,576 crimes per 100,000 people. It also had a student-teacher ratio of just 13 to 1, plus a short commute time of just 20 minutes. In fact, the only thing about this place that doesn't absolutely scream "cute," is the cost of living: 111, where the national average is 100.
Source: Flickr user Dougtone
This coastal town in Fairfield County has previously been named one of the 10 wealthiest in the U.S. Clearly, with a median household income of $150,771, the highest median home price in the state at $1,010,400, and a median rent price of $1,468 (second only to Darien's), this is still true today.
Westport didn't just rank well because of its money; it also scored well for the lowest student-teacher ratio in our ranking, just 11 to 1, and lots of amenities-places like the Westport Country Playhouse, Sherwood Island State Park, Compo Beach, a bustling farmers market, and the Coffee An' Donut Shop on Main Street. All of this gave Westport the best score for overall quality of life of any of the places we looked at.
To top it off, Westport had some of the best weather in the state, with a high average summer temperature of 72 and an air quality score of just 35. In fact, the only thing really wrong with this place seems to be the high average commute time of 41 minutes-a small price to pay for the highest quality of life in the state, wouldn't you say?
Source: Flickr user Dougtone
This community of nearly 27,000 residents maintains a small town feel and an almost familial tight-knit community, plus the benefit of being just 60 miles from New York City. It ranked well in our analysis for its overall high score in quality of life. In this town, that means a high median household income of $106,141, a high median home price of $459,800, a median rent price of $1,304, and a student-teacher ratio of just 13 to 1.
While Newtown may not have ranked the highest in terms of its total number of amenities, we think it more than makes up for this with the ones it does have. The Creamery, Sal e Pepe Restaurant and Bar, and Lake Zoar? 'Nuff said.
Here's Another Nickname
Connecticut: The Constitution State, the Nutmeg State, and, let's face it, the Land of Too Many Nicknames to Count-after our ranking, we may have one more thing for you to call yourselves: just plain fantastic.
With some of the highest median household incomes in the state (not to mention the country), low student-to-teacher ratios, ideal summer weather, and so much more, these 10 places in particular have proven that Connecticut really is the Land of Steady Habits-and those habits seem to be geared around creating a wonderful life for residents. So congratulations to our winners, especially those lucky folks in Stamford. Your reward? You get to live in the place that you do.