Who has great maple syrup and even greater seafood? Who has purple lupine in bloom every spring and a blanket of snow on the ground for skiing every winter? Who knew that the very first place to declare independence from England all those years ago would still be such a happening place today? If you haven’t figured out who we’re talking about yet, here’s a spoiler: it’s the great state of New Hampshire.
We know that the state motto is “Live Free or Die,” but here at the Movoto Real Estate Blog would prefer to settle with the living part and have determined the best places to do that in the state. How on Earth did we manage that? Well, we’ll go into that more later, but for now we’ll just say that we’re strictly by the numbers. Those numbers told us that the best places in New Hampshire are:
1. Town of Hanover
2. City of Lebanon
3. City of Keene
4. Town of Exeter
5. City of Portsmouth
6. City of Concord
7. City of Dover
8. City of Nashua
9. Town of Hampton
10. Town of Durham
These towns and cities were carefully selected, as you’ll see shortly, from a larger list that can be found at the bottom of this article. Maybe your location did pretty well, even if it didn’t make the illustrious top 10, so feel free to take a look—but how did we make this list?
How Our Results Were Set In Stone
Now, it wasn’t the landscape, kind people, or tasty food that lead us to our results. It was all a matter of math. For those who don’t have much experience with our Big Deal List, let's take a minute to examine which numbers exactly were important to us.
The first thing we did was to make a list of the spots in New Hampshire with more than 10,000 people. That gave us 30 places to work with. After that, we collected data in seven different criteria that we used up to give us our rankings. Those criteria were:
- Total amenities
- Quality of life (cost of living, median home price, median rent, median household income, and student-to-teacher ratio)
- Total crimes
- Tax rates (sales tax and income tax)
- Commute time
- Weather (temperature and air quality)
From there, we ranked each placed from 1 to 30 across the criteria, with one being the best, and then averaged these rankings to give us a Big Deal Score. The lowest average score was the best place in the state, and this time Hanover came out on top.
We will say that, in this case. sales and income tax really didn’t play too much of a factor. That’s because New Hampshire has no sales tax and no income tax. Live it up you guys, you’re the only ones in the U.S. who can say that. As for the rest of the stats, let’s talk a little more about why each different place deserves to be in our top 10.
Source: Flickr user adamjackson1984
Coming in at No. 1 is 11,260 population Hanover, the smallest on our top 10. Don’t be fooled by size, though. This town has some serious wow factor when it comes to the stats, and shows that it deserves to be in first. The quality of life is just the best here and ranks No. 1 for that category. It also holds first place in commute time and employment ranking, so you know this is a fantastic place for workers.
Just because everyone here knows how to get the job done, doesn’t mean they don’t take time to stop and smell the flowers. The No. 4 placed weather allows locals to enjoy the Appalachian Trail as well as a ton of skiing and hiking opportunities. Residents are also quite willing to shell out the big bucks to live here, which is good since the median home price in the city is $473,000, the highest on our overall list.
Hanover is also home to prestigious Dartmouth College, which offers locals great sporting events and a massive library. While you’re there be sure to say hi to “Keggy,” the unofficial mascot, if you can spot him.
Source: Flickr user Ben Tolosa
Lebanon picks up a close second on our top 10 list. The place is a pretty musical one, featuring the Lebanon Opera House, a summer concert series, and The Salt Hill Pub which regularly has live music.
The city is also quite happy to toot its own horn when it comes to its perks. The weather is ranked fourth best, as is its commute time of only 18 minutes, and its quality of life is ranked fifth. Students will enjoy the city’s proximity to Dartmouth, as the place is just next door to Hanover, and the first ranked student-teacher ratio of only 11 to 1.
Nature lovers will love Lebanon, as it boasts the No. 1 air quality on our list and the seventh-best summer temperature ranking. That makes this place perfect for exploring or enjoying the Connecticut River, which is also the state boundary with Vermont.
Source: City of Keene
This slightly larger place should be feeling pretty keen, as its name suggests, about landing at No. 3 on our list. The city is a bit of a haven to students, offering them an impressive 12 to 1 student-teacher ratio and some great summer temperatures to enjoy the time off of school. If people are past school-aged, that’s fine too, as the place boasts the fifth-best unemployment rate at only 4.3 percent.
As far as things to do, Keene doesn’t fall short. The number of amenities here rank sixth for that criterion, and include the Keene Fresh Salad Co. where locals can fill up on greens and have the option of some really cool flavored ice cubes.
If there’s one thing that Keene loves besides students, workers, and food, it’s pumpkins. Don’t believe me? Stop by there in October, and you’ll see the city transform into a pumpkin mecca as the residents celebrate Pumpkin Fest.
Source: Flickr user Step It Up 2007
Exeter, besides having a pretty awesome sounding name, and its 14,306 locals places fourth on our top 10. It offers its residents more than just decent weather and a decent quality of life, which both scored fairly highly in those rankings. It also is the fourth safest place on our list with a crime rate of only 1,138 crimes for every 100,000 people.
Exeter is pretty stellar in more ways than stats can measure, as it features an annual UFO festival. This festival is complete with guest speakers, kids events, and of course the retelling of their local incident that sparked the town’s obsession with extraterrestrials.
Source: Jeffrey Akerson
No. 5 Portsmouth is a great home to 21,233 people, as well as a huge amount of amenities. So much, in fact, that the place is ranked fourth in that category, above some fairly larger locations. The size may be a factor when it comes to be shopping, but it doesn’t decrease this city’s quality of life, which ranks No. 4 overall. All this definitely makes this city a desirable place to live, so it makes sense that the median house cost is a staggering. $317,800.
Beer snobs will love this place, as it is home to not one but three different breweries to visit. Not interested in beer? That’s fine, because they also have the Isles of Shoals Steamship Co, where you can take party cruises and mystery ghost tours while sipping wine or eating delicious meals.
Source: Flickr user Brian Hubbard
Concord isn’t afraid to stand proud at our No. 6 spot. It’s also not at all ashamed to be the state capital of New Hampshire and home to 42,695 people. Concord caters to all sorts of people with its No. 3 ranked amenities, including vegans with the Spoon Revolution Vegan Bistro where diners can some tasty watermelon gazpacho, and Beefside where the true carnivores can nosh.
The employment ranking here is great, with only 4.3 percent of folks being jobless. Also, with a low eighth-place commute time of only 23 minutes, Concord is very worker-friendly.
Source: City of Dover
Before you ask, no this isn’t the place with those white cliffs, that’s in Britain. But as the seventh-oldest settlement in the U.S., and with a population of 29,987, it still manages to have some pretty fantastic selling points.
Though it ranks behind smaller Keene, Dover has plenty of amenities and ranks seventh for that criterion. It also has a decent employment rate and weather rank, making this a comfortable place for workers and shoppers alike. With the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire being part of its amenities, it even offers a fun and creative learning environment for the kids. In short, Dover is a place for the whole family.
Source: Flickr user WayneNH
Though not a name that springs to mind when you think of New Hampshire, Nashua is the second largest city on our overall list with 86,494 residents, and the largest on our top 10. Because it’s so big, it’s no surprise that the city comes in second for amenities and 11th for quality of life. Residents are eager to digitally rave about and to support highly rated local businesses like Alec’s Shoes and Wilfred’s Barber shop, which gives this place a hometown feeling despite it’s much larger size.
Residents also aren’t too worried about the job market, either. A whopping 95 percent of people here are employed and they rake in a median income of $65,476 each year, which makes this place pretty livable for workers. The crime rate is a little high here and ranks 17th on our list for that criterion, but other than that this place is pretty great.
Source: Flickr user Bissinnotte
This town of 14,976 is just simply a wonderful place to live, and proves it with a third-place quality of life ranking. Combine that with the seventh-best weather on our list, and you’ve got a comfy and peaceful place to live—especially if you’re a surfer. Now, we know you’re thinking that there’s no way there’s decent surfing in New Hampshire, but this place is the real deal. Grab a board rental from cinnamon Rainbows Surf co, and go hit the waves to find out for yourself.
With such an awesome set of perks, it’s really not shocking that the house prices are high, but the second place ranking of $339,100 is a bit of a surprise. The median income of $70,417 does help out with that a little, though, and makes living in such a wonderful place more reasonable.
Source: Flickr user John Pittman
Although Durham is small, this little town offers two positives that you can’t get in most bigger locations: safety and mobility. Anyone worried about crime has nothing to fear here, with its crime rate ranking the third lowest. Also, if you’re worried about getting to or from your job, you should be happy about the 17 minute and second best commute time on our list.
The main reason this little place isn’t higher on our list is its amenity ranking. Durham scored the worst on our list for that ranking and drags the town’s overall score way down. Still, if you’re looking for something tasty to eat here, you can try Pauly’s Pocket, which boasts some of the best falafel in the area.
New Hampshire, Where You Can Live Free… Sort Of
While housing costs here are bit higher than elsewhere in the nation, we can see from this list that New Hampshire is a very freeing place to live.
Where there’s good there’s also bad, and New Hampshire had a few pretty poorly ranked places. Pelham took the very bottom spot with the worst weather, fourth-worst commute time, and third-worst amenity rank. Raymond didn’t score too much better in any of those categories, and finished second to last overall. Salem, whose motto is “Industry, Commerce, Recreation” had the second-worst employment rate and the fifth-worst weather, kind of defying those lofty goals.
All in all, however, New Hampshire offered some beautiful views, some good employment, and some very fun places to be. think your hometown should have ranked higher? Think that Hanover really isn’t all that? Let us know in the comments.
(click to enlarge table)
Featured Image: Flickr User Dennis Jarvis