New Jersey's Best Towns for Families - Most Affordable - 2016
Rural with great schools, this town has the lowest crime rate and is the most affordable of the highly-ranked towns on our list.
Average Home Price: $323,135
Driving through scenic, gently rolling hills, past farms featuring handwritten signs for horseback riding lessons and pick-your-own apples, it’s easy to appreciate the serenity of living in Fredon. But this rural town has so much more going for it: terrific schools, easy access to NJ cities and reasonably priced houses. Plus it took top honors as both the safest and most affordable among our highest ranked towns—with just 1.2 crimes per 1,000 people and an average home price that’s almost $72,000 below the state average of $397,279.
Krystal Beck and her husband Matthew moved into a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath colonial (for just under $400,000) here with their two young boys, Owen, 6, and Alex, 4. They needed to be closer to their jobs—Matthew is the assistant superintendent at Sussex County Technical Schools in Sparta, while Krystal is an administrator at Morris Hills Regional District in Rockaway.
“The small-town atmosphere attracted us—you’re still in civilization, but when you’re home, you feel like you’re out in the country and away from it all—and of course, the schools are incredible,” says Beck. “And I feel much safer here compared to where we were living. It’s very warm and welcoming. My kids are always outside playing, and I’m never fearful about that.”
Jake Hunt of Windy Brow Farms knows that feeling firsthand, since he grew up here himself. These days, he makes the freshly baked bread and hand-churned ice cream sold in his farm’s storefront. At its heart, he says, Fredon is a small town with small-town values. “Everyone still knows their neighbors” and residents “feel comfortable and safe enough not to have to lock doors at night,” Jake says .
Fredon folks use the “honor system” when it comes to buying the homegrown organic food—eggs, produce, even meat—available at the little farms along the highway.
“You pull over to the side of the road, put money in a jar and take whatever you want,” Beck says. “It’s safe enough to do that here.”
The refreshingly low home prices were another factor in the Becks’ decision to settle here. The average cost of a house in this rural suburb is just $323,135, compared to the nearly $400,000 across the state.
Beck loves that there’s so much to do close by. The Muckshaw Ponds Preserve sits on 530 acres of protected land, including ponds, streams, caves, sinkholes and well-marked trails with some of the most breathtaking views in the state. The town hosts soccer and basketball clinics at the town rec center next to the firehouse, breakfast with the Easter Bunny, a trunk-or-treat and bonfire for Halloween and photos with Santa.
Another perk of living here? Its proximity to the Sussex County New Jersey State Fair in August that’s part carnival, part farming-and-horse show, and one of the largest, oldest festivals around.
Though it’s been just over a year since the Becks put down roots in this town, they already have the sense they’ve been here forever. Fredon feels like home in a way their other neighborhoods didn’t.
“It’s so nice to be part of the community—it’s been very easy to make friends,” Beck says. “Fredon is relaxing, tranquil and less busy than other New Jersey towns. We definitely see ourselves living here for a while.”
New Jersey's Best Towns for Families 2016
Most Affordable Towns
*Based on top towns that had a home sale price below the state average of $366, 488
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