New Jersey's Best Towns for Families 2016 Essex County Winner
Average Home Price: $996,265
Look up the word “quaint” in the dictionary, and you may just see a photo of Essex Fells. With a little over 2,000 residents, this tight-knit community is Essex County’s smallest, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in charm.
There are no commercial businesses in this hilly, tree-lined town, which means no apartments, condos or office buildings. Residents instead head to the neighboring communities of Caldwell, West Orange, Roseland and Montclair to do their shopping and errands.
Such tranquility, however, comes at a price—the average home price is $996,265 here, which means this town may not be a perfect fit for everyone.
For Caragh Lavoie, though, moving to Essex Fells three years ago from Hoboken was one of the best decisions she and her husband, Brian, have made for their three young boys, all under the age of five. “I grew up in a suburb outside of Boston, and it had a very similar New England feel,” she says.
That “feel” may best be experienced by a wintry visit to “The Pond,” where families come in droves to ice skate, play hockey or just hang out all winter long (and yes, you can have pizza delivered here). The town’s other major hub for hiking, running and sports is Grover Cleveland Park, a massive 40-acre preserve.
Essex Fells has plenty of practical benefits too. “The schools are excellent, the taxes are among the lowest for comparable communities and it’s an easy commute to Manhattan,” says Lavoie. Though there are no buses or trains running directly from Essex Fells, commuters drive five miles to the Walnut Street Station in Montclair for the 40–50-minute ride into the city.
Lavoie’s favorite town event is the Memorial Day picnic at the green. “Everyone gets together for a big barbecue, with a beer tent and games for the kids,” she says. “The firehouse comes with fire trucks for the kids to play on, and they spray them with hoses. It’s the perfect all-American day.”
More of New Jersey's Best Towns for Families 2016
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The Full 2016 List: New Jersey's Best Towns for Families
Best NYC Commuter Towns for Families in NJ
Most Diverse Towns for Families in NJ
Most Affordable Towns for Families in NJ
Safest Towns for Families in NJ
Towns With the Best School Districts in NJ
Hoboken: We Still Love You
Best Somerset County Town: Montgomery Twp
Best Morris County Town: Boonton
Best Union County Town: New Providence
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Best Mid-Size Towns in NJ
Best Small Towns in NJ
Methodology for New Jersey's Best Towns for Families