New Haven, Connecticut is a seaport city located on Long Island Sound, protected by the New Haven Harbor. As you explore the area’s rich colonial history, you’ll find that New Haven was founded in 1638 by English Puritans who developed New Haven as the nation’s first planned city. Located at the center of their plan, the 16-acre New Haven Green is a National Historic Landmark. Just across the sound from Long Island, New York, New Haven is home to Yale University which was established in 1701. New Haven residents have the advantage of living in a vibrant university town that attracts innovators, artists, and scholars while still being able to enjoy an amazing array of outdoor activities such as jogging, biking, fishing, kayaking, boating, swimming, birdwatching, and more.
In addition to honoring itself as the ‘Cultural Capital of Connecticut’ for its museums, theaters, festivals, events, and entertainment venues, locals take advantage of the foodie scene. You’ll find over 120 eclectic and ethnic restaurants within two blocks of the New Haven Green, numerous Yale campus food trucks and carts, and abundant farmers markets. The ubiquitous Louis’ Lunch has been serving fast food since 1895 and takes credit for inventing the hamburger. While New Haven’s cultural landmarks certainly keep it on the list of New England cities to visit, you should examine the city’s slightly higher cost of living, crime rate, and unemployment rate before you decide to make your move.
Living in New Haven, CT: What to Know Before Moving to New Haven
With an areavibes.com livability score of 50, New Haven ranks as the second-largest city in Connecticut and the sixth-largest in New England. The diversity among the 131,014 residents ranges between 30% White, 32% African American, 30% Latino, 5% Asian, and 3% of other races.
Pros and Cons of Living in New Haven
- Yale University is here – even if you don’t attend or work at the school, living in a collegiate town usually means lots of dining, entertainment, and shopping options.
- Plenty of outdoor things to do – here, you’ll find lots of outdoor parks, hiking trails, yacht and boat clubs, golf courses, public beaches, and even nearby spots for zip-lining and ropes courses.
- You can visit other major areas within a short drive – New York City is about 3 hours south; Boston is 2.5 hours north; Providence is 2 hours northeast, and Newark and Jersey City are a little under 3 hours south.
- The high cost of living – Overall, the cost of living index is 109.7 based on a national average of 100, which means its 9.7% higher than the national average. You can expect higher costs for healthcare, goods, and services.
- Crime rate – the US average rate for property and violent crime is 260.2. In New Haven, the 2017 rate was 431.7, 60% higher. However, the 2017 rate was lower than the 2016 rate of 476, indicating a decline.
- The potentially weak economy and job market – New Haven’s median household income is 31% lower than the national average, and the unemployment rate is 55% higher than the national average.
- Property Tax – The residential property tax rate in Connecticut is 2.02%. If you buy a home here at the Zillow-reported median list price of $199,000, you’ll pay about $3,980 in annual property tax.
- Sales Tax – The general sales tax in New Haven is 6.35%. This rate is higher than many neighboring states, like New York with a rate of 4.0% and Massachusetts with 6.25%.
- State Income Tax – The income tax rate in Connecticut ranges from 3% to 6.99%, depending on median household income and how you file.
The housing market in New Haven has been steadily strengthening each year. According to Zillow’s data through July 31st, 2019, home values have increased 4% over the past year, and are projected to continue to increase another 1.3% over the next year. The median home value is $172,700, and the median list price is $199,000, averaging at about $145 per square foot.
If you’re planning on renting in New Haven, you can expect to pay an average of $1,625 per month. Because New Haven houses many students, an estimated 72% of New Haven residents rent their homes, leaving only 28% who own. The neighborhood of Newhallville has the lowest listed median home values, with a price of $108,400, likely making this neighborhood the most economical. Overall, if you’re planning a move to New Haven, you may want to lock in something soon before prices increase again. It’s a seller’s market!
Cost of Living
Bestplaces.net uses a cost of living index that evaluates certain expenses to determine an overall score in comparison with the US national average. Expenses include housing, groceries, goods and services, utilities, transportation, and healthcare. The national average index score for any of these categories is 100, so any score above 100 indicates that a particular expense is higher in this location.
For New Haven, Bestplaces.net reports the overall cost of living score is 109.7, which is only slightly higher than the US national average. The categories that were the highest were utilities at 130, miscellaneous at 124.8, and transportation at 124.2. The one expense that’s lower than the national average is housing at 86.5. To apply this data to real life, the EPI Family Budget Calculator estimates that a family of four would need to make a salary of $92,532 per year to live comfortably in New Haven.
Weather & Natural Disasters
If you’re hoping to live in a four-seasons climate but with slightly milder temperatures, this southern Connecticut town will be a good match. According to US Climate Data, the two warmest months in this region are July and August, with average high temperatures of 83F and 81F, respectively, and an average low temperature of 65F for each. The two coldest months, not surprisingly, are January and February, with average high temperatures of 38F and 40F, and average low temperatures of 22F and 25F, respectively. For anyone moving from a southern or western location, these average winter temperatures may seem very low, but some neighboring New England states see average winter highs much lower than those.
New Haven sees about 47.13 inches of rain annually, the majority of it falling in April (4.45 inches), September (4.37 inches), and March (4.29 inches). Bestplaces.net reports that the average annual snowfall is 29 inches, the majority of it falling in January with an average of 8.4 inches.
Like most New England states, Connecticut is prone to blizzards, hurricanes, and sometimes tornadoes. The official website for the City of New Haven provides several resources and guides to prepare for various weather emergencies. Be sure to sign up for their emergency alert system.
Economy & Job Market
New residents of New Haven will find a modest but strengthening economy and job market. US News uses data from the US Census Bureau, FBI, and Department of Labor to determine the average salary and 12-month unemployment rate scale to produce an overall job market index score for a city. Based on this data, New Haven’s index score is 7.1 out of 10, which places it in a healthier position than similarly sized metro areas.
While the unemployment rate is currently 4.1%, slightly higher than the national average, this rate has been decreasing over the years. In New Haven, the average salary is $55,450, slightly higher than the national average of $50,620.
New Haven’s job market is predominantly supported by the education, healthcare, food service, social service, and distribution industries, with the two largest employers being Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital. Jobseekers with advanced degrees may find opportunities with some of the private and public research institutions.
Traffic & Transportation
If you hope to get around the city using public transportation, you’ll find a decent menu of options in New Haven. To get around the city, many use the local bus or taxis. The Connecticut Transit Bus provides several routes and schedules, and there are 14 different taxi companies. Getting into NYC’s Grand Central Station is easy with the Metro-North Railroad, and if you need to get to Long Island, NY, you can take the ferry, which provides year-round vehicle and passenger service between Bridgeport, CT, a half-hour south, right into Port Jefferson.
For transportation by air, several airports include the Bradley International Airport one hour north; LaGuardia and JFK Airports in NYC, both about two hours south; and Newark Liberty International Airport, about two hours southwest in Newark, NJ. You can use a rideshare to get to the airport if you’d rather not drive and park your car, or there are airport shuttle services you can consider.
Walkscore.com gives New Haven an overall transit score of 48 and a walk score of 68. The city center is considered one of the most walkable between New York City and Boston according to realestate.usnews.com. The bike score is 66 because of designated bike lanes that make pedaling safe.
The major thoroughfares in New Haven include I-95, which runs east-west along Long Island Sound on the southern end of the city; I-91, which runs from the north and merges with I-95 just south of Wooster Square; and Route 1, which runs east-west through the middle of the city. Traffic headed south on I-95 during morning rush hour (7-9 am) and north during evening rush hour (4-7 pm), tends to be the worst, so you’ll want to avoid I-95 during those times. Traffic throughout the city otherwise tends to be normal, and you can always check the New Haven Traffic Map for current traffic flows.
What to Do
If you enjoy history, the outdoors, or if you’re a foodie, then you’ll love New Haven. This city is home to more than seven different museums and cultural landmarks, including the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, the New Haven Museum, the Yale Center for British Art, the Knights of Columbus Museum, the Eli Whitney Museum, and the Connecticut Children’s’ Museum.
If you’d rather be outdoors, New Haven has about 20 city parks you can choose from, including the East Rock Park, Edgerton Park, Lighthouse Point Park, and New Haven Green, many of them offering picnic space, green area for sports, hiking trails, and community events. If you golf, fish, or ski, you’re also in luck. New Haven is home to several golf courses and country clubs, boat and yacht clubs, public fishing spots, and ski mountains.
With all of these great activities, you’re likely to work up an appetite, so fortunately for you, New Haven has adopted a modest reputation as a foodie’s paradise. Made notable, perhaps in part to the high-profile pizza debates on the internet – check out Pepe’s vs. Sally’s) – New Haven’s culinary scene features an array of options for both casual and more sophisticated palates. From small classic restaurants that have been around for 120 years to upscale restaurants offering authentic farm-to-table experiences or intimate culinary dining excursions, you’ll find it all in New Haven.
Unfortunately, while Connecticut doesn’t have a major league sports team, you can catch various popular sporting events at the XL Center in Hartford, about an hour north.
Schools & Universities
The New Haven Public School District is ranked #10 out of 132 most diverse districts in Connecticut and has 49 schools. Niche.com reports that students in this district are 33% proficient in reading, 21% proficient in math, and the graduation rate is 80%. But while this large school district offers plenty of options, test scores and data collected from the Department of Education resulted in an overall grade of a C due to lower grades and college readiness. The only school rated above average according to greatschools.org is Worthington Hooker School, rated 7/10. Remaining schools are rated 5/10 or below.
For colleges and universities, there are several options right in New Haven. Yale University, Albertus Magnus College, University of New Haven, and Southern Connecticut State University are all 4-year schools nearby. For technical or community colleges, you’ll find Gateway Community Technical School in New Haven; Porter & Chester Institute in Hamden, CT, about 20 minutes north; and Lincoln Culinary Institute in Shelton, CT, about 30 minutes west, to name a few.
Crime data is always something you want to examine closely when moving to a new city. Crime is inevitable, but it happens more in some areas than it does in others. Educating yourself in those areas is key. According to neighborhoodscout.com, New Haven’s crime score index is 5, meaning New Haven is safer than just 5% of US cities. Bestplaces.net reports New Haven’s property crime rate is 51, compared to the national average of 22.7, and violent crime is 59, with a national average of 35.4.
The rate for both types of crime exceeds the national average, but the question is, where do the majority of these crimes take place? The neighborhoodscout.com crime map shows which New Haven neighborhoods are the safest and which have the most crime. Long Wharf, The Hill, Fair Haven, Dwight, and West River show the majority of criminal occurrences, so you may want to consider other neighborhoods if you hope to call New Haven your new safe haven.
- Gas Service – Southern Connecticut Gas is the primary gas utility provider for New Haven. You can click here to enroll in a plan and submit your request for a service to get started.
- Electric Service – Eversource is the more recognizable choice for electricity, but a popular local provider you can also consider is Spark Energy. To start your service with Eversource, you can click here. To learn more about Spark Energy, check rates, and sign up, you can click here.
- Water Service – The Regional Water Authority is the primary water service provider for New Haven. To set up service, contact the RWA directly.
- Trash Pick-Up/Recycling Service – The city’s Department of Public Works manages trash and recycling pickup for residents. To learn more and find your pickup day, go to the website, and/or contact them directly at 203-946-8200.
- Internet & Cable Service – Comcast/Xfinity is the major internet service and cable provider in this area. Click here to learn about their package options for New Haven and sign up.
Best Neighborhoods in New Haven, CT
Here’s the scoop on five of the top neighborhoods in New Haven.
Voted the #1 ‘Best Neighborhood to Raise a Family,’ ‘Best Neighborhoods for Young Professionals,’ and ‘Best Neighborhood to Live in New Haven’ on Niche.com, the Downtown neighborhood offers a great mix of bustling urban vibe and strong sense of community. Nestled right in the center of all of the action, living Downtown means you’ll be within walking distance of the foodie scene, historic city parks, bars, nightlife, festivals, and local attractions.
Downtown New Haven is home to about 12,169 people, many of them young professionals and young families, and covers the area from Martin Luther King Jr Blvd south, to Hillside and Edwards Pl to the north, Olive St to the east, and Lock Pl to the west. Not surprisingly, Downtown consists mainly of condos, apartments, and single-family homes, and here, 93% of residents rent and only 7% own. The median home value is $159,765, and the median rent is $1,220.
Students attend Worthington Hooker Elementary, rated 7/10 on greatschool.org; Sound School, rated 5/10; and Cooperative High School, rated 4/10.
Residents of Downtown have plenty of things to do without having to go far, especially with Yale University right in their backyard. College Street Music Hall and Toad’s Place are popular spots to catch live local music and comedy. BAR and Barcade offer late-night entertainment. Some of the restaurants that have solidified New Haven’s reputation as a culinary hotspot are right downtown also, including Prime 16, an upscale gastropub; Est Est Est Pizza & Restaurant, a small pizza place operating since 1973; and the famous Louis’ Lunch, supposedly the home of the first hamburger. If you’re moving to New Haven in hopes of living among an exciting urban scene, this neighborhood is a great option.
The suburban neighborhood of West Rock is a good choice for young new residents. With a population of 6,603 and a median age of 23, this neighborhood is made up mostly of single-family homes and apartments, offering both affordable housing and easy access to nearby amenities and activities. West Rock is located about three miles north of Downtown and is bordered by West Hills Rd to the west, Rt 10 to the east, Valley and Blake Streets to the south, and extends north up to Woodin St.
Median home values run a bit cheaper than for New Haven overall, landing at $94,200. But here, 79% rent their homes, and only 21% own, so those looking for rental properties will be in good company. Ranked as #7 ‘Best Neighborhood to Live in New Haven’ on Niche.com, the neighborhood of West Rock is desirable because of its location to area parks, restaurants, and schools, and its convenience to Downtown.
Families with school-aged kids will find several nearby schools under the New Haven Public School District, including Worthington Hooker Elementary, rated 7/10 on greatschools.org; Amistad Academy Middle School, rated 5/10; and Common Ground High School, rated 4/10. West Rock is also home to Southern Connecticut State University.
The major attraction in this neighborhood is West Ridge State Park, a mountain ridge that’s popular for hiking and fishing, and offers beautiful views of the city’s harbor and Long Island Sound. Sleeping Giant State Park is another popular site for outdoor activities and is located just 20 minutes north of the neighborhood.
Along Rt 63 on the southern end of the neighborhood, there are countless restaurants and eateries, including a pan-Asian restaurant, a Mediterranean restaurant, an old school pizzeria, a breakfast spot, and a sushi bar. Those willing to travel a bit further can venture a few miles towards Downtown New Haven and find Yale University, the Yale Center for British Art, and many other options. If you’re a young renter, especially with children moving to New Haven, West Rock may be a good option for you.
The urban neighborhood of East Rock was ranked #2 out of 19 ‘Best Neighborhoods for Young Professionals in New Haven’ by Niche.com and rated #4 ‘Best Neighborhoods to Live in New Haven.’ Similar to West Rock, although with almost twice the population at 12,985 residents, East Rock is home to many Yale students and staff, and offers a great mix of amenities and access, as well as affordable housing.
East Rock borders I-91 to the east, Whitney Ave to the west, and is just a mile north of Downtown. The median home value here is slightly higher at $354,760, and the average monthly rent is $1,322. Not surprising because of its proximity to the Yale campus, 77% of East Rock residents rent their homes and only 23% own.
Nearby schools include Wilbur Cross High School, rated 2/10 on greatschools.org; Worthington Hooker Elementary, 7/10; and Academy of New Haven, 3/10.
East Rock has a good array of cafes, restaurants, and bars, including The Pantry, Archie Moore’s, and JP Dempsey’s; of course there are many more options about a mile away from Downtown. For activities, 425-acre East Rock Park, at the northern edge of the neighborhood, is a popular hiking area. Right within the neighborhood you’ll also find Elm City Wellness, a highly-rated spa, and Escape New Haven, a popular live-action escape room. If you’re looking for a slightly more urban vibe that still provides the comforts and amenities of a residential area close to Downtown, the neighborhood of East Rock may be the one for you.
Located just west of the East Rock neighborhood is the residential neighborhood of Dixwell. Slightly removed from Downtown activity, this neighborhood sits among several mini markets and liquor stores, a public library, playground, a few churches, a pharmacy, and a couple of fast-food options.
With a population of about 6,270 residents, Dixwell consists of primarily single-family homes and apartments. Bordered by Munson St to the north, Whalley Ave to the south, Mansfield St to the east, and Sherman Ave to the west, Downtown is just a mile south. Here, the median home value is $149,537, and the average monthly rent is $1,017, a little less than the Downtown neighborhood. About 86% of Dixwell residents rent their homes and 14% own.
Nearby schools are the same as for Downtown students and include Worthington Hooker Elementary, 7/10 on greatschools.org; Sound School, rated 5/10; and Cooperative High School, rated 4/10.
While there aren’t many amenities within the neighborhood, residents can zip Downtown to enjoy the restaurants, bars, cafes, and stores, or visit the Connecticut Children’s Museum, Yale Center for British Art, or College Street Music Hall for tunes or comedy, among other attractions. Similar to East Rock in many ways, this neighborhood is a good choice if you’re looking for a perfect balance of activity and peace at an affordable price.
Families will love Westville. Ranked the #3 ‘Best Neighborhood in New Haven’ due to its overall family-friendly atmosphere, good housing, and lower crime rate, the neighborhood of Westville is made up 52% of renters, 48% of homeowners, and 22% of residents are families with children. Located about four miles northwest of Downtown and bordered by the Wilbur Cross Pkwy to the west and Fountain St to the north, this suburban neighborhood keeps residents close enough to the activities of New Haven while also providing a sense of space.
Here, the median home value is $244,318, and the average monthly rent is $1,395. Nearby schools include Edith E. Mackrille School, rated 6/10 on greatschools.org; Worthington Hooker Elementary, rated 7/10; and Sound School, rated 5/10.
Residents of Westville enjoy a short 15-minute drive Downtown for activities and restaurants near Yale University, a 10-minute drive north to West Ridge State Park, or five short minutes east to catch a theatre performance at the Lyric Hall Theater. Families seeking a quieter suburban setting will love living in Westville.
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