Study: Best Cities to Live in Connecticut

If you're looking for the slower pace of the countryside, the modern conveniences of the suburbs or the hustle and bustle of the big city, it doesn't get any better than Connecticut. Its vibrant history, esteemed academic traditions and diverse economy are just a few of the things that make the Nutmeg State a top destination to settle down.

The western part of the state features some of the largest metro areas, including Stamford, Bridgeport and New Haven. Each of these cities is on the New Haven Metro line, making travel to New York a breeze. Eastern Connecticut is where you'll find sleepy rural towns and rich farmland, not to mention the home of the UConn Huskies.

Whether you're a newbie or a lifelong Nutmegger, deciding where to hang your hat can be tough with so many great options. To take some of the guesswork out of your decision, the CreditDonkey team has ranked the ten best places to live in Connecticut.

10 Best Cities to Live in Connecticut

Study Methodology

We used these five criteria to rank each city in our study:

  1. Crime Rate
  2. Commute Time
  3. Income
  4. Education
  5. Restaurants Per Capita

Connecticut consistently ranks as one of the top 10 safest states in the country, but we know that not every city is alike. We analyzed how safe each location is based on the odds of becoming the victim of a violent crime.

While rail travel is a popular choice for many Connecticut commuters, it's not always an option for everyone. We looked at the average commute time for each city to pinpoint those places with the shortest drive time.

Where you decide to live can be an important predictor of how much you'll earn, so we considered the median household income for the cities in our study. We also took into account the educational attainment of each city's residents, based on the percentage of people who hold a bachelor's degree or higher.

New England cuisine centers around regional favorites like clam chowder and pizza, but if your tastes are a little bit broader, the cities on our list don't disappoint. We factored in the number of restaurants per capita to find those spots with the widest variety of eateries.

10. West Haven

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 174
  • Commute Time: 22.9 minutes
  • Income: $51,911
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 21.4%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 486 inhabitants

Just an hour northeast of New York City, West Haven styles itself as "Connecticut's Friendliest City." This scenic waterfront town faces New Haven Harbor, offering residents a panoramic view of Long Island Sound. The coastline is also a notable attraction for bird watchers, particularly near the Sandy Point estuary. If you're looking for that beach town feel but want to stay close to the metro area, West Haven is an ideal choice.

Did You Know: West Haven served as an important military outpost for both Colonial and British forces during the Revolutionary War.

9. New Haven

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 70
  • Commute Time: 22.4 minutes
  • Income: $38,482
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 32.7%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 411 inhabitants

Notable for being the home of Yale University, New Haven is West Haven's closest neighbor. The second largest city after Bridgeport, New Haven is also the most populous city on our list with more than 130,000 residents. Although the economy is driven largely by education, the healthcare and manufacturing industries are rapidly expanding. The city's restaurant scene features the best of high-end cuisine and low-key dining. One of the most popular local spots is Louis' Lunch, where the burger was born and learning the lingo is a must if you want to place an order.

Did You Know: Former President George W. Bush was born in New Haven.

8. Meriden

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 275
  • Commute Time: 22.1 minutes
  • Income: $53,831
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 19.8%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 556 inhabitants

Meriden sits squarely between Middletown and Waterbury, in the heart of the Constitution State. The city began as a small farming settlement, but manufacturing has served as the cornerstone of the local economy since the mid-1800s. Along with spectacular views of the Metacomet Range, Meriden features a number of outdoor attractions including the 1800-acre Hubbard Park, the largest municipal park in the state.

Did You Know: Meriden's most recognizable landmark is Castle Craig, a 32-foot high stone tower erected in 1900 by town resident Walter Hubbard.

7. Norwich

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 409
  • Commute Time: 21.5 minutes
  • Income: $51,304
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 20.9%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 482 inhabitants

Nicknamed "The Rose of New England," Norwich sits at the mouth of the Thames River, approximately 15 miles north of New London. If you're looking for something to do, why not spend a day touring one of the area's historic homes or hiking through Mohegan Park. Afterwards, head to Philly's for an authentic cheesesteak and a side of fries topped with everything but the kitchen sink. Just be sure to grab some extra napkins before you dig in.

Did You Know: Norwich is the birthplace of Benedict Arnold, one of the most notorious figures of the Revolutionary War.

6. New London

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 76
  • Commute Time: 20.1 minutes
  • Income: $44,106
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 21.3%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 318 inhabitants

The port city of New London sits on the shores of the Thames River and the Long Island Sound, just across the way from Groton. With just over 27,000 residents, New London is the smallest city in our study but it's still big on appeal. The historic downtown district is a mecca for creative types, featuring art galleries, theaters and museums. At night, the area comes alive as residents take in the sunset harbor views and the live jazz music along Bank Street.

Did You Know: Playwright Eugene O'Neill spent his summers in New London as a child. Visitors can tour the Monte Cristo Cottage, the O'Neill family's summer home and the setting for the Pulitzer Prize-winning Long Day's Journey Into Night.

5. Bristol

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 626
  • Commute Time: 23.5 minutes
  • Income: $58,814
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 23%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 606 inhabitants

A suburb of Hartford, Bristol is less than a 25-minute drive southwest of the capital city. Despite being so close to the metro area, this city of 60,000 residents is one of the safest on our list. When it comes to things to do, Bristol is hard to beat with nearby attractions like the New England Carousel Museum, the Watch and Clock Museum and Lake Compounce, the oldest continuously operating amusement park in the U.S. You'll also find some of the best fried chicken in the state, served up hot and crispy at Greer's on Matthews Street.

Did You Know: Sports network ESPN launched its first broadcast in 1979 from its Bristol studio.

4. Danbury

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 751
  • Commute Time: 25.8 minutes
  • Income: $66,281
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 31%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 425 inhabitants

Families love Danbury because of its low crime rate and top-notch schools. Professionals appreciate the relatively short commute time and the numerous job opportunities afforded by companies like Boehringer Ingleheim and the Barden Corporation. Whatever your reasons for moving to this up-and-coming city, you won't be disappointed. Residents enjoy the best of urban living, with convenient access to shopping, restaurants and the arts scene in a setting that epitomizes the classic New England feel.

Did You Know: The Danbury Federal Correctional Institute is notable for housing a number of famous inmates, including jazz singer Billie Holiday and former Manson follower Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme.

3. Norwalk

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 319
  • Commute Time: 25 minutes
  • Income: $75,446
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 41.6%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 386 inhabitants

Close to the Connecticut Turnpike, Norwalk is convenient to both Stamford and Bridgeport. Families account for approximately a quarter of the population, although there's also a sizable community of retirees. The southern Norwalk area, known as SoNo, features the best of local entertainment and the arts as well as an eclectic selection of bars and restaurants.

Did You Know: The city's largest event is the annual Oyster Festival, which features arts, crafts and exhibitions that pay tribute to the area's oystering history.

2. Stamford

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 354
  • Commute Time: 24.8 minutes
  • Income: $76,797
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 43.6%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 375 inhabitants

The third-largest city in Connecticut, Stamford is uniquely situated between Norwalk and New York City. Professionals are drawn to the booming economy, which boasts a number of high-profile employers including International Paper, Xerox and Pitney Bowes Inc. Nearly half the population has earned a bachelor's degree or higher and median incomes are above $76,000. The downtown area is a major hotspot where you'll find everything from hole-in-the-wall taverns to quaint French bistros.

Did You Know: Several popular talk shows, including The Jerry Springer Show and Maury, are filmed in Stamford.

1. Shelton

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 1,821
  • Commute Time: 24.9 minutes
  • Income: $83,755
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 35.8%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 474 inhabitants

Shelton takes top honors in our rankings thanks to its extremely low crime rate, short average commute and higher median income level. Located northwest of New Haven, Shelton is a major commercial and manufacturing hub. Several large companies are headquartered here, including the Bic Corporation and Latex International. Home prices are significantly lower compared to nearby Stamford, making Shelton one of the most affordable places to live in the metro area.

Did You Know: One of Shelton's most popular hangouts is the Sports Center of Connecticut, which features the world's only double-decker ice skating rink.

Connecticut's slogan is "Full of Surprises," and whether you're a current resident or you're relocating here for the first time, there's always something new to discover. Our rankings are meant to underscore the best of what the state has to offer so your move is that much easier.

Data Sources:

  • U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates
  • FBI, Uniform Crime Reports
  • U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey
  • U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Census

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Rebecca Lake at Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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