From dense urban areas like Newark and Jersey City to green countrysides and charming villas, New Jersey offers diverse places to live. Families flock to the Jersey Shore during warm summer months while many outdoor lovers venture to the Skylands for hiking, hunting and camping.
New Jersey is the country’s fourth-smallest state by land mass but its most densely populated, with approximately 1,200 inhabitants per square mile. Averaging about 15 square miles each, the state’s 565 municipalities sit fairly close to one another.
Some are relatively huge: Newark has about 277,000 inhabitant and Jersey City, 247,000. But as you’ll see from this list, there are some very tiny municipalities with unusual provenance.
New Jersey is nothing if not real, down to earth, and honest to goodness great place to live. So without further ado, here are the top 18 small cities in New Jersey:
With a population of a mere 2,181 people, according to Neighborhood Scout, Cranbury may be small in stature but it’s large on charm. Located in Middlesex County, Cranbury is home to a bustling downtown straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Main Street offers a quaint stroll through historic buildings and unique shopping, dining and entertainment offerings. Outdoor enthusiasts, meanwhile, have plenty of opportunities to recreate thanks to popular Village Park and Brainerd Lake offering everything from winter skating to an annual town camp out.
In February 2014, the New York Times published the article, “One Town, Many Personalities,” in which residents expressed feelings of being transported by life in the town — comparing it to everything from quintessential New England to unexpected Nebraska.
In fact, many members of the community moved to Cranbury from neighboring New Jersey areas to escape urban sprawl while enjoying the strong sense of community for which Cranbury is celebrated.
Cranbury’s central village in particular offers residents the chance to step back in time thanks to historically designated buildings dating back to the Revolutionary War. But McMansion seekers won’t be disappointed, either: Cranbury’s outlying areas offer new, large homes with plenty of contemporary conveniences.
Despite its growth and thanks to an unyielding land preservation program, Cranbury hasn’t fallen victim to the overdevelopment suffered by neighbors like West Windsor.
While real estate is expensive here — average sale prices hovered above $730,000 in 2013, cited by the New York Times based on the Middlesex County Multiple Listing Service — residents are more than willing to pay for premium access to everything from an exceptional public school district to easy commuting distance to New York and Philadelphia from nearby Princeton Junction. Life in this Middlesex County town also offers comparatively low taxes, as well as access to top-rated Princeton High School.