New Hampshire does try to live up to the philosophy of its famous motto. The Granite State is one of nine states with no income tax and one of just five with no sales tax. Its citizens highly value individual freedoms over a larger government reach.
Is New Hampshire a good place to live? The answer to this question is Yes! New Hampshire also has some of the most beautiful natural scenery the Northeast has to offer. Mountains, forests, lakes, beaches and classic New England cities all exist within a relatively close distance of one another, making New Hampshire an enjoyable place to live.
Today, many people have been looking to relocate to ease their living expenses. While the New England region’s cost of living is slightly higher than the national average, New Hampshire remains relatively affordable.
Nearby states like Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and New York make New Hampshire look like a cost-of-living haven. Many towns and small cities in New Hampshire have proven to be affordable and desirable places to live.
“Live free or die.”
We’ve taken a look at the five most important issues for people looking to move to a new place: housing, employment, safety, health care and schools. If you want to live in New Hampshire, here are the top 10 best places you should consider in 2023.
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Those who prefer a quiet, rural lifestyle may want to give Berlin a closer look. The northernmost city in New Hampshire, it has a very small population and some of the most affordable housing in the entire state. With a median home value of just $106,358 and monthly average rent of just $938 per month (as of June 2022), Berlin could be the right place to settle in order to cut down on your cost of living.
While unemployment rates in the city are higher than in much of the rest of New Hampshire, they are still lower than the national average, at 4.7%. The once-thriving manufacturing industry is now long gone, but there is still a good mix of blue- and white-collar jobs available in the area.
One tradeoff of the low cost of living is that household income is lower than average, at $39,091. In recent years, however, the local government has partnered with the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center to create more opportunities for residents.
Like most of New Hampshire, Berlin has relatively low crime, but rates vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Locals consider the northern part of the city to be the safest.
For health care, residents have access to a number of family health providers as well as the Androscoggin Valley Hospital, which has departments across all major health services.
The public schools in Berlin invest in their students at a higher rate than most of the country, and for anyone looking to boost their education after high school, White Mountains Community College is also in the area.
One interesting thing about Berlin is that, due to the city’s proximity to Canada, many of the residents speak French.
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Newport is nicknamed the “Sunshine Town” and boasts an unparalleled quality of life, according to locals. Median home values are a moderate $246,545, and renters can expect to pay $1,934 per month. Those who decide to live here enjoy the natural splendor of the southwestern New Hampshire hills, with beautiful walking and hiking trails along the rivers and covered bridges that bring out the classic Northeast aesthetic.
Like much of the region, Newport has many workers employed in sales and office jobs. The town enjoys a very low unemployment rate of 2.8%. The average household income of $58,193 puts Newport ahead of the national average and allows its citizens to live a comfortable and peaceful lifestyle.
The welfare of the people is an emphasis in this community. Crime rates here are lower than New Hampshire’s overall rate, and far lower than the national average. For health care, many residents turn to the Newport Health Center, which is run by New London Hospital and offers services in primary care, pediatrics, gynecology, occupational health, laboratory, x-ray, mammography and rehabilitative services.
Families with young children have multiple options for schooling. The town invests strongly in its public school program. And for families seeking an alternative to public education, Newport’s private Montessori school offers a unique approach.
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Franklin is a place where value meets variety. With median home values around $276,175 and rentals at $1,458 per month, residents can stay financially comfortable while still enjoying easy access to some of New Hampshire’s most popular attractions. This is a place that’s conveniently located between the capital city of Concord and the popular shopping outlets in Tilton, and just a short drive away from the Lakes Region.
Although unemployment numbers are a tad higher in Franklin than in most other places on this list at 4.6%, the city has undergone a sort of renaissance in recent years. The local government has dedicated itself to creating a business-friendly community with a revitalized downtown area that still maintains its quaint and classic feel. The median household income in Franklin is $42,720.
The neighborhoods here are quiet and safe. According to U.S. government statistics, Franklin is notably safer than most other communities of similar size across the country. The downtown area and the public spaces offer lots for people to do. Boating, fishing, hiking and shopping are all favorite activities of Franklin’s residents.
The city boasts numerous primary care offices as well as a satellite location of Concord Hospital. It is also within an easy drive to hospitals around Concord and the Lakes Region.
Franklin’s public schools tend to lag in test scores compared to the rest of the state, so parents may want to do some research before choosing Franklin as a place to settle down. Overall, though, the amenities and convenience make this community a desirable place to live.
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Located on the border of Maine along the Salmon Falls River, Somersworth has median home values around $317,613. Rentals average about $2,088. Citizens can often be found kayaking, spending time in the city’s public parks, or enjoying the well-maintained river walk. You can also find them in the chic and trendy downtown area enjoying modern restaurants and entertainment.
The median household income here is on par with most of the country at $53,094, and the unemployment rate is 3.6%. The Hilltop City bills itself as business-friendly, and the convenient commercial area has everything from manufacturing facilities to commercial businesses to locally owned boutiques.
Violent crime in Somersworth is quite low, coming in at 57% lower than the national average, and the people who live here feel their community is safe. Relative to the rest of New Hampshire, however, the city is not considered one of the safest.
For health care, locals know to look along the uniquely named “medical mile” on Route 108 if they need a physician or a dentist. There are two hospitals that flank that stretch of road as well.
Somersworth Middle School has been recognized for academic achievement in recent years, and the district as a whole strives to invest in all its students. The school facilities are fairly modern and well maintained. Just a 20-minute drive away is the Durham campus of the University of New Hampshire (UNH), the largest public university system in the state.
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Laconia’s biggest draw is that it is the most affordable city in the highly-sought-after Lakes Region. For a community that borders both Lake Winnisquam and Lake Winnipesaukee, a median home value of $319,696 is very affordable. Renters will find reasonable prices, too — around $1,333 per month on average.
Manufacturing is still a significant industry in Laconia, with facilities that produce textiles, leather and metal products and electronics. There is also a fairly large tourism industry. Households here make an average of $55,814, and unemployment is around 4.7%.
Like the rest of the communities on this list and in New Hampshire in general, Laconia is considered relatively safe. The downtown area is mostly walkable and provides all the necessities for everyday life. Attractions like the famous Weirs Beach area keep people busy and active around town.
Laconia’s most famous event of the year is Motorcycle Week, when riders from all over New England congregate to enjoy the lake and the attractions around the area while sharing their love of bikes. The event is a major draw for the community.
Concord-Laconia General Hospital is within walking distance of downtown. It has departments in many areas of medicine to fully serve the people. Health First Family Care Center is also nearby.
While Laconia spends an above-average amount per student, it tends to perform behind the state average in standardized test scores. There are multiple private schools to choose from as alternatives to the city’s public schools. Laconia Christian Academy and the Holy Trinity School are popular choices for religious families.
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Keene is perhaps best known for its unique cultural traditions. It boasts a strong reputation as a nice place to live. A bustling downtown area and a state college campus provide plenty of excitement, while the small population of 22,699 and the locally owned businesses lend the city a comfortable sense of small-town community.
The median home value in Keene is $258,894, and the average rental is $1,380 per month. This makes Keene an attractive option for people looking for a place with an urban vibe that’s still affordable.
There is no shortage of professional opportunities in Keene. Unemployment sits at a low 3.1%, and the median household income is $57,393. Workers in the city are most commonly employed in sales, education and management, but diverse industries provide employment opportunities for most types of workers.
Safety is a big factor in Keene’s quality of life. Overall crime rates are low, about average for New Hampshire. Most importantly, the violent crime rate is nearly eight points lower than the national average. As in most cities, crime rates in Keene can vary greatly among neighborhoods, so potential residents may want to consider factors like how close they are to the college campus.
There are plenty of options for health care in Keene — most notably the Cheshire Medical Center, which offers a wide range of departments and services. It is partnered with the reputable Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system.
The city’s public school system consistently ranks in the top 20 in New Hampshire, which is a point of pride for the state’s sixth-largest city. Parents can be confident sending their children to the highly rated elementary and secondary schools. Keene is also home to Keene State College. It is part of the University System of New Hampshire and typically enrolls just over 3,000 students per year.
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Concord is New Hampshire’s capital, and it is bisected by Interstate 93, giving it the most city-like vibe on this list. Home values are moderate for a place that’s considered its state’s central hub. The median value is $341,692, and rentals go for about $1,548 per month.
As the third-largest city in the state and the seat of government, Concord offers residents convenient amenities, public transit and a bustling cultural scene.
The state government is the largest employer in the city, but many others find jobs in manufacturing and construction, retail and education. The unemployment rate is low, coming in under 3%, and the median household income is a robust $70,000.
While Concord isn’t quite as safe as some of the other cities on this list, it does feature a sizable selection of quiet neighborhoods that contrast with the exciting downtown area. Violent crime is still well below the national average, especially for a city of this size.
An advantage of being located in the capital is that hospitals and doctors’ offices abound in the area, and citizens enjoy the affordable, accessible health care. The average cost of health care in the Concord area is lower than the average cost in the country as a whole.
The public schools are strong, typically meeting or exceeding state averages on standardized tests. Higher education is available in Concord, too. UNH has a satellite campus here, and the city is also home to Granite State College and a highly regarded technical school.
Concord is a great place to live for those who like the excitement of the city with a reasonable cost of living.
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Having a popular college really helps to maintain Plymouth’s economy, and being close to many of New Hampshire’s most popular ski resorts doesn’t hurt, either. Median home values in Plymouth sit at $309,173, lower than in other desirable areas like Peterborough and Concord. Renters can expect to pay around $1,411 per month.
The employment in Plymouth is disproportionately white collar. Education makes up a large share of the job opportunities, with Plymouth State College leading the way. Unemployment is only 2.9% here, making Plymouth a great place for white-collar workers to hunt for jobs.
Crime here is about average for New Hampshire. In addition to the local police department, Plymouth State employs a very active force that keeps order around the campus area. The town takes good care of its public spaces, employing a beautification committee for upkeep.
Students can find health care on campus, but the general populace has access to Speare Memorial Hospital and various medical facilities for general practitioners. One of the highest-rated hospice services in the state, Pemi-Baker, is also located in Plymouth.
It is no surprise that Plymouth is one of the most educated cities in New Hampshire, based on the number of residents who hold a college degree. The youth here also excel. Plymouth’s public school performance is consistently rated in the top half of the state. Families looking for a good educational atmosphere should definitely consider Plymouth for a new home.
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Just to the north of Concord is the town of Canterbury, which many consider to be a quieter, quainter alternative to the busy capital. Home values here are comparable to others in the area. Home buyers can expect a median value of $333,200. Renters will actually pay significantly less than they do in Concord. Their monthly costs average $1,189.
Canterbury is for people who like the rural lifestyle with the convenience of being close to bigger cities and attractions. Production here includes small farming and agricultural communities, and of course there is a short commute to the city center for educational and white-collar work. The unemployment rate is already low at 2.6%, and the latest trends indicate increasing opportunities in the region. Growth is projected in the next few years.
One advantage to living outside of the Concord area is that Canterbury has lower crime rates and is considered safer. The people here tend to look out for each other in their quiet neighborhoods. They also put a high value on the health and wellbeing of the citizens. The air is clean and the town has voted to make recycling mandatory. The health centers of Concord are just a short drive away from this small community.
Children in town attend Canterbury Elementary School, but when they get older they travel to nearby Belmont High, which is one of New Hampshire’s higher-performing schools. Concord’s institutes of higher education are also close by.
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Hillsborough County is one of the most desirable areas to live in New Hampshire. Peterborough itself is a haven for artists, designers and other creative minds. The median home value here is $330,969, and rental homes average $1,234 per month.
Compared to other cities on this list, Peterborough is very prosperous. The average household income is north of $95,000 per year. In addition to the creative community, the town also has lots of opportunities in construction and manufacturing. The retail industry in Peterborough employs many locals as well.
In terms of safety, Peterborough has a terrific reputation. Its overall crime rate is a full 7% lower than the state as a whole, and out of all the affordable communities, you won’t get much better than that. People describe the area as quiet and beautiful. The most common trespassers are the local wildlife.
The citizens of Peterborough can choose from a number of family medicine practices, including Hearthside Family Health. They can also go to the Monadnock Regional Hospital in the northern part of town.
Peterborough residents also care about the health of the environment. It was the first town in New Hampshire to become 100% reliant on renewable energy sources.
Schools in Peterborough are well respected. The public system boasts some high scores relative to the rest of the state, and the town allocates more spending per student than most other places in the county.
For a real balance of affordability, employment and safety, Peterborough takes the cake.
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