23. Franklin, N.J.
|AT A GLANCE|
|Median Home Price||$255,000|
|Commute time||31 minutes|
Located in the center of New Jersey, Franklin is about an hour’s commute from jobs in New York City, though traffic on Route 287, the major highway to get there, can sometimes be a pain. Once primarily a farming community—still evidenced by the acres of open space—it has grown rapidly to become a suburb with a diverse cultural blend. A big plus for Franklin is its proximity to major universities like Rutgers and Princeton, which not only provide jobs and educational resources but also contribute to a vibrant downtown areas with bars, restaurants, and theaters. Franklin itself is a melting pot of diversity, with city festivals honoring Greek, Lebanese, and Egyptian cultures, among others.
For outdoors lovers, Colonial Park's 685 acres contain a dog park, an 18-hole championship golf course, and fishing ponds. The William L. Hutcheson Memorial Forest also in town, is a 65-acre old-growth forest administered by Rutgers. Despite a sizable population, residents say Franklin is the type of place where neighbors know one another and feel safe leaving their doors unlocked. Indeed, Franklin ranks among the top 10 safest cities on Money’s Best Places to Live list.