Incorporating some of Northern New Jersey's most coveted patches of suburban real estate, a comprehensive list of best places to live in Bergen County would include parts of most every neighborhood within its borders. However, there are a few communities that people seem to desire more than others.
The Top Communities in a Top Suburb
For example, the village of Ridgewood uses its impressive tax base to fund excellent public schools as well as maintain its surprisingly bustling downtown area, where by one count more than 50 restaurants cater to the locals. Bergenfield would also be at or near the top of any best places list, especially for families with young children, as its schools also rank among the best in the state. Both neighborhoods, like much of the area, have the expected quiet residential streets, old-growth trees, and beautiful old homes.
Other Bergen County best places include Fair Lawn, which combines a vibrant commercial district with picturesque residential areas and an appealing system of public parks and recreation areas; and Rutherford, for its strong sense of community and pretty downtown area, complete with train station, for commuters to Manhattan.
More notable communities of Bergen County include East Rutherford (home of the Meadowlands Sports Complex and, so, the NFL's "New York" Giants and Jets); the lovely Upper Saddle River, with its gracious houses and wide lawns; the commuter town of Fort Lee, located atop the spectacular Palisades Cliffs right on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge; the vibrant city of Hackensack (just 12 miles from Midtown Manhattan!); and the beautiful, suburban community of Franklin Lakes.
A Prime Location
Bergen County is located in the northeastern part of the state of New Jersey, and is bordered to the north by New York state's Rockland County, to the east by the Hudson River (and, across the water, by New York's Westchester County, and the boroughs of the Bronx, and Manhattan), to the south by Hudson County (and a piece of Essex County as well), and to the west by Passaic County.
Bergen County is large both in its physical size--nearly 250 square miles of land and water are within its borders--as well as in its population. With nearly a million residents, it's the most populous county in New Jersey. Different towns possess distinct characteristics, and range from the dense, bustling and urban, to quiet, leafy communities with a very suburban feel. Despite the large populariont, however, most of the towns here are just that: towns, not cities.
Apartments come in just about every style, size, and price range you can imagine. Housing stock in Bergen County varies widely, including garden apartment complexes, townhouses, elegant pre-war gems and soaring contemporary towers.
The Ultimate in Suburban Life
Despite the large population here, residents of Bergen County apartments take full advantage of the area's more than 9,000 acres of public parks, including the hiking trails and recreation spots of the environmentally-protected New Jersey Highlands, like the Ramapo Mountains, with its beloved Bald Mountain. Two State Parks (Ramapo Mountain State Forest, and Palisades Interstate Park) are located in the county, along with 15 county parks. In addition, there are 11 historical sites
Transportation into Manhattan is relatively easy from most sections of the county, either by car over the George Washington Bridge or through the nearby Lincoln Tunnel, or by the New Jersey Transit railroad system, with connections to the PATH train, or via a transfer at Secaucus Junction, directly into Penn Station. There are also a large number of NJ Transit buses that will transport you into the city.
While Newark, JFK International, and La Guardia Airport are all located within 25 miles, Tererboro Airport is located right in the county. Due to airplane size limitations (mainly to limit the noise over nearby communities), however, the airport is primarily used for private and corporate aircraft.
Families enjoy the Bergen County Zoo, which houses animals from North and South America. It also has a carousel, train rides, pony rides, and an outdoor amphitheater. Other family attractions include the New Jersey Naval Museum (on the USS Ling), the Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum, Bergen Museum of Art and Science, Meadowlands Environment Center, Tenafly Nature Center, and more.
Shopping in Bergen County is practically a local pasttime. Some of the largest and highest revenue producing shopping malls are located here. For sports lovers, you have MetLife Stadium, home of the Giants and Jets NFL teams and the Meadowlands Racetrack. Meanwhile, the Izod Center hosts large concerts and ice shows, while the Bergen Perfomring Arts Center is a more intimate venue.
Lots of Communities From Which to Choose
Apartments in Bergen County are available in any number of the more than 60 separate municipalities, a remarkably high number even in an area as large as this. This compartmentalization is a result of the late 19th century phenomenon that many call "Boroughitis". This syndrome swept the state of New Jersey and allowed communities to declare themselves independent (as so pay less or zero school tax, for example), without the consent or approval of the state or county government, even if they were already residing within existing, recognized entities. The laws have since changed, but even today, Bergen County is comprised of a lengthy litany of politically-separate boroughs, cities, townships and villages.