Best Neighborhoods in Union County, New Jersey

Union County is in northern New Jersey and was purchased from the Lenape Native Americans in 1664. The Watchung Mountains cross the northern part of the county. An area steeped in history, the county holds an annual “Four Centuries in a Weekend” festival that allows visitors to tour many of the myriads of historic sites. It was the first permanent English settlement in New Jersey, so it takes its history seriously.

In June 1780, the British launched a last attempt to capture New Jersey, and the battle of Connecticut Farms and Springfield proved to be a turning point for the Revolutionary forces. Connecticut Farms is now Union Township, and you can visit the site of the battle.

So, Union County was worth fighting for in 1780, but is it a good place to live in 2021? We looked at information about demographics, crime rates, housing, schools and other considerations, and compiled a list of some of the best neighborhoods in Union County, in alphabetical order.

Linden

Linden is located in southeastern Union County, bordering Staten Island across the Arthur Kill and about 13 miles southwest of Manhattan. Niche.com gives Linden an A+ for diversity, an A for outdoor activities, and A- for nightlife.

Ten percent of the population are Polish-Americans, and there is also a large Hispanic population. In total, 34% of the population were foreign-born, according to NeighborhoodScout.com. Niche ranks Linden as 16 out of 415 for most diverse suburb in New Jersey, and 21 out of 647 for most diverse place to live in the state.

Most people own their homes (58%), and the median house price is $281,800, according to Niche. The median household income is $73,386, the majority of residents have finished high school, and 45% have either some college or their bachelors degree. 

The Hawk Rise Sanctuary is located in the Arthur Kill watershed, tucked behind a variety of industrial use areas. It’s home to a wide variety of birds, including wild turkeys, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, osprey and bobolink, and is a regular stop for migratory birds.

It’s open to the public, and you can walk along miles of boardwalk through wetlands, forests, and the tidal Rahway River. If bird watching is your thing, then this is a place to go. In addition, the John Russell Wheeler Park gives you everything a family could want for a day out, including a waterpark, a skatepark, a snack bar and a picnic area.

If you are working in Manhattan, you can expect to spend 40 minutes by train, or 30 minutes by car or taxi, and that cab ride will cost you about $200.

New Providence

New Providence is located in the northwestern edge of Union County, on the Passaic River. It is located in the Watchung Mountains, approximately 28 miles west of NYC.

It was originally a Puritan colony known as “Turkey Town”. The name “New Providence” can be traced back to an incident in 1759, when the balcony of the Presbyterian church collapsed, but there were no serious injuries. It was seen as a sign of divine providence, and the town was renamed shortly after.

The borough’s seal includes a depiction of Salt Brook. Local legend says that the colonists dumped the town’s supply of salt into the Brook to keep it from advancing British troops in the Revolutionary War. While there isn’t any historical evidence that British troops crossed the Watchung Mountains in that vicinity, it makes for a good story.

Niche lists New Providence as the best place to live in Union County, giving it A+ for good for families, public school and health and fitness, A for crime and safety and outdoor activities, and A- for nightlife. It’s considered the 5th best suburb to live in New Jersey.

Seventy-six percent of residents own their homes, and the median housing price is $607,100. Median income is $143,600 and residents are a well-educated bunch, with 55% having some college or a completed bachelor’s degree, and 29% holding a master’s degree or higher.

One of the more unique museums to visit in New Providence is the Salt Box Museum. It’s actually two different dwellings, built in two different times and places, and then brought together.

Originally called the Garrison/Dickinson/Genung House, the east part was built in the early 19th century, and then moved to its current location in the mid-1880s. The west part was built elsewhere and moved to the current location, attached to the east part to take the salt box shape. There are memorabilia and artifacts dating back to the Revolutionary War.

If you are working in Manhattan, you can expect to spend 90 minutes by train, or 40 minutes by car or taxi, and that cab ride will cost you about $200.

Rahway

Rahway is in southern Union County, 5 miles west of Staten Island and 21.6 miles southwest of Manhattan. The APA named it one of the Great Places in New Jersey in 2020. Niche gives it an A+ for diversity,  an A for outdoor activities and an A- for nightlife.

The median housing value in Rahway is $272,700, and 60% of residents own their homes. The median income is $78,946, and 59% of residents have finished high school and have some college, and 20% have a bachelor's degree.

AreaVibes.com reports that crime statistics in Rahway are 75% less than the national average, and both property crime and violent crimes are 72% to 75% less than average.

Rahway was originally called Spanktown, after an early settler disciplined his spouse by turning her over his knee and spanking her. The battle of Spanktown in 1777, during the Revolutionary War was a decisive victory for the colonists against the British forces. George Washington visited Rahway on his way to his inauguration in 1789.

Nicola Tesla opened Tesla Electric Light and Manufacturing in Rahway in the 1880s. Local legend has it that Captain William Kidd buried treasure along the Rahway River, guarded by the body of a crew member he had murdered. It’s purported to be somewhere between the River and the Sound, at a spot called Post’s or Price’s Woods. So far, it’s never been found. Happy digging!

If you are working in Manhattan, you can expect to spend 45 minutes by train, or 30 minutes by car or taxi, and that cab ride will cost you about $200.

If you’re moving to Union County and need a place to store your treasure hunting equipment, Storage Post has a convenient location in Linden with a variety of self-storage units, including options with climate control and interior loading.