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The Top 10 Best Towns to Live Throughout New Hampshire

Ten Communities to Call Home

The Granite State is filled with great places to call home. Known for its quality of life, robust economy and pristine wilderness, New Hampshire boasts many attributes. This is why finding the best towns to live in in New Hampshire can be tough.

While one could argue that finding the best places to live is a subjective question, there are in fact some hard numbers to help you narrow it down quite a bit.

The team at Blue Water Mortgage Corporation has reviewed a wide range of data, including housing outlook, employment, quality of the schools, crime rates, and the economic health of nearby businesses to come up with an overall desirability index. Here are our latest findings on the 10 best towns in New Hampshire to hang your hat in 2016.

1. Portsmouth

(population 21,233) – Topping the list is this popular vacation spot and seaport. As the creative capital of the Seacoast, Portsmouth is a city often sought after the way some dream of New York. While housing prices are on the higher end, Portsmouth offers beautiful seascapes and easy access to the mountains and large cities. Portsmouth is also a low-crime city with excellent school systems.

Prescott Park Arts Festival – David Murray of Clear Eye Photo

Notable Attractions:
Prescott Park
The Music Hall
Strawbery Banke
Market Square

In 2016, not only did the Boston Globe publish an article detailing what it is like to live in Portsmouth, NH?, but famed foodie Guy Fieri came to town to spend some time at the innumerable restaurants and eateries. Portsmouth was even named to the top five Best Small Town Food Scenes in America. And adding even more to the city’s intrigue, Portsmouth was included on a list of the World’s Top 20 Small Towns, according to an article on Thrillist.

2. Londonderry

(pop. 24,129) – Major businesses near the airport and the Coca-Cola plant give this mostly quiet suburb an active boost, earning it a reputation as a haven for economic opportunity. This community also boasts a strong local school system, as well as a low crime rate.

Notable Attractions:
Macks Apples
Stonyfield Farm
Moonlight Meadery

People love living in Londonderry so much in fact, that some of them have created a website/publication dedicated to community happenings and goings-on. In 2016, Londonderry remains a popular place to reside—even after owners of the famed music venue, the Tupelo Music Hall, moved their business out of town.

3. Amherst

(pop. 11,201) – The quaint and historic village center holds only 613 residents, but there are amazing housing finds in the surrounding neighborhoods. This small town is steeped in history, as well as endless amounts of outdoor recreational opportunities.

LaBelle WineryLaBelle Winery

Notable Attractions:
LaBelle Winery
Amherst Country Club & Ponemah Green
Amherst Farmers’ Market

The town’s village green remains a focal point of the community and is home to many events, such as the annual Fourth of July celebration—which this year drew thousands of attendees. Adding to Amherst’s allure is the 2016 recognition in the world of Academia for having one of the top 50 high schools in the state.

4. Exeter

(pop. 14,306) – Another community in the thriving Rockingham County with equal parts historic significance and natural beauty. This downtown area is just the right size, offering equal amounts of dining and retail opportunities. The town also plays host to a strong public and private school system, most notably the world-renowned Phillips Exeter Academy.

4 - Exeter Inn
The Exeter Inn

Notable Attractions:
American Independence Museum
Phillips Exeter Trail
The Exeter Inn
Gilman Park

Home and condo sales in Exeter appeared strong in the early part of 2016—meaning people continue to flock to the small town in hopes of seizing up a place to call home. Exeter has also been lauded for its excellence in education, claiming the #7 spot in the best high schools in New Hampshire, according to U.S. News & World Report.

5. Wolfeboro

(pop. 6,269) – This small village earns its place on the index due to winning marks in family security, robust economy and excellent education. This town also features a strong local tourist industry, thanks to its location beside Lake Winnipesaukee. It’s so well known in fact that the town is called the “Jewel of Lake Winnipesaukee.”

5 Lake Winnipesaukee
Lake Winnipesaukee

Notable Attractions:
Cate Waterfront Park
Wright Museum of WWII History
SUP New Hampshire
New Hampshire Boat Museum

In 2016, Wolfeboro still claims its title of “the oldest summer resort in America” and if you love the outdoors and food, as well as eating food outdoors, a few well known Wolfeboro eateries made the list of best outdoor dining restaurants in the NH lakes region.

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6. Hanover

(pop. 8,636) – A picturesque river community along the Appalachian Trailthat lives up to the popular image of New England. This town routinely makes the ‘top place to live in America’ list. It offers a small village feel, but also an active community experience thanks to Dartmouth College.

Baker and Rauner Libraries on the Dartmouth College Green
Dartmouth College

Notable Attractions:
Appalachian Trail
Hopkins Center for the Arts
Hood Museum of Art
Memorial Field

BuzzFeed included Hanover on its list of 24 Small New England Towns You Absolutely Need To Visit and Hanover High School made the list of top 10 best high schools in New Hampshire, according to U.S. News & World Report. Hanover’s creative culinary scene is also getting some love as two local restaurants were recently named best ethnic food restaurants in 2016.

7. Dover

(pop. 29,987) – The largest community on the Seacoast has astoundingly low housing prices for its location. A healthy local school system and strong local economy make Dover a popular place to live. Families love the fact that the The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is located in town.

7 - Childrens Museum
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire

Notable Attractions:
Woodman Museum
Bellamy Park
Dover Ice Arena

Another popular part of living in Dover is the Jenny Thompson Outdoor Pool, a 50-meter competitive swimming pool named after hometown Olympian Jenny Thompson. And if you need any further proof of Dover natives and their athletic excellence in the pool, refer to the story of another city resident who is expected to make waves in the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil.

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8. Keene

(pop. 23,409) – Two excellent colleges and some of the best weather in the state are the key factors for this busy community. Keene is the perfect all-seasons community—featuring lush farmlands in the summer and access to snowy slopes in the winter.

The Top 10 Best Towns to Live Throughout New HampshireStonewall Farm

Notable Attractions:
Colonial Theatre
Stonewall Farm
Central Square
Cheshire Rail Trail

Keene is so quaint that recommended it as one of the stops for weekend road trip ideas for families near Boston. If you love the arts, Keene has an annual Art Walk. If you love baseball, Keene has the Swamp Bats. And if you love hiking, Keene has arguably one of the best hiking trails in the state.

9. New London

(pop. 4,397) – The tiniest town on this list is centrally located in the state and the landscape makes it definitely worth the higher housing costs. Home to Colby Sawyer College, this community has plenty going on all year long; most notable of which is the outdoor recreation and local retail shopping.

The Top 10 Best Towns to Live Throughout New HampshireMount Sunapee

Notable Attractions:
Lake Sunapee
Mount Sunapee
New London Barn Playhouse
The Inn at Pleasant Lake

If you love live music, be sure to spend some time during the summer at the Mary B. Haddad Memorial Bandstand. And if you’re a fan of wildlife, don’t hesitate to ask the local police about their unusual rescue earlier this summer.

10. Hampton

(pop. 14,976) – This seaside town turns into a seaside vacation hot spot in the summer, but then into a quiet coastal town in the winter.  Affordable housing prices and a strong local system make Hampton, as well as the neighboring town of North Hampton, a popular destination for young families.

10 Smuttynose
Smuttynose Brewing Co.

Notable Attractions:
Hampton Beach State Park
Smuttynose Brewing Co.
Casino Ballroom
Fuller Gardens

In 2016, Hampton Beach was recognized as the seventh best boardwalk in the nation by USA Today—in spite of the fact that they technically do not have a boardwalk. What’s more, thousands upon thousands flock to the “Hamptons” of New Hampshire every summer to check out things like seafood festivals and sand sculpting competitions.

Your Next Home

How many of these communities have you visited or even heard about in your preparations for your family’s future? When you find the ideal community, it’s time to start thinking of your next home. Your dream home or an incredible fixer-upper sitting below market value could be waiting for you right now.

Relocating? These are the 10 questions to ask before buying a home.

Before you consider moving, now is a good time to schedule a financial planning session including a full mortgage review to make sure you are in the best financial position going forward. It could be worth a fortune if you only take the time to discover how the experienced loan officers at Blue Water Mortgage can get the ball rolling with the right financing for your situation. Perhaps you already own a home in one of these top towns and are considering refinancing, Blue Water can help there as well. Contact us today to get moving in the right direction.

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