If you're taken by the locale of the 1989 Robert De Niro flick Jacknife or the 2006 movie The Quiet, then Meriden is for you!
This scenic settlement in the heart of Connecticut at the crossroads of three major highways offers a quaint, friendly and affordable small town setting with access to the superior community facilities one normally associates with the big city.
With 60,868 inhabitants spread over 62.42 sq. kms, Meriden in new Haven County, Connecticut, is fairly spread out. A combination of vast recreational space, splendid parks, a vibrant community life and a young multicultural populace lend a special charm to Meriden. The presence of industrial parks, shopping centers, excellent schools, state of the art healthcare facilities and other altars of civilization mean that life in Meriden is more than just sustainable, and living in the area is super friendly to your bank account. Housing rates in Meriden are inexpensive compared to other communities in Connecticut and the cost of living is considerably lower as well.
Finding an Apartment
Home hunters can breathe easy in Meriden. Unless you are very particular about a specific locale or apartment, getting a house is relatively easy. This is mainly owing to the city having invested in over 1,000 new single-family homes and apartments over the last ten years. Many neighborhoods in the urban core have vacancy rates hovering around 20%, but it is relatively tougher to get into the more affluent suburbs. Vacancy rates there hover anywhere between 0.5% and 5%.
What Do You need?
Just because many neighborhoods of Meriden have high vacancy rates, it does not mean that you can take house hunting for granted. Getting that apartment or home of your choice, close to your place of work or your children’s school would would still take some effort. Vacancy rates in the most desired neighborhoods are nothing to write home about either. As elsewhere, it helps to wear a professional demeanor, seek out and review apartments systematically, and have credentials in place to impress the landlord.
The Eastern Suburbs (Baldwin Avenue and Mattabasset Drive): If you fancy the small to medium sized single-family homes and townhomes of the eastern suburbs, head to Baldwin Avenue and Mattabasset Drive. Most homes are owner occupied, lending stability, and as much as four out of every ten people here are employed as managers and executives. $$$$
The Eastern Suburbs (Research Parkway / E. Main Street): If a post neighborhood is your cup of tea, then head south to Research Parkway or E. Main Street. Be warned though. This is a highly affluent area, with just about all homes occupied by its owners and vacancy rates are next to nothing. $$$$$
The Urban Core: Meriden mirrors many US cities, where the affluent middle and upper class have migrated to the suburbs, leaving the dense urban core populated predominantly by industrial and other workers. However, living in the downtown and the urban core has its own advantages: public transportation, shops and most amenities are within easy walking reach. The urban core is also for you if you value diversity. A very high proportion of the populace have Puerto Rican, Polish and Italian origins. Now the best part: with most apartments here renter occupied, you enjoy lower rents and relatively high vacancy rates to boot. The City Center comes in as the most budget friendly. $$
Washington Park Area: Not all of the high society has migrated to the suburbs. If you want to live inside the urban core and yet live the high life full of urban sophistry, complete with arts, theater, weekend dinner with aged wine and more, the area around Washington Park, specifically Gravel Street - Liberty Street – South Broad Street and Gypsy Lane is for you. Since these neighborhoods combine the best of both worlds, assume the vacancy rates to be naturally low. $$$
N. Colony Road - Hicks Avenue: If you are seeking a bargain in the suburbs, head to N. Colony Road or Hicks Avenue. Most homes here are owner-occupied, and the owners happen to be affluent. Yet rentals are modest and the vacancy rates are surprisingly high for its class, at 6.8%. $$$
South Meriden: The suburban neighborhood of South Meriden, also known as Diamond Hill, is the area to be if you seek out the multiple combinations of high safety, quaint and peaceful open spaces and low rental rates. However, this is not exactly classified information, and as such, vacancy rates here are the lowest in Meriden, at 2.3%. $
Hubbard Park Area: The suburban neighborhood of Hubbard Park, comprised of W. Main Street and Smithfield Avenue, close to the Cheshire-Southington border, is a nice and quaint area, with moderate rentals and vacancy rates. $$$
Life in Meriden
A combination of good schools, excellent recreation facilities and top-notch healthcare provide Meriden residents with a high quality of life. Meriden has 3,000 acres of parkland, including the expansive Hubert Park, which makes it the largest municipal park system in New England. The downtown ice skating rink, public swimming pools, golf clubs and hiking trails offer plenty of things to do for restless souls, and with a young population (the median age is 37.7 years), there are many. Shopaholics are not left out either. The Westfield Meriden shopping center offers over 150 retail and dining establishments of various hues
The city has two nationally accredited high schools, four blue ribbon elementary schools and one middle school. The Middlesex community college offers 50 different courses. The fabled Yale University is not too far away either.
Meriden has a cost of living index of 115. While this is about 15% higher than the average for the U.S., it compares favorably with Hartford’s score of 133. The unemployment rate is only 8.70% though, just slightly above the US average of 8.60%. Meriden is a self-sustaining town, with its own IT and enterprise zone. You wouldn’t want to settle in Meriden for its public transportation though. About 85% of the working population drive to work. At best, you can hope for a car pool.
Chances are that you would have heard horror stories about urban decay in Meriden, especially crime and drugs. While there are definitely some areas best avoided, the situation is not as bad as you think. In fact, it is no more dangerous than anywhere else in America and the fact that the city enjoyed a population growth of 4.5% over the last decade stands testimony to this fact.