West Hartford is Hartfords pretty, less troubled younger sister - think Cindy as opposed to Jan. Paychecks are higher here and crime rates are lower, which makes West Hartford a premiere destination for those looking to get away from problem-riddled Hartford. Approximately 69% of the resident live in owner-occupied homes, while 27% are apartment rentals. The vacancy rate is a decent 4%, indicating the popularity of setting up camp in this town. The cost of living here is slightly higher than the Connecticut average, and significantly higher than the national average. The expression "You get what you pay for," stands true, and--thanks to grumble-worthy taxes--in West Hartford you get a lot.
Hartford or West Hartford?
Many people who relocate to Hartford arent sure where to put down roots. It essentially a matter of preference, as Hartford, West Hartford and surrounding towns like Farmington all have distinctly different flavors. Hartford is the most "urban," (which can at times be a nice way of putting it) while Farmington is more of a suburbanites paradise. Looking for a best of both worlds situation? Then check out West Hartford, with its appealing mix of tree-lined, neighborhood streets and city-like downtown centers.
Factor in the tax man
Home shoppers may at first be startled by the relatively low cost of property here both for apartment rentals and home purchases, particularly when compared to West Hartford's tony neighbors to the north, including New Haven, Greenwich and Stamford. But before you go writing out the down payment, make sure to consider the taxes. They arent pretty, although they do pay for some pretty great stuff. From green spaces to indoor swimming pools and skating rinks, you can consider your tax bill as entry into an amazing local country club to which all of your neighbors belong.
Day and night
If you find a West Hartford neighborhood that looks terrific during the daytime, be sure to make a return trip through at night. Like many semi-urban cities, the towns true colors come out at night.
When to look
West Hartford is home to three institutions of higher education, so there can be some seasonal variability in terms of supply and demand. If youre in the apartment market, it can be wise to avoid starting your search at the start of a semester. Not only will the pavement pounding be busier at this time of year, but rates may be higher. By getting a jump on it, youll not only get stable prices, but also more of a selection.
What to bring
West Hartford may be pretty special, but requirements for living there are exactly what youd expect. Youre not finding a new home without turning over your lifes history...or at least enduring a credit and reference check.
While its not quite a place where "everybody knows your name," the people of West Hartford highly prize a sense of community. Family-oriented neighborhoods are centered around walkability to local schools and other amenities. Neighborhoods here range in flavor from historic older homes to more modern ones, and include a mix of single family houses and apartment rentals. There are also a good number of apartments for rent in private homes, as well as rent to own arrangements. Main West Hartford neighborhoods include the following:
Duffy: Home of bustling Blue Back Square, this neighborhood is immensely walkable, with easy access to the shops of West Hartford Center, the town library, post office and town hall. Duffy also boasts the town indoor pool and ice skating rink, and plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities. Its all about the Colonial house in Duffy, but depending on the size, style and other features, prices can vary significantly. Houses go fast in this sought-after neighborhood, so be ready to move fast if you find the home of your dreams.$$$$
Morley: Houses in Morley are mostly older, and set on acres or less, so neighborly proximity is tight. Residents love that their kids can walk to school and playdates and the commute to downtown Hartford is a snap via both car and bus. Of all of West Hartfords neighborhoods, Morley is the most feasible for the car-less, with many retail shops under a mile away. These homes go fast. $$$
Webster Hill: Birthplace of Noah Webster, of Websters Dictionary fame, Webster Hill is sandwiched between WestFarms Mall and West Hartford Center. This quaint town is home to little league fields and numerous single-family homes. Relatively free of traffic due to its comparatively remote location, Webster Hill is a sleepy neighborhood with quiet, tree-lined streets, and yet is conveniently located close to Blue Back Square and the nationally heralded Rockledge Golf Course. Homes here vary in style from ranches and capes to colonials and tudors. $$$
Wolcott: This pedestrian-friendly, appealing neighborhood is home to Elmwood Center, which features restaurants and shops. Located near popular Wolcott Park, a mecca for recreational activities, such as tennis and baseball.$$
People in West Hartford love their cars, but depending on where you live, its possible to get around via bus, thanks to the Connecticut Transit Hartford, which operates several bus routes. There are two Hartford-New Britain Busway stations in West Hartford, and while Hartford residents used to have to travel 10 minutes to Hartfords Union Station to catch an Amtrak train, theres a new station in West Hartford that serves the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail line. Unlike in many small towns, parking here is as plentiful as the ocean is wide and open, even in busy destinations like West Hartford Center. Not many small cities can boast about parking availability, but West Hartford would probably top that list, too.
While there are plenty of singles and retirees here, in West Hartford, its mainly about the families. From top Connecticut schools--both public and private--to unbelievable amenities for activities and enrichment, adults here have to take a number, because kids clearly top the list.
The only things for certain in life
Are death (we cant help you there) and taxes. While we cant technically help you with the taxes either, we can give you some advice, and tell you to play it like the locals do: grumble a little about the high cost, then fork over the money with the knowledge that those taxes are paying for a pretty amazing quality of life.