Welcome to West Haven—I mean Orange—I mean New Haven. Though your new coastal Connecticut city has been known by a lot of different names, its rich history dates back to the settlement of the state. Now let’s get started on your apartment hunt so you can settle in before West Haven changes its name again.
West Haven was settled in 1648 as part of the original New Haven colony. After a lot of struggle with borders of neighboring towns it underwent a series of differing incorporations until it finally became West Haven proper in 1961. It’s known as “Connecticut’s youngest city,” even though it was part of the state’s oldest settlement. Funny how these things work.
During the 1960s, West Haven developed as a bedroom community for the more industrial (and Yaley) New Haven. A buckle factory that provided the area with some of its largest industry closed, and suburban development built up in the inland areas. Though West Haven has always had financial difficulties with maintaining industries, it has always been considered relatively safe and desirable, especially when compared to New Haven.
Today in West Haven there is plenty to keep you busy. The City Center provides an urban area full of shops, bars and restaurants, while miles of beaches draw in tons of tourists and residents each year. Further inland, new development means a lot in the way of suburban living—including large box stores and malls.
Determining which West Haven neighborhood is right for you really depends on what you want. While overall the city has a more suburban feel than neighboring towns, the City Center does provide a shadow of urban living. If suburban rental homes are more your style, you’ll want to look away from the City Center and more inland.
Let’s start at the City Center. Since it’s located close to the beaches, shops, bars, and restaurants, apartments in this area can be quite pricey. There has, however, been a lot of development in downtown West Haven, so you’ll be getting a lot of bang for your buck. The closer you are to the beach, the more expensive the newer condominiums and developments will be, with two bedrooms generally ranging from $1300-1600. Further inland and just adjacent to the City Center, you’ll find older, well-maintained homes with two bedroom rentals for $1050-1300.
In general, one of the nicest sections of West Haven is considered the West Shore, which extends inland from the beaches at former amusement park Savin Rock. The West Shore also encompasses a wide swath of land up to Route 1. New condo construction along the beach has provided a variety of options for young, single renters and families alike, while older, established inland neighborhoods have several rental homes in even more suburban-feeling neighborhoods. Be aware, most West Shore residents have to go to the City Center or the east side for access to a wider variety of shopping and entertainment. Two bedrooms in West Shore can also be quite costly, generally ranging from $1400-1600.
The eastern portions of West Haven are generally considered less desirable. Because this area was not only primarily industrial, but borders on the industrial portions of New Haven as well, things can seem a bit less friendly out here. However, the neighborhoods around here are really in no way unsafe—just sort of rundown. Check for rentals just south of the University of New Haven (which paradoxically is in West Haven), and avoid the farthest east reaches of town along New Haven’s border. Two bedrooms in east West Haven are some of the most affordable in town, generally ranging from $1000-1250.
In general, you’ll find West Haven’s rental market quite friendly, as there is a broad base of renters in town and a number of great apartments available. Start your apartment search 40 to 60 days before your move-in date to allow yourself plenty of time to see all the city has to offer.
You’ll most likely need to provide prospective landlords with proof of income and references, along with a small fee for background and credit checks. Deposits for most New Haven rentals are the typical first, last and security, so you’ll be paying a lot of money up front. However, many smaller apartment complexes offer move-in bonuses once you’ve signed your lease.
Because West Haven doesn’t have much in terms of industry, many residents commute to nearby cities for work, whether it be northeast to New Haven or southwest to Milford, Stratford and Bridgeport. Because of this, Interstate 95 can be a major pain in the butt during rush hour, which usually ranges from 6:30 to 9:00 in the morning and 4:00 to 6:30 in the evening. Try to take local routes to avoid the headache of the Interstate, especially on summer Friday evenings, as beach-seeking tourists will be flooding your route.
West Haven may not be the most convenient city in the central Connecticut coast region for public transportation. While bus service provided by Connecticut Transit will get you around town and into neighboring New Haven, the city has no Metro-North stop of its own. Instead, you’ll have to go into neighboring New Haven or Milford to catch a train to Penn Station.
So, welcome to New Haven, dear renter! Enjoy all that this Connecticut beach town has to offer!