Everything You Need to Know About Living in Fairfield, CT

Jan 18, 2024

With gorgeous beaches, great schools and an easy commute to New York, Fairfield is fast becoming one of Connecticut’s most desirable communities. 

Just 60 miles northeast of New York City (and easily accessible by train), Fairfield, Connecticut, has long been a destination for city transplants in search of great schools, stately homes, sunny beaches and an eminently walkable downtown. 

But is it a quaint suburb or a college town? A beach community or a woodsy enclave? An old-established haven or a diverse, young community? The beauty of Fairfield? It’s all those things.

And admirers are taking note. Fairfield’s population growth has outpaced its neighbors, but the colonial homes and beach-town vibes aren’t going anywhere. That means home prices have been rising. But with a friendly tax code and easy Metro-North commute to New York, Fairfield is still a highly desirable place to live — for families, students, young professionals and seniors alike. 

Here’s everything you want to know about Fairfield and its surrounding region: 

  • How much does it cost to live in Fairfield?
  • What are Fairfield’s best neighborhoods?
  • What is Fairfield’s weather like? 
  • Who makes up Fairfield’s residents? 
  • What kinds of homes can I find in Fairfield?
  • Does Fairfield have good schools?
  • What job opportunities can I find in Fairfield? 
  • Is it easy to commute from Fairfield to New York City?
  • What about domestic and international travel? 
  • What is there to do in Fairfield?
  • Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to live in Fairfield?

Everything is relative: For residents moving from a highly expensive and high-tax locale like New York City, Fairfield’s cost of living, property taxes and home prices will be a welcome reprieve. But that doesn’t mean it’s cheap. You can find most single-family homes for sale between 600,000 and $2 million, and renting a two-bedroom apartment will cost around $2,400/month. 

Many residents would argue those costs are worth it, though. The town is just over an hour from Penn Station by train (on the very reliable Metro-North line), and daily commuters can find more space, great public schools and a more small-town feel than in the big city.  

What are Fairfield’s best neighborhoods?

There’s no shortage of tree-lined streets and quiet avenues in Fairfield, which boasts 16 associated neighborhoods, two main shopping districts and five miles of shoreline on the Long Island Sound. Sasco Hill and Southport, two seaside neighborhoods, were home to some of the area’s first settlers and now attract highly educated residents with deep pockets. Greenfield Hill, another historic district, is home to large estates and 1- and 2-acre lots. 

But options abound. Fairfield’s eastern side boasts neighborhoods such as University East (with a notable student population) and Stratfield, lined with early 20th-century colonial homes. The town also has an Affordable Housing Committee, which connects renters and buyers to local housing resources. Explore the entire regional market here

What is Fairfield’s weather like? 

With gorgeous summers and chilly winters, Fairfield is a true four-season town. Its proximity to Long Island Sounds makes Fairfield slightly more temperate than its more inland neighbors, but winters can be cold: January temperature averages are in the 30s, and the area typically gets more than 20 inches of snow each year. 

Residents would tell you that the warm months make up for all that. With summer temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s, it’s the perfect time to visit one of Fairfield’s five public beaches or two public golf courses. And autumn is downright picturesque in New England: October boasts peak foliage, with vibrant red, orange and yellow leaves, along with daily highs in the 60s and 50s. 

Who makes up Fairfield’s residents? 

Fairfield offers something to everyone, with neighborhoods ranging from quiet suburban streets, college-town living, and beachside luxury. The town is home to more than 17,000 full-time college students, and the highly educated population takes advantage of two town libraries and multiple local venues with live theater, music, and films. It’s only natural: A few notable names from Fairfield include actors Meg Ryan and Justin Long, as well as Grammy winner James Blake. 

Mostly, though, Fairfield is a family town. Nearly a quarter of residents are under 18 years old, and single-family homes make up a bulk of available real estate. Many of these parents end up commuting to New York for work. A 2023 report found that about 47,000 local residents (from the entire Southeast Connecticut region) take the train to New York each day. 

>> Read More: Keara and her family loved living in the city — until they realized the suburban possibilities.

What kinds of homes can I find in Fairfield?

From mid-century modern to farmhouses to 1920s colonials, Fairfield offers a wide diversity in housing and architectural styles. You can also find “saltbox” houses, a regionally historic style with a two-story flat facade up front and a pitched roof sloping down to one story in the rear. 

If looking to buy, don’t write off a bidding war. Fairfield’s sought-after beaches and neighborhoods have led to more than half of all homes selling above the asking price in recent years. There are also plenty of luxury homes regularly selling in the high seven-figures. 

But whatever your preferred style of living — beachside manors or quaint colonials, rural farms or sleek downtown condos — Fairfield has it, so long as you can snag it. 

Does Fairfield have good schools?

One of Fairfield’s biggest selling points is its quality public school district and two universities. With more than 9,300 schoolchildren, the town has 11 neighborhood elementary schools, three middle schools and two public high schools. There are also a number of religious and private schools in the area, including Fairfield College Preparatory School and Notre Dame Catholic High School. 

The public school district regularly outperforms statewide averages in math, science, reading and postsecondary readiness, according to the Connecticut Department of Education, and some 84% of graduating seniors go on to college. Two universities — Fairfield and Sacred Heart — also provide enhanced learning opportunities for local high school students to earn college credits before ever stepping on campus. 

What job opportunities can I find in Fairfield? 

Education, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, finance and professional services make up a bulk of Fairfield’s local jobs, with an average weekly workload of 38 hours, according to Census data. The county is also home to 19 different Fortune 1000 companies, and the rate of new business openings nearly doubled in recent years. 

The town’s two universities have also spurred economic growth, as Fairfield University contributes nearly $1 billion annually to the local economy with direct spending and induced economic impact. 

And the Metro-North Railroad line gives residents easy access to jobs in New York City and the emerging tech hub of Stamford, CT, home to companies like Pitney Bowes (e-commerce) and Indeed (online job listings). This proximity is one of the biggest sells for parents and couples in search of more space while maintaining jobs in the city. 

Is it easy to commute from Fairfield to New York City?

Fairfield’s painless commute to New York City is one of its biggest selling points. Hop on the Metro-North New Haven line at any of the town’s three stops (Southport, Fairfield, Fairfield Metro), and you can be walking through Grand Central Terminal in less than 80 minutes. 

Metro-North is also one of the most reliable rail lines in the tri-state area, with the New Haven route reporting 99.3% on-time performance in February 2024. 

A monthly unlimited pass costs $366, and one-way tickets during peak hours (read: most commuting hours) cost $18.75. 

Census data from 2021 found that almost 12% of the town’s residents take public transit to work each day. If you work in Manhattan — especially Midtown — the rail service to Fairfield makes it an attractive landing spot for families, couples, and single-earners in search of more space. 

What about domestic and international travel? 

Getting around New England is easy by train, bus, or car, and Fairfield sits right between New York (a roughly 80-minute drive) and Boston (less than three hours). Historic Providence, Rhode Island, is also just two hours away, meaning plenty of opportunities for weekend getaways. 

Amtrak also offers ample service in nearby Stamford, with rail lines taking passengers to Boston, New York, Newport News, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. When it comes to air travel, both domestic and international, Fairfield is well-placed. 

Six different international airports are within a two-and-a-half-hour drive: 

  1. LaGuardia
  2. Kennedy
  3. Newark Liberty
  4. Bradley
  5. Boston Logan
  6. Rhode Island T.F. Green 

What is there to do in Fairfield?

The question isn’t what there is to do. It’s what there isn’t. Beaches, hiking, shopping, dining out, exploring the region — take your pick. Fairfield has it. 

Beaches

The most popular summertime activity is, of course, visiting one of the town’s five municipal beaches or two marinas on Long Island Sound. Fairfield hosts a summer movie series on the beach, as well as spectacular 4th of July fireworks. If fishing is more your speed, grab your bow and a $10 salt-water fishing license, and start casting. 

Green space

Fairfield may be known for its spot on the Sound, but go inland, and you’ll find plenty of trails and areas to explore by hiking, biking, or horseback. Just a few miles from downtown, the Larsen Wildlife Sanctuary, managed by the Connecticut Audubon Society, boasts 155 acres of open space for exploring. The center hosts bird and nature walks, as well as kids’ summer camps, and is open year-round. Fairfield Parks and Recreation also oversees 170 acres of parks and 30 public tennis courts. 

Golfing

Fairfield is home to two public golf courses — one 18 holes, one par-three — in addition to a public driving range. There are also three country clubs (Brooklawn Country Club, The Country Club of Fairfield and The Patterson Club), where members can find gorgeous courses and opportunities for racquet sports. 

Shopping

Explore downtown Fairfield’s trendy boutiques on Post Road, which features a two-mile stretch of walkable streets and locally owned businesses. La Moda Fashions is a longtime staple for women’s clothing, and just across the street you can find Chicos and Altan Jewelers. Don’t miss Nordic Fish, a fresh seafood market down the street, or Black Rock Books, an independent bookseller just a couple miles east of downtown. 

Dining

Fairfield has a fantastic food scene with exciting new chefs, as well as longtime favorites. Make your reservations early for Restaurant Week, an annual fall event with local eateries serving affordable prix fixe meals at lunch and dinner. For Italian, check out Bella Sera Ristorante, which serves up both traditional and inventive dishes. And if you’re craving something Asian, Ginkgo Sichuan Cuisine is a local favorite for Peking duck, noodles and Sichuan dry pot. Connecticut Magazine also named Esh, a modern Mediterranean spot, one of the state’s best restaurants. 

Museums

The town has two local museums to visit and explore: The Fairfield Museum and History Center, with local town artifacts and cultural exhibits, as well as the Fairfield University Art Museum, an on-campus institution with permanent exhibits and visiting exhibitions, such as 13 Ways of Looking at Landscape: Larry Silver’s Connecticut Photographs

Music and theater

There’s no shortage of places to take in live music and theater in Fairfield and its neighboring cities. Downtown Fairfield is home to StageOne, an intimate concert venue established by the Fairfield Theater Company. Grab a bite at one of the many local restaurants and head to StageOne, where there’s no bad seat in the house. Or take in the history at The Klein Auditorium in nearby Bridgeport. The 1,400-seat venue has hosted B.B. King, the B-52s and Alice Cooper, and now plays host to musicals, orchestras and dance performances. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Fairfield a nice place to live?

Fairfield is consistently ranked as one of the “Best Cities to Live” by the likes of Money Magazine and Business View Magazine. Its beautiful homes and neighborhoods, top-notch schools, beach access and proximity to New York City make it a desirable landing spot for families. 

Is Fairfield County a good place to live with kids?

Fairfield is built for families — providing parents with ample entertainment and kids with great schools and tons of parks and outdoor activities to enjoy. 

Why is Fairfield so expensive?

Fairfield’s cost has much to do with its location. It’s close to New York, Boston and Providence. It’s right on the water. It has Metro-North access. All these, combined with beautiful homes, make Fairfield highly desirable — and, in turn, more expensive. 

How do I move to Fairfield? 

Its plethora of outdoor activities, fantastic schools, big-city proximity, and beachside living all make Fairfield an attractive locale. 

So how do you make the move? If you’re in New York, take the train up and start exploring the area. 

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