Moving to Connecticut
Like many states, Connecticut is diverse: urban, rural and suburban; rich, poor; industrial, agricultural. Three out of eight of Connecticut’s counties are considered part of the New York Tri-State area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut), but in many areas, the state’s culture is closer to Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine than New York. If you’re moving to Connecticut, you can choose from a city lifestyle, farmland areas with a small-town feel and friendly suburbs.
Here are some tips to make your move to Connecticut go smoothly.
When you’re moving to Connecticut, it may be difficult to plan your move around the weather. As the New England expression goes, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes and it will change.”
This is especially true in the spring, when April showers may bring…May showers. Or not. Snowfall in the winter can make moving a challenge, so your best bet is summer and fall.
This also happens to be the busiest times of year for moving companies and moving truck rentals. Book your date early, whether you’re planning a do-it-yourself move to Connecticut, hiring a company to do it all, or planning to do some yourself and hire movers for the rest.
Many areas of Connecticut are suburban or even rural. Parking a moving truck won’t be a problem since private homes have driveways. In the cities, parking and moving permit laws vary. For instance, the City of New Haven requires residential parking permits to park cars on the streets, and you’ll need to show proof of residency, such as a bill or a lease. Apply for your permit as soon as possible. You may receive parking tickets in the interim before your permits are received; these will be voided if you follow proper procedures.
When you move to Connecticut, in addition to paying any closing costs and down payments for your new home (or first month’s rent plus security deposit), you will have to pay state property taxes on your car, boat and certain other items. Make sure to have a few thousand dollars saved to cover these added costs, depending on what personal property you own.
Finally, don’t forget to change your address online before making your move to Connecticut!
Cities and Metro Areas
Connecticut is divided into 169 towns, the basic political subdivision for the state.
There are 21 cities and eight counties. The major metro hubs in the state are New Haven and Hartford.
While the counties do not have their own government—politics are at the local town level—the eight counties are typically used to divide the state geographically, statistically and economically.
- New Haven
- New London
Cost of Living
Connecticut ranks right up there with New York and California for a high cost of living, with Stamford (one of the more expensive cities in Connecticut) having a cost of living only 17 percent lower than Manhattan, New York.
You’ll find that salaries, however, tend to be in line with the higher costs of everything from energy to real estate. The cost of living and median salaries vary dramatically across the state, however, with wealthy suburbs surrounding very poor inner cities.
Highways and Public Transport
Highways and roads in Connecticut are as diverse as everything else the state has to offer.
Local commuters say traffic gets bad on I-84, a road that runs diagonally across the state from southwest to northeast into Massachusetts, largely due to construction delays or rush hour traffic.
I-95, a mostly North-South road up and down the Eastern Seaboard, runs from New Haven into New York City and is one of the most congested roads in the world, especially in this region, and particularly during rush hour (which is supposed to last from 5 to 6 PM, but actually spans from about 3 PM to 6:30 or 7PM).
In addition to major highways, you’ll find twisting, winding, naturally scenic routes—blossoming green in the summer and a rainbow of golden and red hues in the fall. City traffic, particularly in Hartford and New Haven, is similar to other US city traffic, and parking may not be easy either. If you move to New Haven, Connecticut, for instance, expect to apply for a residential parking permit; you cannot park on many city streets without one.
Connecticut relies on Metro-North and Norwalk Transit for commuter trains. Metro-North, with stations in Saugatuck and Green Farms, goes from New Haven to New York City’s 125th Street Station in Harlem, and also connects to points beyond. Metro-North also provides convenient travel to area airports, including New York’s JFK and LaGuardia airports and New Jersey’s Newark International Airport.
Fliers might also opt to depart out of Long Island’s Islip MacArthur Airport, which is a short drive from the Port Jefferson Ferry Terminal, which connects Long Island to Bridgeport, Connecticut with rides across the Long Island Sound. Another ferry station located in New London also travels to Long Island, docking at Orient Point on Long Island’s north fork. Although they’re pricey, these 45-minute to 1-hour rides are a relaxing way to get to Long Island for any reason and are definitely something you should experience after moving to Connecticut.
With its high cost of living, Connecticut also ranks among the top five states for per capita income in the United States, with the Bridgeport-Norwalk region ranking highest in the state with an average per capita income greater than $80,000.
This means a substantial raise could be in store if you are relocating to Connecticut and staying with your current employer.
When you negotiate a relocation and salary package, with a current employer or as a new hire, keep in mind the differences in cost of living among Connecticut cities and suburbs.
You may choose to work in an area with a higher cost of living in order to get a larger salary, but commute from an area with slightly lower housing prices and taxes. It’s also possible to work in New York City and move to Fairfield or Bridgeport, CT. If you do this, however, be aware that you may be subject to New York State, New York City and Connecticut income taxes.
Stamford, Connecticut was ranked as number 10 on the list of Top 10 safest places to live in the US to avoid natural disasters by Wisebread.com.
The entire state rarely experiences hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes, and Connecticut was ranked, in 2005, as one of three safest places in the US to live, along with Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Summers are cool, with average temperatures in the low 70s, and winters are cold, but not intolerably so, hovering just below freezing, on average. Moving to Connecticut, you may expect anywhere from 25 to 60 inches of snow per year, with the highest accumulations in the northwest, where there is also great skiing to be found!
Like many states, Connecticut’s public school system, with 164 districts, faces standardized testing (Connecticut Mastery Test, or CMT) for students in grades 3 through 8. Hartford is the largest school district in Connecticut; Bridgeport ranks second.
Bridgeport School District, ranked at only 158 out of the 164 Connecticut districts, is undergoing a renovation and construction program, building new schools and modernizing older ones. Look into the school district’s changes before discounting the city if you’re moving to Connecticut with kids.
In addition to the state’s public school system, the state has a wide range of private schools, both secular and religious, charter schools, and magnet schools. Of the state’s high schools, Westport is consistently ranked number one.
Connecticut also has a wealth of colleges and universities for students interested in furthering their education in virtually every field. Yale University, the renowned Ivy League school, is located in New Haven. The Connecticut State University system offers lower-cost undergraduate and graduate programs for Connecticut residents, and has four university campuses across the state, making it accessible wherever you choose to move. The University of Bridgeport, with three campuses, is situated one hour away from New York City and close to Boston, too, and is another one of Connecticut’s renowned universities, along with University of Connecticut, Trinity College and others. If you’re looking to go to an in-state school to save money, don’t forget to consider other types of scholarships as well.
DMV: The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles permits you to print out forms from the Internet, but you cannot take care of DMV business like getting a new driver’s license after moving to Connecticut online. The DMV also does not take credit cards. That’s the bad news.
The good news is:
- If you have a valid out-of-state license or one that has been expired less than 60 days, you don’t need to take a written test or a road test—just a basic vision test.
- A standard driver’s license, at this time, costs about $66. Car registration begins at $75
- AAA offices across Connecticut permit you to take care of some DMV business, with an additional $2 convenience fee.
- MasterCard and Visa are accepted only at some unmanned license center locations for license renewals (not for new Connecticut residents). Regular DMV offices, satellite locations and AAA accept cash, money orders and checks.
- Cars in Connecticut less than 10 years old do not require an inspection.
Taxes: People moving to Connecticut often comment that real estate property taxes are lower than Connecticut’s tri-state area comrades, New York and New Jersey. In fact, Connecticut ranks second in the nation for high property taxes, beyond New Jersey but ahead of New York.
But Connecticut residents also pay a yearly property tax on items like cars, motorcycles and boats. This tax may be deductible to reduce your federal tax burden, however.
When you are moving to Connecticut and determining how much home you can afford, you’ll want to look at a town or city’s “mill rate.” This number tells you how much you’ll pay in real estate taxes. For instance, homeowners in a town with a mill rate of 25 will pay $25 for every $1,000, calculated from 70% of the home’s value. If you buy a home worth $400,000, you’ll pay tax on 70% of that, or $280,000. 280 multiplied by 25 is $7,000 per year in real estate property tax. The average mill rate in Connecticut is about 30, with poorer areas, in general, having higher mill rates (but lower overall property taxes because homes cost less).
There is a 6.35% state sales tax on most items, including clothing.
Trash & Recycling in Connecticut: Trash collection is decided by each city or town in Connecticut. Some areas do not have trash and recycling services offered by the government; instead, you’ll need to hire your own trash removal service. Rather than trash collection being covered in your taxes, this is another bill you’ll need to pay—like electric and other utilities—each month. In some areas, like the Town of Avon, you can opt to drop off your own trash at a landfill; you’ll need to pay an annual fee for a permit to do so.
If you’re buying a house in Connecticut, your real estate agent or your new neighbors should be able to advise you about local trash collection laws. Landlords must provide renters with trash collection services.
Recycling is the law in Connecticut, and the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection provides guidelines for recycling on their website.
Items that must be recycled include:
- Leaves, yard waste, grass clippings (must be composted)
- Glass and metal food and beverage containers
- Corrugated cardboard and newspaper
- Ni-Cd rechargeable batteries
- Waste oil (from cars, etc.) and motor vehicle batteries
Connecticut is one of 11 states with a “bottle bill.” Many bottles, including water bottles and soda bottles, can be returned to certain stores for a five-cent refund. (You pay an additional five cents when you purchase these beverages.)