Discover Coastal Dream Towns

After canvassing all coasts for towns with seaside charm, a lively beach culture, and good housing, these are our top spots for planning quick trips or finding a new place to live.

So You Want to Live in ... Rumson

This well-to-do New Jersey town provides easy access to-and quiet refuge from-New York City.

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Rumson, New Jersey

Lorenzo Bevilaqua

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With easy access to the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers and the beaches of the Jersey Shore. The Borough of Rumson encompasses 5.2 square miles, and the population is a little more than 7,000.

When I ask Thomas Shea about his hometown of Rumson, New Jersey, he says, "Well, you have to understand―it's a very affluent area."

That's a refrain you'll hear often about this historic town, an hour south of New York City and just one skinny barrier island away from the Atlantic Ocean.

Settled in 1665, Rumson is in many ways defined by affluence. Residents cherish the quiet, small-town way of life―and the exclusivity. Along River and Rumson roads, long, gated driveways disappear into opaque stands of old maple, elm, and pine trees. There are no large commercial ventures.

William Alcaro, proprietor of the tiny Rumson Market, says his store is "pretty much the neighborhood market." The Rumson Country Club and the Seabright Lawn Tennis & Cricket Club add to the atmosphere of self-contained gentility.

On the other hand, you'll find children riding bikes along quiet side streets in front of relatively modest homes that range from Victorians to more-modern structures. Many feature carefully tended lawns and gardens.

As Thomas and I part ways, he calls out, "Maybe one day you'll live in Rumson." Not, I think, on a writer's income. But it's nice to be asked.

(published March 2006)

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