The capital of Connecticut provides residents with fun local attractions, unique cultural events, and esteemed educational opportunities, making it a great place for retirees, families, and young professionals alike. Check out these 13 pros and cons of living in Hartford, CT!
Pros of Living in Hartford
Connecticut’s capital offers a variety of benefits that make it a great place to live. From all the entertaining things to do in Hartford to the city’s ample green spaces to explore, you’ll find plenty to love about living in this East Coast city. Read more about the pros of living in Hartford.
Pro: Growing Job Market
Hartford’s job market continues to recover and is projected to continue growing. Known as the Insurance Capital of the World, Hartford has the highest concentration of insurance industry jobs, employing more than 60,000 Connecticut employees. Some of the top insurance firms in Hartford include Applied Systems, MassMutual, and Cigna. Outside of the insurance sector, you’ll be able to find employment opportunities at companies like Eversource Energy, Hartford Hospital, and CTtransit.
Pro: Convenient Public Transportation
Although this is a walkable city, and driving a personal vehicle is easy thanks to major roadways I-84 and I-91, residents take full advantage of several Hartford public transportation options! Hitch a ride in Downtown Hartford every weekday by getting on the free-to-use Hartford dash Shuttle, or check out the traveling options with the CT Transit Bus System around town. Try out the city’s first-ever Bus Rapid Transit system, CTfastrak, which utilizes bus-only lanes to travel to and from nearby cities like Cheshire, Bristol, West Hartford, and more. Take advantage of Hartford’s central location with a day trip to major cities like Boston and New York when using the Hartford Amtrack Station. Cut down your travel time to New Haven and Springfield with the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) Rail Program. Plus, frequent fliers can benefit from close access to several airports, including the Bradley International Airport, Hartford–Brainard Airport, and the Waterbury-Oxford Airport an hour outside town.
Pro: Abundant Quality Education
Residents in this East Coast city have easy access to several of the best universities in the U.S, but can find great education right here in Hartford. Immerse yourself in programs like acting, animation and game art, and audio engineering technology at the University of Hartford. Dive in to subjects like marketing management, English, and business data analytics at the University of Connecticut‘s Hartford campus. Enjoy a small college setting and earn a degree in accounting, computer science, and public health at the University of Saint Joseph. Prepare yourself for a career in nursing, advanced manufacturing, and dental hygiene at the career-focused Goodwin University. Delve into the legal world at the University of Connecticut School of Law. Or go the community college route and earn an associate degree in computer networking, paramedic studies, human services, and more at Capital Community College.
Pro: Immersive Hartford Museums
Hartford locals have a variety of museums where they can learn more about the world around them. Bring the entire family to check out exhibits like Science Alley, Forces in Motion, and Exploring Space at the Connecticut Science Center. Dive deep into state and local history with more than 265,000 historical artifacts, along with cool exhibits like Connecticut’s Bookshelf, Making Connecticut, and Inn & Tavern Signs of Connecticut at the Connecticut Museum of Culture and History. Spark your kid’s interest in learning with hands-on programming, unique exhibits like the Wildlife Sanctuary, or experimenting in the Curiosity Lab in West Hartford at The Children’s Museum. Check out a film screening, look through more than 50,000 works of art, and enjoy exhibits like Fired Up: Glass Today at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Book a tour to explore the historic Mark Twain House & Museum and see 16,000 items in the Mark Twain collection, smell the flowers in the gardens, and attend a variety of special events. Or explore the legacy of American author Harriet Beecher Stowe by diving into collections covering African American history, abolition, and more, attending social justice book discussions, and going on an interactive house tour at the Harriet Beecher Stowe House.
Pro: Beautiful Local Parks
Residents who love to explore the outdoors flock to the beautiful parks in Hartford! Sprawl out on 114 acres of green space, cool off in the swimming pool, and stroll along the walking paths at Colt Park. Watch breathtaking views of the river, play some sand volleyball, and go fishing at Riverside Park. Unleash your kids on the playground, launch your boat, and enjoy live performances at the 350-seat amphitheater at Great River Park. Catch a ride on the carousel, lace up your skates for Winterfest Hartford, and go on an Arch Tour at Bushnell Park. Walk around America’s oldest rose garden, take the family out for a picnic, and enjoy a variety of special events like outdoor concerts at Elizabeth Park Conservancy. Or duke it out on the tennis courts, let your kids cool off on the spray pad, and play a round of golf on the 27-hole course at Goodwin Park.
Pro: Hartford Loves Performing Arts
With a rich arts scene, residents have the privilege of being close to several unique Hartford performing arts venues that have something to offer everyone! Enjoy live Broadway shows like Wicked, comedians like Kathy Griffin, and performances from the Connecticut Ballet at the Bushnell Performing Arts Center. Support Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts’ Half-Day students when they put on shows like Chamber Music Concerts and musicals like Head Over Heels at the Theater of the Performing Arts, a 600-seat, state-of-the-art theatre. Enroll in an acting class or see shows like Pride and Prejudice, All My Sons, and more at the Hartford Stage. Attend exciting performances of shows like The Garbologist, Sanctuary City, and Sandra at Theaterworks Hartford. Tickle your funny bone at a comedy night and experience shows like Toni Stone, The Prom, and the Complete Works of Jane Austen at Playhouse on Park. Experience outdoor performances from nationally touring acts like blink-182, Pierce the Veil, and New Kids on the Block at Xfinity Theatre.
Pro: Attractions for All Ages
Locals typically have full social calendars, given there are plenty of fun things to do in Hartford for everyone—especially family-friendly activities! Catch the latest blockbuster films or experience independent filmmaking at Cinestudio. Take an outside stroll along the Connecticut River and appreciate beautifully designed sculptures commemorating President Abraham Lincoln on a narrated tour at Lincoln Financial Sculpture Walk. Check out the Mortensen Riverfront Plaza‘s fishing spots, public boat cruises, and events like Hartbeat Music Festival and Riverfront Food Truck Festival. Lace up your bowling shoes and go for the strike, enjoy live music, and participate in leagues at Ducks on the Ave. Keep the family active after a 45-minute drive to Sleeping Giant State Park, where you can fish in Mill River, hike the scenic trails, and take a self-guided tour of nature. Drive north to immerse yourself in aviation history by admiring vintage aircraft, and seeing exhibits like New England Women in Aviation and Apollo & Beyond, or enroll your kids in Aerospace Academy Summer Camp at the New England Air Museum.
Pro: Fun Local Sports
From high school bleachers to professional arenas, residents live to cheer for local Hartford sports. Support the Hartford Huskies (NCAA III) as they compete for a state title each year in sports like basketball, football, wrestling, and more. Wave a foam finger while the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL) races across the rink, or catch the occasional University of Connecticut men’s and women’s basketball teams in action at the XL Center. Root for the Hartford Yard Goats (MiLB) as they knock it out of the park at Dunkin’ Park. Cheer for the professional Hartford Athletic (USL) or the semi-pro Hartford City Football Club as they expertly defend the pitch at Trinity Health Stadium. Or root for the Connecticut Sun (WNBA) as they dribble their way to victory at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Pro: Great Places to Eat
There’s a plethora of exciting places to eat in Hartford to expand your palette! Try out Hartford brunch favorites like Omelette du Jour, Eggs Benedicts, and Blueberry Lemon Stuffed French Toast at Social Republic. Munch on authentic Mexican cuisine like Carne Asada, Flautas, and Veggie Burrito at Monte Alban Restaurant. Fill up on the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, The Blue Bacon Burger, and the Tuna Melt at The Market Restaurant. Enjoy live music performances with delicious food like Gumbo Fries, Pulled Pork Sandwich, and Southern Fried Chicken at Black-Eyed Sally’s Southern Kitchen & Bar. Order the Bronzed Salmon, Harvest Salad, and Chicken Mole at Fire by Forge. Satisfy your hunger with upscale Italian food like Fried Calamari, Shrimp Scampi, and Spicy Vodka Rose at Sorella.
Pro: Eclectic Hartford Nightlife
Are you curious about what the nightlife in Hartford has to offer? Residents have their pick from unique bars, fun nightclubs, and cool places to hang out. Laugh out loud in an intimate setting with a variety of improv comedy acts at Sea Tea Comedy. Stop by one of the best bars in Hartford for unique cocktails like the Harvest Mule, Fall Shandy, and Late Night Lover at L Bar. Head over to an LGBTQ+ space to enjoy events like Karaoke Nights and Open Stage with Mia, or snack on food like Chicken Dumplings at Chez Est. Try your hand at Giant Jenga, throw darts, and shoot some pool while sampling from more than 30 beers on tap at Pigs Eye Club. Dance the night away at a Shrek Rave or listen to live bands like Whiskey Boulevard, Sonia Sol, and more at Arch Street Tavern. Sip delicious beers on tap like Jungle Crush!, Brass Bonanza, and Haze For Horses at City Stream Brewery.
Cons of Living in Hartford
While there’s a lot to like about living in Hartford, CT, there are still some downsides to consider when relocating. Here are some cons of moving to Hartford.
Con: Harsh Winter Months
If you want to live in Hartford, you should be prepared to deal with extreme weather conditions during the winter months. The cold season in Hartford typically lasts from December to March. January is the coldest month of the year, with an average low of 16 degrees. Yearly precipitation averages 49 inches of rain and 38 inches of snow, both of which are higher than the U.S. national average. Fortunately, Hartford’s weather is typically mild the rest of the year, with July being the warmest month of the year, averaging a high temperature of around 85 degrees. Spend the day enjoying a variety of outdoor activities year-round like the Dinosaur State Park, where you can walk more than two miles of trails, and the arboretum, where you can look at tracks believed to have been left by the Dilophosaurus. Or skate to your heart’s content, dive in to the outdoor pool, and duke it out on the bocce courts at Mills Woods Park.
Con: Safety Concerns
As with any major metropolitan area, crime can be a major concern if you’re thinking about moving to Hartford. This Connecticut city has its share of crime concerns, with Hartford being safer than 2% of Connecticut cities, and 21% safer than the rest of the U.S. Despite this, there are still plenty of safe neighborhoods to live in the Hartford area for you and your family. Additionally, the City of Hartford invested $400,000 to create slack channels to help prevent crime in the city. There are also several community organizations striving to better the community like Compass Youth Collaborative, Hartford Communities That Care, and Mother’s United Against Violence.
Con: Recovering Economy
Connecticut is one of the most expensive states to live in the U.S., with some of the highest tax burdens in the country—the total local and state tax level is around 12.8%. A reason for this may be recovery. While the COVID-19 virus affected Hartford, the city has struggled with job retention and opportunity for nearly 30 years. But because the city is growing its job market and mandating higher taxes, Hartford shapes up as one of the best places to live for quality of life. A comparatively affordable city in Connecticut, residents don’t have to worry about extra income taxes or sales taxes and benefit from a 14% lower cost of living than the rest of the state—so residents can save money on goods, groceries, healthcare, and housing. Additionally, this East Coast city offers higher-quality services and city amenities, including the distinguished Hartford Public Library or the Street Services Division, which is responsible for keeping the roads clear and safe for residents year-round.
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