Blog / Exploring Our Area / The Quintessential New England Small Town: Living in Guilford, Connecticut

The Quintessential New England Small Town: Living in Guilford, Connecticut

Graphic with photos representing Guilford CT

With a population of less than 23,000, Guilford, CT offers a suburban feel with plenty of nearby activities all year round. Truth be told, Guilford is precisely what you think about when envisioning a small town in New England, thanks to its parks, beaches, boutiques, forests, and Colonial architecture.

Whether you're relocating from a surrounding town, moving to Connecticut for work, or retiring near the ocean, Guilford has something for everyone.

There are five main communities here:

  • Guilford Center – the historic downtown core
  • Leetes Island and Sachems Head – the oceanfront areas
  • North Guilford and Nut Plains – the suburban and rural parts

Each area has unique attractions, and looking at all of them will help you decide on where to live.

Take the time to get to know this community before making your choice because we're confident that once you see what this area has to offer, you won't want to live anywhere else.


Places to Work

There isn't much industry in Guilford because it's a mostly suburban environment. Therefore, unless you're moving to town for a specific job, your options are somewhat limited to the service industry.

Having said that, New Haven is only 20 minutes away, so most people who relocate to Guilford do so because they don't want to live in the city, but need to be close to work. In fact, the town's two largest employers are Yale University and the Yale-New Haven Hospital, with other working-age residents making the 45-minute commute to Hartford. Yale University operates an employee shuttle from nearby Branford, making it easy to get to work in the morning.


Parks and Beaches

So, if you can't work in Guilford, why would you want to live here?

The answer starts with access to beaches and parks, as they are everywhere and create an idyllic atmosphere throughout the town.

Let's look at a few of them:

Bittner Park is 123 acres in size and sits north of the downtown area. It features baseball diamonds, a playground, soccer fields, jogging paths, trails through the woods, a skate park, and ice skating in the winter.

Chaffinch Island Park is right on Guilford Harbor and provides views of Long Island Sound, in addition to a picnic area and walking trails. Jacobs Beach is across the West River from Chaffinch Island Park, and it's a beautiful place to swim in the ocean. There is a playground on the beach, as well. Chittenden Park is also in the area and has an unsupervised swimming area.

Away from the ocean, you'll find Mill Pond and Lake Quonnipaug. Mill Pond is tiny, and when it freezes over, it's a popular place to ice skate. You can also fish there. Lake Quonnipaug is much larger and offers excellent fishing throughout the year, along with swimming at the public beach in the summer.

Two other local parks are Long Hill and Nut Plains, which have a collection of sports fields. For a small town, Guilford certainly isn't lacking in outdoor activities.


Shopping and Dining

Another reason why residents love Guilford is the surprising abundance of restaurants and boutiques.

Everything in the area circulates around Guilford Town Green, which is an old-fashioned town square that is surrounded by dining options and shops. Once you see the square and everything around it, there's no mistaking that you're in New England. Some favorite local eateries include Ballou's Restaurant & Wine Bar and the South Lane Bistro.

The area around Guilford Town Green also has numerous historic buildings, including Hyland-Wildman House, Thomas Griswold House, and Acadian House, which is one of the oldest standing structures in Connecticut.

There's a second entertainment district on Boston Post Road, just north of Guilford Town Green. This area is a little less walkable since it's more spread out, but there are restaurants and shops everywhere along the route. The Place Restaurant is a clam bake that is worth checking out.


The School System

Moving to a new community with kids can be difficult, especially when entering a more suburban area.

Will they meet new friends? How good are the schools? Can moving hinder their development?

When it comes to Guilford, you don't have much to worry about because the town has the perhaps the best schools in the entire state.

Between kindergarten and grade four, students will attend either Guilford Lakes SchoolA.W. Cox SchoolMelissa Jones School, or Calvin Leete School. All of these schools have 250-300 students, so there are plenty of new playmates for your kids. In addition, these schools have student-teacher ratios of 12:1, meaning your children will receive plenty of attention.

For grades five and six, your kids will move to Abraham Baldwin Middle School. While the K-4 schools are mostly congregated near the middle of town, Abraham Baldwin is a little out of the way, near Bittner Park. School buses are available, however.

In grades seven and eight, children go to Elisabeth C. Adams Middle School. This school has a student-to-teacher ratio of 11:1 and holds between 500 and 600 students.

Students finish off their public education at Guilford High School for grades nine through 12. This high school is extensive, with over 1,000 students, but maintains suitable class sizes with a 14:1 ratio.


Public Transportation

You don't necessarily need a car to get around this area, despite its relative remoteness. Connecticut Transit runs a bus multiple times per day between Madison and New Haven, and it makes stops at various points in Guilford. You can't get to the north end of town on public transit, but you can get around Guilford Center in this manner.

There's also the option of taking the Shore Line East Train between Guilford and New Haven. From New Haven, you can also jump on the Metro-North Railroad and get to New York City in only a couple of hours. The train from New Haven runs right to Grand Central Station.

Having a car will help when living in Guilford, but you can make it work without one.


Not as Small as It Seems

While Guilford's population is small, there's enough activity to keep you busy. Living here also means you're close enough to commute to major centers while being able to escape the chaos at the end of the workday.

Residing in Guilford means being able to fulfill your career goals, but having a safe, peaceful property to call your own when you're away from the office.

For these reasons, Guilford is one of the most desirable places in Connecticut in which to live.