Bethel, Connecticut is located about 60 miles north northeast of New York City, near the border of New York State. The U.S. Census classifies Bethel as a Census Designated Place and in 2010, counted 9,549 residents. The town occupies a little over four square miles in Fairfield County and lies 482 feet above sea level.
Bethel’s history includes the colorful fact that it is the birthplace of legendary showman P.T. Barnum. The town was originally settled in 1685 as a parish and part of nearby Danbury. The name comes from the Hebrew word for “house of God.” The town incorporated in 1855 and five years later counted 1,711 residents.
Residents in Bethel enjoy about 20 percent more rainfall on average than people in the rest of the U.S. They also get more snow—about 44 inches compared to 26 inches for the rest of the country. Summers are quite warm; the average high temperature in July is 83°F. By the same token, winters are chilly, with the mercury dipping to about 17.5°F on average during January.
Bethel is close to several major cities in the region, including New York (60 miles), Providence, RI (110 miles) and Boston, MA (140 miles). Major east-west roadways are I-84, U.S. 6, and state route 58. The primary north-south artery is state route 53. Train service is available (Metro North line) and Housatonic Area Regional Transit (HART) provides bus service. There are several airports in the region, with international service at Stewart (SWF) in New Windsor, and LaGuardia (LGA) and JFK in New York City.
Cost of Living in Bethel
Compared to the rest of the U.S., the cost of living in Bethel is high. You can expect to pay about a 50 percent premium for housing, a 35 percent premium for food, and a 26 percent premium for utilities. Transportation and healthcare services are more expensive, too. Annual property tax assessments exceed 3 percent of assessed values for real estate and motor vehicles; the state assesses a 6.35 percent sales tax. Use the links below to gauge how far your earnings will go in Bethel.
Bethel Public Schools administers public education in five schools located on a 140-acre education park near the center of town. The town is home to two private schools, including St. Mary Elementary (PK-8). You’ll find 40 colleges and universities within a 50-mile radius of Bethel; Western Connecticut State University in Danbury is only three miles from Bethel center.
Bethel is conveniently close to quality health care facilities, with about four dozen hospitals within 30 miles. The closest, Danbury Hospital, is a teaching hospital and part of Western Connecticut Health Network. It is rated high-performing in four procedures/conditions by U.S. News & World Report.
Bethel Real Estate
Bethel’s housing inventory numbered 4,168 units in 2010, and the median value of owner-occupied dwellings was $262,200. Median selected monthly costs of ownership for mortgage-holders were $1,996; for those without a mortgage, the costs were $889. Of Bethel’s four neighborhoods, housing is most expensive in the Dodgingtown Road/Old Hawleyville Road area and least expensive in Town Center.
If you’re looking to spend some time in Bethel, you’ll find several nice choices for lodging. Most properties are located along the I-84 corridor to the north, including a Residence Inn by Marriott and a Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites (both are in Danbury). If your budget is tight, more affordable options include a MicroTel Inn & Suites by Wyndham and a Quality Inn & Suites.
Bethel may be small, but it’s mighty in terms of flavorful dining options. The kids will no doubt love the steakburgers, fries, and root beer at Sycamore Drive-In, with curb service and a 1950s feel. For affordable family dining in a Victorian atmosphere, check out The Putnam House, an 1850s mansion with an American menu. The Copas Restaurant and Bar serves up Latin Continental dishes with South American wines—and half-price drinks from Tuesday through Thursday (5 to 7 pm).
Things to Do in Bethel
Your visit to Bethel should include a trip to the Greenwood Historic District with shops, restaurants and several mid-19th century buildings in Greek Revival and Victorian architectural styles. While you’re sightseeing, you’ll find several landmark reminders of the town’s most famous citizen, P.T. Barnum, including the house on Greenwood Avenue where he was born. You’ll also find several seasonal attractions, such as the activities at Blue Jay Orchards. It comes alive in August through harvest time with hayrides, apples, pumpkins—lots of family fun on the farm.