New Jersey is a state of contrasts and an expansive offering in a compact package. From charming coastal towns, you’re less than 50 miles to the dense urbanity of Bergen County. The colonial history of Princeton is less than an hour from the 10-minute ferry to midtown Manhattan.
Wallethub’s annual report of the best states to live in shows the Garden State ranking second in the nation for 2022. High-paying jobs, good schools, and proximity to both NYC and Philadelphia make New Jersey a hotspot to relocate. The state placed top for safety, fifth for education and health, and fifth in the overall happiness of its residents (won by Hawaii – which is hard to compete with). In addition, the diversified economy, spanning Jersey Shore tourism to the Delaware Valley farmlands, helps it maintain a low unemployment rate. New Jersey also boasts more scientists per square mile than any other state.
However, as with anywhere else, there are multiple considerations regarding on-the-ground livability. While New Jersey has affordable areas, certain pockets can be very expensive. And unless you’re coming from Oregon, not being allowed to pump your own gas will seem odd at first. So let’s look at five facets to consider when it comes to the New Jersey experience.
The New Jersey Weather
New Jersey has all four seasons. While summers aren’t as scorching as farther south, and winters don’t quite hit midwestern frigidity, average temperatures go from 25F in January to 87F in July. Superstorm Sandy was (thankfully) a relatively freak occasion, but northeastern storms frequently lash the Garden State with heavy rain. And while the Atlantic Ocean takes the sting out of snow in coastal and South Jersey, heavy snowfalls are common in the interior parts of the state.
Sandwiched between Philly and NYC, with suburbs and exurbs of both those metropolises spilling out into the state, New Jersey ranks has the highest population density in the US. As a result, the New Jersey Turnpike can be less than fun at the best of times, and rush hour can sound like a cruel joke when sitting in traffic. But public transport is good, with NJ Transit being the most extensive statewide public transport system. Annual ridership tops 175 million, and easy access to NYC and Newark Airport are frequently cited as reasons to relocate to NJ.
The real estate market
Competition for properties in parts of Jersey can be fierce, whether for purchase or rental. Consider signing up with a realtor if you are looking in one of the more desirable cities like Princeton or Hoboken. They’ll know the lay of the land and can alert you to suitable properties that match your budget. Having one body deal with credit checks may also be helpful, as landlords can run hard credit checks, many of those in a short space of time. These can impact your credit and perhaps be detrimental to any new loans or cards you’ll need for your new location. One check to verify you and confirm what’s in your affordability bracket could pay dividends down the line.
Family Life in New Jersey
New Jersey is consistently ranked amongst the best states in the country to raise a family. The Garden State places top in early childhood education, and New Jersey’s public school system came first in the nation in 2021 and 2022. The state also ranks second in the space dedicated to parks and outdoor space. The kicker for all these public services is, well, you have to pay for them. Property taxes can be high and are often given as the reason for retirees moving out of state for cheaper living costs once the kids have flown the nest. Still at fifth best for childcare costs and with the third lowest divorce and separation rate of the fifty states, NJ is an appealing ground to put down roots and let them grow.
New Jersey Social Life
New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the nation, both in its landscape and populace. The charming seaside town of Cape May has ocean views, while Edgewater gazes across the Hudson to the Big Apple. The hipsters in the loft apartments of Hoboken live just down the hill from the long-established Latino communities of Jersey City. NJ is also a foodie mecca, and proximity to NYC means that whatever’s hot in the city – bubble ramen, for example – will be over the state line in very short order.
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