New Jersey, known as the Garden State, offers a diverse mix of urban, suburban, and rural areas. Boasting a strong economy, excellent public schools, and numerous recreational opportunities, it is no wonder that many people consider it a desirable place to call home. This article explores the top spots to settle down in New Jersey, factoring in various aspects such as housing, education, and overall quality of life.
In order to curate a list of the best places to live in New Jersey, one must consider factors such as median household income, cost of living, crime rates, and employment opportunities. Additionally, the importance of neighborhood walkability, access to public transportation, and proximity to recreational venues are also taken into account. By evaluating these criteria, it becomes evident which communities stand out as exceptional places to live and raise a family.
Best Cities and Towns to Live in NJ
Keep reading to discover the finest New Jersey communities that excel in providing a high quality of life and numerous opportunities for residents to excel. From thriving suburban towns to bustling urban centers, there is a perfect place for everyone seeking an ideal home in the Garden State.
Princeton, known for its prestigious Princeton University, is a charming and historic town with a high-quality education system, green spaces, and cultural attractions. Located near New York City and Philadelphia, it provides suburban living while still being accessible to big city amenities. Housing options vary from single-family homes to apartment buildings, catering to different preferences and budgets.
Situated along the Hudson River, Hoboken offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and easy access to New York City through public transportation. The city boasts a diverse population, a vibrant social scene, and a range of housing options, from brownstones to luxury apartment buildings. Hoboken’s waterfront, parks, and rich history make it a popular choice for professionals and families alike.
Jersey City, the second-largest city in New Jersey, is a culturally diverse and rapidly growing urban center located directly across the Hudson River from Manhattan. It offers a wide range of housing options, including modern high-rise apartments and historic brownstones. With a growing arts scene, numerous parks, and easy access to New York City, Jersey City has become an attractive destination for new residents.
Clifton is a diverse, family-friendly city that provides a suburban lifestyle with urban conveniences. It is well-connected to major highways and offers a variety of housing options, from single-family homes to apartment complexes. Clifton’s proximity to New York City and good public schools make it an appealing location for families seeking a quieter environment while maintaining access to job opportunities and cultural attractions.
Cherry Hill, located near Philadelphia, is a large suburban town with a strong sense of community and excellent public schools. The Garden State Park shopping complex provides residents with convenient access to shopping and dining options. Housing options in Cherry Hill vary, including single-family homes, townhomes, and apartment complexes. With its prime location and high quality of life, Cherry Hill remains a popular choice for families and professionals looking to settle in New Jersey.
Family-Friendly Living in New Jersey
Best Places to Raise a Family
New Jersey offers a variety of family-friendly cities and towns that provide excellent education, low crime rates, and a strong sense of community. Some of the best places to raise a family in New Jersey include:
- Princeton – Known for its prestigious university, Princeton also boasts top-rated public schools and a range of cultural activities for families.
- Ridgewood – This charming village offers a high-quality school system, numerous parks, and a vibrant downtown area with family-friendly restaurants and shops.
- Montclair – A diverse town with a strong arts scene, Montclair provides access to excellent schools and various recreational activities.
Suburban Atmosphere in NJ
The suburbs of New Jersey provide a comfortable suburban atmosphere for families, offering spacious homes with yards, safe neighborhoods, and a variety of recreational activities. Many families appreciate the balance between small-town living and close proximity to major cities like New York City and Philadelphia.
Living in the suburbs gives families the opportunity to participate in community activities such as sports leagues, local events, and outdoor gatherings. Some of the benefits of suburban living in New Jersey include:
- Safety – Lower crime rates in suburban areas contribute to a sense of security for families.
- Education – New Jersey is known for its top-rated public schools, providing children with a solid educational foundation.
- Recreation – With numerous parks, playgrounds, and natural spaces, families can easily enjoy outdoor activities together.
Overall, the family-friendly nature of New Jersey’s suburban communities makes it an ideal place for raising children and enjoying a high quality of life.
Education and Schools in New Jersey
New Jersey takes pride in having an excellent public school system, ranking as one of the best states for education. The state offers various options for families with children of all ages and caters to a diverse range of students’ needs. New Jersey’s public schools are known for providing a high-quality education, ensuring students have a strong foundation for their futures.
In addition to its strong public school system, New Jersey is home to a number of well-regarded private schools. These schools offer an alternative to public education, with smaller class sizes and more specialized curriculums tailored to individual students’ needs. Families considering private education have a wide range of options to choose from, ensuring that they can find the best fit for their children.
Several of New Jersey’s schools have achieved top-rated status, both nationally and within the state. For example, Bergen County Academies is recognized as the number one public school in the country. Additionally, the state boasts the number one STEM high school, High Technology High School, providing an exceptional education for students with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math.
In conclusion, the state of New Jersey offers an extensive range of educational opportunities for students from outstanding public schools to reputable private schools, ensuring that families can find the best fit for their children’s academic needs.
Safety and Crime Rates in NJ
Low Crime Rate
New Jersey has been recognized for its impressively low crime rates in comparison to other states. Nearly 60% of New Jersey residents feel safe in their home state, which is 17% safer than the average American feels. This is partly due to the low rates of violent crime in the state. Although personal experience with violent crime slightly increased in 2021, New Jersey still maintains a strong reputation for safety.
Statistical information about crime rates can be found in the FBI Uniform Crime Report, which collects data from cities nationwide. By eliminating cities that either failed to complete the report or had populations of fewer than 10,000 people, it compares the safety of 3,381 cities. This report helps elucidate the low crime rates in New Jersey.
New Jersey is home to several safe neighborhoods, and many of them are featured on lists of the top 10 safest places to live in the state. These neighborhoods are recognized for their high-quality environments and heightened security measures. Some notable examples include:
- Warren Township: Close to New York City, Warren Township offers the advantages of urban living with the safety of a small town.
- Clinton Township: Known for its historic Red Mill Museum Village, Clinton Township has a strong community and a low crime rate.
- Bernards Township: With easy access to a mountain, a river, and a wildlife refuge, Bernards Township has a lot to offer for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a safe living environment.
When considering the overall safety of New Jersey, it’s essential to note that the state has various safe neighborhoods with low crime rates. These factors contribute to New Jersey being noted as an ideal place to live for families, young professionals, and retirees alike.
New Jersey Economy and Employment
New Jersey’s economy is diverse and robust, with a GDP of $745 billion. Traditionally, sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and services have played a significant role. However, in recent years, the finance industry and technology sectors have gained prominence, contributing to the state’s economic growth.
Unfortunately, the unemployment rate in New Jersey is slightly higher than the national average at 7.8%, while the U.S. average is 6.0%. This can be attributed to various factors, including economic shifts and job market fluctuations. In the recent past, job growth in New Jersey has seen a negative trend, with a decrease of 0.2%. Nevertheless, the state continuously strives to create new job opportunities and attract businesses to bolster its economic development.
The median income in New Jersey stands at $50,021, reflecting the well-being and financial stability of the residents. However, it’s crucial to note that the cost of living in New Jersey is 19.8% higher than the U.S. average. This increased cost of living primarily stems from factors such as housing, transportation, and taxes, which should be taken into account when considering relocating to the state.
In conclusion, New Jersey offers a vibrant economy and various job opportunities in sectors such as finance, technology, and traditional industries. While the unemployment rate and cost of living may appear unfavorable, the state’s median income showcases its potential for financial stability. Prospective residents should weigh these factors carefully as they contemplate making New Jersey their home.
Housing and Real Estate in NJ
New Jersey offers a diverse housing market catering to various tastes and preferences. From single-family homes and large-scale apartment buildings to cozy townhomes and quaint apartments, there is something for everyone in the Garden State.
The median home value in New Jersey is $432,100, reflecting the steady demand for real estate in this desirable location. Over the past decade, home appreciation in the state has been 8.1%, indicating a stable growth trend for property owners.
Prospective buyers will find a wide range of options in terms of location and lifestyle. Some of the best places to buy a house in New Jersey include suburban areas, city neighborhoods, and smaller towns. Real estate can be influenced by various factors such as public school grades, cost of living, and the importance of walkability in the area.
Different regions cater to different demographics, with families, young professionals, and retirees all finding ideal places to call home in New Jersey. It’s essential for potential homeowners to research local neighborhoods and consider factors like work commute, school options, and amenities before purchasing a home.
In addition to typical home buying options, opportunities for more affordable living can be found in the cheapest places in New Jersey. These areas include Hopatcong and Haddon Heights, where income-to-rent and house price ratios are lower, resulting in favorable living conditions for residents with varying budgets.
New Jersey boasts a healthy combination of urban and suburban living, making it an attractive destination for people looking to settle down. With a diverse housing market and a range of real estate options, the state continues to provide desirable places to live for prospective homeowners.
Transportation and Commute in NJ
New Jersey is well-connected to New York City and the surrounding areas through a robust public transportation system. Residents can choose from various options such as buses, ferries, and trains to commute to their destinations. One notable service is NJ Transit, which operates a comprehensive network of bus routes and train lines connecting the entire state.
Several towns in New Jersey boast of multiple train stations, providing easy access to New York City. Notable examples include Montclair, which has six train stations, and Summit, which is often rated as one of the best commuter towns due to its proximity and direct train service to Manhattan. Hoboken, another popular commuter town, is served by the PATH train, which connects it to Midtown Manhattan in only 20 minutes.
Major train stations in New Jersey such as Newark Penn Station, Secaucus Junction, and Metropark serve as critical hubs for NJ Transit and Amtrak trains. These stations offer connections to various destinations, including Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington D.C.
Average Commute Time
Commute times in New Jersey can vary depending on the mode of transportation and proximity to major employment centers. For instance, the average one-way commute time in Newark is 35.5 minutes. However, some towns have shorter commute times. Hoboken, as mentioned earlier, is just a 20-minute ride to Midtown Manhattan via the PATH train.
In general, public transportation options such as NJ Transit buses and trains tend to provide shorter commute times compared to driving. This is particularly true during peak hours when traffic congestion could lead to longer travel times. By utilizing the state’s extensive public transportation network, commuters can often enjoy more predictable and efficient travel times to their destinations.
New Jersey Recreation and Amenities
New Jersey offers a wide variety of parks to explore, showcasing the state’s natural beauty and providing opportunities for outdoor recreation. Residents can enjoy activities like hiking, cycling, and bird-watching at Mountain Lakes in Morris County, or take a leisurely stroll through one of the many picturesque town parks.
New Jersey is well-known for its beautiful coastline and the famous Jersey Shore, which stretches over 130 miles along the Atlantic Ocean. With numerous public beaches, residents have plenty of options to choose from when planning a beach day. Some of the best beaches in the state include popular destinations such as Asbury Park, Ocean City, and Cape May.
The nightlife scene in New Jersey offers a diverse range of entertainment options to suit all tastes. From pubs and bars featuring live music, to dance clubs and upscale lounges, there is something for everyone. Towns like Princeton and Summit provide a lively atmosphere, with numerous venues available for socializing and enjoying a night out.
Restaurants and Dining
New Jersey boasts an incredibly diverse food scene, influenced by the many cultures that call the state home. From fine dining establishments to local eateries and international cuisine, residents have access to a vast array of dining options. In towns such as Haddonfield, residents can enjoy delicious dishes at Mare Monte and The British Chip Shop, just to name a few.
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Demographics and Diversity in NJ
New Jersey is known for its diverse population and has a higher diversity index than the rest of the nation, with a diversity index of 0.503 compared to the nationwide index of 0.44. According to the 2020 Census, the racial and ethnic breakdown of New Jersey’s population is as follows: White alone (61.6%), Black alone (12.4%), Hispanic (18.7%), Asian alone (6%), American Indian and Alaska Native alone (1.1%), Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone (0.2%), Some Other Race alone (8.4%), and Two or More Races (10.2%).
The state’s diversity index has increased to 66% in 2018, up from 63% in 2010, indicating growing levels of diversity in recent years. This can be attributed to an increase in both immigrant populations and natural growth of various ethnic communities in the state. New Jersey is also densely populated, with a higher concentration of people living in urban areas like Jersey City, Newark, and Paterson, where diversity is more pronounced.
The 25 most diverse places in New Jersey are mainly located in urban neighborhoods, such as Jersey City, which holds the top position in terms of diversity. These areas tend to be a melting pot of cultures and backgrounds, with residents speaking a variety of languages, practicing different religions, and bringing a wide array of traditions and cuisines to their communities.
In addition to racially diverse populations, New Jersey also boasts a mix of age groups, educational backgrounds, and income levels. The state has a relatively high cost of living, making it a popular destination for educated professionals and families seeking job opportunities and quality education. This mix of individuals from various walks of life further adds to the overall diversity and versatile character of New Jersey.
In conclusion, the demographics and diversity of New Jersey are an integral aspect of what makes the state a desirable destination for many individuals looking to live in a culturally rich and vibrant community.
Living Costs and Quality of Life in NJ
Cost of Living
In New Jersey, the cost of living is 1.04 times more expensive than the national average, making it the 21st most expensive state in the U.S1. The average monthly living expense sits at $2,097, while the average salary after taxes is $3,9062. Despite higher expenses, many residents manage to cover their living costs for 1.9 months3.
When it comes to choosing the best places to live in New jersey, several factors contribute to an area’s livability. These factors include housing prices, crime rates, walkability, and education facilities. For instance, the median home price in West New York is estimated at $660K, while in Paterson, it’s approximately $426K4.
Aside from housing prices, it’s essential to consider the population and employment opportunities in each region. For example, West New York is home to a population of 56.2K, while Wayne houses 52.9K residents5. Both areas have unique opportunities and challenges, which future residents should take into account.
Quality of Life
As previously mentioned, New Jersey residents enjoy a high quality of life6. A primary contributing factor is the presence of various top-ranked cities suitable for families, young professionals, and retirees alike7. While New Jersey has a higher cost of living, many individuals and families still find the overall experience worth the investment, as they get to enjoy numerous benefits such as a vibrant community, excellent schools, and recreational activities.
What are the top family-friendly towns in New Jersey?
New Jersey is home to many family-friendly towns that offer excellent school districts and safe communities. Some popular choices for families include Princeton, Ridgewood, Westfield, and Summit. These towns boast top-rated schools, vibrant downtown areas, and various recreational activities for all ages.
Which areas are ideal for young professionals in NJ?
Young professionals in New Jersey have several excellent areas to choose from when considering factors like job opportunities, commute, and nightlife. Areas like Hoboken, Jersey City, Montclair, and Morristown offer great job prospects, easy access to New York City, and a lively social scene.
Which towns in NJ offer the lowest tax rates?
Towns like Egg Harbor City, Quinton Township, and Alloway Township offer some of the lowest tax rates in New Jersey. However, keep in mind that low taxes might also come with fewer public services and amenities. It is essential to evaluate factors like schools and infrastructure in addition to tax rates when making your decision.
What are some affordable living options in New Jersey?
While New Jersey has a relatively high cost of living, there are affordable living options available. Cities like East Orange, Paterson, Vineland, and Passaic tend to have more reasonable rent and home prices compared to other areas in the state. Be sure to consider factors like commute, safety, and amenities when searching for an affordable place to live.
Which towns in South Jersey are best for young professionals?
South Jersey offers several towns that are suitable for young professionals, offering a mix of job opportunities, culture, and affordability. Towns like Cherry Hill, Moorestown, and Haddonfield provide convenient access to Philadelphia, quality schools, and an active community atmosphere. Additionally, the Atlantic City region offers opportunities in tourism and entertainment.
What are the wealthiest cities in New Jersey?
New Jersey is home to a number of wealthy cities with high median incomes and luxury amenities, such as Short Hills, Upper Saddle River, Alpine, and Rumson. These cities boast opulent neighborhoods, fine dining, and excellent schools. However, the cost of living in these areas can be quite high, making them more suitable for high-income earners.