From its proximity to major cities to the many miles of famous shoreline, there are plenty of reasons to love living in New Jersey. But the high cost of living, harsh winters, and heavy traffic present notable drawbacks to living in the Garden State.
It’s a good idea to weigh out the pros and cons of moving to a new location before finalizing such an important life decision. For some, New Jersey may sound like an ideal place to settle down, while the downsides could be too much to bear for others.
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Pro: Size and proximity
New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state in the country, and living in a small area has some unexpected perks. When living in a small state, you are always close to everything. In fact, it would only take you about three and a half hours to drive from the northern border of the state, all the way down to Cape May.
Of course, we can’t talk about New Jersey without mentioning its bustling neighbors on both sides. Living nestled between New York City and Philadelphia allows you to live outside these cities but work within them. Want to catch a Broadway show or a sporting event? No problem, you can easily drive to these urban hot spots so you never miss any of the action.
Pro: Great health care
Some things you really can’t put a price on, and your health is one of them. New Jersey ranks near the top of the list for health care access, quality, and public health in the United States. With over 100 hospitals state-wide, you’re never too far from high-caliber care.
Morristown Medical Center, frequently considered the top hospital in New Jersey, is no stranger to landing on “best hospital” lists put out by multiple major publications every year. The hospital has built a reputation for its world-class heart surgery and cardiology.
And Morristown isn’t the only top medical center in the area. As mentioned above, you are close to New York, which is home to many top-rated and specialized hospitals.
Con: Atrocious traffic
New Jersey’s proximity to big cities is a major pro, but it can come with some drawbacks as well. With so many people commuting to Manhattan via only three routes into the city (two tunnels and one bridge), you can expect to sit in your fair share of bumper-to-bumper traffic.
The George Washington Bridge, which connects Fort Lee, NJ to Manhattan, has been named the most congested highway in the entire country by the American Transportation Research Institute. Getting caught in hours of gridlocked traffic, stuck between the gigantic freight truckers, might be enough of a reason to avoid choosing New Jersey to be your home.
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Pro: Miles of beachy coastline
Perfect for the warm summers, New Jersey boasts an impressive 130 miles of coastline, filled with some of the most famous beaches in the US. Bask in the sun and sink your toes in the sand as you watch the breath-taking sunsets over the Atlantic. No matter your favorite beach activity, you will be able to find the ideal location somewhere along the Jersey Coast.
If catching some rays in between blackjack hands sounds like your wave, you can’t go wrong with the Atlantic City beach and boardwalk. Or perhaps you just want a taste of a serene beach town lifestyle without having to hop on a plane—you can find that in Stone Harbor. There’s a reason so many residents and visitors head “down the shore” to satisfy that specific beach craving unique to each person.
Pro: Low crime rate
Whether you are looking to raise a family or are moving by yourself, you should feel safe in the new place you are going to call home. New Jersey’s crime rate has been consistently trending downward, with its violent crime rate dropping six percent in the last year and its property crime rate dropping 13 percent.
New Jersey has the lowest crime rate of all the seven states of the Mid-Atlantic region. On a national scale, New Jersey has been in the bottom five states for violent crime rates in back-to-back years, and it’s the fourth-lowest in the country for number of property crimes.
Con: High cost of living
New Jersey’s high cost of living can certainly be a deal breaker for prospective residents. The Garden State has a cost of living index of 120, compared to the national average of 100. Nearly every category, from groceries to housing to transportation is well above the average.
However, the New Jersey median household income is $85,245 per year—that’s almost $20,000 more than the country’s average. But a higher income is needed to keep up with living costs. The average house in New Jersey costs $467,384 according to Zillow, and an average one-bedroom apartment starts at around $1,305 per month.
Additionally, owning a car in New Jersey is more expensive than the national average. New Jersey has some of the highest gas prices in the country—gas costs roughly $.20 more per gallon on average. To make matters worse, the congested roads and worrisome weather drive up the cost of
car insurance in New Jersey.
Pro: Top-rated school system
Education is a priority in New Jersey. The state dedicates more of its annual budget per student than many other states, making it a top-three ranked school system.
New Jersey schools achieve high marks for funding, test scores, and student-to-teacher ratio. The state also has pioneered some innovative learning strategies, making it the top of the nation in digital learning.
Con: High property taxes and sales tax
While residents of New Jersey can rest assured that their neighborhoods are safe and their schools are high quality, this comes with a price. The average property tax in New Jersey is 2.42%—more than double the national average of 1.07%.
Millburn consistently ranks as the priciest Jersey town, with property taxes averaging over $24,000 per year. You also can expect to pay even more for a luxurious home thanks to the state’s Mansion Tax. This tacks on an additional 1% tax on any home that is purchased for one million dollars or more.
New Jersey residents have a significant sales tax added to each of their purchases. The sales tax here is 6.625%, and yes, this is higher than the national average of 5.09%. That said, it doesn’t look so bad when compared to the New York sales tax that can go as high as 8.88%.
Pro: Diverse lifestyles
Sure, many people move to New Jersey to be close to the big cities, but the state isn’t just a collection of suburbs.
If you are looking to retire or even take your remote work to the beach, you can nestle into any of the numerous coastal towns. Or maybe you want to buy a small parcel of farmland and get away from the hustle and bustle—Jersey’s got that too.
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Con: Harsh seasons
Weather will likely be at the top of the list of factors to consider when planning your move. Sure, you can experience all four seasons in New Jersey, but their lengths and severity will be anything but consistent.
On paper, the cold season in New Jersey runs from December to March, but we’re sure any resident will tell you that it starts much earlier than that. The average winter temperature hovers right above freezing, at a chilling 33 degrees. Spring and autumn feel progressively shorter, and the summers bring violent heat and humidity. In the dog days of summer, you can expect relentless temperatures in the mid-90s.
Pro: The pizza
Let’s finish things off with a slice of great news. Food & Wine Magazine proclaimed New Jersey to have the best pizza in the country in their latest rankings. Often fighting with New York for this crown, the Garden State takes the crown as the big cheese.
From Manco & Manco in Ocean City to Rosie’s in Point Pleasant, New Jersey’s culinary craftsmanship is no longer overlooked. Jersey is also home to some of the oldest pizza establishments in the US—creating “tomato pies” before they were even called “pizzas.”
Get a taste of this historic lineage at Papa’s Tomato Pies in Robbinsville. Dating back to 1912, this local establishment just so happens to be the oldest, continuously operating, family-owned pizzeria in the United States.
Is New Jersey a good place to live in?
Yes, New Jersey is a good place to live, but like any place, it has its flaws. If a move to New Jersey is in the cards, consider all of the pros and cons before finalizing your decision.
New Jersey is an excellent state for:
Families with students of all ages
If you have concerns about the traffic or extreme weather conditions, though, the cons might be too difficult to overlook.
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