Is Living In New Jersey Still Worth It?

NJI am a lifelong New Jersey resident who has never aspired to live elsewhere. I understand and appreciate the many wonderful things about living in New Jersey. However, the fact that I now sometimes ask myself the question of whether the “price” of living in New Jersey is really worth it is probably a sign that many more people who are less passionate about the state are asking themselves the same question.

There are pros and cons to any location. New Jersey has plenty on both sides of the ledger as I recapped in a previous Struming, 5 Reasons Why I Love New Jersey. But my love is fading, and there are reasons behind it.

Simply put, Jersey is in fiscal doo doo and New Jersey is becoming a tougher place to live financially and physically. Though I am not a fan of our current Governor, I don’t lay all this at his feet either, as many of the state’s current issues preceded him. On the other hand when you talk smack as the Guv does (and spend almost ½ your time outside the state), the burden is to deliver, and he has not. Alas, our state’s issues are getting worse, not better.

As we New Jersey residents know only too well, we pay a premium for living in NJ at every turn. This manifests itself in several ways:

1. High sales tax
2. High real estate taxes
3. High income tax
4. High estate & inheritance taxes

And there are many other high secondary costs–Tolls/bridges, auto insurance/health insurance. In virtually every area of life (except gas) New Jersey residents pay substantially more than the average American and even more than those in adjacent states. Furthermore, given the density of the population, the traffic is increasingly bad, the costs of tolls and commutation are already high and always increasing.

But there’s also no place like New Jersey. Its proximity to two of the largest cities—New York and Philadelphia– in the U.S. makes it an ideal place to live. Our beaches are second to none. And the suburbs which are neatly tucked away from the NJ Turnpike are truly wonderful places.

In fact New Jersey was recently ranked as the best state to raise a family.

According to a recent analysis done by Pittsburgh based Niche which analyzes government data, New Jersey had an A rating in education and an A- on crime, safety access to daycare and community involvement, all key factors in determining a great place to raise a family. The only flaw in the study (and it’s a biggee) is that cost of living was not a consideration factor in the rankings.

So the bottom line is that New Jersey remains a great place to live, and I do love living here, but it sure would be swell if we solved some serious fiscal issues before our residents are forced to consider moving elsewhere.

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