Moving to New Jersey

New Jersey at a Glance

New York may be the city that never sleeps, but the man who popularized the phrase slept right next door — in New Jersey. The third state of the union is also the state of big ideas and strong opinions, the full-service state, the pizza state, the state of fried hot dogs and saltwater taffy, of boardwalks and boardrooms, of beaches and bays. By whatever name you call it, the Garden State is a state of plenty.  

New Jersey is the birthplace of Frank Sinatra and the light bulb, the home of Princeton University and the New Jersey Devils. And although you’re not allowed to pump your own gas or make traditional left turns (that’s what those weird “jughandles” are for), these Jerseyisms are just part of what makes the state such an interesting place to live. From the northern highlands to the Atlantic coastal plain, there’s hardly a state in the nation that’s more diverse. And with easy access to New York and Philadelphia, New Jersey is a mighty economic engine, too. 

Although hardly anyone would miss a cold New Jersey winter, most people would miss a summer on the coast — not to mention the cotton candy, cool ocean water and unbeatable people-watching. And for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to live next door to one of the state’s authentic Italian bakeries or get their pepperoni fix from a brick oven-baked New Jersey slice, we can always stream reruns of our favorite Sopranos episodes. Or, if we’re desperate, Jersey Shore.   

If you’re looking for a moving company in New Jersey, let Mayflower get you a quote

Living in New Jersey

Life in the Garden State has much to recommend it, from good schools to excellent food, and lots of culture and entertainment. These are all reasons why the cost of living in New Jersey is higher than the national average, including neighboring Pennsylvania and Delaware. But it still costs less to live in New Jersey than in New York, so you certainly won’t be alone if you’re an NYC commuter.  

New Jersey’s 9.2 million residents know all too well that housing in the state is pricey — nearly twice the national average, in fact. The median home value for single-family units averaged $475,000 in 2022; townhouses and condos weren’t much better, averaging $341,000. But the average household income is also higher than national levels — New Jerseyans bring home an average of nearly $90,000 annually.   

The job market in the state is maintaining a positive outlook overall. New Jersey added nearly 123,000 jobs in 2022, while the unemployment rate fell to 3.4%, lower than the national average. If you’re looking to change careers, the state is home to 15 Fortune 500 companies. So, no matter what industry you work in, you’ll have lots of heavy hitters to choose from, including Johnson & Johnson, Prudential Financial, Merck, ADP, PDB Energy and Quest Diagnostics, which all have operations in the state.  

New Jersey has been ranked as one of the top states to live in and raise a child. In 2021, U.S. News & World Report ranked New Jersey in the top five for health care and it’s the #1 state for education in pre-K-12. Lincroft’s High Technology High School has been ranked the #1 STEM high school in the country. Bergen County Academies, a top magnet school in the state, combines cutting-edge academic programs with professional and technical coursework. Its students regularly earn national awards for their achievements. Of course, at the college level, there is Princeton University, which U.S. News & World Report has ranked as the #1 university for 11 years running. To be sure, New Jerseyans have a lot of bragging rights when it comes to education. 

Besides being a great place to work and raise a family, New Jersey is full of cultural treasures that are entertaining, educational and historical. Art lovers flock to the Montclair Art Museum; history buffs to Morristown National Historic Park; and NHL diehards to catch New Jersey Devils games.  

If you’re looking to get outdoors to enjoy the four seasons of weather, you’ll love the annual Cherry Blossom Festival and the New Jersey Botanical Gardens. Plus, there are plenty of state parks for hiking and biking. Then again, it’d be hard to sweat out a summer in the state without a trip to the Jersey shore. Rest assured, wherever you move in the Garden State, there will be great activities for you and yours to enjoy.  

Four Season Weather in New Jersey

New Jersey has four distinct seasons during the year, climatic variety that’s yet another benefit of living in New Jersey. But depending on where you reside in this geographically diverse state, some of those may be more intense than others. Cape May, New Jersey’s southernmost tip, actually dips farther south than Baltimore, its northern edge is roughly on level with Scranton. This makes for hot and steamy summers along the Atlantic edge, and bitter, snowy months in the north.  

Winters in New Jersey are chilly all around, but the highlands area sees the most snow — up to 50 inches a year — which can arrive anywhere from mid-October through mid-May. In January, average coastal temperatures range from 25ºF to 30ºF, but those in the north are easily 10 degrees colder. Summers are hot and muggy, especially along the coast. Expect highs around 90ºF in most of the state, though areas at higher elevations should be five- to-10 degrees cooler.  

The Garden State receives a sizable amount of precipitation throughout the year, averaging anywhere from 40- to-51 inches, which is good news for actual gardeners. New Jersey does have its share of intense weather — occasional flooding, nor’easters, snowstorms and hurricanes (like superstorm Sandy) — though it has generally avoided the most dramatic weather events. Because the state sees few thunderstorms, late spring and early fall are the best times to move to New Jersey.  

Best Cities to Live in New Jersey

New Jersey has gained nearly half a million new residents since 2010, a substantial increase for this already populous state. Favored by commuters, New Jersey’s greatest population density is clustered around the New York City and Philadelphia areas. The state’s resources are noticeably more unevenly distributed than many. In tiny cities, like Hoboken, Montgomery and Princeton, the average household income is upwards of $100,000 — even $200,000 in some areas — and average home values can top $850,000. Other cities, including the state capital, have income levels that are a mere fraction of that. They also struggle with education, crime and poverty.  

Newark 

One of the largest population influxes has been in Newark. Over the last 10 years, 30,000 people have moved to this city of nearly 310,000, which is probably best known for its NYC-area airport. However, it has so much more to offer. Newark is one of the most diverse cities in the country, with great cultural depth and vibrancy.  

Sites like the historic Newark Public Library, which dates back to the mid-19th century, the Newark Museum of Art and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center give this sometimes-metro area a serious creative base. On the other hand, the Prudential Center, also known as “The Rock,” brings big entertainment — concerts, high-flying acts like Cirque du Soleil and rowdy crowds of New Jersey Devils fans, for example.  

Newark’s proximity to the ports, airports and major highways gives it prime access to major population hubs, one reason Forbes has historically named the city one of the best for business and careers.  

With a median home value of $271,000 and rent averaging $1,167, housing in Newark is more affordable than elsewhere in the state. And because the city is a mere 20-minute train ride from New York City, it’s increasingly popular with big city workers. Some of Newark’s largest employers include Prudential Financial, Panasonic and PSEG, a metropolitan energy provider. Technology is one of the industries that has seen the biggest growth in recent years. It’s a sector that benefits greatly from the universities in the area, including Rutgers University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).  

Paterson 

A mere 15 miles north of Newark, Paterson (pop. 157,794) is New Jersey’s third-largest city. Perhaps best-known for its waterfalls, Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park celebrates the city’s remarkable industrial past, while treating visitors to the spectacular vista on the Passaic River.  

The “Silk City,” as it was once called, was an early manufacturing leader and the country’s first planned industrial city, producing massive equipment, like airplane engines and steam locomotives, as well as textiles, like cotton and silk. The Paterson Museum is a fantastic place to learn about the city’s heritage.  

That said, Paterson is no stranger to struggles — nearly 25% of the population lives in poverty and the average household income is only $45,141 — an especially low figure in a region with such a high cost of living. The median home value in Paterson is $257,700 — above the U.S average, but low for the state, with rent averaging $1,213 per month. 

Trenton 

Established by Quakers in 1679, Trenton, the New Jersey State capital, was the site of George Washington’s first military victory against Great Britain. Well, technically against Hessian troops that Great Britain had hired from Germany, but a win’s a win, right? The Trenton Battle Monument commemorates this notable moment in American history.  

This mid-size city of 90,457 has seen only modest growth since 2010, gaining around 5,000 new residents. Trenton is a part of the Delaware River Region, which offers some of the most stunning views of nature. It has also faced persistent economic depression. Poverty levels are high in Trenton, education levels are low, while the average annual household income is less than $40,000 per year.  

Housing in Trenton is affordable, with a median home value of  just $97,000 and rents averaging just under $1,100 a month.  

This city is investing in its citizens. Trenton now has its own symphony — the Capital Philharmonic Orchestra of New Jersey. There is a wonderful 6.5-acre riverfront park along the Delaware as well. Plus, the New Jersey State Museum, which has world-class collection of art and artifacts, is one of the region’s shining jewels. And let’s not forget about the Trenton Thunder, the city’s minor league baseball team that has drawn fans since the mid-’90s.  

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Unique Things to Do and Places to Visit in New Jersey

New Jersey has roughly 1,800 miles of coastline, about 130 of which are along the gorgeous Atlantic Ocean. It’s hard to imagine that after six seasons of Jersey Shore, there’s anyone who doesn’t have some ideas about New Jersey beach life. If you’ve never actually visited, though, you might find not all of them are right … or wrong.  

Truthfully, there really isn’t a single type of beachside experience in New Jersey. Residents will tell you that each exit up the coast has its own unique flavor. You’ll find everything from the quieter shores of Ocean Grove to the all-American boardwalks in Ocean City and the see-and-be-seen scene of Atlantic City. If you are looking to appreciate the natural surroundings, New Jersey has amazing state parks up and down the shoreline as well.  

Island Beach State Park, a barrier island with glorious sand dunes and the state’s largest osprey colony, is the perfect place to start. Gateway National Recreation Area, which is maintained by the National Park Service, has something for everyone — beaches, hiking trails, a wildlife refuge center, historic military installations and the oldest continuously operated lighthouse in the country. You can access the island year-round. So, while you might spend summer in your kayak or practicing your archery, the island will call you back for cross-country skiing when winter strikes. 

If you’re looking for sea-centered excitement on the shore, head to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden. Consistently voted one of the top 10 aquariums in the United States, this site has an immersive 3D theater, penguin park and a hands-on activity center, where guests who are unafraid of the sticky and the icky can shake hands with sea stars, snails and other slimy invertebrates. The shark tunnel is a guaranteed wow, though the 3,000-pound joys of the place are Button and Genny, the aquarium’s resident Nile hippos, who do seem to be hungry, hungry.  

Winters in New Jersey can sometimes feel interminably long. When the snow and ice have finally overstayed their welcome, there’s the annual Cherry Blossom Festival to celebrate. Each April, when the pink blossoms are in full bloom (that is, if the trees cooperate with the festival schedule), Branch Brook Park hosts a multi-day event with Japanese cultural demonstrations, food vendors, a craft market and live music. 

One of the benefits of living in New Jersey rather than New York is the view of the Manhattan skyline — something that’s rather hard to appreciate on the other side of the Hudson. One of the best places to see this is at Liberty State Park, which also offers a hard-to-beat view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The park is also home to the truly spectacular Liberty Science Center, where you can embark on journeys through ancient archaeological sites like Pompeii; see an unbelievable model train; climb in a suspended play space; and stargaze in the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere.  

Thanks to the proximity of cutthroat rivals New York and Philadelphia, sports fans are a rabid, divided lot in New Jersey. It’s best not to even talk about baseball. One thing everyone seems to rally around, though — if you’re rooting for the New Jersey Devils. If soccer is more your style, Harrison, New Jersey is the home of the MLS team, the New York Red Bulls, and the NWSL’s NJ/NY Gotham FC. The Red Bull Arena is a state-of-the-art space that seats 25,000, with front-row seats that put fans a mere 21 feet from the touchlines. Get there early to grab a pint in the biergarten.  

Perhaps equally fanatical but less divided are New Jersey’s history buffs, who have their pick of significant monuments and sites to visit. The bi-state favorite is the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial, where you can climb aboard the historic USS New Jersey (BB-62) and sit in the admiral’s chair or command the gun turret. Kids can even go overnight on the ship and sleep in the bunks.  

New Jersey Local Eats 

New Jersey is not a state to move to start the latest fad diet. Hardly any of the cuisine you’ll find in the state would conform neatly to restrictions of any kind, really.  

New Jerseyans have put their own spin on many American classics, including the hot dog (they deep fry them, here). A couple of American originals were even born here, like saltwater taffy. Mind you, this chewy candy has never been made with actual saltwater — the name was coined when a popular confectioner on the Atlantic City boardwalk was flooded with seawater and the proprietor lamented to a customer, “All I have left is saltwater taffy.”  

One of New Jersey’s original recipes is the pork roll, also known as Taylor Ham. To enthusiasts, this salty, processed log of meat is heaven in tube form, one that can only be improved by griddling it with a fried egg, blanketing it in cheese, and stuffing it between slices of good bread. To others, it’s bologna. Thick, salami-textured bologna. At Johnny’s Pork Roll, you can have your bologna — we mean Taylor Ham — as a Reuben, in a grilled cheese or fashioned as a “pulled pork” roll with slaw and BBQ sauce. Truly, a Seussian array of sammies can be found at this tiny shop in Red Bank.   

If you’re looking for another New Jersey sandwich classic — the submarine — there’s no better place to go than the White House Sub Shop in Atlantic City. Since 1946, the proprietors have elevated the humble craft of layering meat, cheese and bread into an edible, Italian American artform without sacrificing any of the original simplicity. Do yourself a favor and order the chicken cheese steak submarine — it’s big enough to share, but you won’t want to.  

The subject of pizza in New Jersey is about as thorny an issue between neighbors as politics, sports or money. New Jerseyans are united on the front that their pies are superior to any found in New York, making it best to just order, eat and talk about the weather. It’s probably raining again, anyway.  

If you’re looking for the classic brick-oven variety, Patsy’s is the neighborhood joint to hit. It opened in 1931 and is so old school it still doesn’t take credit cards, offers only 10 toppings and bakes every pizza in its original, nearly 100-year-old ovens. Looking for new school? Go to Razza, where the flavors run deep. Its artisanal Neapolitan pies are meticulously crafted, often with local ingredients like Jersey Girl mozzarella. The Cavolini, topped with Brussels sprouts, melted anchovies, shaved onions, garlic and lemon, is both bright and decadent.  

But New Jersey doesn’t just specialize in savory starches. There’s also pastry!  

No one has ever calculated the number of cannoli to citizens in the state, but people are probably outnumbered. Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, run by Cake Boss Buddy Valastro, has been tempting customers with the finest since 1910. Palazzone 1960, located in Wayne, is a sweet tribute to a family tradition: Pastry chef Giancarlo Palazzone named his shop after his parent’s original bakery in Clifton, with pignoli, panettone and profiteroles that are a testament to this exceptional confectionary lineage.  

Still, New Jersey is more than just Italian food. One of the most exciting food districts lies between the towns of Edison and Iselin on Oak Tree Road. The South Asian community has established over 50 restaurants in this central New Jersey area, so you’ll find a traditional Lahori menu at Tabaq, a vegetarian extravaganza at Saravanaa Bhavan and Maharashtrian favorites at Mejwaani.  

New Jersey has also been making a name for itself in beer and wine. With over 1,500 acres devoted to wine production in the state, it’s now becoming a major producer on the east coast. Alba Vineyard, tucked into the picturesque hillside of the Musconetcong River Valley, sustainably produces a number of varietals on its former dairy farm, including Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and GTR white, an intriguing blend of Gewurztraminer, Traminette, and Riesling.  

In short, if you’re ready to move to New Jersey, be sure to bring your appetite. 

Ready to Relocate to New Jersey? Let Mayflower Get You There

Mayflower is here to help you with your move to New Jersey you Every Step of the Way®. Let us get you a moving quote

Are you moving cross-country to New Jersey? Mayflower’s trusted team of long-distance movers can move you from anywhere in the U.S. Our full-service moves will make your relocation as easy as possible, and we can provide you with a custom moving package and a personal moving coordinator.  

Mayflower can also simplify your local move within New Jersey. Our New Jersey movers operate under their own brands and businesses to make your move in New Jersey hassle-free. 

Want to move to New Jersey by yourself? Mayflower provides essential checklists, scheduling recommendations and helpful moving tips for the DIY mover.  

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