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Aerial view of the Jersey City skyline. Skyscrapers dot the water’s edge, and the rest of the densely populated city sprawls inland.

Moving to the Garden State? These Are the 9 Best Places To Live in New Jersey

New Jersey

by LB Gabriel Posted on January 22, 2024

If you’re thinking about moving to New Jersey, living in the shadow of what many consider the world’s greatest city can prove to be a good thing. The best places to live in New Jersey have tons to offer young professionals and families, often at a fraction of the cost of the Big Apple.

Planning a move to New Jersey? Start by getting a quote from PODS.

With an increased interest in telecommuting, remote work, and getting more square footage for less money, many city dwellers are now looking for the amenities that come with a suburban setting. And with New Jersey, you can get those benefits — and more — while still keeping the bustling excitement of the city within reach. 

But if you only know the state by what you see along the turnpike or I-95, it’s hard to figure out where to start looking for the best places to live in New Jersey. Fortunately, the state is only 166 miles long and 65 miles wide, so it’s not unrealistic to plan a weekend driving tour to get a good feel for the Garden State. And to help with your planning, we’ve gathered a list of our top picks for cities and small towns organized by New Jersey’s main regions. We’ve included average home prices and other basics you need to know, as well.

Best Places To Live in New Jersey – FAQs

Q: What is the best part of New Jersey to live in?
Ho-Ho-Kus, Hoboken, and Jersey City in North Jersey are among the best places to live in New Jersey. They are all wonderful cities in their own right, but they’re especially great commuter hubs if you work in New York.

Q: Where are the best places to live in New Jersey for families?
Princeton Junction was rated by Niche as the best place to live in New Jersey for families. With strong public schools, a suburban feel, and several parks and green spaces, it’s easy to see why this town receives such high praise.

Q: Is NJ a nice place to live?
New Jersey is unique and often misunderstood, if you’re judging it by how it’s portrayed in pop culture. It’s a small state that offers a ton to its residents, including easy commuting access to New York and Philly — not to mention a lower cost of living than the Big Apple. It also has a culture all its own, so it’s absolutely worth moving to.

Q: How much do you need to live comfortably in NJ?
It depends on your definition of affordable. If you’re making it work in New York, you’ll likely find New Jersey to be a breath of fresh air, financially speaking. According to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, a family of four with two working adults needs to make a little less than $100,000 per year to earn a living wage.

Best Places To Live in North Jersey: Hoboken, Ho-Ho-Kus, and Jersey City

Home to many New York City commuters, North Jersey’s specific regional boundaries are loosely defined, and the area is greatly influenced by the Big Apple.

With its close proximity to the city, people are moving to North Jersey to find the best of city and country life. Some of the most beautiful cityscape views in the country provide a spectacular backdrop for those who call this part of the state home. North Jersey is also a significant cultural hub and is home to the New Jersey State Opera, the New Jersey Symphony orchestra, and the New Jersey Ballet Company. 

And the North Jersey swamps Bruce sang about now make a great place for nature lovers to explore. Many organizations have helped clean up the pollution that plagued the area for years, and now it’s the perfect place for excursions and eco-cruises. 

The Hoboken, New Jersey, waterfront just before sunset. The cloudy sky is pastel colored and rays of light are streaming down upon the city.

Hoboken, New Jersey

Hoboken, NJ

Located on the banks of the Hudson River and less than five miles from New York City, Hoboken blends small-town charm with big-city amenities. This city may only encompass 1.25 square miles, but don’t let its small size fool you — it has almost 58,000 residents. The median age is 32, likely because it’s filled with young professionals who are commuting into Manhattan. 

And speaking of Manhattan, if you dreamed of living in the ritzy NYC borough but don’t want to pay those steep rent prices, Hoboken may be a more-than-suitable alternative. You may even feel like you’re walking the NYC streets with its historic brownstones and lively atmosphere. Plus, while the cost of living is notably higher than the national average, it’s still slightly more affordable than Manhattan.

Check out the PODS Blog articles on Hoboken and other NYC suburbs if you want to learn more about what it's like to move to and live in these specific areas.

A large, single-family home in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, features a two-car garage, steep gables, and a stucco exterior.

Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey
(Source: Christie's International Real Estate Group New Jersey via Facebook)

Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ

New York City may just be 27 miles away, but it’ll feel like another world compared to Ho-Ho-Kus’s tree-lined streets dotted with traditional colonial architecture. With a population of just over 4,000 and a median age of 43, this charming town features top-rated schools and rich historical landmarks, like The Hermitage, a then-house and now-museum that once hosted George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and other top presidential aides in 1778. 

In addition to the strong schools, families enjoy Ho-Ho-Kus because of its low crime rate. These amenities don’t come cheap, though. While Ho-Ho-Kus’s cost of living is lower than Manhattan, it’s still more than 41 percent higher than the national average and boasts an average home price in the million-dollar range.

View of a row of townhomes in Jersey City, New Jersey. They look very similar to one another, with stone or brick exteriors, steep entryway stairs, and wrought-iron railings.

Jersey City, New Jersey
(Source: @jerseycity_homes via Instagram)

Jersey City, NJ

Nicknamed “Wall Street West,” Jersey City is one of the best places to live in New Jersey for young professionals. It’s home to several second offices of companies headquartered in NYC, and it’s one of the top U.S. cities for commuters. It’s also one of the best places to live in New Jersey for singles. After all, if you’re looking for love, you have a good chance of finding it in the second most populous city in the Garden State (after Newark).

Many New Yorkers have moved to Jersey City to find a lower cost of living. However, the average home value is creeping up to the $600,000 range (an almost 4 percent jump from December 2022 to December 2023), which is well above New Jersey’s overall average value of almost $500,000. Regardless, it’s still a good bit less than NYC’s average home value of $734,300

Jersey City is also about as close as you can get to NYC and still remain outside the city limits. With an eastern waterfront that faces the Hudson River, it offers glorious waterfront views. It’s also home to Liberty State Park, which is larger than Central Park and provides panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. 

Named the second-most ethnically diverse city in the U.S. by Wallethub in 2023, Jersey City prides itself on being every bit as inclusive and culturally fascinating as NYC, too. A popular culinary destination with tastes from around the world, it’s home to Razza, which makes the best New York pizza, according to The New York Times. And you’ll find the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere at Jersey City’s Liberty Science Center

Best Places To Live in Central Jersey: Princeton Junction, Montclair, and Edison

Home to the state capital of Trenton, Central Jersey covers the area from Bridgewater to Toms River. Like North Jersey, it’s a popular place to live because of its close proximity to New York and other cities. Central Jersey is literally the crossroads of the Garden State, where the New Jersey Turnpike and Golden State Parkway meet.

If you’re thinking about relocating to Central Jersey, there are a variety of cities and towns here with diverse offerings for housing, dining, entertainment, and recreation. And Central Jersey is known for its gorgeous county parks that provide its inhabitants with many locations for outdoor fun and relaxation. 

A split-level house in Princeton Junction, New Jersey, features a white siding exterior, black shutters, and a red front door.

Princeton Junction, New Jersey
(Source: Donna Lucarelli Sells West Windsor Real Estate via Facebook)

Princeton Junction, NJ

Located in Mercer County and featuring a population of just over 2,000 residents, Princeton Junction was named by Niche as the best place to live in New Jersey. And for good reason. Like other townships and cities on this list, it’s fairly close to New York City (around 60 miles) but has a quaint, suburban feel.

And, yes, Princeton Junction is close to Princeton University — the prestigious Ivy League school. That means that Princeton Junction residents can spend the day enjoying the decorative outdoor landscaping at the Ron Rogers Arboretum and then drive four miles to Downtown Princeton to sample some of the state’s finest ethnic cuisine, take in a new exhibit at the renowned Princeton University Art Museum, or catch a show at the McCarter Theatre Center. With a mix of cultural richness, educational opportunities, and lush greenspaces, Princeton Junction offers its residents a high quality of life.

A colonial-style duplex in Montclair, New Jersey, features a covered entryway, windowed attic, and a chimney.

Montclair, New Jersey
(Source: West of Hudson Real Estate via Facebook)

Montclair, NJ

The name Montclair is French for “clear mountain,” but this New Jersey town can also be referred to as a place “where the city meets the suburbs.” Located just 20 miles from New York City with a population of around 40,000, Montclair may look like a suburb, but you need to check your stereotypes at the microbrewery door. Montclair is a hip locale, thanks to its vibrant arts and music scene, tasty restaurants, walkable streets, and lush parks. But that’s not all it has to offer. Families who want their rich cultural experiences with a side of education need to look no further — Montclair has a strong public school system and, for those post-secondary studies, is home to Montclair State University.

Think that living in a small town means sacrificing a big-city professional opportunity? Think again. Montclair has a great public transit system that can get you into NYC in around 40 minutes. In fact, some New Yorkers claim that Montclair is the only place they’d consider living outside of the city, with many likening it to “Park Slope with backyards.”

This split-level home in Edison, New Jersey, backs up to a densely wooded area and features a large front yard with professional landscaping.

Edison, New Jersey
(Source: The Raymond Lee Real Estate Team via Facebook)

Edison, NJ 

Edison, New Jersey, is the namesake of Thomas Edison — easy to assume. But what you might not know is that this town used to be the home of Edison’s laboratory in Menlo Park. And while this town is steeped in history, the present state of Edison is making its own waves, thanks to its many amenities and charm.

Located an hour from Manhattan (hour and a half if you’re taking transit), Edison has a population of more than 107,000, and almost half of that population is Asian. This diversity leaves many feeling as though Edison offers a unique, desirable blend of international values along with other perks, like a strong public school system and a plethora of youth sporting opportunities. Even if group sports aren’t your — or your child’s — thing, there are still myriad ways to enjoy the Edison scenery. Edison is home to the Rutgers Ecological Preserve, a protected nature site that has a number of walkable trails, for example.

Other Popular Central Jersey Towns Include:

Best Places To Live in South Jersey and the Jersey Shore: Manalapan, Cherry Hill, and Medford 

Forget what you’ve seen on MTV. Some would argue the Jersey Shore and South Jersey are the Garden State’s best assets.

With over a hundred miles of coastline, the state’s Atlantic coast has long been a popular beach vacation getaway, but more and more people have decided to move to the Jersey Shore to live year round. Its small-town access to live music, boardwalks, and amusement parks make the region a fun place to live for people of all ages and backgrounds.

A two-story home in Manalapan, New Jersey, features a brick and siding exterior, a two-car garage, and professional landscaping.

Manalapan, New Jersey,
(Source: Melissa DeSantis Real Estate via Facebook)

Manalapan, NJ

Manalapan Township made it to #4 on Coldwell Banker’s 2020 list of best places to live in New Jersey. Now that more people have the flexibility to work from home, buyers from New York City have flocked to the area. 
Just 30 minutes from the New Jersey beaches and 60 minutes minutes from NYC, Manalapan’s average home sales price leapt by 7 percent between December 2022 and December 2023. Lower interest rates overall and New Jersey’s lower tax rates relative to New York make the township even more attractive for those looking to leave the big city behind.

A colonial-style home with a one-level addition in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The house features a small covered entryway, long black shutters, and a chimney on either end of the building.

Cherry Hill, New Jersey
(Source: Justin West via Facebook)

Cherry Hill, NJ

Located in Camden County, just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Cherry Hill provides its 76,700 residents with easy access to Philly’s cultural attractions, employment opportunities, and entertainment options. And while that’s a significant benefit, Cherry Hill has plenty of amenities of its own. It’s served by the highly rated Cherry Hill Public School system, and, for outdoor lovers, the township boasts numerous parks and recreational facilities. There’s also a vibrant retail scene, with shopping centers like the Cherry Hill Mall and several local boutiques and stores.

Cherry Hill also boasts a cost of living that falls below both the national and state average at just 94.2. It’s also lower than Philly’s cost of living, coming more in line with Pennsylvania’s average of 94.6. It’s one of the more picturesque locations, as well, especially in the month of April when over 1,400 cherry trees lining the two miles between King’s Highway and Route 38 show off their impressive blossoms.

Aerial view of a sprawling new-construction neighborhood in Medford, New Jersey. The houses are large and neatly arranged in rows.

Medford, New Jersey
(Source: Bob Meyer Communities via Facebook)

Medford, NJ

For those thinking of moving to the South Jersey region between the Jersey Shore and Philadelphia, Medford offers a bucolic setting that’s a hub for culture and business. And with a population of only 24,000, Medford has managed to avoid overcrowding.

There’s even land still available for you to build your dream home in Medford, if you find a suburban setting with a historic Main Street full of quaint shops and restaurants appealing. The average home value is around $545,000, a rise of more than 10 percent between December 2022 and December 2023.

Other Notable South Jersey Options Include:

Close-up view of a stylish woman carrying a moving box out of her apartment. The room behind her has several other moving boxes, as well as some furniture and a houseplant.

Planning Your Move

If you’re leaving a dense urban area, you can help yourself avoid major hassles with these tips for moving out of NYC. Not sure if you’ll find your ideal home before you need to move out? Find out how to use the flexibility of moving and storage containers to give yourself some breathing room and peace of mind. Good luck with your relocation!

LB Gabriel is a freelance writer who lives with her husband, daughter, and Golden Retriever in Memphis, TN. A frequent PODS Blog contributor, she’s a sucker for any tip she can find on downsizing, cutting clutter, or minimalist living. When she’s not on a deadline, you can find her on a tennis court or golf course.

Editor’s note: For ease of reading, monthly rental prices were rounded to the nearest $25 and home values were rounded to the nearest $100.

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