New Jersey is a state with just under 10 million people and a major international port. It’s also the 11th-most populated state in the United States, with more than 8 million people living between its three biggest cities: Newark, Jersey City, and Paterson.
Its largest city, Newark, is also home to one of the country’s largest international airports. It is impossible to overstate the number of people that travel through New Jersey. Its proximity to New York and its position along the east coast, connecting it to the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, ensures an exciting cultural landscape and terrific places to live.
Also known as the Garden State, New Jersey is a place of contrasts with many areas to choose from. For example, if you love the city lights and culture, New York City is just a stone’s throw away; if you prefer a quieter lifestyle but still want to be close to all the action, consider moving to one of the suburban towns. With so much diversity, there is something for everyone in New Jersey.
We looked at factors such as crime rates, education, cost of living, real estate, and amenities and compiled the following list. If you or someone you know is planning on moving to New Jersey, these are the 10 best cities to live in 2023.
Table of Contents:
1. Princeton – Mercer County
Princeton may be one of the most exceptional places to live in New Jersey. It is best known, of course, as the home of the prestigious Princeton University and all of the Ivy League benefits that come with it. Approximately in the state’s center, it’s entirely representative of what New Jersey can offer.
Crime rates are excellent in Princeton, coming in about 51% lower than the rest of the state. The 30,879 people who live here enjoy low unemployment and a median income of over $100,000 per year. With a good community investment and the influence of Princeton University, the schools are incredibly well-regarded, and medical care is readily available. The flip side of these terrific amenities is, of course, the cost of housing. The median home costs $702,900 in Princeton, making it a relatively expensive place to buy real estate.
Downtown Princeton is a quaint yet busy diversion from its tree-lined quiet neighborhoods. There is abundant shopping, dining, arts and entertainment, and ample outdoor spaces. The city also runs a free shuttle service for students, getting them safely from the University campus to the downtown area.
2. Hoboken – Hudson County
If you’re familiar with New York, chances are you already know about Hoboken. It’s considered part of the New York City metropolitan area. The Manhattan skyline is visible from many of the Hudson River-adjacent park areas. Hoboken is the city for New Jersey residents who crave the excitement that comes with proximity to the city. There’s certainly no shortage of energy here.
Hoboken is growing all the time and currently has a population of 53,081. Crime rates are manageable here, still lower than the U.S. average, so it remains a safe place to live even so close to the largest city in the U.S. That closeness will cost some money, though. Real estate prices are much higher than the New Jersey average, with a median home at $718,500. Still, all of New York’s amenities are readily available here, including some of the best health care on the east coast.
Culture abounds in Hoboken. People can take plenty of walking tours along the Hudson to admire the city skyline. The city takes good care of its two museums: The Hoboken Historical Museum and Barsky Gallery and Art Consultancy.
3. Ocean Grove – Monmouth County
The New Jersey shore is dotted with cities and towns that offer a lot of fun but also high crime rates and a less-than-peaceful atmosphere. Ocean Grove is the small community that bucks the trend. The entire town is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its classic Victorian architecture and an underrated concert venue called the Great Hall. The more exciting party atmosphere is always available nearby for any residents that want to experience it.
Only about 3,000 people call Ocean Grove home, so it’s perfect for small-town living. Crime rates in this quiet community are practically nonexistent, coming in at 72% lower than the rest of the state. Homes are slightly more expensive, with a median house costing $602,900, but for a spot by the ocean, the homes are well worth a look.
Being in a small community has some real perks. The public schools invest a very high number in their students, who enjoy smaller class sizes and more personalized instruction. The beaches are the biggest draws, though. In Ocean Grove, it’s possible to find a quiet spot to lay out in the sun for an afternoon, nearly impossible in many other shoreline towns.
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4. Metuchen – Middlesex County
Metuchen, named after a famed Native American chief, is located in the center of Middlesex County, which borders the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Metuchen is perfect for people looking for a small-town feel and a tight-knit community. The population is a mere 14,767. The commuter town is within reach of both New York and New Brunswick, making it an excellent spot for professionals.
Crime in Metuchen is extremely low overall, about on par with the rest of the state. New Jersey is already one of the safest states in the country due to its concentration of law enforcement, and Metuchen is right there with it. For such a lovely community, it isn’t too expensive either. The cost of living is about 11% higher than the rest of New Jersey, so it’s much lower than some other places on this list. The median home price is approximately $485,900.
Metuchen is known as a commercial center for all of central New Jersey. It also has a beautiful historic district known as the Middlesex Avenue-Woodwild Park Historic District. It comprises some stunning architecture, including old school buildings, churches, residential homes, and the public library. Photographers can have a field day in the area.
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5. Glen Rock – Bergen County
Located in the northeastern corner of New Jersey, Glen Rock has everything: proximity to New York, good schools, safety, and high property values. The borough has a population of 11,655.
Glen Rock is a supremely safe community. Its crime rate is 69% lower than that of the state. The median home price is high because the properties here are so lovely, and the borough is a highly desirable place to live. The median home will cost $705,200, affordable for the people here. The median income is over $150,000.
The borough offers the best balance of quiet town living while still being extremely close to the excitement of the big city. The claim to fame in Glen Rock is the actual Glen Rock, a huge boulder serving as a tourist attraction in the middle of a road. It’s worth the trip to check out this quirky anomaly.
6. Cherry Hill – Camden County
Cherry Hill is located in the southwestern bulge of New Jersey and is a suburb of Philadelphia. It has a population of 72,037. Those residents enjoy plenty of opportunities, as Cherry Hill is a regional corporate hub. Some notable companies, such as TD Bank and Melitta Coffee, have headquarters here. The short drive into Philadelphia attracts plenty of commuters.
Safety is a massive draw for the community. Cherry Hill boasts about 23% lower crime rates than the rest of the state. Real estate prices are reasonable, too. The median home in Cherry Hill goes for around $327,700. Plenty of educational options abound for families here, with the public school system earning recognition for superior performance and a few private schools.
There’s plenty to do in Cherry Hill, as it is so close to a major city. Still, the area has lots for people to keep busy without making the short trek across the Delaware River. The Cherry Hill Mall was the first enclosed shopping center of its kind in the United States, opening in the early 1960s. Even outside of Philadelphia, the cheesesteaks here are known far and wide.
7. Garwood – Union County
Garwood is another borough of New Jersey and is one of the smallest in the state by area. The citizens here take pride in their little town, though, as it was part of Cranford’s larger community until the early 1900s when the people decided to form their own self-serving government.
Being so small has some advantages, and one of those is safety. Crime rates are a whopping 71% lower than in the rest of the state. The 4,325 permanent residents enjoy tranquil neighborhoods and a very low traffic rate. Real estate prices are slightly higher than average but come in at a relatively reasonable $476,500 for a typical home.
The borough runs some very smooth town departments, including the local government office, fire department, and elementary schools. They also maintain multiple parks for public use and sports.
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8. Mount Laurel – Burlington County
Rounding out our list is Mount Laurel, a township of 41,870 located in the southwest part of New Jersey. The location gives it easy access to both the Jersey Shore for recreational purposes and the city of Philadelphia, which is accessible from Mount Laurel through New Jersey public transit.
Crime in Mount Laurel is lower than the average of the United States and on par with the relatively low New Jersey average. Due to a focus on affordable housing opportunities by the local government, the median home price is $282,100, making it the cheapest place to live on our entire list.
Mount Laurel is home to multiple public parks, which provide opportunities for fishing, sporting events, walking, and sledding in the wintertime.
9. Mountain Lakes – Morris County
Mountain Lakes may sound like a place in the wilderness, but in reality, it’s a borough and considered a suburb of New York City. Named for the lakes that dot the landscape, it’s one of the most affluent areas in all of New Jersey, where the median income is over $168,000.
The crime rate in Mountain Lakes is 23% lower than in the rest of the state, and the population is among the most educated. More than 85% of residents hold at least a bachelor’s degree, nearly four times more than the average for the entire United States. The public schools are also ranked highly, consistently coming within the top 10 school systems in New Jersey.
The people of Mountain Lakes tend to love the natural outdoor landscape, which is abundant here. The town is built into the wooded areas along the already existing lakesides. The residents also tend to be civic-minded, with many getting involved in the local town programs for the betterment of the whole community.
10. Summit – Union County
The city of Summit, which has 21,812 residents, provides more development than the nearby Garwood. It’s more populated, has more businesses, and is a bit louder. It’s also an expensive place to live. Still, Summit provides a lot of excellent amenities for the people who live there.
For a good reason, the residents of Summit claim to enjoy a very high quality of life. The median yearly income in Summit is over $120,000. The city is very popular with financial professionals, which could explain the high average. Many of these professionals commute to New York. They have chosen Summit because of the high-performing schools for their children and the low crime rate, which comes in at about 31% lower than the New Jersey average.
With a decent-sized population and the economic situation in Summit, there are plenty of things to do. The main street has many restaurants, boutique shops, and open spaces to enjoy. There is also a beautiful historic hotel called the Grand Summit, which has a rich history.
If you want to call the Garden State home, don’t look past these excellent places to live. Whether you are a couple looking for a starter home or a family searching for the perfect place to settle down, there is something for everyone in New Jersey. The major cities, the shoreline, and the inner suburbs are all fantastic places to look. Consider one of these communities today and start planning your move!
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