Being on your own for the first time after college can be both exciting and scary. If you’re still deciding where you want to move to, why not consider New Jersey? Sure, this might be the 5th smallest state based on land area, but it’s also the most densely populated one with close to 9.3 million residents. Plus, depending on where you move you will be a short train ride or drive away from either NYC or Philadelphia. Depending on what city you move to though, you might not even need to venture outside the state as there are plenty of jobs, entertainment, and more at your fingertips.
So if you’re looking for your first apartment, then consider looking in these NJ cities.
If you want to enjoy all the trappings of a large city without dealing with millions of people, then Jersey City might be the place for you. Sure, it’s still crowded as it has almost 300,000 residents residing within 21 square miles, but you still have a bit more breathing room when compared to Manhattan. Speaking of Manhattan, you’re only a short train ride away so whether you decide to work or play in NYC, you can make the commute in 30 minutes or less via the Path Train or NJ Transit.
Thanks to its proximity to NYC and being a major port of entry for immigration, Jersey City is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States. As such, it’s an amazing place for foodies. You can try cuisines from around the world such as Cuban, Indian, Caribbean, Filipino, and Vietnamese. In fact, Food & Wine declared Jersey City one of America’s next great food cities.
Jersey City offers more than just amazing food; it’s also a great place for job seekers. Many financial firms have opened up locations in Jersey City since the 1980s including Chase, Merrill Lynch, UBS, and Royal Bank of Canada. Because of the high concentration of financial institutions, Jersey City has been given the nickname the Wall Street West. If you’re not interested in working for a large financial company, Jersey City is also home to Colgate-Palmolive and Salesforce. Of course, you can always commute to NYC if you can’t find something you like. You can get easy access to Midtown, the West Village, and Battery Park thanks to the PATH train and NJ Transit buses.
There are plenty of opportunities available in the area and with the lower cost of living and lower income taxes when compared to NYC, you’ll have more money at the end of the month making this one of the best cities in NJ for young professionals. The best part is that the salaries for these financial institutions and other large companies tend to be close to what you would get in NYC. Which means you’re getting a NYC salary without having to worry about NYC rents and other cost of living expenses.
While rents are rising in Jersey City, you can get more for your money so instead of spending $3,000 for a studio apartment, you can get an actual one bedroom complete with a separate living room and kitchen.
If you don’t like the fast pace of city life but don’t want to give up on convenience then Morristown might be the perfect place for you. The city only has around 20,000 residents, making it more than 10 times smaller than Jersey City and measures only 3 square miles, making it one of the smallest cities in New Jersey.
Despite its small size, Morristown has plenty to offer. You can hop on the NJ Transit train to go to NYC. Or you can travel to other locations in NJ such as Secaucus or Dover and everything in between. With that said, you don’t need to leave Morristown if you’re looking for things to do. Why not eat at one of the hundreds of restaurants in the area? Or go on a self-guided walking tour to check out the numerous landmarks and historic destinations like Washington’s Headquarters or Jockey Hollow. After that, shop at one of the small retail businesses to support the local economy.
Average rent in Morristown is around $2,600, but that’s for an 800 square foot apartment. Of course, you might be able to find better deals as the price varies greatly depending on unit type. Still, when compared to NYC, you’ll save quite a bit, especially if you opt to have roommates. Plus, you don’t have to spend your saved money on commuting. There are plenty of jobs available in Morristown as it is home to several pharmaceutical companies like Orexo, Bayer, and Vernalis. There are also plenty of small businesses to choose from if you prefer working in a more tight knit organization.
Morristown tends to skew a bit younger with the majority of the population in their 20s and 30s. As such, a large portion of the population is single! In fact, around 60 percent of the population is single. So if you’re looking for your soul mate, Morristown is the perfect place!
Don’t be fooled by its small size. Despite its 1.28 square mile size, Hoboken is home to around 60,000 residents making it the 3rd most densely populated city in the United States. However, the city never feels as busy or packed as some streets in NYC, giving it an almost small town vibe, which is helped by homey store fronts and low-rise buildings in the main areas of town.
You have easy access to NYC via the PATH train and can easily get to the West Village or Midtown for work or play. Of course, you don’t need to go into NYC as Hoboken has plenty to offer. Thanks to its growing population and its status as a college town – it’s home to Steven’s Institute of Technology – there’s plenty to do. It has a thriving nightlife scene with more bars per capita than even NYC. If you’re looking for some entertainment, you can find live music almost any night of the week. Or you can walk along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway and enjoy the spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline.
One fun historical tidbit is that Hoboken is home to modern baseball! On June 19, 1846 Hoboken’s Elysian Fields hosted the very first recorded baseball match that is recognized by modern rules. The game was between The New York Nines and Cartwright’s Knickerbocker squad with the New York Nines winning. While the original Elysian Fields there is a concrete and bronze monument on the intersection between 11th and Washington street to commemorate the baseball field.
Unfortunately, living in Hoboken isn’t cheap so you’ll probably need to live with a couple of roommates in order to afford rent. Still, you’d likely be doing the same thing if you decided to live in NYC, but at least you’ll have more space in Hoboken and save money in other ways! Just make sure you don’t spend all that extra money on the delicious food and drinks!
Highland Park isn’t just one of the best places to live for Gen Zs, it’s one of the best places to live in NJ, period. With around 15,000 people, this suburb of NYC tends to fly under the radar as it’s not as close to NYC as some of the other locations in this list. It’s definitely more suburban than say Jersey City or Hoboken, so it’s a great option for you if you want to get away from the fast-paced life in a city. Despite being further away from NYC, the town boasts a fairly young demographic with around 37 percent aged 24 to 44. Chances are a lot of graduates from nearby Rutgers University decided to stay in the area!
This historic location is one of the prettiest towns in New Jersey complete with picturesque tree-lined streets, historic homes, and two large parks at either end of town. While you’ll probably want a car to get around, it’s actually quite walkable. Head down to Raritan Avenue to check out the various boutique shops, restaurants, and bars. There’s a weekly farmer’s market and plenty of town events to foster a sense of community. It’s also centrally located so you can easily get to NYC and Philadelphia.
Want to enjoy some nature? Take a stroll along the Raritan River at Donaldson Park in the South or Johnson Park in the Northwest. You can also travel 15-20 minutes outside of town and visit the Rutgers Botanical Garden.
Highland Park has historically been a bedroom community for nearby Rutgers University and Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick. While there aren’t any major companies in Highland Park itself, New Brunswick boasts several including Bristol-Myers Squibb, RWJBarnabas Health, and more. There are also many small businesses in Highland Park though it might be harder to find a position locally.
Perhaps the biggest draw of Highland Park is its lower cost of living. The average rent price is around $2,000 for an 800 square foot apartment, making it a great option if you want to save some money. More importantly, it’s a location where you can set roots if you want. It has low crime, great schools, and a welcoming community.
Ready to Move to New Jersey?
If you’re thinking about moving to NYC, but can’t figure out how you’ll afford rent, then consider moving to one of these NJ cities. Many of them are close enough to NYC that you can easily commute if you want. At the same time, they also offer plenty of job opportunities and entertainment that you can live, work, and have fun all in the same place.
Once you’re ready to make your move, make sure to call up some professional NJ movers like us. We’ll walk you through it so you know exactly what to expect and we’ll work with your budget. You can give us a call for a free estimate and hopefully, after chatting with our customer service representatives, you’ll understand why we’re the movers NJ residents trust.
Do I need to pay NJ and NYC taxes if I live in NJ and commute to NYC?
You will have to file taxes in both states. Luckily, that doesn’t mean you have to pay double taxes. Just remember to file your New York return first so that when you file for New Jersey you receive a tax credit for the taxes you have already paid. You also do not need to pay the NYC tax since you’re not living in NYC.
Will I need a car in NJ?
Most of the locations listed above are walkable and the NJ Transit train and bus system can get you to most major locations around the state. With that said, there are a lot of beautiful locations in New Jersey that don’t have public transportation access. So if you want a bit more flexibility then a car is a must.
How safe is NJ?
Like every state, some places in NJ are safer than others. In general, the more people there are, the more crime there is. Luckily, crime in NJ has steadily decreased over the years. Still, it never hurts to be safe so always be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone late at night as much as possible.