As the fourth largest city in New Jersey, Elizabeth boasts plenty of amenities and easy access to public transportation that can take you to other locations in New Jersey or to New York City, which is only 35 minutes away. The close proximity to NYC makes Elizabeth one of the best neighborhoods in NJ for commuters and the excellent public schools make this the perfect NJ city for parents and families.
Before you plan on moving to Elizabeth, NJ, you should do a bit of research to see if this bustling city makes sense for you. Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, make sure to call up trusted NJ movers to help you get settled into your new home.
Things to Know About Elizabeth, NJ
It has one of the busiest ports in the world
Due to its location on the water, Elizabeth has always been a transportation hub. Since its founding in 1664, the city has seen its transportation facilities grow. It’s home to Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal, a container ship facility for goods entering and leaving the NYC metro area. It is the largest container port in the Eastern United States and the 2nd-largest in the country.
It’s part of the Urban Enterprise Zone
Portions of the city are part of the NJ Urban Enterprise Zone and was part of the initial group of 10 zones chosen to participate in the program when it was launched in 1992. As such the city encourages employment and investment in these areas and also has a 50% reduced sales tax.
There’s excellent public transportation
You don’t need a car in Elizabeth if you want to get around. The New Jersey Transit Authority has bus routes that run through the city and takes you directly to the Port Authority Terminal. It’s also home to two train stations: Elizabeth Station and North Elizabeth Station. NJ transit is also planning a segment of the Newark-Elizabeth Rail Link (NERL) that will connect to Midtown Station and Newark Airport for even easier commuting.
However, if you do want to own a car there are two major highways you can hop onto: Highway 1 which will take you north and south through Elizabeth, NJ and the I-95 which will get you to NYC and Philadelphia. There are three smaller highways – Highway 27, 82, and 28 – which run north and south, northwest, and west respectively.
There are some amazing locations nearby the city that aren’t accessible by train, so having a car can come in handy. For example, one of the best places to check out the fall foliage is Cheesequake State Park which is only 35 minutes away from Elizabeth. The highways also provide easy access to Staten Island if you want to visit for whatever reason.
Princeton was founded in Elizabeth
It might now be located in Princeton, NJ, but the esteemed college was founded in Elizabeth back in 1746 as the College of New Jersey. It later moved to Newark in 1747 and then to Princeton in 1756 where it remains today.
As a large city, Elizabeth boasts a variety of neighborhoods, each with their own look and feel. When choosing where to live you should take the time to explore each area to find the one that matches your needs.
- Midtown/Uptown – this is the main commercial district and historic section. It’s home to the First Presbyterian Church which was a battleground during the American Revolution. It’s also home to many English type gardens.
- Bayway – located in the southern portion of the city and between the Elizabeth River and Arthur Kill. The neighborhood has very strong Polish roots with plenty of ethnic restaurants and stores. Houses tend to be more affordable here with an emphasis on two to four-family housing units.
- Downtown/Elizabethport – the oldest and most diverse location in Elizabeth. You can find old world Elizabethan houses right next to modern American colonial-style houses. Enjoy some amazing shops and then head to the marina for a nice stroll along the water.
- Elmora and the West End – If you’re a foodie, then Elmora is the place to be. It boasts some of the best restaurants in the city and it’s a quick jaunt to the Elizabeth station.
- Frog Hollow – this small neighborhood got its name due to the excellent frog catching in its marshes. Since its inception, the neighborhood has expanded and now includes the area known as Helltown which included many docks and shipyards. As such, it’s a great place for people who enjoy being on the water.
- Keighry Head – Located close to Midtown, this neighborhood is more on the affordable side and is close to transportation and great shopping.
- North Elizabeth – Next to Elmora, North Elizabeth is a great place for commuters as it is home to the North Elizabeth train station. You can find a nice apartment or a larger one or two-family home here.
- Peterstown – This middle/working class neighborhood is located in the southeastern part of the city. Despite being part of Elizabeth, it delivers a more ‘small-town’ feel and contains the historic Union Square which is home to many food stands, meat markets, and poultry stores.
- The Point – formerly known as the Crossroads, this area is close to Midtown and is going through a transformation as more two-family homes are being built here.
- Quality Hill – Once the most fashionable place to live in Elizabeth, it has become a quiet residential area with new condos popping up.
- Westminster – If you love nature, then Westminster is the place for you. It’s home to the Phil Rizzuto Park and provides easy access to the boardwalk along the Elizabeth River for excellent birdwatching.
Schools in Elizabeth, NJ
Elizabeth is one of the largest school districts in New Jersey. There are a total of 26 public elementary schools and six high schools with a total enrollment of 28,712 students. The schools have consistently received excellent ratings from parents and students alike. In fact, some schools have been recognized by the Department of Education by receiving the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence – the highest award an American school can receive – including William F Halloran Alternative School and Victor Mravlag Elementary School.
While Elizabeth might not be home to any universities, there is a branch of the Union County College located in the city as well as Drake College of Business. The city is also close to other major universities like Rutgers and Princeton.
As the fourth most populous city in New Jersey, Elizabeth boasts a variety of jobs. While most of the residents tend to commute to NYC for work, many more find local jobs. Some of the largest employers include:
- Port Newark – the 2,000 acre marina terminal is the second largest container port in the US
- Bayway Refinery – this refining facility supplies petroleum-based products to the NYC/NJ area producing around 230,000 barrels per day
- Jersey Gardens Mall – if you enjoy working retail, then your best bet is to find one at the Jersey Gardens Mall, the largest outlet mall in NJ
- Trinitas Regional Medical Center – the largest healthcare facility in the city and one of the largest healthcare employers in the area
If you don’t want to work for a large company, there are plenty of small businesses in a diverse set of sectors from food and beverage to manufacturing. Chances are you’ll find an employer that needs your skill sets!
Of course, if you can’t find anything in town that suits your needs, then you can find a job in NYC. And you wouldn’t be the only one. On average around 10,000 residents who live in or near Elizabeth commute to the city. While driving is certainly an option, you can also take the NJ Transit trains to Penn Station or one of the buses to Port Authority.
If you want to start your own business, Elizabeth, NJ is a great place! Residents can apply for small business grants and loans. The city itself supports small businesses by providing a network of partners such as the Elizabeth Development Company. Its recent growth in small businesses is due in no small part to the Urban Enterprise Zone which has brought billions of dollars in private investments.
Cost of Living in Elizabeth
Despite its proximity to NYC, the cost of living in Elizabeth is actually slightly lower than the rest of New Jersey. Of course, this all changes based on your living situation, but by and large Elizabeth residents spent around 6 percent less on food, housing, and personal spending than other New Jerseyians. Interestingly, the cost of healthcare, utilities, and transportation are 5 percent higher than the rest of the state.
When it comes to housing, the median home price is around $374,100 compared to the $397,900 for the rest of New Jersey. Renting an apartment is also cheaper with studios averaging around $1,200/month. Of course, as more people start flocking to Elizabeth, chances are rents and home prices will continue to increase.
Safety and Crime
As a large city, Elizabeth does suffer from crime with theft being the most common. Like any city, there are areas that are safer than others with the northeast part having fewer cases of crime. With that said, it’s important to remember when looking at a crime map that often the areas with the highest instances of crime tend to be in retail areas, parks, etc. due to the large concentration of people that visit these places.
If you’re worried about property crime, make sure to install cameras as your home is 300 percent more likely to be robbed with no home security system. From there, it’s really about getting to know your neighbors! The more people know you, the more they will look out for you.
Elizabeth has a population of almost 140,000 people. Due to its roots in manufacturing, transportation, etc. Elizabeth is considered a blue-collar town though more white-collar workers have started to move to the area due to its affordable prices and quick commute to NYC. Still, around 40 percent of the workforce is employed in blue-collar occupations.
Thanks to its location along the water, Elizabeth is also quite diverse with around 59 percent of the population identifying as Hispanic or Latino, 21 percent identifying as black, and 16 percent identifying as Pacific Islander. The city’s Hispanic population was the tenth-highest in New Jersey. The median income is $43,770 with the majority of residents being between 18-44.
Similar to other New Jersey cities, Elizabeth is characterized by hot, humid summers and cool to cold winters. Located in the Northeastern part of the United States, you’ll get to experience all four seasons. While the area generally doesn’t see too much in the way of extreme weather events, it can be affected by hurricanes and blizzards.
Fun Things to Do in Elizabeth
There’s truly something for everyone in Elizabeth whether you’re going to brunch with your friends or enjoying the beautiful weather with your kids. Chances are there’s an activity going on! Plus, if you get tired of Elizabeth, NYC is just a short train ride away.
- Enjoy the outdoors – Want a little fun in the sun? There’s plenty of outdoor options. Walk along the Elizabeth River Trail and enjoy the city’s rich history. Join an intramural sports team and play at Mattano Park while enjoying views of the Elizabeth River. Or do some light hiking at the 200-acre Warinanco Park.
- Eat great food – Thanks to its culturally diverse population, there’s plenty of interesting restaurants to visit. Go to Valencia restaurant for some of the best traditional Portuguese fare in New Jersey. If you’re looking for fusion cuisine, check out The Garden for a fusion of Latin American flavors.
- Go shopping – Elizabeth is home to Jersey Garden Malls, the largest outlet mall in the state. It’s home to local and international brands. If you’re looking to support small businesses, visit Midtown or Elmora for more boutique options.
- Find some weekend entertainment – Elizabeth offers a variety of entertainment options. If you’re looking for a more artsy experience, go to Barcode for some great food and ticketed events. If you’re in the mood to dance the night away, you can head over to Bamboleo Bar and Grill. Otherwise, enjoy a cold brew and the game at The LOBBY! There are also seasonal festivals and events throughout the year such as Portugal Day Parade, the Reenactment of the Battle of Elizabethtown, and more!
- Watch some live performances – Built in 1926, the Ritz Theatre offers a wide variety of concerts and shows. There’s something happening almost every day of the week so check out the site and see if there’s anything that interests you. If you want to do something arty for free, check out the local street murals. These artworks were commissioned by the Elizabeth Renaissance Foundation and features murals by a local artist.
Moving to Elizabeth
Elizabeth, NJ boasts a combination of qualities that will appeal to people from different backgrounds from people looking for a quiet, residential area to those who want to be near the nightlife. There’s truly something for everyone. Plus, if you can’t find it in Elizabeth, you’re just a stone’s throw from NYC.
If you’ve decided to move to Elizabeth, make sure to reach out to movers NJ residents trust! They’ll be able to get you moved in without delay so you can start your new life on the right foot.
What are the average utility costs in Elizabeth, NJ
It depends on the providers you use, but in general you can expect to spend around $300+ a month on electricity, internet, heating, water, etc. if you live in a house.
When is the best time to move to Elizabeth, NJ
That depends on your definition of ‘best.’ In terms of the actual moving part, you’ll want to move either in the spring or fall to avoid the snow in the winter and extreme heat/humidity during the summer. When it comes to finding a good deal, you’ll likely want to look during off-peak seasons like end of fall through late winter as there will be less people moving during this time.
What are the taxes like in Elizabeth?
New Jersey has some of the highest property taxes in the United States so you’ll be paying a hefty sum if you decide to buy. However, when compared to NYC, overall state income taxes are lower and you won’t have to pay the additional NYC tax. Sales tax is also lower than NYC and some areas you will pay even less if it’s part of the Urban Enterprise Zone!