Living in New Jersey while working in New York City has its advantages. Among them are affordable housing, reliable transportation options into Manhattan, and easier access to parking for car owners.
Read below to learn more about the reasons why commuters might want to settle in New Jersey.
Housing Is Cheaper
New York City has some of the highest housing costs in the country, and prices continue to rise. In 2001 the cost per square foot was $590, but in 2020 the price had risen to $1,371—a -5.3% drop from 2019 levels.
In New Jersey, the median price per square foot is a fraction of that, just $194, and prices only rose about 1.8% over the past year.
You can get more house or apartment for a much cheaper price by heading to New Jersey, according to those figures.
Take a Train to Work
It might seem odd to commute to work from another state, but if you live in the northern or north-central portions of New Jersey, work is only 30 minutes to an hour away. You can take a ferry across the Hudson River or transit trains into midtown's Penn Station, and you can get some work done on the commute.
- New York City may offer more job opportunities in a wider range of industries than New Jersey.
- Real estate in New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world.
- Certain cities and towns in New Jersey may be more affordable if you don't mind paying for the commute into Manhattan.
If you would prefer to live further out and drive into the city, you may look at commute times of an hour to two hours or more. For example, Princeton, N.J., is about an hour from Manhattan, which isn’t so bad. You could spend that long on subways and buses getting to work from Queens or Brooklyn.
If you decide to commute, you need to factor in the cost of each weekday ride, but some employers offer a pre-tax way of paying these amounts.
But don't be fooled, there are downsides to a Jersey commute. For example, during spring 2017 there was an unusual number of signal problems, derailments, and other issues, creating a number of massive delays in Penn Station that turned commuting into a nightmare.
A Car for Nights and Weekends
Having a car in New York City is expensive, just parking your car in a garage could run between $250 and $500 or more monthly.
Add about $80 for insurance and gas and you could easily pay $700 per month. In addition, getting around New York City by car can be daunting and finding a parking spot can be difficult. Traffic and a shortage of street parking are just two of the problems.
Many parts of New Jersey have more of a suburban feel. Depending on where you live, you can park your car in your driveway or apartment parking lot for free, and head to the grocery store, or take the kids to baseball practice.
Did you know that, in addition to New York state taxes, New York City levies a city tax? The lowest tax rate is 3.078% and it goes up to 3.876% if you earn more than $50,000 per year.
Living in New Jersey eliminates that city tax but the state tax can be expensive. The New York state tax starts at 4% and goes as high at 8.82%, while in New Jersey rates start at 1.4%, though they go as high as 10.75% if you make more than $5,000,000.
Notably, sales tax in New York City is 8.875%, while in New Jersey the statewide retail sales tax is 6.625%.
In Jersey City, N.J., the sales tax is only 3.3125%.
More Public School Choices
If you have kids, you want them to attend the best schools. New Jersey has the second-highest high school graduation rate, down from the highest in 2009. In 2016, 90.1% of public high school students graduated.
Although New York City is home to many superior public schools, placement into them depends on myriad factors from high test scores to a student's location.
Plenty of Scenery
New York City has Central Park, architectural gems like the High Line walkway and the Empire State Building, and plenty of other attractions, but New Jersey has a diverse portfolio of beautiful places as well.
There are some heavily industrialized areas that aren't so scenic, but with 127 miles of ocean coastline, plenty of scenic driving routes, state parks with hiking trails, and a stunning view of New York City from across the Hudson River, there’s not much you can’t see in New Jersey if you’re looking for natural beauty.
The Bottom Line
Commuting to New Jersey is something to consider if you want to pay less rent and have more space. The state itself offers a lot of natural beauty as well as smaller cities that may appeal to urbanites.
Like anywhere, there are downsides to living in New Jersey—the cost of commute and higher property taxes—but New York's neighboring state has a lot to offer.