Few places can match New Jersey's rich history, economic heft, vibrant communities, and modern city pleasures.
Your new home is waiting for you in New Jersey
New Jersey real estate market
A little bit of everything is here. Whether it's the highest-ranking schools in the country, an abundance of employment opportunities, family-friendly neighborhoods, captivating natural wonders, or big city attractions, there's something here for everyone to enjoy. This is what draws thousands of people and families to carve out a new life in the Garden State, New Jersey. Who knows, you may also find your dream home here.
Allow us at GenStone Realty to show you the promise of new beginnings as we explore NJ real estate, history, and lifestyle in this in-depth article.
What to expect from the New Jersey housing market
Throughout the country, demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes, essentially driving prices up. New Jersey is no stranger to these market conditions. According to March 2021 data from New Jersey Realtors®, the number of homes put up for sale was 50.8% lesser than March 2020 levels, with only 14,780 homes put on the market from 30,020 homes last year. Fierce competition among buyers amid the dearth of the housing inventory has pushed the median sales price of single-family homes to $406,000.
As vaccines are becoming widely available in the country, the economy is now inching back to pre-pandemic levels. The effects of this recovery are expected to trickle down to several key sectors, including real estate. Home construction and the transport of building materials are also seen to receive that much-needed boost with the economy’s return to normalcy. Market experts expect these changes to eventually increase supply and bring home prices down.
In the light of the present market climate, the question is whether to buy a home now or to stay on the sidelines until the dust settles. The answer depends on your current circumstances. If you are ready for the challenge, both psychologically and financially, then the New Jersey home and lifestyle you’ve been longing for can be closer than you think.
Ideal cities to explore
If you're shopping for homes anywhere in New Jersey, it's almost impossible to go wrong as each location has something special to offer.
For quick tips on where to look, below are some cities that our team highly recommends. Home price data is based on March 2021 figures.
Newark, Essex County
Median home price: $360,000+
This city's diverse and thriving community has quick access to Manhattan. It's ideal for professionals looking to get a job in the Big Apple but who prefer living in the outskirts where home values and the cost of living are much lower. Population is around 281,000.
Paterson, Passaic County
Median home price: $340,000+
Around 30 minutes away from Manhattan by car, this lovely neighborhood is where you can find a strong sense of community spirit. Residents basically know each other either by face or by name, especially because there are only a little more than 145,000 of them living here.
Edison, Middlesex County
Median home price: $420,000+
Once called Raritan Township, this town got its new name in celebration of the memory of noted inventor Thomas Edison. In his lifetime, Edison built some of his most successful inventions in Menlo Park. Apart from the historical connection, the town of Edison is centrally located. It's less than an hour's drive to almost any destination, be it the beach, the big city, or nearby forests. Population is around 100,600.
Morristown, Morris County
Median home price: $640,000+
This is one of many NJ towns that has deep colonial roots. The local restaurant scene is superb and retail options are aplenty. The trails and relatively safe roads here are also your paths to a variety of outdoor activities. Population is over 18,900.
Check out our New Jersey listings here for more specific information on the types of homes in store for you.
About 10,000 years ago, a tribe of Native Americans called the Lenape (or Lenni Lenape in some historical accounts) settled in the fertile lands of what we now know today as New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
Due to the vastness of the land area, the Lenape divided themselves into numerous subgroups based on dialect and specific location. Then when the European colonists arrived, they began referring to the Lenape as the Delaware Indians.
Flourishing of trade during the colonial period
Prior to British rule, explorers from the Netherlands, Sweden, and Finland were given orders to set up trading colonies throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. At one point, the Dutch laid claim on all lands from the Delmarva Peninsula to Cape Cod and established New Netherland.
In 1660, the small town of Bergen was founded and became New Jersey's first-ever permanent European settlement. Four years later, the British took over and renamed the area to its present name, New Jersey (after the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel). This English colony steadily grew in size to approximately 100,000 residents and became one of the most diverse settlements at the time.
Continued development and economic expansion
New Jersey continued growing after the War for Independence. Post-revolution, this was the third state to ratify the US constitution and the first to officially recognize the Bill of Rights. With its newly proclaimed capital of Trenton, New Jersey experienced an economic boom by the early 1800s.
Agriculture and manufacturing industries thrived. Factories for textile products, silk, iron, and steel were built. These developments paved the way for the creation of canals and railroads. Cities like Newark, Camden, and Elizabeth became focal points of industrial progress. Interestingly, Europeans started returning to New Jersey — this time, as immigrants looking for work.
While New Jersey at this time was still mostly rural, many locales in the northern portion of the state were turning into urban areas. By 1850, the population here was 500,000. New Jersey breached the one million population mark by the 1900s.
Development and a series of firsts continued into the 20th century. The invention of motion pictures, the phonograph, and the first commercial incandescent light bulb all took place in New Jersey. One of the first passenger flights in the U.S. took off from Bader Field, Atlantic City, reaching New York and even San Francisco. The addition of Newark Airport in 1928 hastened the entry point of millions of tourists and immigrants from all over the world.
Today, with a population close to nine million, New Jersey is a culmination of hundreds of years of economic prosperity and consistent innovation. Thus, it comes as no surprise that it’s considered as one of the best places to live in the northeast region of the U.S.
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Life in New Jersey
Stellar location, a variety of lifestyles
New Jersey is bordered by New York to the north, Pennsylvania to the west, and Delaware to the south. Within the New Jersey and New York metropolitan area itself, there is no shortage of amenities, amazing sights, and cool hangouts to choose from.
In the northwest portion of New Jersey, you'll find the ridges of the Watchung Mountains, which adventure seekers and casual tourists troop to for skiing and hiking. Not too far from this area lies the magnificent Appalachian Trail, which runs more than 2,000 miles from Maine to Georgia. Approximately 72 miles of this scenic footpath are within New Jersey.
Several major rivers weave their way in and out of the state, including the Hudson, Delaware, Passaic, and Raritan Rivers. These waterways were crucial to the growth of trade and commerce during colonial times. Nowadays, canoeing, kayaking, sightseeing, and waterfront dining — to name a few — are frequent activities along these spectacular rivers.
Famously known as Jersey Shore, New Jersey's eastern coastal area is lined with hundreds of beach attractions, waterparks, high-end restaurants, and luxury waterfront homes. Several communities along this 140+ mile stretch are frequented by vacationers and tourists from within and around the state.
Like most Mid-Atlantic states, New Jersey has a continental climate. Summers are warm and humid while winters can be blistering cold. Residents typically bundle up to three or four layers of clothes during autumn and winter months.
Further down south, the climate leans toward subtropical. This means that people in the area get to experience hotter summers and milder winters.
While the state does get around 200 days of sunshine, frequent rainfall is expected throughout the year. Thus, residents always make sure to carry an umbrella or a rain jacket to prepare for sudden downpours.
Job opportunities make up for high cost of living
New Jersey is situated in one of the wealthiest regions in the country. Its median household income of $82,545 (based on 2015-2019 figures from the U.S. Census) is the third-highest nationally. As one might expect, living in New Jersey can be more expensive than in most places in the country.
In cities like Newark or Jersey City, for instance, monthly utility bills range from $170 to $200. Food and grocery expenses per month can reach $300 per month. However, the statewide average usually hovers around $100, which is slightly below the $111 national average.
Nevertheless, the abundance of employment opportunities more than makes up for New Jersey's above-average cost of living. The Bureau of Labor Statistics registered around 3.8 million workers from the state alone. Most of these professionals work as bio researchers, scientists, nurses, computer engineers, administrative assistants, sales staff, and financial managers. Some of New Jersey's biggest industries include information technology, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, advanced manufacturing, and logistics.
Living in New Jersey isn't necessarily cheap, but when you consider the many conveniences and benefits the come with it — ease of transportation, amazing amenities, great employment opportunities, and the short distance to nearby metropolitan areas — it's a lifestyle that's difficult to pass up.
Academic excellence across all levels
One of the major factors that make New Jersey attractive to families with school-age children is the abundance of highly esteemed institutions of learning. Below are some of the best schools throughout the Garden State:
- The Pingry School, a private school in Basking Ridge, serves grades K-12. An educational philosophy grounded on the values of honor and respect is complemented with a rigorous academic curriculum that encourages holistic development.
- Newark Academy offers grades 6-12 with an academic program that hones intellectual capabilities, as well as character and creativity. Founded in 1774, it's considered the second oldest non-boarding school in New Jersey and the seventh oldest private school in the US.
- Princeton University is one of the highest-ranking institutions of higher education in the US. Founded in 1746, this prestigious Ivy League university is located in the small town of Princeton. Students have various areas of study to choose from: humanities, natural sciences, and engineering.
- Rutgers University is one of the top public universities in the country. It's also the oldest and the largest state-funded university found within the borders of the New Jersey and New York metropolitan area. Rutgers prides itself on being a research-focused and healthcare-conscious university and has numerous contributions in these fields. It has locations in Newark, Camden, and New Brunswick.
Must-visit New Jersey attractions
This unique geological formation is one of the most iconic features along the Hudson shorefront. It's a long row of cliffs that run for approximately 20 miles from Jersey City, NJ to Nyack, NY. It's often called The New Jersey Palisades or The Hudson River Palisades. Located within the Palisades Interstate Park, this rock formation is part of a 100,000-acre network of parks and historic sites jointly managed by the two bordering states.
Liberty State Park
With over 1,200 acres of green space, Liberty State Park is a fairly sizable oasis in the midst of the urban sprawl of northern New Jersey. Aside from offering beautiful and expansive views of the Hudson, Liberty State Park also provides visitors with a rich cultural and educational experience. Various memorials, as well as historical and science exhibits can be found here. Ferry services are available to take visitors to nearby Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
Island Beach State Park
Here you'll find one of the most distinct natural habitats in the state, with impressive levels of biodiversity. Peregrine falcons, waterfowl, migratory songbirds, and about 400 species of plants call Island Beach State Park home. A variety of activities are ideal along this 10-mile stretch beach — from windsurfing to kayaking and sport fishing to wildlife viewing.
Thomas Edison National Historical Park
This protected historical site is where the Glenmont House sits — one of the houses that Thomas Edison lived and worked in. Built in 1880, it features an American take on the Queen Anne Victorian style — an architectural move that was ahead of its time. Running water (hot and cold), central heating, and flush toilets were prominent features. The house was able to harness electricity in 1887.
Point Breeze, Bordentown
Unbeknownst to many, the small city of Bordentown, NJ was once the refuge of Joseph Bonaparte. He fled Europe after his elder and more famous brother, Napoleon, suffered a climactic defeat at Waterloo in 1815. Together with the state and the D&R Greenway land trust, the city purchased 60 acres of Point Breeze from the Divine Word Missionaries to preserve this last remaining connection to the Bonaparte legacy. The historical site will soon become a public park where visitors can explore dense forests, trail paths, scenic wetlands, and a man-made lake built by the younger Bonaparte himself.
Good eats in New Jersey
Aside from the interesting attractions, there are several great food spots throughout the state for every craving or gathering you may have in mind.
For a romantic date or a night of fine dining, Café Panache in Ramsey certainly lives up to its name. Dishes like the much-acclaimed filet mignon ravioli in truffle butter and crispy confit duck with citrus-ginger gastrique showcase the best of New American seasonal cuisine.
Heirloom Kitchen in Old Bridge, NJ is not your everyday food experience. This mother-and-daughter-founded restaurant is also a supper club, cooking school, and retail kitchen boutique store. It not only offers diners scrumptious farm-to-table favorites, but also a hands-on experience of what it takes to craft culinary masterpieces of your own.
Head over to Poached Pear Bistro in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ for a unique fine dining experience by the beachfront. This upscale restaurant is BYOB (bring your own bottle, for the uninitiated), allowing you to indulge in your favorite drinks without needing to pay for the corkage fee. Outdoor dining here during a summer night, with the ocean breeze blowing your way, is an unforgettable experience.
Live your dreams in the Garden State
If you need further assistance in looking for New Jersey homes or up-to-date insider information on real estate trends, don't hesitate to contact our team at GenStone Realty.
We are seasoned Realtors who specialize in big housing markets like New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, California, and others. We'd be more than happy to help you achieve your real estate goals here in New Jersey.