With the perfect summer weather of the last two weekends, it is easy to enjoy all that is good about New Jersey. Along with wonderful amenities conducive to raising a family, New Jersey offers easy access to the wealth of business and cultural opportunities in New York City. Weekends can be spent at the shore and the educational system in many of our towns is second to none. The end result is that New Jersey continues to be an important destination that many people call home.

It may surprise you, however, to know that there are also many individuals that are choosing to leave New Jersey. To this point, I have always taken an interest in the United Van Lines Annual Migration Study, because it shows the states people are moving to and which states they are leaving. In the latest 2013 survey, New Jersey was ranked the top Outbound State. Last year, New York came in number 3 and Connecticut number 5 in the top Outbound List, so in fact, people are choosing to leave the tri-state area as a whole.

As a real estate broker, I talk with a lot of people that are either buying or selling homes in our area. I thought it might be interesting to share 5 reasons people are leaving New Jersey.

Property Taxes

In a recent Zillow survey, it noted that the average annual property tax in the United States was $2823. In sharp contrast, in the listing of highest property taxes by county, our very own Essex County came in at $12,051, second only to Westchester, New York. As a percentage of the home’s value, New Jersey property taxes fare slightly better than our neighbor, New York state. However, the burden of high property taxes in some counties of New Jersey is significant.

Income Taxes

New Jersey residents also pay higher state taxes relative to the rest of the country. In a recent article in 24/7 Wall Street, “States with the Highest (and Lowest) Taxes,” New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were cited as the three states with the highest tax burden, although not surprisingly all fell in the top five for per capita income as well. So, while people that live in New Jersey have high earnings capacity, they also pay more than 12% of their income in state and local taxes. There is a trade-off in that although there is  a wealth of opportunities to earn money by living in New Jersey, there is also a punitive tax environment as well.

Business Friendliness

In the recent CNBC America’s Top States for Business survey, New Jersey came in 43 out of 50. The survey allocates points to each state based upon ten broad categories including areas such as infrastructure and transportation, quality of life, cost of living and access to capital. The South, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest states have better ratings than the East Coast in the area of business friendliness.

Cost of Living

New Jersey topped the list of most expensive states in the United States. The Commerce Department recently released data on the cost of living from 2008-2012 in 381 major metro areas. The second most expensive metro area as defined by the survey was New York-Newark-Jersey City, coming in slightly behind Urban Honolulu. Overall in the list of states, New Jersey was the third most expensive to live in behind Hawaii and New York. So, as I mentioned earlier, New Jersey residents must weigh the opportunity of robust earnings against the high cost of choosing to live here.


Kiplinger, a well-known personal finance magazine, ranks New Jersey as the fourth worst state for retirement in the United States. On reason is that New Jersey is one of two states that collects both an inheritance tax as well as an estate tax on the state level. Both of these taxes are in addition to any Federal tax burden. So, New Jersey has a burdensome financial environment for retirees as well.

These hurdles aside, New Jersey remains the most densely populated state in our country and has a long list of perks. For every home on the market, we still see multiple buyers looking to move into our coverage area. But in the meantime, if you are considering joining the outbound group and would like an opinion on the value of your home, contact victoria@victoriacarter.com or call (973) 220-3050.

10 Thoughts on “5 Reasons People are Leaving New Jersey

  1. Anne T. says:

    Reason #6: Governor Pat Murphy, who declared war on the middle class.

    • Victoria Carter Victoria Carter says:

      Thank you for your comment, Anne. My team really appreciates feedback and commentary on why people buy or sell homes in New Jersey.

      • Carl Mason says:

        Don’t forget the largest part of your property taxes is from the public schools. I had a School Board President at a school board meeting tell me . You will pay what ever we say you will pay. No truer statement has ever been said.

        • Victoria Carter Victoria Carter says:

          Thanks for your comment, Carl. You are absolutely correct about the high per-pupil cost and the impact on NJ property taxes. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Adonis says:

    We’re leaving because other states are covering college tuition to children who start and complete High school in their states, Taxes are unbearable, Murphy is making the state less appealing by turning millions of us into Pen criminals. As a homeowner and disabled vet, it’s just not worth staying.

  3. Jessica Grecco says:

    Unfortunately, New Jersey is not a welcoming state when a person retires. The cost of living under the present administration is unbelievable. My big misunderstanding is where does all the ez pass toll money go to? The state is broke as I hear it. No one knows, but property taxes continue to rise and retirees have no choice but to exit out of New Jersey.

    • Victoria Carter Victoria Carter says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jessica. You are correct about retirees, in particular, leaving New Jersey. In the United Van Lines 2018 National Movers Study, 70% of people leaving New Jersey cited retirement or employment as the reason. And, New Jersey was ranked as the number one state in the study that people were leaving with almost twice as many people leaving as moving into the state.

  4. Anthony Federici says:

    I Left NJ in 1998, never looked back for Florida, and love it.

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