If you are looking to retire in one of the happiest and healthiest states in the country, you should consider New Jersey. The state has been voted one of the happiest places to live several years in a row by WalletHub and currently holds 4th place in the nation as of 2020. Plus, it ranks number one for the least number of reported cases of adult depression.
Additionally, New Jersey has one of the lowest obesity rates, despite its delicious pizzerias. Moreover, it’s one of the country’s lowest states for tobacco use.
The Garden State is home to some of the top-rated medical centers globally, which also helps New Jersey’s ranking as one of the healthiest to live.
Retirees looking to spend their golden years on the beach will appreciate New Jersey’s 44 beaches and 130 miles of coastline. The beaches here range from the bustling touristy amusement park-style options to the quiet and charming beachside towns, giving residents and visitors more than enough choices.
One more reason retirees love living in New Jersey is for its location and proximity to New York City and Manhattan. With the convenient public transportation services, it is simple to take advantage of New York’s amenities. You never have to leave New Jersey if you want to take in a show, live music, dancing, or dining since there are many options right near home.
New Jersey is also ideal for active retirees who enjoy outdoor adventures such as hiking, biking, camping, and canoeing. The state has several national and state parks full of forests and wetlands just waiting to be explored. The Delaware water gap runs along the New Jersey border and provides 37 miles as waterfront with hiking trails that run alongside.
And New Jersey is not all urban areas in this East Coast state; it also has a larger than expected agriculture community, which helps support the 145 farmers markets found scattered throughout the state.
Retirees will especially enjoy the continuing education programs provided by the state and university colleges. Though some may require seniors to pay registration fees, tuition is free as long as the classes have open seating, and these courses can be taken for either credit or just for fun.
New Jersey can be tax-friendly for retirees depending upon your income. Social Security is not taxed at a state level; however, all other retirement income is, and for those whose income is more than $75,000 a year, taxes are steeper.
Unfortunately, New Jersey does have the highest property tax in the nation. New Jersey also has a moderate sales tax, but the state does reduce taxes in urban enterprise zones. Additionally, there is no sales tax on groceries or medications (both prescription and nonprescription options).
Where to Retire in New Jersey
- Ocean City
- Cape May
- Percent of Senior Population: 11%
- Overall Population: 281,999
Newark is not just the largest city in New Jersey but also one of the country’s oldest cities. It is located at the Passaic River’s mouth and is the busiest port city on the eastern seaboard, which has had a significant positive impact on its culture and community.
For retirees looking for a place to settle down with a diverse population and rich culture, Newark is a great place for you. If you’re already familiar with the East Coast area and would like to live close to New York, Newark is only 17 miles away and costs a lot less.
Newark is also perfect for retirees who no longer want to drive everywhere. The mass transit system here is very convenient and easy to navigate. There are multiple commuter trains, Amtrak, and the international airport. Plus, those who do have a vehicle can easily get around using Newark’s 368 miles of highway.
Active retirees will also enjoy the walkability of the neighborhoods and parks that are spread around Newark. One of the best parks in New Jersey, Branch Brook Park, is located in Newark. Brank Brook Park is famous for having more than 5,000 cherry blossom trees.
Newark is also an excellent place for seniors looking to enjoy a live performance and the arts. It is home to museums, concert halls, theaters, art galleries, and sports venues. Plus, the restaurant scene has frequently been referred to as a culinary gem, with various ethnic food options due to the colorful, diverse community.
The average cost of rent is approximately $1,000. And housing prices are just above the national average.
Though Newark is known for not having the best crime rate, they have been making great strides at improving this over the last years. However, the crime rate changes based on the neighborhood.
Newark also has several medical facilities, including multiple hospitals and specialty centers such as the University Hospital, St Michael’s Medical Center, Rutgers Health, and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.
- Percent of Senior Population: 49%
- Overall Population: 43,503
Retirees looking to settle down in an area with other active seniors should consider Manchester. This city is moderate in size and conveniently located near New York and Philadelphia. Though Manchester does not have oceanfront property, it is only a half hours drive to the beach.
Manchester has been nominated multiple times as one of the best places to retire, which is evident in the population statistics. Forbes most recently selected Manchester as the best city to retire in New Jersey. Their decision was based on the low violent crime rate, physicians’ ratio to residents, air quality, and the township’s location in proximity to larger cities.
Manchester is more of a suburban area and lacks the entertainment venues found in nearby cities. However, live entertainment, music, top-rated restaurants, and shopping are less than 30 minutes away in Tom’s River or up to one and a half hours to New York.
Though Manchester is not a walkable city, it does have easy access to several parks like Brendan T Byrne State Forest, perfect for hiking and camping. Also, Jakes Branch and Crossly Preserve are nearby and full of trails for hiking or just a leisurely stroll.
The Manchester Family Golf Center is a full-service golf course complete with a pro shop and the option to take lessons. Plus, there are numerous other golf courses in neighboring areas, all within a half-hour’s drive.
Manchester is also home to several retirement communities like Renaissance at Manchester, a gated country club community for those 55+. Renaissance at Manchester offers an abundance of amenities such as a cafe, indoor and outdoor pool, planned activities, and social events to meet your neighbors. And it is just one of many 55+ communities in Manchester.
There are numerous health care facility options to choose from as well. Due to the high senior population, the physician to patient ratio is higher than in most other communities.
- Percent of Senior Population: 17%
- Overall Population: 27,721
Millville sits along the Maurice River and is home to Union lake, offering residents plenty of opportunities to enjoy spending time on or near the water. In addition to the river and lake, Millville is surrounded on three sides by lush forests adding to its natural beauty.
Not only do residents have convenient access to nature, but Millville is close to New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Atlantic City, which gives residents several options for day trips.
Millville may be a small community, but it certainly does not lack things to do. Best known for its art community, Millville’s Glasstown Arts District is the place to go shopping, dining, and exploring art galleries and studios.
In addition to the Arts District, art enthusiasts will love the Wheaton Arts Village, where they can spend the day watching art demonstrations, attending workshops, and checking out new exhibits. And if you want to grab a bite to eat, the GateHouse Café is an excellent place for a snack. However, if you enjoy the outdoors, pack a lunch and take a walk on the nature trails that traverse the 50 plus acres the village sits on.
Unfortunately, the drawback to this small artsy town is that the crime rate is higher than the national average.
- Percent of Senior Population: 35%
- Overall Population: 11,132
Ever wanted to retire to an island? Well, Ocean City is a barrier island just off of New Jersey’s coast. This resort town has withstood the test of time since the late 1870s.
Ocean City is full of beaches, boardwalks, and piers. Not surprisingly, Ocean City is also a well-loved tourist town. Though not everyone will like living in a tourist-driven economy, it has advantages for town amenities like restaurants and entertainment.
Ocean City boasts a seven-mile sandy beach and with a three-mile boardwalk dotted with shops and family-friendly restaurants. Because Ocean City caters to family tourists, you will need to head across the 2.2 mile Ocean City NJ Bridge or take a ferry to the mainland for fine dining and the performing arts.
Active retirees are drawn to Ocean City because of its walkability and abundant opportunities to get outside, whether fishing, walking, jogging, or biking. And if you are looking to get a few rounds of golf, the island has you covered with several public golf courses.
Unfortunately, living on Ocean City’s beaches has a drawback, the crime rate here is above the national average.
Ocean City residents have access to nearby medical centers just across the Stainton Memorial Causeway to Somers Point, where the Shore Memorial Hospital resides.
- Percent of Senior Population: 27%
- Overall Population: 3,374
Cape May is another long time resort town that holds significant appeal to seniors. It is generally a quiet town with under 4,000 year-round residents. However, like all tourist areas during peak season, it can get pretty busy.
History enthusiasts will adore living in this National Historic Landmark city with the Victorian homes that line the beaches, as well as the Victorian architecture found throughout the downtown area.
And Cape May is a very walkable town, so retirees looking to ditch their car can happily get around town on foot. The city has a diverse array of shopping and dining, including five-star restaurants. Plus, Cape May has an active fishing community that supplies the area with the freshest seafood around.
Cape May also hosts a variety of festivals such as:
- Cape May Jazz Festival
- Cape May Music Festival
- Cape May Film Festival
- Cape May Literary Festival
Also, Cape May is home to the East Lynne Theater Company, which hosts live theater performances. And the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities promotes cultural enrichment and continued restoration of the city.
Retirees will be happy to know that the crime rate is below the national average, and the nearest hospital is only 12 miles north in Cape May Court House.