New Jersey may get a bit of a bad rap from the rest of the nation, but here at the Movoto Real Estate blog, we think it’s a truly great state for all sorts folks, including people looking to retire. The question is, though, which places are best for present and future retirees? We decided to find out.
We compiled a list of what we believe are the best possible places to enjoy not working during your golden years, all culminating in a top 10. The very best places for retirees in New Jersey were lead by Ridgewood and include:
1. Village of Ridgewood
2. Borough of Tenafly
3. Borough of Westwood
4. Borough of Glen Rock
5. Borough of Haddonfield
6. Borough of Florham Park
7. Borough of Madison
8. Borough of Hasbrouck Heights
9. Borough of Princeton
10. Borough of Ridgefield
As far as how we got these results and what numbers we used, we’ll talk about that next. So take off your shoes, put your feet up, and let us do the work for you. After all, we’re not retired yet, you lucky ducks.
The Devil’s In The Details
For those who haven’t seen how we do our Big Deal Lists before, let’s go over how we got our results. As with past state-level retirement rankings, such as Pennsylvania and North Carolina, we started with a list of all places in the state with at least 10,000 people, which, in this case, was a total of 110. Next, we collected data for four different criteria from the U.S. Census (2010) and business listings. The four criteria we used were:
- Cost of living (higher being better, since you’ve saved for it)
- Crime rate (lower is better)
- Amenities (libraries, physicians, arts & entertainment, restaurants, shopping, adult education)
- Weather (average summer temperature and air quality score)
Once we had that data, we ranked the different places in each category from 1 to 110, with one being the best. We averaged those scores and used that average to get one Big Deal Score and find our No. 1. That place was Ridgewood, with some seriously impressive numbers. Now, let’s look at what makes this place, and the others on our top 10, the best places to kick back, relax, and spend a well-earned retirement.
The village of Ridgewood came in at No. 1 on our list and offers some pretty great attractions for retirees. Music lovers will be treated to free concerts, frequent musical performances at churches, and, of course, festival performers during one of the village’s many celebrations. Those looking to eat something fancy can also find what they’re looking for at Village Green Restaurant, where you can order a five-course meal for yourself or split it with someone special.
Besides the great perks, Ridgewood offers a great life. The crime is fairly low, ranking No. 15 for that criterion, and the cost of living rank scores a very high No. 5 for that category. The 24,958 residents here present a warm, homey feeling but don’t scrimp on the things to do with a pleasant 14th place amenity ranking. If you’re looking to settle down without losing all the fun, this place might be right for you.
Coming in at a close second is Tenafly, which also offers some pretty stellar things to do. Earth Day is a big thing here and is celebrated in style at the Tenafly Nature Center, and for dinner you can hit AXIA Taverna. Don’t forget to finish it all off with a tasty baklava ice cream sandwich.
When it comes to the numbers, this borough looks pretty appealing as well. The cost of living here is ranked No. 3 overall, and the weather here places second for that criteria. A part of that is probably that the air quality is really fantastic here, so breathe deep in this little place, locals. The crime is decently low, with only 771 crimes per 100,000 people, so people who retire here can feel safe taking gentle walks around this peaceful spot.
There’s plenty to see and do in little 10,908-strong Westwood, whose nickname is “The Hub of the Pascack Valley.” Retirees could pick up ice skating, shop at the Westwood Plaza, or take in a show at Westwood Cinema. Or they could just pick up a book to read at the local library and flip through its pages while lounging in the centrally-located park.
Bookworms who love to be outside are going to get along very well with this small borough, who has the 11th best weather on our list for that ranking. The crime was also very low and the borough ranked 10th in that area, so new and old residents alike have nothing to fear.
4. Glen Rock
Glen Rock showcases the safety that living in a small place can offer. This 11,601 person borough has the No. 4 ranking crime rate, with a mere 610 crimes per 100,000 people. It also has a great cost of living and ranks No. 12 for that category. Add in some comfy weather and you’ve got a pretty great place to settle down in.
As far as things to do, Glen Rock is all about its organizations. Whether you’re into preserving history, rock gardening, are a veteran, or an avid square dancer, this borough has got a place for you and events for you to join in. (Yes, there’s a big rock there, too, if you want to visit it.)
The Borough of Haddonfield is a fantastic place for dinosaurs. Wait, no, we’re not calling retirees dinosaurs! We simply wanted to mention that the first Hadrosaur skeleton, and the first nearly full dinosaur skeleton in the United States, were found in this little spot. Today, the small borough is a thriving home to dinosaur statues and memorabilia, as well as other historical sites and attractions.
The shopping in these parts isn’t half-bad either. The retiree amenities here rank 10th overall for that criterion, and include Sweet T’s Bakeshop where you simply have to try a blueberry velvet cupcake. The weather here is simply grand as well, and ranks at No. 6 on our list for that category, so the 11,593 locals can enjoy the numerous parks and events with ease.
6. Florham Park
Florham park picks up our No. 6 spot when it comes to great locations for retirees. There’s a municipal pool, monthly borough meetings so that residents can be involved in local politics, and even a park garden club where those with a green thumb can really shine. Being one of the 11,696 people who live here means that you’re a part of a community, not just another face in the crowd.
While safety might generally come in numbers, it certainly comes in the small-town atmosphere of this place. The crime rank here is a strong 14th on our list, at only 767 crimes per 100,000 people. On top of that, the cost of living here ranks very highly at No. 6, which means this is a high-quality place to live. There may not be as many amenities as places like Westwood, but you can bet some of the local cuisine will knock your socks off.
Things are looking pretty rosy in this 15,845 population borough, nicknamed “The Rose City.” The crime rate is very low at only 667 crimes per 100,000 people, and the cost of living is a very proud No. 9 on our list for that ranking. There are a fair amount of amenities, including the Zion Hair Salon, where retirees can try all sorts of new do’s and dyes.
For folks itching to get up and go, there’s an international airport only 17 miles away, so anytime that wanderlust strikes, you’re only a quick plane ride from adventure. If you want culture in your own backyard, that’s no problem either, considering that the borough is home to the only Shakespeare theater company in New Jersey.
8. Hasbrouck Heights
Seated at No. 8 on list is the borough of Hasbrouck Heights. The 11,842 inhabitants of this small place are lucky enough to enjoy a low crime rate that ranks eighth on our list for that category, which means safety and tranquility all year round. Some of that tranquility stems from the fantastic weather they have, which comes in at No. 17 for that ranking. There may be fewer amenities here than some places, but Hasbrouck Heights still manages a respectable 52nd on our list for that criteria and is a fun place to live.
Bargain hunters will love this little borough, considering that it is home to quite a few amenities for its size, and also has a town-wide garage sale in June, which includes a bake sale and book sale from the local public library.
Most people probably know this little place for its college more than its other perks. Be assured, though, that this little borough is more than just Princeton University. For an only 12,307 person place, this borough is the No. 5 spot on our list for amenities. Plenty of physicians, tons of shopping, and some top-notch restaurants make this a fun place to eat, play, and live. Don’t believe us? Grab a bite at the Blue Point Grill and you can be the judge.
The cost of living isn’t anything to scoff at either, and ranks No. 10 on our list for that criterion. The weather is decent and comes in at 10th as well, which means this place will be comfy for students and retirees alike.
We started with Ridgewood, and now we’ll fittingly end with Ridgefield. The 11,032 folks who reside here enjoy a very low crime rate of 714 crimes per 100,00 people and a very decent cost of living. There are meat markets and numerous other eclectic places to get unique ingredients for shopping among this borough’s 55th ranked amenities.
The community center here offers a place for all locals to find activities, socializing, and fun throughout the year. Plus, if you’re looking to have just a little you-time or be with your loved one, there are plenty of cozy restaurants to eat at, such as Tutto A Modo Mio, and parks to stroll through.
Where This Garden Doesn’t Bloom
Where there are roses, there are also some thorns, and New Jersey does have quite a few of those. Bridgeton sits at the bottom of our list with the lowest scoring cost of living, high crime rate, and few amenities. Millville follows shortly after with an even worse crime ranking and some of the worst weather on our list in that ranking. Plainfield is plain and simple not a good place for retirees, and lands the 109th spot on our overall list.
While there are more great places and more poor places for retirees, Ridgewood is decisively the best. It’s safe, homey, and there’s lots to do there, which makes it perfect for those who are looking to kick back and relax or stay active and fun. Think we missed a hidden gem in New Jersey? Feel free to let us know what you think.
Movoto Real Estate’s Best Places to Retire in New Jersey
|City||Population||Rank||Cost of Living Rank||Crime Rank||Retiree Amenities Rank||Weather Rank||Big Deal Score|
|West New York||49,708||32||16||42||50||55||40.75|