Looking for the right place to spend your sunset years can be a daunting task, specifically because there are so many locations from which to choose. To be sure, other states in the US may offer more affordable lifestyles, but New Jersey's relatively higher costs are offset, at least in part, by a package of benefits and discounts in taxes, transportation, housing and other needs that ease the burden of retirement living. Those seeking a warmer climate also may need to weigh the appeal of the changing seasons found in New Jersey. Finally, New Jersey's location between New York City and Philadelphia, along with easy access by air, rail and road to more distant sites, is an important factor in evaluating the pros and cons of where to spend your retirement years.
Moving to The Garden State Moving in itself is not to be taken lightly. It may require difficult decisions on leaving family and friends, as well as on which possessions should be left behind, especially if you've lived in the same home full of memories.
Still, if you have already decided to leave, here are some pointers to make it easier:
Plan everything on time - moving takes a lot of time to plan and organize. Starting early will give you the edge you need to see it through without problems.
Don't do it alone - Handling all the tasks of moving will be exhausting. Therefore, ask your family and friends to help you. An even better option is to hire a reputable moving company. That way, you won't have anything to worry about. Trained professionals will take that burden off of your shoulders.
Downsize - now, this will probably be the most challenging part. However, you should at least consider it. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, fewer belongings mean lower moving costs. Second, it means less upkeep and maintenance in your new home. All that implies less work and more free time to immerse yourself in your new surrounding.
Here are some recommendations:
Downtown Montclair and Wellmont Theatre. Image: Columbia University Club of New Jersey
Montclair, Essex County
Only twelve miles from New York City, Montclair has become, as a New York Times journalist wrote, one of several "least suburban of suburbs, each one celebrated by buyers there for its culture and hip factor, as much as the housing stock and sophisticated post-city life." Given its proximity to the City, many commuters are among the community's residents, including prominent corporate, media and arts leaders. Despite its relatively small size, Montclair has many theaters, art galleries and its own art museum, the Montclair Art Museum with acollection of more than 12,000 items dedicated toAmerican andNative American art. Montclair's Clairidge Cinema shows movies from documentaries to small scale independent films, and hosts an annual film festival which benefits from support by such Montclair residents as Steven Colbert and his wife. Live theaters include the Wellmont Theatre, first built in 1922 as a legitimate theater which has most recently presented concerts by major music artists; The Montclair Operetta Company; and theaters at Montclair State University.Montclair Center, its primary shopping and restaurant complex, is a past winner of the Great American Main Street Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Montclair also has become known as a center for some of the stae's best restaurants and gourmet food shops.
Lambertville, Hunterdon County
Founded in 1705 as a ferry crossing on the Delaware River and named by Forbes Magazine as one of the 'Top 15 Prettiest Towns in America', Lambertville has also been called the 'Antiques Capital of New Jersey.' Its former 19th-century train depot has been restored to house Lambertville Station, a popular riverside restaurant and inn. Starting in the early 1980s, the town began to attract artists and other creative types who restored many of the 18th and 19th century federal and Victorian houses, with its revival also sparked by new restaurants and cafes. While the town is crowded with weekend tourists, the permanent population was just under 4,000 in the last Census. The Delaware River bridge provides walkable, bike and car access to New Hope, which is only one of several other nearby Bucks County Pennsylvania river towns with inns and restaurants and stops for kayaking, rafting and canoeing. Interstate 295 also provides access to Philadelphia, which is 30 miles away and normally a drive of some 50 minutes.
Lambertville House hotel and shops. Image: NewJerseyAlmanac.com
Lambertville shops. Image: NewJerseyAlmanac.com
Jersey City, Hudson County
Jersey City, which may overtake Newark to rank as the state’s largest city when the new 2020 Census data is released, has undergone a remarkable revival, with some journalists referring to it as 'the new Brooklyn.' Historically a gateway for waves of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island and situated just yards from the Statue of Liberty, the City’s diverse heritage is reflected today in a mix of restaurants, shops and art galleries representing nearly every race, class and walk of life. On the City's waterfront, Liberty State Park, opened in 1976 during the celebration of the nation's bicentennial, provides a spectacular walkway to view the Statue of Liberty, along with ferry service to the Statue and the immigration museum at Ellis Island. Jersey City's easy access to Manhattan may be one of the most attractive incentives for retirees, with somewhat more affordable housing in condominium and rental towers complementing town houses and residences in the City's older neighborhoods..
Walkway in Liberty State Park. Image: Wikipedia
Princeton, Mercer County
As home to its famous university, the Town of Princeton offers diverse opportunities for retirees to take advantage of its academic setting. From enrollment in University courses to more informal attendance at free lectures or visiting its art museum, residents of the town can benefit in advancing their personal interests. Complementing the University's programs, the Princeton Arts Council, the Princeton Adult School and the Municipal Library also provide diverse classes, exhibitions and discussion groups. Downtown Princeton includes a mix of national and local stores, many restaurants and cafes, making it a perfect place for an evening stroll or a relaxed afternoon. McCarter Theatre, the Tony Award winning theater, also offers live programming throughout the year. Other sites in Princeton include Morven, the former governor's mansion built before the Revolution; the Princeton Battlefield in which George Washington's troops defeated the British; and the Institute for Advanced Study, the think tank where some of the world's leading scholars including Albert Einstein conducted their research.
Firestone Library (left) and University Chapel. Image: NewJerseyAlmanac.com
Intersection of Nassau and Witherspoon Streets across from main University entrance. Image: NewJerseyAlmanac.com
Shops along Nassau Street. Image: NewJerseyAlmanac.com
Cape May, Cape May County
"The Nation's Oldest Seashore Resort" and cited as "New Jersey's Most Beautiful Small Town" by Insider.com and HouseBeautiful.com and as one of "America's top 10 beaches" by the Travel Channel, Cape May has evolved from its founding during New Jersey's first settlement as a whaling village to become one of the nation's most picturesque communities famed for it Victorian homes and inns. At New Jersey's southernmost tip, Cape May offers easy access to its beach, fishing, shops and restaurants, and south of the village is a state park popular for bird watching and other forms of eco-tourism. Tours of several nearby wineries are available.and whale and dolphin watching are provided by boat. Its permanent population of some 4,000 residents can swell to ten times that number in the summer months. The village center features a pedestrian mall lined with shops, restaurants and casual shops offering ice cream and candy. Designated in 1976 as a National Historic Landmark, Cape May also features its lighthouse built in 1859 which continues in operation. Outside the village are newer developments and active adult communities that cater to the newly retired.
Ocean Grove, Monmouth County
Just south of Asbury Park, Ocean Grove's sedate ambiance is in sharp contrast to its neighbor's reputation as a center of rock music loudly playing in crowded bars. Since its founding in 1869 as a summer tent camp on the beach for the faithful to hear prominent preachers, all real estate in Ocean Grove has been owned by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a nonprofit religious organization formed by Methodist ministers to establish a "christian seaside resort" for members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Legal challenges to the Association's blue laws--which included requiring all cars to be removed from the community on Sundays--led to the end of the Association's governing role with Ocean Grove legally becoming a section of Neptune Township, but it continues as as the only active camp meeting in the nation with remnants of its blue laws remaining in the ban on alcohol sales and few public events other than religious services scheduled on Sunday. The Association grants the right to use its land through 99-year renewable leases to tenants who occupy residential, lodging and commercial properties; perhaps the most distinctive residences are the tents rented seasonally with years-long waiting lists. The most dominant structure is the Great Auditorium built in 1894 which includes one of the 20 largest pipe organs in the world with 12,200 pipes; the Auditorium, praised for its acoustics, features regular religious services and concerts by both religious and popular performers. Ocean Grove's Victorian architecture, along with that of Cape May, is considered among the finest examples of the late 19th and early 20th century seaside styles, and in 1976 the town was named to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Great Auditorium Image: NewJerseyAlmanac.com
Tent City Image: NewJerseyAlmanac.com
Monroe, Middlesex County
Once largely farmland, Monroe Township saw rapid growth beginning in the 1960s as it became one of the first New Jersey municipalities to approve age-restricted developments. Its accessibility also was expanded after the New Jersey Turnpike opened Exit 8A in 1968, which aided the development of Rosmmor, its first 55+ community which now spans 418 acres, including a 118-acre golf course, and more than 2,300 homes. Subsequently, several more senior communities have opened: Concordia, Clearbrook, Greenbriar at Whittingham, The Ponds, Encore and the Regency at Monroe. In addition to golf courses at the individual communities, Monroe also is the location of the Forsgate Country Club, which has two 18-hole courses and ranked among New Jersey's best courses. Since 1980, in addition to the age restricted communities and detached single-family homes, Monroe has added shopping centers, a synagogue, a recreation center, and a new library to serve its population nearing 45,000, with over a third of its residents aged 65 or over.
Homes and apartment housing in Monroe. Images: Zillow.com
Flemington, Hunterdon County
Flemington, the county seat of Hunterdon County with a population under 5,000, is best-known for its Court House, the site in 1935 of the trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was convicted and later executed for the kidnapping and murder of the young son of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Across the street from the Courthouse is The Union Hotel opened in in 1877, which is near to the first house in Flemington built in 1756 by town founder Samuel Fleming, which is operated as a historical museum depicting typical life in the 18th century including a colonial-style kitchen.. The downtown of shops, restaurants and cafes, with the center included on the National Register of Historic Places as the Flemington Historic District. Outside the town center, some of the nation's first shopping outlets, including liberty Village, are located, but some of the more prominent outlet stores have closed due to online competition and the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Flemington is also near other small towns in the Delaware Valley, such as Stockton and Frenchtown.
Hunterdon County Courthouse. Image: Hunterdon County
Union Hotel: Image: Daniel Case SA by 3.0 /Wikipedia
Manchester Township, Ocean County
Developed from forests in the Pinelands, Manchester has become a major hub of large-scale 55+ retirement communities, whose residents comprise a large portion of the municipality's population of around 50,000. According to the most recent Census data, Manchester led all New Jersey municipalities in the percentage of if its population aged 65 years or over with 48%. Located just inland from Toms River about 20 minutes by car from Ocean County's beaches, Manchester includes the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, the site of the famed Hindenburg disaster when the German Zeppelin exploded as it hovered to land on May 6, 1937. Active adult communities in Manchester include Cedar Glen Lakes, Cedar Glen West, Pine Ridge at Crestwood, Leisure Village West-Pine Lake Park, and Leisure Knoll. While some communities offer limited on-site retail shops, most Manchester Township residents drive to nearby malls and other shopping options..
Retirement community in Manchester Township. Image: Realtor.com