New Jersey - Attractive Retirement Living, But With A High Cost
For non-Jerseyites who may be considering New Jersey as a retirement destination, let's go ahead and address the negatives on the front end. Yes, in case you haven't heard, this is an expensive place to live. With a cost of living that is significantly above the national average and property taxes that rank among the highest of almost any State, there are not, in all honestly, a lot of budget-minded retirees rushing to stake their claim to a retirement dream house in the Garden State.
But for those already familiar with the many attractive features to be found here, in spite of the economics, the advantages of retirement in New Jersey are deemed to be worth the extra expense. First, the cultural and entertainment attractions, urban amenities and overall lifestyle attitude that flows outward from New York City and Philadelphia, are, for some, just too compelling to ignore.
And perhaps just as much a factor in pulling retirees to remain in New Jersey is the realization that once you look beyond the industrial boundaries of cities like Newark and Trenton, quiet, scenic regions such as the Delaware Valley, Jersey Shore and Northern Highlands are replete with dozens of appealing and alluring small and villages that have much to offer for retirement living.
As an example, consider Manchester Township, located just seventy miles from the New York metro area and approximately sixty miles from Philadelphia, and the borough of Wanaque, nestled in a picturesque setting at the base of the Ramapo Mountain State Park and bordered by the Wanaque River, yet just 34 miles from Manhattan. With a current population just under 40,000, Manchester witnessed a tremendous expansion during the 1960's, 70's and 80's, a situation which was largely attributed to growing number of retirement communities that were built here. Although significantly smaller with a current population of approximately 11,000, Wanaque has also recently attracted the attention of new communities for active adult retirees, specifically a Del Webb development.
For those who prefer an oceanfront retirement location, Cape May or some of the other small towns in the Southern Shore Region provide a laid-back atmosphere and cool summer ocean breezes. Located right on the extreme southern tip of the New Jersey coast, Cape May and nearby Bridgeton are both noted known for their architectural interest and relaxing lifestyles. In fact, Bridgeton's Historical District has more than 2,200 historic structures.
Neighboring Millville and Vineland are a little further inland but also relatively close to the shore. Residents of both enjoy small-town settings and still within access to the attractions of Philadelphia, New York and Washington DC, as well as the Jersey Shore. Millville has the advantage of the Maurice River, a federally-designated stream, running through its downtown area and is actively working to build upon its waterfront heritage. Vineland has repeatedly been selected as the one of the best places live in New Jersey.
In rural western New Jersey, the Delaware River Valley is a beautiful pastoral setting with a diverse and picturesque collection of small towns where retirees can be in either Philadelphia or New York in just over an hour. Here one is immediately struck by the sharp contrast between affluent, upscale villages with relatively high median household incomes and more blue-collar middle class neighborhoods such as Frenchtown, a tiny hamlet that is home to a colony of working artists' studios and galleries, fine antique stores, intimate little cafes, ethnic restaurants, coffee houses and book stores. Recently, there has a movement to renovate the architectural landscape of Frenchtown, as well as several other smaller communities in the Valley.
In Flemington, the county seat of Hunterdon County and the commercial center of the area, the downtown area is a historic district where the majority of the buildings are included on the New Jersey register of historic places. Here, as throughout all the towns of the Delaware River Valley, there is a tremendous sense of community respect for the heritage of the region, as symbolized in part by the tree-lined streets and well-manicured lawns seen almost everywhere.
While perhaps not as well known as its neighbor, Pennsylvania's Bucks County, Hunterdon County is considered by many to be just as scenic, and more affordable. With the 28-mile long Delaware and Raritan Canal, Biking and Hiking Trail passing through several of the area's charming small towns and a highway with bike trails below the sheer rock cliffs of the Delaware River, outdoor lovers find this a great retirement destination. Clinton, one of the most idyllic spots in the region, and Lambertville, once a sleepy factory worker's town, have both become trendy and upscale communities with fine restaurants, antique shops and distinctive art galleries that attract not only weekend visitors but retirees looking for an interesting and exciting place to live.
New Jersey may be the first choice for retirees searching for an affordable place to retire, but for those willing to look past the cost of living here, this is a beautiful and interesting option that should not be taken lightly.
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