Abandoning the sprawling suburbs and our multitude of malls seems to be of no consequence to many New Jerseyans, who have been leaving in increasing droves. It’s hard to think of why anyone would want to leave. We are the home to legends like Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen. Our delicious diners and savory Pork Roll sandwiches are unforgettable. We are a blend of stories spread across 170 miles of Jersey-ography, from the Pine Barrens to the farmlands, and the small cities to the shores. For generations, our shared home offered enough amenities to keep families here and happy, but that has changed in recent years. While many continue to call the Garden State their home, a disconcerting trend of more people leaving than moving here is raising eyebrows. Let’s take a further look as to why New Jersey was named the most-moved out state.
Are People Really Moving Out of New Jersey?
The answer can be found in United Van Lines’ National Migration Study, which measured not just where people were moving to and from, but also what their reason for leaving was. According to this data, New Jersey is experiencing an alarming exodus of residents. For three years in a row, the state has topped the report’s list of most migrated away from places and finished 2020 at an all-time high of 69.5 percent of movers going outbound.
Specifically, three of the top five areas most abandoned were Newark, Trenton, and Bergen-Passaic. Bergen-Passaic’s 81 percent move-out rate puts the area in the Study’s number two spot, calling into question what could be driving people out? What United Van Lines discovered was a variety of reasons the city’s population wasn’t satisfied with living in New Jersey anymore.
The Rich May Be Leaving
The data suggests that many older and wealthy New Jerseyans are moving out of state. In fact, 2020 lead with the highest exit compared to past years. Of the New Jerseyans who left, almost half (49.24 percent) reported an income of $150,000 or above, perhaps signaling a consequence against the state’s ever-growing tax code. Rising tax rates, including a ‘millionaire’s tax’ to help lighten the financial burden of the middle class, are moving forward in 2021 to the dismay of the top 1 percent. While many economic experts agree that higher taxes don’t equate to a higher chance of the wealthy moving away, some believe taxing the rich too much may incentivize them to transport operations elsewhere, a la Tesla.
New Jersey’s extremely high property tax, estate tax, and income tax also prove unfavorable to the middle class. The pandemic has only fueled this fire. In an effort to remedy this, the so-called millionaire’s tax’s top rate was increased this year on those whose incomes were over $1 million (previously the cap was $5 million).
Off To Retirement
New Jersey’s renowned public school systems and safe neighborhoods make here the ideal place to raise a family. But as the years go by and empty-nesters continue to age, their focus tends to turn to Florida. Every year, clusters of New Jersey seniors transplant their lives to the Sunshine State for a variety of reasons. Warmer states, where the oven-like climate plays a helpful role in aging and health, attract the elderly like moths to a flame.
Nearly one-third of the outbound New Jerseyans were 65 or over, and their reasoning was largely to retire (32.25 percent). Across Florida, retirement communities are as commonplace as the palm trees and sunburn. The state has 691 licensed live-in facilities and several more affordable independent housing options, so it isn’t surprising that Florida was listed as the top spot New Jerseyans found themselves moving to last year, followed by the Carolinas and Oregon.
Florida often feels like the default spot to retire, just as instinctual to the birds who migrate south come the cold season. As the pandemic worsens and economic situations for families grow dimmer, it stands to reason that people may want to retire early and cash in on their 401k and social security. Also, in this era of unpredictability and financial hardship, people are moving out of New Jersey to be closer to family. Nearly one-fourth (27.84 percent) of the outgoing participants cited that reason.
Final Thoughts On Moving Out of New Jersey
So, are people moving out of New Jersey? Wherever you end up, Jersey will always remain a part of your journey. So many of us take for granted the New Jerseyan ideal of having someone pump our gas for us. We forget that the golden shore is an hour’s drive away, two with traffic. And certainly, the pizza can not be replaced. Next time you’re walking down a rustic New Jersey road, don’t be afraid to pause and smell the flowers. We are the Garden State, after all.
Are you surprised New Jersey was named the most moved-out state? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo by David Vives