Popular FAQs on New Jersey for expats answered
Here are a number of FAQs on New Jersey that expats often ask. Feel free to suggest more!
1. What is New Jersey weather like?
NJ weather is quite diverse. On one hand, the winters are quite cold, (-10C to -15C), which is not exactly Artic but uncomfortable, and even dangerous, if you are not dressed appropriately. In contrast, NJ also has hot summers where temperatures can go up to 36C, although mostly they stay in the 30C-34C range, with consistent high humidity. In between, there are the nicer seasons of Spring and Fall.
Some people say that NJ only has two real seasons: summer and winter. While it may appear that way, it’s not quite true. Winter lasts a good 4 months (sometimes a bit longer) from December-March/early April. Summer lasts almost 4 months from late May to mid-September. Spring is the briefest lasting from mid April- late May. Temperatures during Spring range approximately from a pleasant 15C to 25C. Fall lasts from late September to late November with temperatures between approximately 25C to 13C. These are not official dates of course but are closer to what actually happens.
One thing that makes New Jersey unique is that the weather can range to a variety of extremes including hurricanes, rain storms, ice storms and snow storms. On rare occasions, tornadoes have even been recorded. Fortunately, none of these are frequent but they can make life here interesting. Rainfall is frequent enough that New Jersey is always very green during Spring and Summer.
2. What are some good areas to live in New Jersey for new expats?
This is a tough question since picking your new home is a personal choice. What suits one person will not necessarily suit someone else. However, in Northern NJ there are a number of towns that are popular with expats or often ranked as great towns by the locals:
- Northern NJ/Bergen County: Ridgewood, Park Ridge, Montvale, Demarest, Oakland, Woodcliff Lakes, Englewood, Tenafly, Ramsey, Mahwah, Ho-Ho-Kus.
- Northern NJ/Hudson County: Fort Lee, Edgewater, Hoboken, Jersey City.
- Northern NJ/Morris County: Madison, Chatham, Montville, Mendham, Morristown, Florham Park, Mountain Lakes.
- Northern NJ/Essex & Union Counties: Montclair, Millburn, Short Hills, Caldwell, North Caldwell & West Caldwell, South Orange/Maplewood, Livingston, Westfield, Summit, New Providence, Berkeley Heights.
- Central NJ/Somerset County: Bridgewater, Warren, Basking Ridge (Bernard’s Township) and Bernardsville, Hillsborough, Franklin
- Central NJ/Mercer & Middlesex Counties: South Plainfield, New Brunswick, Princeton, West Windsor, Plainsboro.
- Central NJ/Monmouth & Ocean Counties: Holmdel, Red Bank, Rumson, Fairview, Manalapan.
- Southern NJ /Camden & Burlington Counties: Cherry Hill, Moorestown, Haddonfield.
There are a lot of very nice places to live in New Jersey. However, you should always check out a potential new home town yourself, regardless of what other people advise. No-one but you knows what ‘home’ feels like. People who live in New Jersey will often tell you their own town is better than all others, so beware of taking other people’s advice without seeing the reality of it yourself.
3. Are there any cities where you can live in New Jersey?
‘City’ is a word used in New Jersey to describe a concentrated population but not in the same way most people regard cities. The four largest cities in NJ are only between approximately 125,000-280,000 in population size. These include Newark, Jersey City, Paterson and Elizabeth. Three of these ‘cities’ have their own image problems due to incidences of crime, often involving guns, gangs or drugs, or because of unattractive locations that reflect neglect or lack of investment (Read Newark, Paterson and Elizabeth).
Although it once suffered from similar image problems, Jersey City is now a happy exception to this rule. In recent years it has been gentrified and is now a booming growth center for finance and retail. Extensive renovations, investments in apartment buildings, and establishment of major financial trading centers in Exchange Place and Newport, has helped Jersey City establish its own image as a hip place and earned it the moniker of Wall Street West. Expat workers as well as young locals find the close proximity to NYC very attractive for commuting and lifestyle benefits.
4. How expensive is housing here, relative to New York or other places?
New Jersey housing is certainly less expensive than NYC. However, that’s not saying much as New Jersey is still ranked as the 4th most expensive state in the USA, after California and New York. Unfortunately for those who aren’t familiar with New Jersey, it can be disappointing to find that housing in NJ is so expensive. It seems that people are often aware of New York’s reputation for ridiculously priced properties, however when it comes to looking next door, there is great surprise that New Jersey is also amongst the nation’s highest priced.
In a 2013 survey conducted by a major realty brokerage, Coldwell Bankers, New Jersey’s high end towns included Chatham Twp. ($813,000), Bernards Twp. ($758,000), Wyckoff ($757,000) and Ocean City ($745,000). Not surprisingly, the median house price in Short Hills is over 1 million.
In many popular NJ towns, a typical 4 bedroom, well-maintained home (historic/older) with its own garage, and in a good location, may cost between $600,000 to $700,000 to purchase. Rental costs for 3-4 bedroom houses can start at $3000-$4000/month or more. Many people find this very expensive compared to their previous hometowns both within the USA as well as from overseas.
5. How good are the schools in New Jersey?
Public schools in NJ are some of the better performing in all of the USA. On a national basis, NJ spends more dollars per student than any other state. While USA schools as a whole are somewhat behind key benchmark European and Asian countries e.g. Finland and Singapore, public school performances in some American states including NJ, are more impressive. Even within New Jersey itself, there are wide differences in public school performances, so it is worthwhile investigating local NJ schools before deciding which are suitable for your children.
There are also a number of Private schools in NJ recognized for their academic rigor, which is to be expected given its affluent population base, particularly in Northern NJ.
6. What are the best High Schools in New Jersey?
These change over time, as the annual surveys done of NJ and American schools (as a total) show. In 2012, the survey by NJ Monthly listed the following as the best 20 high schools in NJ (in order from highest first): New Providence HS, McNair Academic HS, Tenafly HS, Glen Rock HS, Kinnelon HS, Madison HS, Mountain Lakes HS, Millburn HS, Ridge HS (Bernards Township), Rumson-Fair Haven Regional HS, Bernards HS, Glen Ridge Holmdel HS, Park Ridge HS, Summit HS, West Essex (North Caldwell), Ramapo HS, Pascack Hills HS (Montvale), Metuchen HS, Chatham HS.
Rated in the best 100 schools in the USA (Newsweek Annual Survey) are:
- High Technology High School, Lincroft (No. 16 highest in the USA)
- Biotechnology High School, Freehold (No. 24 highest in the USA)
- Bergen County Academies, Hackensack (No. 26 highest in the USA)
- Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School, Jersey City (No. 61 highest in the USA)
- Union County Magnet High School for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Scotch Plains (No. 65 highest in the USA)
- Millburn High School Millburn NJ (No. 69 highest in the USA)
- Bergen County Technical High School – Teterboro (No. 74 highest in the USA)
7. What are the best Private schools in New Jersey?
Although there are over 1400 private schools in New Jersey, there are less surveys done generally of their performance versus public schools. Many expats resort to using education consultants to try and assist them in choosing the best private schools. One survey of the top 50 private schools in the USA included Princeton Day School, Princeton; Delbarton School, Morristown; and Pingry School, Martinsville. Other popular private schools include Montclair Kimberly Academy, Gill St Bernard, Beard school, Kent Place School,
Any further FAQs on New Jersey?
If you have any FAQs or need more information on expat life in New Jersey, feel free to contact us for further help.