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How happy are New Jersey residents? Many want to leave the state. Here’s why

How happy are New Jersey residents? Many want to leave the state. Here's why
Looking to move out of New Jersey? You’re not alone.

While many residents like the Garden State, 48% are looking to leave, with many saying the high cost of living is the main driver.

The StayNJ property tax rebate program earmarked toward seniors is having some intended effect however: older residents looking to leave the state are more likely to stay given the program.

That’s all according to a report released Wednesday by the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

It found that nearly half of New Jerseyans said they would like to move out at some point. That’s down from the 59% of New Jerseyans itching to leave the state in 2022.

Map outline for New Jersey with a frown
Map outline for New Jersey with a frown

“Take New Jersey’s already high cost of living and add inflationary pressures to it. This may not be driving out more people than in the past but it certainly isn’t helping to reduce out-migration,” said Patrick Murray, who heads the Monmouth polling institute.

Higher-earning residents — those earning over $100,000 a year — were more likely than lower earners — those earning below $100,000 — to want to leave the state.

But only 28% of New Jerseyans said they were very likely to actually leave, the poll found, while 27% said they were somewhat likely to move out and 26% said they were not likely at all to leave.

And what are the biggest issues residents say the state is facing?

Well, 39% of residents said property taxes, and 24% said the economy and cost of living.

When asked what was prompting their potential move, 43% said cost of living was the most important factor, while 52% said it was one of several top factors.

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Retiring in New Jersey

Forty percent of respondents said they would move out after retirement.

The implementation of the StayNJ program in 2026, which would cut property tax bills for seniors in the hopes of keeping them in New Jersey during their retirement years, is having some of the desired effect.

According to the poll, 45% of New Jerseyans were a lot more or a little more likely to stay given the program, and 53% said the StayNJ program would not change their decision.

But that changes for New Jersey residents over 55: 61% said they were a lot more or a little more likely to stay, while 35% said the StayNJ program would have no impact on their decision.

“[T]hese results suggest that the Stay NJ program will have at least some success meeting its goal of retaining a good number of senior homeowners who would otherwise leave the state,” said Murray.

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Quality of life scores lower

Monmouth’s Garden State Quality of Life Index, launched in 2010, measures how residents rate the quality of life in New Jersey.

It scored at 24 this month, the same as January 2023.

While the range of the score could go from -100 to 100, Murray said that the range has been between 13 and 37, “which puts the current reading at about the midpoint.”

But it’s far from the 37 score given in April 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These positive results reflect a prevailing sense of goodwill as Garden State residents pull together in the current pandemic. Whether this can be maintained once the crisis is over is another question,” Murray said.

The score dropped to 25 in May 2021.

The score looks at the overall opinion of the state as a place to live in, the rating of one’s hometown, local schools’ performance, quality of the environment and the feeling of safety in one’s own neighborhood.

Overall the poll relied on 801 New Jersey adults interviewed by phone between Feb. 29 and March 4. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

Daniel Munoz covers business, consumer affairs, labor and the economy for and The Record. 

Email:; Twitter:@danielmunoz100

This article originally appeared on NJ quality of life: Why many Jersey residents want to leave

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