There’s a the age old question everyone thinks about when they decide to move to a city in New Jersey:
Should I buy a place or rent?
Well, we aren’t here today to solve that problem for you exactly. We are just assuming you’ll do the right thing and a buy a place 😉
And while we are happy to tell you the best place to live in New Jersey, this analysis is going to tackle the question of the best place to buy a house as an investor. That is we are going to try and determine the up and coming cities in the Garden State.
To do that we are going to look at places in New Jersey that are growing faster than average, but where home prices are below average. In every day terms, the ‘deals’.
The best deal in New Jersey at the moment? That would be Harrison according to our analysis.
Here’s a look at the top ten places to buy a home in New Jersey:
- Harrison (Photos | Homes)
- Asbury Park (Photos | Homes)
- Kearny (Photos | Homes)
- Jersey City (Photos | Homes)
- West New York (Photos | Homes)
- Little Ferry (Homes)
- Long Branch (Photos | Homes)
- Passaic (Photos | Homes)
- Lodi (Homes)
- Woodland Park (Photos | Homes)
The methodology that wen’t into this can be a bit complicated, so we’ll break it down for you in as much detail as we can below.
If you’re not worried about finding a deal on good places to live, check out the most expensive places to live in New Jersey and, for those of you on a budget, the cheapest places to live in New Jersey.
How do you determine the best places to buy a home in New Jersey?
We were in real estate for almost five years and have been working on this site for another three. Suffice is to say, we’ve put a lot of thought into what goes into finding a good place to buy a home.
So all that thinking has come to this moment where we get to spell out how we’d approach finding an up-and-coming place to live in New Jersey. Put differently, the analysis will try to find places in New Jersey with undervalued homes relative to pent up demand.
To do that we looked at the most recent American Community Survey Census data for 2012-2016 and compared it to the previous vintage (2011-2015). Specifically, we used the following criteria:
- Y-o-Y Change In Population (People want to live here)
- Y-o-Y Change In Median Home Prices (People are willing to pay for it)
- Home Prices Relative To The State Average (It’s still kinda cheap)
We want places that are growing, have seen home prices increase in recent years, and are still ‘cheap’ for New Jersey with the following caveats:
- Home prices had to be within 20% of the state average (Much lower than that and you get to some of the more dangerous places)
- Home prices increased in the last year, and
- Above 5,000 people (Bigger cities have more data points)
So of the 543 cities and towns in New Jersey, only 20 places made it through our initial filters to even be considered.
We then ranked each place from 1 to 20 for the criteria mentioned above with 1 being the best for that criteria. We averaged the rankings to create a ‘best place to buy’ index with the place having the lowest index being the best.
Turns out that Harrison is the best potential gem in the not-so-rough in the Garden State.
Read on for more on these places.
The area that is now Harrison was a part of a charter granted to Captain William Sandford of Barbados. New Barbadoes Neck consisted of 30,000 acres (120 km2) and extended north from Newark Bay to present-day Rutherford, between the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers. Sandford sent his nephew, Major Nathanial Kingsland, to enter into an agreement for the purchase the land from the Unami Native Americans, a branch of the Leni Lenape.
2. Asbury Park
A seaside community, Asbury Park is located on New Jersey’s central coast. Developed in 1871 as a residential resort by New York brush manufacturer James A. Bradley, the city was named for Francis Asbury, the first American bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States.
The area of Kearny Township, created in 1867, had been part of the original Crown Grant of 30,000 acres (120 km2) obtained by Major William Sandford of Barbados on July 4, 1668. Major Sandford named it New Barbadoes Neck after his old home. As was the custom of the time, the Major paid 20 pounds sterling to Chief Tantaqua of the Hackensack tribe for all their reserve rights and titles.
4. Jersey City
The land comprising what is now Jersey City was inhabited by the Lenape, a collection of tribes (later called Delaware Indian). In 1609, Henry Hudson, seeking an alternate route to East Asia, anchored his small vessel Halve Maen (English: Half Moon) at Sandy Hook, Harsimus Cove and Weehawken Cove, and elsewhere along what was later named the North River. After spending nine days surveying the area and meeting its inhabitants, he sailed as far north as Albany. By 1621, the Dutch West India Company was organized to manage this new territory and in June 1623, New Netherland became a Dutch province, with headquarters in New Amsterdam. Michael Reyniersz Pauw received a land grant as patroon on the condition that he would establish a settlement of not fewer than fifty persons within four years. He chose the west bank of the North River (Hudson River) and purchased the land from the Lenape. This grant is dated November 22, 1630 and is the earliest known conveyance for what are now Hoboken and Jersey City. Pauw, however, was an absentee landlord who neglected to populate the area and was obliged to sell his holdings back to the Company in 1633. That year, a house was built at Communipaw for Jan Evertsen Bout, superintendent of the colony, which had been named Pavonia (the Latinized form of Pauw’s name, which means peacock). Shortly after, another house was built at Harsimus Cove and became the home of Cornelius Van Vorst, who had succeeded Bout as superintendent, and whose family would become influential in the development of the city. Relations with the Lenape deteriorated, in part because of the colonialist’s mismanagement and misunderstanding of the indigenous people, and led to series of raids and reprisals and the virtual destruction of the settlement on the west bank. During Kieft’s War, approximately eighty Lenapes were killed by the Dutch in a massacre at Pavonia on the night of February 25, 1643.|Scattered communities of farmsteads characterized the Dutch settlements at Pavonia: Communipaw, Harsimus, Paulus Hook, Hoebuck, Awiehaken, and other lands ‘behind Kill van Kull’. The first village (located inside a palisaded garrison) established on what is now Bergen Square in 1660, and is considered to be the oldest town in what would become the state of New Jersey.
West New York was incorporated as a town by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on July 8, 1898, replacing Union Township, based on the results of a referendum held three days earlier. West New York underwent a massive growth at the beginning of the 20th century, driven by development of textile industries that made North Hudson the ‘Embroidery Capital of the United States’.
6. Little Ferry
Little Ferry was formed by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on September 18, 1894, from portions of Lodi Township and New Barbadoes Township, based on the results of a referendum held two days earlier. The borough was formed during the ‘Boroughitis’ phenomenon then sweeping through Bergen County, in which 26 boroughs were formed in the county in 1894 alone.
7. Long Branch
Long Branch was a beach resort town in the late 18th century, named for its location along a branch of the South Shrewsbury River. In the 19th century it was a ‘Hollywood’ of the east, where some of the greatest theatrical and other performers of the day gathered and performed. It was visited by presidents Chester A. Arthur, James A. Garfield, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, Rutherford B. Hayes, William McKinley, and Woodrow Wilson. Seven Presidents Park, a park near the beach, is named in honor of their visits. The Church of the Presidents, where all seven worshiped, is the only structure left in Long Branch associated with them.
The city originated from a Dutch settlement on the Passaic River established in 1679 which was called Acquackanonk. Industrial growth began in the 19th century, as Passaic became a textile and metalworking center.|A commercial center formed around a wharf (‘landing’) at the foot of present-day Main Ave. This came to be commonly known as Acquackanonk Landing, and the settlement that grew around it became known as the Village of Acquackanonk Landing or simply Acquackanonk Landing Settlement. In 1854 Alfred Speer (later owner of the city’s first newspaper and public hall) and Judge Henry Simmons were principals in a political battle over the naming of village. Simmons wished to keep the old name, while Speer wished to simplify it to Passaic Village. Speer was losing the battle, but convinced the U.S. Postmaster General to adopt the name, and hung a Passaic sign at the local railroad depot. The de facto name change was effective.
10. Woodland Park
There You Have It – The Best Places To Purchase A House In New Jersey
There’s our analysis of the best places to buy a house in New Jersey. And, to be clear, we aren’t necessarily saying these places are the best places to live, just that it looks like they might be in a couple of years based on the data.
In fact, every place in the following table meets our criteria, so even though it may not look super long, remember we started off with all 543 places in the state.
So if we’d could rent or buy in these cities, we’d definitely buy.
For more New Jersey reading, check out:
- 10 Worst Places To Live In New Jersey
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In New Jersey
- 10 Most Ghetto Cities In New Jersey
Detailed List Of The Best Places To Buy A Home In New Jersey
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