Thursday, March 16, 2006

Thinking of leaving NJ? You are not alone.

From the Star Ledger:

In Jersey, the growing is slowing
Census forecast shows population boom is starting to bust

New Jersey's continuing population slowdown is prompting some economists to warn it could be a symptom of serious economic illness in the nation's wealthiest state.

County-by-county population estimates for 2005 released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau showed declining growth rates in nearly every area of the state, with some counties experiencing dramatic drops.

It is happening in long-booming counties like Ocean, Monmouth, Middlesex and Somerset. It deepened in densely populated urban counties like Essex and Hudson. And growth slowed to a trickle in some sparsely populated counties like Sussex and Warren.

The basic explanation is simple: less immigration into the state and more residents leaving for other places.
The state's population grew by only 32,759 last year, according to the estimate -- about half the annual growth rate New Jersey had experienced through the 1990s and the early part of this decade. The estimated increase in 2005 boosted the state population by half a percentage point to 8.7 million, with the state in increasing danger of falling out of the top 10 in population nationwide.

Caveat Emptor!


Blogger pesche22 said...

people should consider leaving.
the tax situation and the pols.
leaves a lot to be desired, moreover we live like animals here.

3/16/2006 07:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Know 4 people who have left in last 6 months. And it's all about quality of living and affordability.
Prices are way overinflated for shelter.

3/16/2006 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger RentinginNJ said...

I know several people who have left as well as well. The truth is, if it wasn't for my wife's strong desire to stay near her family, I would already be gone too. As a compromise, we have agreed to rent and play "wait and see" for the next two years. If prices don’t come down, we are out. I refuse to lie awake at night wondering if I am going to be able to make the next mortgage payment on some cracker box I’m not even happy in.

3/16/2006 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger grim said...

I'm sure many of us here know our fair share of the exodus members..

It's family that keeps me in the area as well. I'm not ready to break those ties just yet. We had 275 people out our wedding a year and a half ago, most family and close friends. We would have had many more but we wanted to keep the invitation list short (yes, really).

I have contemplated moving out of state many times. As many times as the idea pops into my head, I can't help but think about how lonely an empty McMansion out in another state would be. A small house filled will friends and family is more appealing to me.

But, everyones situation and circumstances are different. There are many whose ties here are not so strong..

3/16/2006 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger Metroplexual said...

We are seriously thinking of bailing. My salary would be similar in amny parts of the country. Why stay? Family, amenities (beach mountains NYC, good food),quality of schools. Why leave? Better standard of living, better weather. BTW the USAToday has a map showing the high growth areas of the US 2000-2005. No surprise the NE is declining and sunny places are growing.

3/16/2006 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger Metroplexual said...

In November we scouted Dallas. Very affordable as is Atlanta but I don't like either place. Phoenix, Vegas, SLC, Albuquerque, Denver, Austin, Portland and Seattle appeal to us though, but too far away and many of those places have bubbles as well.

3/16/2006 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger NJGal said...

My family is in NY, so although it's only across the river, we're leaving NJ soon one way or another. We may even head down South.

What makes me laugh is that being in Hoboken, people there claim that prices will never drop because the population is growing. I don't know where they're getting that information...

3/16/2006 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger grim said...

Another interesting piece in the Ledger..

Raising taxes to cut taxes

Our new governor has been going around the state agonizing about how he will fill the holes in his first budget, which will be unveiled next week. Lately he's been floating some trial balloons, all of which seem to be made of lead.

He might raise the sales tax by a penny. He might also impose some sort of "temporary" increase in the income tax. These two measures would bring in about $2 billion to balance the budget.

I've got another way to find $2 billion to balance the budget. End property tax rebates. Last year, the state paid out about $1 billion in rebates. Corzine is promising to add about another billion in rebates. That's $2 billion.

Take $2 billion in tax rebates out of the budget. And then you won't have to raise taxes by $2 billion.


3/16/2006 09:29:00 AM  
Anonymous trroll said...


You and me. The only reason we are still here is my wife's family lives in NJ. We live little over hour drive from her parents, grandparents and her brother and she's been complaining about it when we were moving out. But now, looking at the prices and what we can get for our hard earned $$ we were able to negotiate a deal. Next 2 years will show if we stay or sell and leave the state. North Caroline (my favorite) or Texas (her favorite) – will see.

3/16/2006 09:45:00 AM  
Anonymous NJ Sucks said...

I am also seriously thinking leaving NJ but I am still here for family reasons(aka "My big fat Greek Wedding") and also because I started a new good job in NYC.

I am also tired of making sacrifices in order to afford an average house with a good downpayment when an idiot with "no money down" comes over and bids over you. Maybe I should just go ahead and buy the new Mustang that I wanted and wait and see how this economy-housing thing is going to blow over. I need to enjoy life a little bit more.

I also thought it was a better inverstement for me to help my father finish our 5 floor Condo complex in Athens-Greece. One floor for every Kid(I have 1 younger brother and one married sister) one for my parents plus a smaller 2 bedroom 1 bathrough apartment for guests at the top of the building overlooking the whole city and you can see all the way to the sea. This gives us 14 bedrooms 9 bathrooms and 5 kitchens for the whole family. Plus a nice big yard with the fruit trees on the back. Also if I have kids my parents can babysit....They have my sister's kid and they are super happy. Their dream was to have their grandchildren close when they get old.

I won't even count my summer house in the Islands.

No property taxes, no high insurance, no freezing NJ winters....and If I lose my job I wont have to worry about a mortgage payment. The only drawback is that I will be making about %60 less

This is the best 100k I spent....
I believe I still have 2-3 years in the US and watch how the "American Dream" is going to end....because it is.

3/16/2006 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger grim said...

I know many expatriates that have gone back home and purchased apartments or homes in eastern Europe (namely the EU or becoming-EU countries).

I feel it's both a good hedge and a Plan B.


3/16/2006 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger skep-tic said...

it would interesting to find out which age group predominates the exodus-- young or old. both have pretty compelling reasons for leaving the area

3/16/2006 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger NJGal said...

trroll, we're actually looking into NC right now...just nervous about leaving our families so we're not sure we're going to do it even though financially it's a no family has been up here since the early 1800s and relatives of my husband fought from NY for the Union in the Civil War! So it's not like the ties don't go back a long way. It's tough to leave that, so we're not sure we can. I'm not sure that the finanical rewards are worth what we'd be giving up. I would love to get thoughts on this, as we still have to have the big pro/con talk!

3/16/2006 10:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

phucktheflippers here... i grew up in NJ... and it was a very very nice place in the 1980s and into the early 90s... NOW... since 1999, just when you thought it could not suck any gets much worse. I advise all of you to head for the exits. Life is too short to waste paying hi taxes, sitting on the parkway, and breathing smog in bergen, passaic, essex counties. Potholes everywhere, nasty people, gestappo cops, brain dead politicians... uhhh. nasty

3/16/2006 10:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

forgot to mention, there was good food before new jersey, and there will be good food after. go where you want to live, and open a top notch deli or cafe... it would be better than working at Novartis, Pfizer, or that other pill hole on route 3....slipped my mind.

3/16/2006 10:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

When we sold in CA we were planning on buying in Asheville, NC. We had visited the Raleigh area initially and it's more rife with McMansions than anyplace I've ever seen in NJ - and so flat that my husband felt totally claustrophibic.

Asheville is gorgeous and we spent a good amount of time looking there. I even got a job offer - pobably the best job I could have hoped for in the area - but it was less than half of what I was getting paid before. Housing isn't THAT cheap, either (I would estimate it's 40% cheaper), but many MANY places we looked at overlooked patches of unzoned lots that were makeshift trailer parks replete with blue poly tarp rooftops.

Food, restaurants, movie tickets, etc was all priced the same as CA or NJ, although property taxes are the big win in NC. Still, given the salary differential (and very real possibility of not being able to find another job if we lost the ones we had as the economy isn't great) made the NYC metro area look not so awful.

But what made us really change our minds was finding a house we were going to bid on, but realizing that although 10 acres was nice, it felt awfully lonely without family around. That was a secondary reason that we had decided to move, but once we had uprooted ourselves it seemed wrong to not re-root by loved ones.

Incidentally, we travelled for over a month coming out here and went to lots of gorgeous places, but also saw firsthand some of the crap that other places deal with too (awful smog, ridiculous traffic, horrible crime, etc). NJ isn't the only place with problems to be sure. Phucktheflippers, I'd love to know where utopia is.

3/16/2006 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you can find the job in North Carolina, make the move.

I've read many articles about New Yorkers and NJers who have moved down there and their only complaint is "I should have done this years ago."

3/16/2006 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can shed a little light on North Carolina. It's great. I spent my high school and law school years there and it really is a great place to live (less expensive, better weather, more space, lower taxes, ... dare I say it... friendlier folks). The economy is growing quickly down there, as well. Raleigh and the Research Triangle has a growing technology sector and Charlotte is a tremendous banking hub. You get mountains (real Appalachian mountaiins) and the coast and a lot of nice areas in between. Admittedly, the high schools cannot compete with New Jersey's, but the University of North Carolina is a fantastic institution, as are the other in state colleges.

My wife is from this area, though, so we moved here in September. Same reasons, her family is here and her friends are here.
I've had a pretty difficult time with the move, as, from a standard of living standpoint, it was a terrible change. We went from renting a 2 bedroom 2 bath condo for 1000 a month in Chapel Hill to a 2/1.5 in Morris Plains (with a terrible condo association and next to huge power lines) for 1800. Don't get me wrong. I shouldn't bad mouth NJ because it has a number of upsides. That is probably why it is so crowded. Because it is such a nice place. Nevertheless, as great as the schools and food and services and proximity to the City are... we're still overpaying.

A little anecdote... We spent a good deal of time trying to find anything to purchase during 2005. Nothing was available without taking out some funky loan with all the gimmicks. The bottom line was that we COULD NOT buy in New Jersey. So, on our moving day, one of the guys (he was probably 22 or 23 tops) asked about where we were moving and I talked with him a bit about how it was pretty expensive in NJ and that we planned to rent. He then proceeded to tell me that he rented for "a bit" but just bought a 4 bedroom 2 bath farmhouse just north of Durham. Granted, it could have been a real dump, but the fact that my under-25 year-old mover could afford four bedrooms while we couldn't afford period made me want to kick myself... repeatedly.

All that being said, family is family. If you would be miserable without them, you have to suck it up and take the repeated beating from the housing market in this area. Or, if you'll miss good Italian food, don't leave either. But... if nothing is holding you here and you don't mind taking an hour plane ride to visit family and friends, NC is a great place to live and to raise a family.

Again, great blog, keep it up for those of us who can't leave, and for those folks who don't want to.

3/16/2006 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Metroplexual said...

Lokking for growth areas in the country over the next 25 years? Here is a paper describing where the growth will be. BTW it is my brother in law who co-wrote the paper based on his research.

3/16/2006 11:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can understand why people would want to leave NJ for cheaper places but what about the actual cost of relocation. Unless you have a job offer from a company that would pay for the relocation, the cost seems extremely high.

Quitting your present job and moving to NC seems pretty high risk move IMO.

3/16/2006 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger NJGal said...

Thanks for all the input! We were thinking Raleigh ourselves, or possibly Charlotte.

We would never go without at least one job offer, for sure. My husband is looking now, just to see, and frankly, his pay would still be in the mid-high 6 figures (with relocation costs), which here is good but there is kingly, as I see it. If I get a job as well, and make anywhere near what I make here, well, we're rich. No more loans, lower housing cost, lower taxes. So for me financially it would make total sense. However, someone commented about their weaker economy, so if that's a possible issue, it's a consideration.

The schools might not be as good, but frankly, as a Northeast kid myself, the competition is so bad up here to get into good schools that even kids with great grades and SAT scores get rejected just because schools want more diversity in the states where their students come from. So I think I'd actually be giving any kids a better chance of getting into Harvard (if that's what they want) coming from NC than NJ on the numbers basis alone (although NC state schools are indeed great). And I don't like McMansions myself, but I could deal - I have plenty of friends and family who bought them up here, so to me it makes no difference. And a trailer park with tarps or a graffitti'd ghetto? Same difference - I do recognize that every town and city has its own issues.

That said, the point about family is a very good one and is what might hold us here in the end. My thought, like someone said, is that the plane ride is so short. However, it doesn't always compensate for having your parents so close, or siblings, or the friends. And especially if we have kids - I didn't have grandparents myself, and that's something I've always wanted for my kids. There's a lot to be said for keeping that comfort zone and recognizing it as what's really important in life.

Now, has anyone ever left and come back? That's another thing on our minds...

3/16/2006 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

I left NJ/NYC 10+ years ago for Cali and just got back. Like Bon Jovi said, "Who says you can't go home?" :-)

3/16/2006 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Quitting your present job and moving to NC seems pretty high risk move IMO."

What's higher risk, having a $5-600K mortgage in NJ, or a move to NC?

Too many people are afraid to explore their options -- you only live once, and can't be afraid to venture out in the world.

3/16/2006 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger pesche22 said...

and the taxpayers are being looted
in nj as well. worst in the country
except for ny, and ca.

the pols could care less , pander to minorities

3/16/2006 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger RentinginNJ said...

Wow, and I thought I was alone. North Carolina is on the top of my list too. I am thinking about Cary, which is right outside of Raleigh. Good jobs and nice new homes at a reasonable price. The winters are less intense too. I'll see ya down there in two years in NJ doesn't work out.

3/16/2006 04:50:00 PM  
Anonymous KT said...

Anonymous from NC, thank you for the insight into a move to NC. I am also an attorney. Please advise if you know how easy it would be to find legal employment in NC transfering from NJ.


3/16/2006 07:20:00 PM  
Anonymous trroll said...

I do not really care where in NC – though it would need to nice area. I can do my job from anywhere in the world - I need fast internet connection and I'm fine. But my wife works for Continental Airlines (and wants to continue the employment there) so it would have to be close to an airport. She thinks Houston, TX - if I want to fry myself I could stick my head in the oven – to hot for me – but will see.

3/16/2006 10:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regards to property tax rebates, I am all for it. Ask anyone who owns a home, especially in Newark, NJ. Property taxes are at a all time high. If it wasn't for tax rebate relief I would have to raise the rent on my tenant, it helps both of us out. I would love to get rid of the rebate as long as the property taxes were reasonable.

3/17/2006 12:22:00 AM  
Blogger Metroplexual said...

Trroll said...
But my wife works for Continental Airlines (and wants to continue the employment there) so it would have to be close to an airport. She thinks Houston, TX - if I want to fry myself I could stick my head in the oven – to hot for me – but will see.

What does she do? My wife works as an ASA and the transfer to Houston is like getting to the end of the line because of all of the people with so much seniority. It is part of the reason for stayig put as well.

3/17/2006 05:29:00 AM  
Blogger NJGal said...

rentinginnj, I have heard Cary is great. Frankly, I hate myself for saying this and I would make fun of me if I was someone else, but I totally dig the new Martha Stewart McMansions there. I do, I said it. I hate McMansions, and not just the bigness of them, but the cookie cutterness of them. But Martha's homes just seem to have some nice detail. Oh man - what have I come to?

kt, I don't know how easy it is to get legal jobs down there. Like I said, my husband is currently looking for one, but he had worked with the place on a case before. With no connection, I don't know. If we decide to go, I guess I'll find out because I'll have to start looking.

3/17/2006 08:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"She thinks Houston, TX - if I want to fry myself I could stick my head in the oven – to hot for me – but will see."

I think the complaints of heat in Houston is exaggerated. It just feels like Florida, or a hot summer day.

Check, and look in suburbs such as Sugar Land or Greatwood. What you can get for $400K will blow your mind.

3/17/2006 09:53:00 AM  
Anonymous trroll said...


She works as a ticket agent. She’s been with the company for over 6 or 7 years so she got some seniority. According to her – Continental is actually looking for people to relocate as their hub over there just got bigger and they are experiencing employee shortage. She said that over 15 people she knows already moved there – and like it as the houses are much cheaper and nicer as are the property taxes – also if I’m not mistaken there is not state income tax. If you need some more info – let me know – I can provide it for you (to my abilities) outside the blog.

3/17/2006 11:22:00 AM  
Anonymous trroll said...

anon 9:53 AM

I know - it was an exaggeration. We’ve to Houston three times so far and each time in the middle of the summer – so it was really hot. I thing one time it was something like 105 and very humid. I can stay heat I hate humidity – it’s killing me. That’s why NC is my choice if we decide to move.

And yes, I know the prices over there. We’ve been checking them for three months right now. Sugar Land has one of the best school systems (which is important to me) over there so I know it – I’m not that familiar with Greatwood but I’ll check it today. Thanks.

3/17/2006 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Metroplexual said...


My wife is essentially has the same job and has been there for 12 years. Maybe she knows your wife.
My wife's name is Vija.

3/17/2006 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous trroll said...


I'll ask my wife if she knows her. My wife works evening shift right now.

3/17/2006 12:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband is looking now, just to see, and frankly, his pay would still be in the mid-high 6 figures (with relocation costs), which here is good but there is kingly, as I see it. If I get a job as well, and make anywhere near what I make here, well, we're rich.

Nj Gal -- if your husband makes mid to high 6 figures, and you have a good income on top of that, and your jobs are reasonably secure, then I don't know why you can't buy here. Yes, I know its expensive and set for a fall and there are things like student loans and the like, but the kind of income you're talking about seems to be $750-800 K/year. Even buying very, very conservatively, you should be able to get an excellent house for that income.

3/17/2006 02:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sugar Land has one of the best school systems (which is important to me) over there so I know it – I’m not that familiar with Greatwood but I’ll check it today."

Greatwood schools are not as good as Sugar Land, but Greatwood is a newer, up-and-coming town, which would be good if your kids are very young or not born yet. In ten years, the schools should be on par with Sugar Land.

You get more house for your money in Greatwood, too. It's the next town out past Sugar Land, 2-3 minutes on the highway.

3/17/2006 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger NJGal said...

Oops Anonymous, I overstated his income - sorry, I wasn't really paying attention! I wish he made that much! But you're right, if he did we could still afford here.

We do very well together - we can afford a house here. But there's a difference between "affording" something and being willing to pay out the a-- for it. We could work like dogs for the rest of our lives, have some kids we may never see, pay a nanny, never take a vacation and "afford" it here, but I'm not sure we really want that. The way I see it, in the towns I'd be willing to live in, I'm looking at 5-6K a month in costs (and that's not for the most expensive house either - it does factor in insane property taxes and the fact that "starters" seem to be 600-700K nowadays). Ugh. That's SO much money to put towards a house. And that excludes maintenance if something breaks, heating, air conditioning, etc.

I don't know, maybe I'm just being cheap, but I want to save for vacations, retirement, a rainy day - how can I buy a house, have kids and do that here and have any quality of life? It's frustrating, and although I know many people do it, I question whether they're really happy about it.

3/17/2006 06:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We too are exploring down south...but for early retirement. Even if the housing bubble bursts we can still afford to buy new construction down south out right and have no mortage...BUT>>> prices are slighlty rising in the Carolinas, Georgia as the yankee influx into the southland becomes more & more.

If we stay here in NJ we will just about have to work until we die let alone early retirement...I will miss my bith place but hey can always come to visit...I'll be able to afford it.

3/22/2006 03:13:00 PM  
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