Aerial View of New Jersey City Street from a Drone

Most Affordable Places to Live in New Jersey

Thinking of living in New Jersey? The Garden State can be expensive with a median home price of $342,527 and median monthly rent of $2,000, but there are plenty of affordable cities here that you can call home! New Jersey residents enjoy budget-friendly housing options, safe neighborhoods, and tons of outdoor recreation, while also being a short commute away from more expensive areas like New York City and Philadelphia. Take a look at these six affordable places to live in New Jersey!

  • Hightstown
  • New Brunswick
  • Phillipsburg
  • Pompton Lakes
  • Rahway
  • Toms River

Hightstown

Downtown Highstown, NJ at Golden Hour. Photo by Instagram user @fotosforthefuture_drone
Photo via @fotosforthefuture_drone
  • Population: 5,532
  • Home Price: $267,600 median purchase price; $1,328 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 90% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.1%

Hoping to live in a smaller city? Check out Hightstown in Central New Jersey! Not only does this city offer an affordable cost of living, but you’ll also be halfway between New York City and Philadelphia, which means you can easily commute or enjoy weekend getaways. In town, Peddie is a top-rated private school that’s great for families with school-aged children; for those seeking higher education, Princeton University is only 20 minutes down the road. And if you prefer relaxing views of the Atlantic Ocean, Jersey Shore is a quick 45-minute trip south!

Things to Do in Hightstown

Walk around Peddie Lake, go fishing, or have a picnic at Hightstown Memorial Park. Become a member of Peddie Golf Club and join a golf league. Find home decor and gifts for friends and family at Perennial Home. Discover new brews like the Fence Sitter Pale Ale or Parachute Factory Double IPA at Old Hights Brewing Company. Grab a Sriracha Chicken Sandwich, Caprese Hoagie, or Hummus Quesadilla at 4 Seasons Cafe & Deli. Take in views of the lake, watch local live music, and dig into a Buffalo Chicken Pizza or BBQ Pineapple Pork Loin at Tavern on the Lake. Get a taste of Jamaican eats with Morgan’s Special Wrap or the Bob Marley Salad at Morgan’s Island Grill. Or have a farm-to-table brunch and order the Wild Boar Benedict or Baked Cinnamon Custard French Toast at 12 Farms Restaurant.

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New Brunswick

Aerial View of Rutgers University Campus in New Brunswick, NJ. Photo by Instagram user @andhdze
Photo via @andhdze
  • Population: 56,427
  • Home Price: $253,300 median purchase price; $1,381 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 18% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.5%

Known as the Hub City, New Brunswick is an affordable place to live in New Jersey that attracts young professionals, thanks to Rutgers University and major employers like Johnson & Johnson and Bristol Myers Squibb. And with plenty of shopping, dining, and entertainment hubs throughout the city, New Brunswick offers fun things to do for residents of all ages! Here, you can easily get around with the city’s well-established public transit that includes BrunsQuick Shuttles, Rutgers Campus Buses, and the NJ Transit Train. Plus, if you plan on commuting to NYC for work or play, it’s just under an hour away!

Things to Do in New Brunswick

Check out the latest ancient and modern art exhibits on display at Zimmerli Art Museum, one of the largest university-based museums in the country. Visit Rutgers Gardens to see breathtaking plants, wildlife, and sculptures. Experience everything from contemporary ballet to concerts at State Theatre New Jersey. Attend an open-mic night or comedy show at Stress Factory Comedy Club. Enjoy a Classic Surf n’ Turf dinner with Amaretto Creme Brulee for dessert at Steakhouse 85. Order the Super Mario or Tony Manero Pizza from Fatto Americano. Try a Chai Tea Flight while snacking on Gulab Jamun Donuts at Simply Chai. Hang out at Hub City Brewhouse and sip on a Hopped Up Hub City IPA. Or snag a Falafull Wrap, RAWvioli, Mash-n-Gravy, and other vegan eats at Veganized.

Phillipsburg

Drone Photo of Phillipsburg, NJ During the Day. Photo by Instagram user @drowsydrone
Photo via @drowsydrone
  • Population: 14,570
  • Home Price: $140,100 median purchase price; $868 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 37% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 7.5%

If you want a close-knit community paired with affordable living, Phillipsburg may be the perfect fit! This New Jersey city is right on the Pennsylvania border directly across from Easton, which offers shopping, dining, and family-friendly activities like the Crayola Experience. You’ll also be close to some fantastic land and water recreation since Phillipsburg sits on the Delaware River and is less than an hour from the Poconos. There’s a lot to discover in Warren County’s largest city!

Things to Do in Phillipsburg

Book a tour with Delaware River Railroad Excursions, and take a train ride to see the beauty of West Jersey or a tour of New Jersey wineries. Learn more about the history of railroads at Phillipsburg Railroad Historians Museum. Enjoy time with friends knocking down bowling pins at Warren Lanes Bowling Alley. Find the perfect antique piece for your home at Country Bumpkin Antique and Collectibles. Chow down on all-day breakfast items like the Triple Cheese Omelet, Sausage Gravy Benedict, or Croissant Sandwich at Key City Diner. Eat classic Cheese Steaks or Cheese Steak Sliders with the signature hot or mild sauces at Joe’s Steak Shop. Dig into one of the best burgers in New Jersey at Sullivan’s on the Main or try their other specialties like the Jersey Street Sandwich. Or get some Sauteed Pierogies or the Pabst Blue Reuben at SoMa Downtown Grill & Cafe.

Pompton Lakes

Aerial View of Ramapo River Alongside Pompton Lakes, NJ. Photo by Instagram user @aboveandaway
Photo via @aboveandaway
  • Population: 11,163
  • Home Price: $294,800 median purchase price; $1,440 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 73% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.9%

Do you spend most of your time outdoors? Consider living in Pompton Lakes! This New Jersey town has three rivers running through it and sits along Pompton Lake, so you have tons of water activities right in your own backyard! And if that isn’t enough outdoor recreation for you, Norvin Green State Forest is only 15 minutes away and offers hiking, boating, and fishing. Of course, spending time outside isn’t the only thing to do in Pompton Lakes. You’ll also find a variety of restaurants and cafes, local arts and culture, and much more!

Things to Do in Pompton Lakes

Rent a paddle boat, go fishing, or walk along the water at Pompton Lake. Play a game of tennis at Hershfield Park. Solve mysteries or experience a rage room at Pompton Lakes Escape Room. Watch local productions of musicals like Memories of Elvis on the outdoor stage at Rhino Theatre. Try Italian dishes like Shrimp & Scallops Fra Diavolo and Ravioli Gambarelli at Axton’s, the restaurant of Chef Anton who competed on TV shows like Chopped and Hell’s Kitchen. Build your own rice bowl or order the Chipotle Glazed Shrimp Tacos at Chanos Latin Kitchen. Eat next-level grilled cheese sandwiches like The Cheesy Cuban or Spicy Parmesan Chicken at The Cheese Bar. Or head to Mr. Sushi for specialty sushi rolls like the Garden State, Spicy Girl, and Izumi Special.

Rahway

Aerial View of the town of Rahway, NJ. Photo by Instagram user @watt.hotel_byhilton
Photo via @watt.hotel_byhilton
  • Population: 28,884
  • Home Price: $265,300 median purchase price; $1,311 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 76% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 6.3%

About 30 minutes south of Newark, you’ll find yourself in the city of Rahway. Not only are there budget-friendly houses and apartments here, but Rahway also has a bustling arts and culture scene, plenty of unique dining experiences, and charming local shops to check out. If you’re looking to get involved in the community and meet new people, the city hosts several community events throughout the year. Rahway is also part of the New York metropolitan area, so traveling to Manhattan is easy and will only take you about 45 minutes.

Things to Do in Rahway

Go fishing, biking, and enjoy scenic views of the water at Milton Lake Park. Walk your four-legged friend or have a picnic at Rahway River Park. Learn more about early American history at The Merchants and Drovers Tavern Museum. Watch a classic film or catch a live music performance at Union County Performing Arts Center. Drink iced lattes and snack on fresh-baked pastries at The Coffee Box. Get a taste of Cuban food at CubaNu Restaurant and Lounge, where you can try Mofongo, Pollo ala Plancha, or Bacalaitos. Find brews like Tastes Like Summer Watermelon Wheat or Hop Dyed IPA at Wet Ticket Brewing. Or indulge your sweet tooth with the Dirty Blondie or Matcha Love rolled ice creams from Melao Cafe and Creamery.

Toms River

View of the Coast in Toms River, NJ. Photo by Instagram user @mikebarronvisuals
Photo via @mikebarronvisuals
  • Population: 88,537
  • Home Price: $278,700 median purchase price; $1,337 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 71% of U.S. cities
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.6%

Located along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean is the seaside city of Toms River, a favorite among young adults, families, and retirees alike. If you’re a fan of hanging out by the water, this affordable New Jersey city has many beach areas and waterfront activities at spots like Ortley Beach and Seaside Heights that can keep you busy! Here, you’ll be able to find affordable houses and apartments close to shopping, dining, and nightlife destinations. Plus, you’re just under two hours away from both NYC and Philadelphia!

Things to Do in Toms River

Go bird watching or hike to scenic overlooks at Cattus Island County Park. See spiders in the Creepy Cavern, honeybees at Hive Airport, and other bugs at New Jersey’s bug museum Insectropolis. Play arcade games and a round of mini golf at Barnacle Bill’s Amusements. Swim in the ocean or relax in the sand at Ortley Beach. Try New Jersey craft beers like the Citron Pale Ale or Down in the Bog Stout at Toms River Brewing. Visit Uncle Dood’s Donuts for iced-to-order donuts—and be sure to try their monthly flavor specials! Eat upscale Chinese bites like Peking Duck and Fried Diver Sea Scallops at Xina. Or get your burger fix in at Burger 25, where you can order the Chicken & Waffles Burger with a Strawberry Milkshake.

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City statistics from AreaVibes

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Moving to New Jersey? These six cities offer budget-friendly housing, safe neighborhoods, tons of amenities, and close proximity to Philadelphia and New York City! via @extraspace