Living in New Jersey? The Garden State can be costly with a median home price of $457,045 and median monthly rent of $2,500—but there are still plenty of budget-friendly cities to live in! Take a look at these eight affordable places to live in New Jersey, offering low costs of living, tons of things to do, and close proximity to major cities like New York City and Philadelphia.
- Population: 8,386
- Home Price: $178,100 median purchase price; $1,104 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 30% of New Jersey cities
- Unemployment Rate: 4.9%
Looking for a New Jersey borough packed with unique charm at an affordable price? Consider Clayton, a sparse suburb that offers small-town vibes along with access to major cities like Philly and Atlantic City. Clayton is a great place for families, with quality education at places like Herma Simmons Elementary School and Clayton High School. It’s also perfect for getting involved with community events or youth sports organizations like Clayton Little League. And with a third of Clayton’s land dedicated to parks and recreation, the borough is a great place to spend time outdoors. Home to museums, trails, and shopping malls, there are plenty of ways for residents of all ages to enjoy cost-effective living in Clayton.
Things to Do in Clayton
Appreciate New Jersey history and culture with a collection of personal papers, photographs, and early maps at The Clayton Historic Museum. Go fishing, kayaking, or admire live snakes and frogs at The Nature Center at the largest park in the county, Scotland Run Park. Participate in laid-back group sessions like Goat Yoga or take the kids to Family Paint Night at small New Jersey art studio, The Little Lamb. Hike through deciduous forest swamps while watching migrating birds like scarlet tanagers and prothonotary warblers at the Glassboro Wildlife Management Area. Start your day with Chunky Monkey Pancakes or get authentic Mexican/American entrees like Ribeye Paninis and Shrimp Fajitas at Neri’s Cafe and Mexican Grill. Try a ROB Sandwich followed by a specialty sundae or malt for one of the best lunches in Clayton at Twin Kiss Drive-In. Grab a slice of Clayton pizza like Chicken Bacon Rancher or Bianca Trio Pizza, or taste Italian dishes like Baked Ziti and Steak Stromboli at Nick’s Pizza. Sample delicious hand-crafted desserts like Amaretto Cheesecake and Cheesecake Cupcakes at Yhanne’s House of Cheesecakes.
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- Population: 11,357
- Home Price: $121,200 median purchase price; $1,063 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 20% of New Jersey cities
- Unemployment Rate: 5.7%
Find an eclectic mix of waterfront views and active nightlife in Gloucester City, one of the most affordable places to live in New Jersey! This vibrant city sits along the Delaware River at the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and is connected to Philadelphia by the famous Walt Whitman Bridge. Families will appreciate top-rated schools like Gloucester City Middle School and Gloucester City High School. Meanwhile, outdoor enthusiasts can explore some of the best state parks in and around Gloucester City or get immersed in rich history and culture with the Gloucester City Historical Society. This affordable New Jersey city is also a hub for bar and marina culture, so there’s always something to experience.
Things to Do in Gloucester City
Discover the Gloucester City waterfront by taking in scenic views of the Delaware River at Proprietors Park or renting a boat at the Gloucester City Marina. Take a sightseeing cruise from Freedom Pier on The North Wind Schooner to see historic sites and ships like the USS New Jersey, SS United States, and SS Olympia. Check out the latest fiction and nonfiction releases, or get your little one involved in weekly Storytime or Toddler Playgroup events at the Gloucester City Library. Browse fresh seasonal produce with homegrown ingredients like scallions, parsley, and cilantro in nearby Brooklawn at Verchio’s Produce & Deli. Swing through Gloucester City taverns for a Grilled Reuben Sandwich at The Highland Tavern—or a signature Chicken Cheesesteak Sandwich from Tavern on the Edge. Dine on fresh New Jersey seafood like Max’s Famous Mussels, Crab Cakes, and Fra Diavolo at Max’s Seafood Cafe. Spend the evening eating craft Portobello Burgers and sipping a Key Lime Pie Martini at authentic Irish pub Holy City Publick House. Or have a steak dinner with in-house premium beef like Filet Mignon and Ribeye at Chubby’s Steakhouse.
- Population: 5,532
- Home Price: $267,600 median purchase price; $1,328 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 40% of New Jersey cities
- Unemployment Rate: 5.1%
Wanting to live in a small town? Check out Hightstown in Central New Jersey! Not only does Hightstown offer an affordable cost of living, but you’ll also be halfway between New York City and Philadelphia, which means you can easily commute to work or enjoy weekend getaways. In town, families with school-aged children can choose from great schools like Hightstown High and Peddie—a top-rated private school. For those seeking higher education, Princeton University is only 20 minutes down the road. And if you’re looking for relaxing views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Jersey Shore is less than an hour away!
Things to Do in Hightstown
Walk around Peddie Lake, go fishing, or have a picnic at Hightstown Memorial Park. Attend open or family swim times, or sign your little ones up for swim lessons at the Peddie Aquatic Center. Find locally-made artwork, home decor, and gifts for friends and family in Allentown at Perennial Home. Grab deli subs and sandwiches like an Avocado BLT, Grilled Chicken, or Turkey Club Sandwich for lunch at The Hightstown Diner. Take in views of the lake, listen to live local music, and dig into a Greek Salmon Burger or Seafood Risotto at Tavern on the Lake. Get a taste of Jamaican eats with Morgan’s Special Wrap or the Redemption Salad at Morgan’s Island Grill. Discover new brews like the Fence Sitter Pale Ale or 1721 Lager at Old Hights Brewing Company. Or have a farm-to-table Hightstown brunch by ordering the Wild Boar Benedict or Baked Cinnamon Custard French Toast at 12 Farms Restaurant.
- Population: 14,570
- Home Price: $140,100 median purchase price; $868 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 20% of New Jersey cities
- Unemployment Rate: 7.5%
If you want a close-knit community paired with affordable living, Phillipsburg may be the perfect fit! This affordable New Jersey city is right on the Pennsylvania border, offering easy access to premier shopping, dining, and family-friendly activities like the Crayola Experience. You’ll also be close to fantastic water recreation like Twin Rivers Tubing, 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 see the beauty of West Jersey with an excursion on the River Train, the Winery Train, or the Mine Train. Learn more about the history of New Jersey railroads or attend annual events like the Phillipsburg Railroad Festival and Pork Roll Palooza at the Phillipsburg Railroad Historians Museum. Enjoy time with friends knocking down bowling pins at ’70s-style Warren Lanes Bowling Alley. Practice on athletic fields, go picnicking with family, or splash around the community pool at Walter’s Park. Wake up bright and early for breakfast in Phillipsburg and order the Short Rib Hash, Western Omelette, or Breakfast Platter at Main Street Cafe. Have slices of brick oven Phillipsburg pizza like the Roma, Bianca Verde, and Jack’s Special Pizza at Jack’s Pizzeria. Eat classic Cheese Steaks or Cheese Steak Sliders with the signature hot or mild sauces at Joe’s Steak Shop. Or get some Sauteed Pierogies or the Pabst Blue Reuben with your favorite brew at SoMa Downtown Grill & Cafe.
- Population: 8,916
- Home Price: $188,300 median purchase price; $1,020 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 60% of New Jersey cities
- Unemployment Rate: 5.8%
Pitman is an affordable place to live in New Jersey that attracts a lot of young professionals, thanks to the bustling business district in Uptown Pitman and its vast selection of local businesses. Residents of all ages love Pitman’s beautiful parks and coffee shops, which capture the city’s small-town atmosphere and charm. And if you’re looking for a more urban experience on the weekends, Pitman offers access to big cities like Philadelphia and Atlantic City, both of which are under an hour away. For those planning their commute, Pitman is a highly-walkable city with well-established public transit like the Glassboro-Camden Line and the NJ Transit Train, so you can get around town and the surrounding cities with ease.
Things to Do in Pitman
Grab a bundle of fresh produce and veggies or bakery goods, or participate in seasonal family events like Strawberry and Apple Picking at Duffield’s Farm Market. See a live musical, concert, or children’s theatre production at the renovated 1920s-era entertainment venue, Broadway Theatre of Pitman. Go picnicking with family or play recreational sports like softball, pickleball, or basketball at James G. Atkinson Memorial Park. Get your kids involved in hockey clubs like the Hollydell Havoc or Hollydell Hurricanes—or lace up your skates for public skating sessions at Hollydell Ice Arena. Take part in a delicious Pitman breakfast of Lobster Benedict, Tiger Shrimp Tacos, or a Milkweed Truffled Egg Sandwich at Milkweed Table + Market. Enjoy New American cuisine like Broiled Crab Cakes or Grilled Ahi Tuna at “South Jersey’s premier smokehouse and taproom”, Carolina Blue. Grab slices of Chicken Bruschetta or Veggie Deluxe Pizza, or munch on a Meatball Sandwich with a side of Onion Rings at Papa Luigi. Or savor classic pub fare like a Boardroom Burger or Philly Cheesesteak with a signature Stateside Summer Breeze cocktail at Merryman’s Pub.
- Population: 11,163
- Home Price: $294,800 median purchase price; $1,440 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 70% of New Jersey cities
- Unemployment Rate: 4.9%
Do you spend most of your time outdoors? Consider living in Pompton Lakes! This affordable 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 in town, Norvin Green State Forest is only 15 minutes away and offers hiking, boating, and fishing. Of course, spending time outside is just one of many things 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. Watch your kids run around the playground, practice your tennis swing, or walk the rustic trails at Hershfield Park. Solve puzzles, riddles, and mental challenges in themed rooms like Awaken or The Otherside: Room 401 at Pompton Lakes Escape Room. Watch local productions of musicals and plays like Cabaret of Dreams or All My Sons on the stage at Star Royale Theatre. Try Italian dishes like Shrimp and Scallops, Chicken Carmelo, and Vegan Ravioli at Axton’s, the restaurant of Chef Anton (who competed on TV shows like Chopped and Hell’s Kitchen). Splurge on a meal of Grilled Salmon, Shrimp Scampi, or the New York Sirloin at Black Bull Steakhouse & Seafood. Dine on Spanish and Portuguese-style meals like Camarones Provencal and Solomillo ao Porto at Vila Verde. Or head to Mr. Sushi for specialty Pompton Lakes sushi rolls like the Garden State, Spicy Girl, and Izumi Special.
- Population: 28,884
- Home Price: $265,300 median purchase price; $1,311 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 46% of New Jersey cities
- Unemployment Rate: 6.3%
About 14 miles south of Newark, you’ll find 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 events throughout the year. Since Rahway is also part of the New York metropolitan area, traveling to Manhattan is easy as the city is only about 30 miles away.
Things to Do in Rahway
Go fishing or biking while taking in scenic lakefront views at Milton Lake Park. Walk your four-legged friend, have a picnic, or explore the athletic fields at Rahway River Park. Tour an 1820s-style New Jersey bar and taproom while learning more about early American history at The Merchants and Drovers Tavern Museum. Watch a classic film or musical, or catch a live music performance at Union County Performing Arts Center. Snack on fresh-baked pastries like Mocha Coffee Cupcakes and Wild Berry Scones while sipping on an iced latte at The Coffee Box. Get a taste of Cuban food at CubaNu Restaurant & Lounge, where you can try Mofongo, Pollo ala Plancha, or Bacalaitos. Find brews like Tastes Like Summer Watermelon Wheat or Trolley Hepper at Wet Ticket Brewing. Or indulge your sweet tooth with the Dirty Blondie or Matcha Love Rahway rolled ice creams from Melao Cafe & Creamery.
- Population: 88,537
- Home Price: $278,700 median purchase price; $1,337 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 46% of New Jersey cities
- Unemployment Rate: 4.6%
Located along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean is the seaside Township of Toms River, a favorite among young adults, families, and retirees alike. If you love 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! Those moving to Toms River can find affordable housing and apartments close to shopping, dining, and nightlife destinations. Plus, you’re about an hour and half away from both NYC and Philadelphia!
Things to Do in Toms River
Go bird-watching at the Cooper Environmental Center or hike to scenic overlooks near Barnegat Bay 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 old-school arcade games and a round of 18-hole mini golf at Barnacle Bill’s Amusements. Swim in the ocean, relax in the sand, or trek down the boardwalk at Ortley Beach. 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. Get your burger fix at Burger 25, where you can order a Tex Mex Burger or the Chicken n’ Waffles sandwich with a Strawberry Milkshake. Or try New Jersey craft beers like Irish Eyes IPA and Raise Helles Lager at Toms River Brewing.
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City statistics from AreaVibes