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Newark Skyline at Night

14 Things to Know About Living in Newark

Considering a move to Newark? A top New Jersey commuter town, Newark is an amazing spot for people looking for job access in the NYC metro, unique restaurants, a growing arts scene, and spacious homes without New York City’s skyscraper prices. Check out these 14 things to know about living in Newark!

Find Affordability & Convenience in the Garden State

Aerial drone shot of Newark New Jersey skyline. Photo by Instagram user @jdlaerial.

Photo via @jdlaerial

If you’re planning on living in New Jersey and commuting to NYC, you’ll most likely be choosing between Newark and Jersey City. Newark’s cost of living isn’t just lower than Jersey City’s—it’s 8% lower than the New Jersey average, while Jersey City’s cost of living is a whopping 15% above the state average. Housing in Brick City is significantly more affordable than in Jersey City, as well, with home prices averaging at $400,000 and rent prices at $1,390. Plus, residents can find more budget-friendly real estate throughout the different safe, affordable neighborhoods in Newark to choose from! Newark also offers loads of amenities, excellent, affordable healthcare, and an incredibly diverse community. Plus, while Jersey City is closer to New York, Newark is now only about a 20-minute trip to Downtown Manhattan thanks to its public transportation options and and the city’s revitalization efforts.

Start Your New Career in Brick City

View of Downtown Newark Looking Up Broad St at the Prudential Building. Photo by Instagram user @newarknjblog

Photo via @newarknjblog

Not everything is about The Big Apple! Those living in Newark are near plenty of great employment opportunities in financial services, logistics, healthcare, technology, and more of Newarks’ key industries. Check out open positions at large companies headquartered in Newark, like Panasonic, Prudential Financial, Audible, and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. Another huge portion of the local economy is made up by Port Newark Container Terminal, the largest container-shipping center in the Northeast. Investment groups like Newark Venture Partners and HAX are even helping Newark grow into one of the top destinations for tech startups and small business innovators in the country.

Benefit from Nonstop Newark Revitalization

View from an intersection on Halsey St with a modern white building in the background. Photo by Instagram user @thenewarktimes

Photo via @thenewarktimes

Is Newark safe? This is probably the most frequently asked question by non-residents. While Newark hasn’t always had the best reputation, it continues to make headlines for its strides in developing and transforming into a hot spot to live and work. Newark is expanding transportation hubs, parks, and more by investing millions into local infrastructure. Opting for healthy, sustainable growth and fighting Newark gentrification that would displace locals is a top priority for current Mayor Ras Baraka. One innovative solution is Teacher’s Village, a hybrid development complex complete with a community learning center, schools, retail spaces, and affordable apartments in the heart of Newark. The city and many other large corporations continue to invest millions of dollars to support Black and Latinx-owned businesses. The current Newark Renaissance isn’t the first transformation the city has undergone, and it likely won’t be the last, thanks to the resiliency of its residents and the community’s ability to adapt together.

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Explore the City with Public Transportation

View of Newark and a plane's wing from inside a plane. Photo by Instagram user @madametamtaaam

Photo via @madametamtaaam

Traveling within city limits, as well as outside of Newark, is easy! In fact, 40.5% of Newark households don’t have cars thanks in part to the metro’s robust public transit system. The NJ Transit can help you plan your rides with their app, connect you to the light rail, or bus you around the city. Commuters to nearby areas can quickly get from Newark Penn Station to Jersey City or Manhattan via the PATH high-speed train. And those needing to fly for business or pleasure can do so at Newark Liberty International Airport—one of the busiest airports in the area after John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Earn Your Degree at Newark Schools

Looking down the Rutgers football field from the turf. Photo by Instagram user @runewark

Photo via @runewark

While Newark might not come to mind first when discussing college towns, it’s still home to fantastic schools with amazing opportunities. Located downtown, Rutgers University-Newark enrolls the most undergraduate students in the area, while the local branch of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences brings in graduate and medical students. Also in the heart of the city, Seton Hall University School of Law attracts students hoping to someday work at one of the numerous law firms or major financial corporations in the metro. Students hoping to pursue degrees in computer information systems and engineering can find top-rated programs at New Jersey Institute of Technology. For a community college option, Essex County College offers 74 degree and certificate programs, as well as continuing education credits. And locals can find accelerated bachelor degrees like Psychology & Counseling, Organizational Leadership, or Biblical Studies at Pillar College.

Enjoy Newark’s Outdoor Recreation

Landscape shot of lake at Branch Brook Park with cherry blossom trees and Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in the background. Photo by Instagram user @micshgbs.

Photo via @micshgbs

Many of the best free things to do in Newark involve taking in the stunning scenery in the city’s numerous parks and green spaces. Check out Mulberry Commons—the newest recreation area and part of the downtown revitalization project—for greenery, a playground, and pedestrian bridge in an otherwise urban Downtown Newark. Experience outdoor fitness classes, movie screenings, tech or author talks, children’s programs, and more in Military Park. Escape from the city bustle with 360 acres of lush terrain to hike, bike, or do yoga at Branch Brook Park, the oldest park in the U.S. Play soccer, tennis, baseball, or basketball while enjoying waterfront views at Riverfront Park. Or head to the South Ward to participate in fishing derbies, attend an outdoor concert, monkey around the playground, or tee off on the golf course at Weequahic Park.

Explore Endless Things to See & Learn

Looking at the white front and spires of Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Photo by Instagram user @mmosti

Photo via @mmosti

Newark is home to several fascinating historical attractions. Visit Cathedral Basilica of The Sacred Heart—a national historic landmark—and view the limestone walls, elaborate stained glass windows, vaulted cathedral ceilings, and French Gothic Revival-style furnishings that make it one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Tour rotating exhibits featuring artifacts, photos, multimedia installations, and more at the Jewish Museum of New Jersey, which is housed in the Ahavas Sholom Synagogue. Or head over to Thomas Edison National Historical Park and explore the laboratory where countless inventions were created, and stroll the grounds and admire the Queen Anne-style architecture of Edison’s home.

Appreciate Newark Art & Culture

Colorful wall mural on the outside of a building at Newark Penn Station. Photo by Instagram user @halopigg

Photo via @halopigg

A vibrant arts scene means there are plenty of interesting things to see in Newark! If you’ve noticed murals around the city, they’re likely curated by Gateways to Newark, a street art project dedicated to beautifying entryways into the city. Are galleries more your thing? See art from around the world, special exhibits like Animal Kingdom, or sculptures in The Garden at the Newark Museum of Art. Discover Contemporary visual art, large installations, and performance pieces curated around inviting discussions on social issues at Project for Empty Space. Visit Gallery Aferro to check out the latest exhibit or attend the monthly poetry open mic. Live music is another staple of Newark culture! Enjoy a variety of performing artists each summer at the Lincoln Park Music Festival, which features everything from jazz and gospel, to hip-hop and house music. Or go to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center to see the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, touring jazz musicians, modern dance master classes, and community lectures.

Check Out Newark Attractions for Families

Child feeding a giraffe leaves at the Turtle Back Zoo in Newark. Photo by Instagram user @gkarambel.

Photo via @gkarambel

The amount of things to do with kids in Newark are endless. Participate in sports like ice skating, swimming, boxing, and more at the Sharpe James/Kenneth A. Gibson Recreation & Aquatic Center. Learn about astronomy through interactive programs at the Newark Museum‘s Alice and Leonard Dreyfuss Planetarium. Rock and roll with the family at the Branch Brook Park Roller Skating Center. Take yoga classes or sign your little ones up for kids yoga on Sundays at I’m So Yoga Newark. Or spend the day with the family exploring behind-the-scenes tours, the Treetop Adventure Course, Mini Golf Safari, pony rides, and more at Turtle Back Zoo!

Experience Festivals Throughout the Year

Looking for fun things to do in Newark? There are festivals for every season or interest! Attend the annual Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival with visitors from all over the world for unbeatable natural beauty, live music, fun runs, bike races, a fishing derby, and more at Branch Brook Park. Head to Ferry Street in Ironbound to enjoy Portuguese BBQ Chicken, traditional folk dancing, classical guitar, and more on Portugal Day. See movie screenings followed by forums with screenwriters, historians, and scholars at the Newark Museum Black Film Festival. Take the whole family for live music and African fashion, food, and art from over 200 vendors at the AfroBeat Festival. Or visit the Dodge Poetry Festival—the largest poetry event in North America—for four days of spoken word readings, workshops, Q&As, and more!

Jam to Newark’s Jazz

Building of WBGO jazz radio station in Newark New Jersey. Photo by Instagram user @newarknjblog.

Photo via @newarknjblog

While living in Newark, you’ll learn how it became one of the greatest jazz cities in the world. Artists like Sarah Vaughan, James Moody, Woody Shaw, and Wayne Shorter all made their mark on the Newark jazz scene. Today, the Sarah Vaughan Concert Hall—the primary performing area at the historic Newark Symphony Hall—pays tribute to her legacy and hosts musicians, speakers, and film screenings. Experience one of the largest collections of oral histories on jazz, listen to recordings, and explore the archives and research libraries at the Institute of Jazz Studies located at Rutgers-Newark, or pursue your master’s degree in Jazz History and Research. Pack a blanket or lawn chairs to enjoy Newark Museum’s Jazz in the Garden in comfort each summer. And be sure to support live jazz at cozy, cabaret-style Clements Place each week!

Rock Out at “The Rock”

The band FallOut Boy performing on stage in front of an audience with pyrotechnics in the background. Photo by Instagram user @prucenter

Photo via @prucenter

The Prudential Center (known by locals as The Rock) is home to countless fun things to do in Downtown Newark! Not only do fans of professional hockey come to the indoor arena to see the New Jersey Devils (NHL) play, but they cheer on the Metropolitan Riveters (PHF) here, as well. The ice rink transforms into a basketball court for the Seton Hall Pirates (NCAA) men’s basketball team. When there’s not a game to watch, national touring acts like Elton John, Cher, Travis Scott, and Fleetwood Mac take the stage. Comedy shows, community events, Disney On Ice, the Harlem Globetrotters, and the McDonald’s Gospelfest—a tribute to Aretha Franklin—are all hosted at The Rock, too. Plus, the Prudential Center houses the East Coast Grammy Museum outpost, where visitors can learn the history of some of the winning artists, see a concert simulation, or try their hand at drumming through an interactive learning experience.

Savor International Cuisine in Ironbound

Plate of Portuguese clam stew. Photo by Instagram user @adega_grillnj.

Photo via @adega_grillnj

Ironbound has historically been a popular Newark neighborhood for immigrants, especially for those of Spanish and Portuguese descent since the 1960s. Find Portuguese pastries and a daily-rotating menu at Bread Of Life Bakery. Head to Adega Grill for Salmao Grelhado, Arroz de Camarao, and an extensive wine selection. Get your fill of fresh seafood, including Mariscada, Gambas Grelhadas, and more at Seabra’s Marisqueira. Visit Brasilia Grill for endless skewers of traditional Brazilian Fried Chicken, Grilled Chicken Hearts, and Paella Marinera. Eat Lenguado Relleno, Ternera Marsala, or the Paella Valenciana at Casa Vasca. Or enjoy a variety of fresh fruit sorbets, creamy gelato, or one of the many specialty desserts, including tartufo, spumoni, reginetta, and many more at Nasto’s Old World Desserts!

Enjoy a Night Out in Newark

Pint of beer from Newark Local Beer Taproom and Brewery. Photo by Instagram user @apexbrewcrew.

Photo via @apexbrewcrew

Looking for things to do at night in Newark? The city is full of exciting nightlife! Enjoy a night out full of tapas, paella, sangria, and Flamenco shows at Mompou Tapas Bar & Restaurant. Party all night to a variety of music such as EDM, punk, new wave, and more at QXT’s. Sip unique cocktails and margaritas like the Tijuana Punch, El Payaso, and Anything For Selena at Little Tijuana. Enjoy authentic German beer, $5 happy hour specials, and post-game celebrations across the street from The Prudential Center at Redd’s Biergarten. Or grab a pint of Oatmeal Stout, Switch Failure-2, or Foghorn NE Pale at Newark Local Beer, a local craft brewery and taproom.

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About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.