In defense of northern New Jersey

John V. writes to me:

In your podcast with Ezra Klein, you said your number 1 rule for growing up in New Jersey is “Leave”. I’d encourage you to modify the rule to “Leave…but then Return!”

I grew up in Morris County, lived in the San Francisco area for 10 years after college, and moved back to NJ 3 years ago. I now live just a few towns over from where you grew up in Bergen County.

A few observations from my time back here:

1. More Affordable Than You Think

Given the access to labor markets and the available cultural amenities, Northern New Jersey is surprisingly affordable. It’s still possible to find a reasonable home in a reasonable location for ~$200k, which is close to the national median.

I lived in Palo Alto for most of my time in California. The cheapest 4-bedroom house in Palo Alto right now is $2.6M (

I live in what is perhaps the most “Palo Alto-like” of Bergen County towns, and my 4-bedroom house cost over 3x less and is almost 2x larger than the Palo Alto house above. I also can walk to the train, a Whole Foods, library, YMCA, town pool, third-wave coffee shop, etc. Not too shabby for the price!

Here’s a nice 4-bedroom house on a 1/3 of an acre for under $500k with a Walk Score of 83, train access to NYC, and good schools:

Yes, property and income taxes are high, but isn’t that really just a form of consumption?

2. Quick Access to World-Class Everything

Some travel time anecdotes from my house:
– 35 minutes to Lincoln Center or Central Park on a Saturday
– 20 minutes to this water fall:
– Just over an hour to this beach:

The food is good too!
– Korean:
– Hot Dogs:
– Turkish Bread:
– Sliders:
– Colombian:

3. Extremely Diverse Middle-Class

Want to see what a successful American future could look like? Go here on a Wednesday or Saturday afternoon:

Things you’ll see and hear: Five or six different languages being spoken. Russian grandmothers going for a walk. Packs of teenage girls wearing Hijabs. Orthodox Jewish moms pushing strollers. And many more groups, all reflecting the diversity and success of the surrounding towns:,_New_Jersey#Community_diversity,_New_Jersey#2010_Census

Northern New Jersey has undergone a lot of ethnic change and international immigration over the last 30 years. There are problems of course, including plenty of segregation. But it’s still working pretty well. The rest of the country could learn a thing or two.


Why is it presumed that diversity is a positive? Does he actually enjoy seeing "packs of teenage girls wearing hijabs", or has he simply been told that this is something he should enjoy seeing.


When I see packs of teenage girls, it never occurs to me that it'd be better if they were more covered up.

All teenagers are annoying, doesn't matter what they wear as long as they are somewhere else. Yes, I thought this as a teenager.

I agree with the original poster that anyplace is better than Palo Alto and that includes NJ. The Pine Barrens are probably inhabitable, although I'm not sure why moving there would be necessary given there are more than two states.

Most people are not perverts.

The biggest positive in living in a diverse neighborhood is that none of your neighbors are bigoted,

Doesn't sound like you've done much living in a "diverse neighborhood". At least not of the northern NJ variety.

I grew up in suburban central Jersey. I had no real idea what real bigotry was until I began working in Newark and started learning all the colorful pejoratives each ethinic group had for other groups.

Probably almost all variants on "they're dumb rednecks who fuck goats" and not things like "their inferior genes weigh down the nation".

For most applications, the first tends to come out as funny and the second leads to questions of who should remove themselves from the pool first.

You see? Not funny.

I doubt people in New Jersey were calling other people rednecks.

But I take your point to be that racism against whites is A-OK and that racism against any other group except Asians is wrong, so I am figuring out your racial hierarchy I guess. I await your book about your life struggle.

When everything can only be seen through one lens, no amount of perspective will succeed in removing that lens.

What you "agree with", no, I do not hold that perspective and I do not agree with you.

In India they are too busy trying to pass off such logical absurdities as the ones you propose, to have any time left to fuck goats. Being the home of the world's oldest religion will only get you so far.

(Observe the absence of argumentation in the direction of "kick them all out" or "maybe kill them" or anything like that. My point is that I bet it's mostly along those lines, and not the hostile terrorist-prone stuff coming out of the mouths of those rare extremists among those of European descent. And yes, also there are some handful of such extremist types in other groups. I don't understand them as well.)


You're an idiot.

Huh? I didn't say I agreed with you. I can't understand a word of your comment. What "logical absurdity" do I propose? What does India have to do with this?

A sentiment characteristics of bigots who fancy they're something other than that and properly sit in judgment of others.

The Middle Eastern guys I used to work with were the most racist people I ever met, for the record.

Only if you veer to the subject of the colonist project being perpetrated under militant occupation which includes bulldozing houses of existing residents and inserting new homes under the watchful eye of some foreign military.

Or ... to be honest, Jews in general. But if it weren't for that militant colonist movement in the environs of Jerusalem, etc., over the last 70 years, probably they would carry on mostly getting along with their Jewish brethren, just like they did 99.99% of the time over the previous 1500 years.

Many do not like the USA. Arabs in Arab countries (outside of tourism) generally get much less hostile, even friendly, when determining that you are not in fact American. Even the ones that want the USA to bomb people they dislike even more, most often do like the USA.

So, considering geopolitics, I find it a little more understandable. Not OK, but understandable.

You know nothing about the history of the middle east:

You perpetrate the great lie, which is that the middle east was a peaceful place where different groups of people coexisted in harmony until the White Man came and bulldozed their homes. The Jews in the first half of the 20th century purchased their land from Arab absentee landlords, and then they were routinely attacked by the local Palestinians. Let's not be apologists for everything that the Israeli's have done, but let's also not lie about the history of the middle east. Because you certainly won't read the book I linked to, I'll tell you that the Jews in the middle east were forced to distinguish themselves by wearing Jewish stars for substantial period of time during Ottoman rule.

Doesn't really answer the question.

"What's good about being in your cult?"

"You don't have to be around people who aren't in our cult."

It's boutique multiculturalism (i.e. aesthetics and virtue signaling), which means that he doesn't really take their beliefs and customs very seriously and would likely strenuously object if they were a bit more imposing with their nonliberal practices.

Original poster here. I would indeed strenuously object if they (or anyone) were a bit more imposing of non-liberal practices. Thus, my emphasis of this being in a NJ mall,

(cont.) which is very much a liberal institution.

A mall can be a liberal institution? Someone tell my Leftist, anti-corporate friends!

None, I present to hypotheticals:

1. all cultures are fundamentally different, can't work together and will ultimately end in violence

2. the division is not been cultures but between the unreasonable found in all cultures

Which would you like to be correct? Note, not which do you think is correct. People of different cultures interacting effectively is a good thing, UNLESS you prefer the 1st outcome.


TWO hypotheticals

the division is not BETWEEN cultures

The bit about property and income taxes being a form of consumption was so sweet.

They absolutely are, just not by you.

No mention of the northern New Jersey jewel that is Elizabeth City?

Three decades ago, with several other GMU students, I spent a long weekend at the vacation home of a friend's family (yes, her family just happened to casually own things like that - there are benefits in having a rich family, and not only rich parents) in the Poconos. We spent a glorious summer day in the Delaware River near the Delaware Water Gap, and none of us could imagine that this was actually NJ. Well, certainly not northern NJ.

I'll bet you weren't asked back.

And you would be wrong. That region is really beautiful - still cannot believe it is in NJ, to be honest.

Elizabeth City is in, I believe, North Carolina. ELIZABETH is in NJ (and it's a fur piece from the Delaware Water Gap).

Um, that's because you were in Pennsylvania.

The Poconos are NOT in NJ.


Horrible gun control laws, high taxes, and a meddling government. I already get my fill of that so there's no reason to move 3000 miles closer to France.

Plus the people there root for all the wrong sports teams.

Just horrible. Though on another blog I read a guy's account of his move to Hoboken and he made it sound good, but still you're in New Jersey.

Correct. This is a state that elected and re-elected Chris Christie. There is obviously something horribly wrong with the inhabitants of this place.

No, the election of Messrs. McGreevy and Corzine indicate something is amiss. Christie's a loutish boss, but not notably troublesome as a political actor.

The state's terrier media never figured out that Cory Booker didn't actually live in Newark (or they suppressed the information because they're Democratic operatives with bylines).

He closed a bridge to screw with a political rival who was insufficiently willing to prove his subordination on a regular basis.

For which reason he is notably troublesome as a political actor.

I don't care what doctrinal or partisan "training" you have, closing down bridges to screw with rivals is an abuse of power. The failure to be able to openly recognize that is ... well, we all know someone permanently fixed severe partisan blinders onto your head some decades ago. It is impossible for you to acknowledge a) that it was an abuse of power and b) that that is a bad thing about Christie.

Shutting down three lanes on the GW Bridge was a worse crime against democracy than 2012 Obama's weaponized IRS righteously shutting down the evil right-wing.

Weaponized IRS. Heh.

Good thing we now have a President of good character who respects democracy and the rule of law so much.

"2012 Obama’s weaponized IRS righteously shutting down the evil right-wing."

Bridgegate was just aired in federal court. If someone is alleging Obama "weaponized" the IRS, let them give sworn testimony and present evidence to that effect. Until that happens, it looks and sounds like a bunch of hot air.

Bridgegate was just aired in federal court. If someone is alleging Obama “weaponized” the IRS, let them give sworn testimony and present evidence to that effect. Until that happens, it looks and sounds like a bunch of hot air.

It's not being aired in federal court because Eric Holder's Justice Department is weaponized as well.

Dick, the events that transpired are also completely consistent with there having been, in fact, a higher percentage of right wing organizations claiming charitable status while engaging in "too much" political speech.

Like 250 investigated on the "right" side and 220 investigated on the "left" side.

Compare this to Canada, where nearly every major human rights, poverty-oriented and environmental organization underwent repeated and extensive "audits" from the tax services. Meanwhile, I am not aware of any "right wing" organization that is know to have been audited a single time during that period.

So ... you don't you try to explain to use how 100:0 is in fact 50:50, and how 51:49 is in fact 100:0.

Republicans control Congress and the White House. If Obama had the IRS 'weaponized' Trump could easily have that exposed, if not prosecuted. Yet instead we are still waiting for evidence of 'wiretapping' which even his supporters aren't buying.

The law says you cannot get a tax deduction for donating to a political party. You can, however, to a charity that engages in 'education' even if that education is political (i.e. "low taxes are good" is ok, "Sen X supports low taxes, vote for him" no)

Needless to say if one day suddenly hundreds of applications suddenly start rolling in for groups named "Tea Party of X" it makes sense for any IRS employee to give them more scrutiny as a 'charity'.

Now the law is ignored when in fact it should have been changed.

Republicans control Congress and the White House. If Obama had the IRS ‘weaponized’ Trump could easily have that exposed, if not prosecuted.

It's already been exposed. IRS officials were not playing hide the ball from their own inspector-general because they were innocent. Neither did Lois Lerner take the fifth because she had nothing to hide.

Wait, I thought Christie 'solved' the problem of high property taxes in NJ.

"The state’s terrier media never figured out that Cory Booker didn’t actually live in Newark (or they suppressed the information because they’re Democratic operatives with bylines)."

What concrete evidence is there that Booker did not live in Newark? As for Christie, his appointee to the Port Authority David Samson pleaded guilty to abusing his position to force United Airlines to run a direct flight between Newark and an airport near Samson's weekend home. New Jersey is one of the most corrupt states in the country and Christie doesn't seem to be able to separate himself from sleazy characters.

What concrete evidence is there that Booker did not live in Newark?

What the neighbors to the property he'd used as a voting address had to say to out-of-town reporters who asked. By their account, a mess of police guards loitered at the address and the Mayor was nowhere to be seen, ever.

"What the neighbors to the property he’d used as a voting address had to say to out-of-town reporters who asked. By their account, a mess of police guards loitered at the address and the Mayor was nowhere to be seen, ever."

Thin gruel. If you are going to allege someone doesn't live in a place that is listed as that person's permanent residence and for which that person can produce rent checks or property records, you need to provide evidence of where that person is living instead.

No, the burden of proof is on the Mayor. It should be an easy standard for him to meet. He can't.

Guilty until proven innocent.

What a lovely world.

Quite the diversion too. Dude abuses his power at great cost to numerous people stuck in traffic jams. And you're worried about whether victims of this abuse might be sullied in some manner?

Nathan, running for public office is a privilege. Yes, you should have to prove residency if it's called into question. His neighbors say he doesn't live there. He could easily refute that by inviting reporters in, showing off the furniture they say isn't there, producing his utility bills, producing the property title, producing tax returns filed from that address, producing samples of his snail mail &c. Instead, he pretends it's never been called into question and the New Jersey media plays along. It's also costing a mint to the New Jersey State Police to have a squad of plainclothes hanging around an empty house morning, noon, and night.

This isn't the only example of this. It was revealed in 2012 that Sen. Richard Lugar had for 35 years been casting ballots from a voting address where was located a house he'd sold in 1977. What does that tell you? Either no member of the media had the research skills to pull his name off the voter rolls, or that no member of the media ever attempted to contact him at home, or that the media had been covering for him for 35 years.

Dude abuses his power

No, skeezy employees he'd fired accuse him of that, and you take it at face value because you're stupid.

A one party state that is trying to ape California. White Manna and Rutt's Hut? Tyler wouldn't enter the premises. I'd like to know where this mythical $200k house is; this guy probably lives in Ridgewood.

I too doubted there were $200k houses so I checked Very surprised to find there are indeed single family homes available for under $300k throughout Bergen County.

Yes but not in Ridgewood.

Very true. But there are some available for under $450k which seems relatively affordable given Ridgewood's high desirability (26th in Money magazine's "Best Places to Live" in America, 2011):

No, but then Oakland was always nicer than Ridgewood.

Having grown up watching far too many Troma productions (Toxic Avenger was a favorite), I'd the unexamined prior associating New Jersey with a general lack of health. Thankfully, that does not seem to be the case with New Jersey showing fairly well on a variety of health indices:

Disagree. I'd bet Tyler has eaten in Rutts Hutt and enjoyed it. Tyler?

The gun control laws have at least one scandal to their discredit. State legislators cannot seem to accomplish anything bar with a sledgehammer.

April fools!

It's a day late.

It is nothing but amusing when an anyone reading an economics blog cites high housing prices as a drawback to a community. High house prices mean the area has many things that people desire, otherwise the price would be lower. Manhattan home prices are notoriously high, but no one questions that a great many people find the quality of life there to be high.
This is true for northern New Jersey as well. Take this weekend, for example.
On Friday, my wife saw Kevin Kline on Broadway (Present Laughter). Yesterday we went to a string quartet festival highlighting Bolcom. The composer was in the audience. Tickets were $20.
As far as other activities:
Pro football is 20 minutes from my house. (The Jets play there, too!)
Pro hockey is 30 minutes away.
I am a 40 minute train ride from Madison Square Garden.
Yankee Stadium is, considering bad traffic, 90 minutes away.
There is skiiing an hour from my house, and it isn't the nation's best, but it is better than what is an hour from most people. And the beach an hour from my house is better than the beach an hour from most. And the hiking an hour away isn't the most grand in America, but it is better than you'll find near most people. And if one of the aforementioned is better where you are, it's unlikely the other two are as well.
Northern NJ is not perfect, and I will leave it to others to spell out the imperfections. But I shake my head when friends from, say, Missouri or Kansas - two places I've lived - mock New Jersey.
In the end, though, I welcome their scorn. Otherwise, more people would want to move here, which would make housing even more expensive.

Unless your proximity to other rock stars in your field makes your location worth an extra $100,000 a year to you, basically ... no.

Like, kind of yeah? But not unless your location makes you worth an EXTRA six figures.

Prices are a combination of demand AND supply, right?

Yup, you get it.

Higher gas prices in Europe must mean the gasoline in Europe is intrinsically better, except that it isn't. Similarly, American healthcare and education is much more expensive than healthcare and education in Europe, but it's dubious it's any better, certainly not by the magnitudes necessary to make your "prices are always proportional to quality" argument work.

I am looking at a 325k house in Overland Park Kansas that has 5 bed, 4 baths, and a mother-in-law apartment for your aging grandparents, that's in the Blue Valley North High School area, which is the best school in Kansas according to US News and World Report.

Median household income is $72k.
Median household income in Bergen county is $81k.

So, yeah...a lot of people aren't going to justify spending double the price for a house just to live New York Adjacent.

" school in Kansas..."

Heh! Like the best fondue in Ethiopia.

It's not just adjacent to New York. It's just a short or a few hours drive from some of the best natural amenities in the US. The Atlantic shore - which is the best in America, better than the Pacific shore which is too cold and dry to be enjoyable, the Poconos, the Catskills, the Adirondacks, the Shenandoah Valley, etc. Kansas just doesn't compare.

Kansas sure looks more attractive for my money. I would pay a premium for all of that, but not a 200k+ premium when I can travel in other ways. But your money, your choice.

I lived in Kansas.

Don't remember the beaches as being much.

Or the skiing.

As far as schools:

You might have a point about the local wilderness, but how many wealthy New Yorkers fly to Colorado to ski, to Yosemite for natural wilderness, and to Miami or Maui for beaches?

These things are easier to afford if you aren't paying a 200k home premium.

New England schools are, on average, the best in the nation, but relatively wealthy UMC folks do not go to average schools. Ferris Bueller didn't go to a school run by Joe Louis Clark, he went to a school with a kid with a Dad who drove a luxury car. You can afford to go to Ferris Bueller's school in Shermer, Illinois (now called Northbrook) in a modest 3 bed/2 bath home for around 300k.

Where was author living to be able to get to Lincoln Center in 35 minutes? I had trouble getting there from Lower Manhattan Chinatown in less than 30 minutes via subway.

He said it was Saturday, probably before 10 a.m. And he didn't count, most likely, the time you need to find parking.

I also thought that sounded fishy

Not for nothing but I've lived all my life in Northern NJ and many of us never hit NYC (I have but it's rare and less common now as I get older). Being close to it but at the same time just far enough away that getting there is a bit of a hassle (and requires paying a toll) probably makes many less inclined to ever actually go there.

You're right, 45 minutes is probably more accurate for Lincoln Center to be honest with light traffic.

It does take me about 35 mins to get to AMNH and Central Park on saturdays, and there's parking right at the museum.

Makes sense, thanks.

There is nothing more slavish and unsupported than the ritualistic kowtow to "diversity". Note the qualifier "Diverse middle class", the second part of the phrase intended to soften the blow of the first. It's diversity, yes, but not the stabby, angry, poor diversity we want all you scum who don't qualify as middle class on the coasts to live with! Genteel diversity! A better sort of diversity! The cream of diversity, carefully selected by income, with the failures foisted on your poorer countrymen, the racists!

People who wear different clothes and eat smelly food make me want to pee my pants. They also make me angry.

Especially when I hear a foreign language. This is a severe assault on my identity to hear a foreign language.

Therefore, any person who comes to America should speak American. To prevent the severe assault on my identity.

You don't think it's more about the stabbing and the raping and so on?

Probably has more to do with online legions spreading ill will and cherry picking negative anecdotes.

1 is not 100.

Huh? You think its anecdotes and not the government criminal justice survey data showing rates of murder and rape to be sky-high in those demographics?

[citation needed]

Note that the Bureau of Justice Statistics stopped publishing its table on interracial crime after 2008.

As usual, the response is pure projection.

I grew up overseas, in Russia to be exact. I've lived barely half my life in the US. I speak five languages passably, two fluently. I've eaten more weird food in more places than you can dream of, from subarctic Urals to the Korangel. I don't get angry at different cultures for how they behave in their own countries. I do get angry at people who travel to another country and become enraged that it isn't like the place they left, be they Americans in Europe or Arabs in the US. I get angry when they are so enraged by the lack of the culture they left they begin murdering people wholesale. I do get angry when other people call this eminently reasonable reaction bigotry and racism to justify their own pathetic intellectual masochism. I get really angry when the upper classes use racial demagoguery to foist the externalities of their ideology on their poorer brethren.

My identity is fine. The same can't be said for forty-nine of my countrymen who went clubbing in Orlando. But I'm sure that sacrifice is worth it if you can wet your pants with glee that you can find an authentic berber restaurant. You get food, and fuck those hicks in San Bernadino! How enlightened! How compassionate!

San Bernardino has two "r's.


You're not who I'm talking about.

Certainly, who start killing people because people in the place they move to will not adhere what they want is troublesome. So ... basically no one is doing that. So ... you're chasing shadows. Maybe a little delusional, or simply suffering from some psychological miscalculations which are increasingly well understood.

You are in greater danger of slipping on your bathtub than from people who suffer from cultural maladjustment to the extent that they are prepared to do very bad things.

And most of the jews didn't die in the Holocaust. What's your point? That since the tiny minority of muslims we currently have aren't capable of cracking the top three killers in the country, we should increase their numbers until they are? This blog is called "Marginal Revolution". Every murder committed by an immigrant is a marginal increase.

Yep, anyone who disagrees with you is CLEARLY mentally ill. Gotta love the good faith

"Every murder committed by an immigrant is a marginal increase."

This is true even if immigrants commit crimes at a substantially lower rate than the native-born population, so I don't think it's a very useful argument.

If you want to argue that immigration is a net negative, you have to consider both sides of the equation. Tunneling on crime is as uninformative as tunneling on the fact that some immigrants have had major inventions/founded large US companies.

Does anyone have a road map to how the US can remain a great power but not be diverse? Monocultures do not seem to work with great powers. China, for example, frets about ethnic tensions on its borders even though culturally it's something like 90% Han. Japan is essentially monocultural. While both have had their time being speculated upon as the next great power, culture seems to be a barrier to true global rather than regional influence.

Does anyone have a road map to how the US can remain a great power but not be diverse?

France, Britain, and Germany managed to be great powers without being 'diverse' in the sense the original author meant. So did interwar Japan.

Diversity is the result of power, not the cause. Rome was a monoculture before they achieved empire, but rapidly diversified afterward. So too with Britain and France.

And for what it is worth, I care little for being a great power as an end in itself. That begs the question.

No; the rise of Rome is widely attributed to their assimilation of surrounding cultures. They basically called anyone they conquered 'Roman' and went on with their day.

Didn't they call them "Slaves"?

China is a military great power, and both countries are economic great powers. "Superpower" is the word you're thinking of. The USA was undoutebly a superpower back when it was 90% huwhite before 1960.

You're assuming 'white' was a monoculture before 1960. It wasn't.

China is a military great power, and both countries are economic great powers. "Superpower" is the word you're thinking of. The USA was undoubtedly a superpower back when it was 90% huwhite before 1960.

Why not just live Downtown? I can't even remember the last time I went above 14th.

Private schools and the third and fourth bedroom are expensive, but aren't children just a form of consumption?

""""Due to highly restrictive blue laws in effect in Bergen County and more restrictive limitations in place in Paramus, Garden State Plaza is completely closed on Sundays, except for some of the restaurants and the movie theater, all of which have special Sunday entrances.""

So we should have blue laws?

Yes, we should have blue laws.

OP here. Definitely should get rid of Bergen County blue laws. Not something I'm in favor of...

New Jersey's an affluent state and a congenial place to live for many, but it has governance problems.

1. Exceedingly fragmented municipal government, with quite lax rules re the subdivision of municipalities. In the state's grand urban concentrations, that's led to municipalities which are 100% slum. (See Camden, for instance). You also see a great many postage stamps. There's one municipality in Camden County that has 5 people living in it. There's one in Bergen County that consists of 4 non-contiguous pieces.

2. Misplacement of police services. Municipal police are the bane of local government.

3. Failure in drawing local governmental boundaries to segregate metropolitan areas from exurban, small town, and rural areas.

4. Haphazardly assembled public higher education, which manages to have a low census given the state's population while also incorporating institutions which are effectively open enrollment and have a considerable clientele who never graduate. Not sure how they squared that circle.

5. Metropole-tributary settlement pattern in the state's population, with over 60% living in greater New York.

6. Unprofessional behavior in the court system. Income taxes in New Jersey were effectively imposed by the appellate courts contra popular will. See the Dharun Ravi case for an example of prosecutorial misbehavior (countenanced by a jury of idiot haut bourgeois). See the Blair Hornstine case for an example of cloying nonsense courtesy the school district conjoined to a trial judge who fancied she should stick her nose into just about anything.

7. The use of at-large first-past-the-post contests for many local boards.

8. Bi-cameral state legislature, with co-equal chambers; also, executive veto power over legislation.

9. Too many elected offices. Why does any state have an elective Lt. Governor? Why an elective Secretary of State?

10. Insufficient rotation-in-office requirements. They do term-limit the governor, but it's really legislators who need to be required to stand-down for a term or two.

11. Appointive trial judiciary; no retention-in-office referenda for judges.

12. High tolerance for sociopaths. Have you ever known anyone as creepy as James McGreevy?

If the judges do stuff that people think is still dumb in the 5 year timeframe, then a judge that would not do such things will be appointed by the elected person responsible to do so. (Or elected directly, as is an extremely peculiar American practice - leaving justice to the short-term whims of the mob.)

OP here. Agree with much of this. NJ = good, definitely not great.

Doesn't every state but Nebraska have a bicameral legislature?

So the old adage that " It isn't the light at the end of the Tunnel, its just New Jersey" isn't true ?

"Want to see what a successful American future could look like? Go here on a Wednesday or Saturday afternoon:"

There is so much to unpack there. I found this interesting, given that I grew up five minutes from this place and my part time high school job was there.

Is this really the "successful American future." I've spent a lot of time at Garden State Plaza, and 0% of it would I consider a high point in my life. It's just a place you have to go to buy things or maybe see a movie. A burden both to get into and out of. Loud, crowded, soulless consumerism or brand name junk? This is the glorious future.

I feel more detached then ever from the Cowen class. Even within a short drive from where I grew up, I can think of a lot better places to be then Garden State Plaza.

Ezra had it right. Leave.

For those living in the whitopia's, Tyler's analysis is 100% correct. The higher costs are offset by higher salaries, so it is no less affordable than other places. I'm about an hour from two world class cities (NYC and Philadelphia). And there is indeed a very successful middle class here in central NJ consisting of Indians and Chinese (same in Bergen Country with the Koreans). For those living outside the whitopia's, the main problem is dangerous/unpleasant schools, requiring you to put your children in Catholic schools, Tyler's head is in the sand on that one.

Anyway, I want my kids to leave, and I will follow. The main reason is the hopeless government debt situation. State and local pension requirements will drive taxes up even higher than they currently are, and there is no political will to rein it in. Any initiatives to truly reform spending will be shot down by the state Supreme Court, as they have with public housing and school construction. The only answer anyone has is to raise taxes on someone other than themselves.

This will result in a death spiral of taxpayers/businesses leaving. It will be advantageous to get out earlier rather than later.

Edison/Iselin! Diversity is tasty.

This essay is charming, I enjoy it when authors write about there affection for their place. And this author indeed makes his new area sound far more amenable than Palo Alto. The only thing is that elephant in the room which is sitting there in all its glory, ignored by our intrepid writer - the weather. When the scales are balanced, wouldn't Palo Alto win big time for it's preferable climate?

"Its" not "it's" sheesh, keep reminding myself to proof before posting. But do I listen?

A couple of things not mentioned yet.

1) Car Insurance rates are very high.
2) NJ has lost many tech jobs in the last 15 years.
3) Property tax rates are very high.

I spent over four decades living in Central/North Jersey and worked all over the Garden State. I still have to go back to NJ regularly. It's seems to be getting more run down every time I visit.

Responses to a few of the OP's points:
-- Palo Alto, CA may be one of only a few places that compares negatively to Northern NJ on the basis of costs. If you need to be near Manhattan and can't afford to live there? Fine. Otherwise, better to move on.
-- On a side note, why would you live in Bergen County and commute to Central Park? Sussex, Warren, Passaic (and even Union) County have much larger and better parks and still have some real (albeit shrinking) rural areas. A Manhattan thing, again?
-- The "$479K such a deal" listing you provided is in a commercially zoned area on Kinderkamack Rd ( AKA Bergen County 503, a busy artery through suburban Bergen County- see here: If I'm not mistaken, it's also a local truck route along it's entire length. Who's cares what the walking score is on a street where you can't hear yourself think, or let your kids out in front of the house? Also, take a look at the street view of that property, it's so overgrown, you can't even make out the property's "country-charm-in-need-of-TLC" through the kudzu infestation. BTW, the taxes on this almost $500K truck-route-fixer-upper? Only $11,777. Grab it, it's being consumed fast.
-- This--> <---appears to be a picture of the North Beach at Sandy Hook, NJ. This is an hour and a half from just about anywhere in Bergen County (and then only in a best case NJ shore traffic scenario, which occurs at roughly 1:36AM, on December 27th, on the years when it falls on a Tuesday.) On a typical sunny Saturday morning in July, I'd bring an extra DVD for the kids to watch for the drive down Rte17 to Rte4 to the GSP to Route 36. You'll be watching this --*367/ROBERT+HARTSELL-crop.jpg-- for an indeterminate period of time. World class NJ shore traffic --complete with psychopathic lane-changers-- is second to none.

I wouldn't have responded point by point to your examples of what makes NJ great, except for that fact that I'm pretty familiar with all the areas you referenced, and you were being just a wee bit disingenuous.

On the upside, the food really is better in NJ, often even better than in Manhattan. Is that worth dealing with a state with overcrowding, noise, pollution, corruption, brutal taxation, over-regulation, capital flight, a shrinking economy, and a pension system on the verge of collapse? That's up to you.

I left.

As someone who grew up and lived most of my life in central NJ I can tell you we don't care much for people from North Jersey. Many of them are obnoxious and ignorant. They think their proximity to NYC makes them special. They're not.

I don't think anyone else mentioned it, but here a funny thing - you can't go shopping at the Garden State Plaza mall on Sunday - it's closed due to the blue laws in Bergen County.

Comments for this post are closed