Woman eating a doughnut

If attention is good, then Jersey City has done well in recent weeks. First there was Jersey City’s surprise 10th place finish in Money Magazine’s “2022—2023 50 Best Places to Live” report. Then came a New York Times piece profiling a young couple’s search for an “affordable” home. Simultaneously, studies hit the inbox looking at Chilltown’s cost of living, safety and “greenness.” One analysis found Jersey City first in the key metric of “Doughnut Shops per Square Mile.”

We know how busy you are. So here’s what you need to know.

Who knew? Jersey City is a better place to live than San Diego and Denver

Jersey City bested heavyweights like Denver and San Diego to snag 10th place in Money Magazine’s “2022—2023 50 Best Places to Live” report.  What did they like? They cited closeness to Manhattan, diverse neighborhoods, Liberty State Park, Liberty Science Center, and Razza. Old timers may be miffed that a relative newcomer trumped Laico’s, but a New York Times rave and artisanal yeast go a long way.

There are affordable alternatives to the Bayonne box

Speaking of the Gray Lady, last week in its “Hunt” series, the New York Times chronicled a Jersey City couple’s search for the perfect yet “affordable” nesting place. Emily Oppenheimer and Julian Agin-Liebes “hoped to find a home with some character but were initially discouraged by what they found for their $750,000 budget — too many examples of the so-called ‘Bayonne box,’ the chunky, often vinyl-clad multistory condominium buildings common in Jersey City and neighboring Bayonne, N.J.”

As is the formula with such house-hunting stories, the couple was faced with an excruciating choice of three options. Warning: You will have to answer questions before you get to see the big reveal. Suffice it to say, they do surprisingly well. And if Bayonne is tired of being blamed for bad architecture, it isn’t letting on.

Examples of the “Bayonne box” disfavored by Emily Oppenheimer and Julian Agin-Liebes
Examples of the “Bayonne box” disfavored by Emily Oppenheimer and Julian Agin-Liebes

Jersey City ain’t cheap

We already knew that the rent was too damn high. And while the house-hunting couple profiled in The New York Times stayed within budget, even Money Magazine had to concede that you’ll have to pay up to live in New York City’s “sixth borough.” And, indeed, a new study confirms that. Here’s what bill payment company Doxo says about the cost of living here.

  • The average Jersey City household pays $2,734 a month for the 10 most common household bills.
  • The household expenses in Jersey City on average are 36.5 % higher than the national average of $2,003 and 4.7% higher than the state average of $2,610.
  • For household expenses, Jersey City is New Jersey’s 67th most expensive municipality out of 197 tracked.
  • Jersey City households spend 45% of their income on household bills.

Doxo did not indicate whether $18 small cheese pizzas at Razza have a material impact on the overall cost of living in Jersey City.

Good luck finding a green hotel 

Though developers may see green here, Jersey City is by no means the greenest city. According to the ever-prolific financial website WalletHub, of 100 cities, Jersey City ranks in the bottom third for “Greenness,” edging out Cleveland, known for its flaming river. Asked to justify the city’s low rating (91) in the category called “Environment,” a WalletHub representative said the city had ranked 97 for “Share of Green Hotels,” 98 for “Population Density/A proxy for overpopulation” and 95 for “light pollution.” Overall, Jersey City placed 69th, compared to New York City’s 26th place showing. Newark brought up the rear at 94th.

Plenty ‘o cops

If it seems like cops have proliferated faster than CBD outlets, you’re on to something. In its annual study of safest cities, WalletHub (our source, it seems, for everything) found Jersey City tied with Washington D.C., New York City, Chicago, and St. Louis for the “Most Law Enforcement Employees per Capita.” To Jersey City’s credit, it placed 87 out of 182 for overall safety, handily outperforming the other four high spenders. On the other hand, crime statistics were only a small portion of the overall score, which included myriad other inputs such as “Share of Sheltered Homeless” and “EMTs per capita.”

A great place for dessert

Should your blood sugar drop precipitously, Jersey City is the place to be. To mark National Dessert Day this Oct. 14, Lawn Love ranked 2022’s Best Cities for Sweet Tooths using a rigorous methodology. “To come up with our ranking, we compared the 200 biggest cities based on 18 metrics. We looked for cities with plenty of candy, cookie, chocolate, and dessert shops. We also considered the number of baking classes and local winners of national and global pastry, pie, and baking competitions.”

Leaving aside the question of what a lawn-related website is doing ranking cities for sweets, Jersey City placed fourth nationally. Here are the main findings:

  • Cupcake Shops per Square Mile: 5th place
  • Doughnut Shops per Square Mile: 1st place
  • Total Points for National Pie Championship Awards (Latest Competition): 5th place
  • Hosts Dessert Wars Festival:  6th place

Sweet, huh?

Disclosure: This writer is the owner of Two Boots Pizza and loves Razza.

Featured photo by Nina Hill

Aaron Morrill

Aaron is a writer, musician and lawyer. Aaron attended Berklee College of Music and the State University of New York at Purchase. Aaron served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador. He received a J.D....