👪 New Jersey is a great place to raise a family, ranking 7th best overall

👪 Wallethub looked at affordability, education, health, safety and other factors

👪 Marriage rates and poverty are among the challenges facing the state

Thinking about raising a family in New Jersey? Congratulations! You picked one of the top 10 best states to raise children, according to a new study.

With rampant inflation making raising children even costlier than usual, the personal finance website, WalletHub released its report on 2023’s Best and Worst States to Raise a Family, to help parents and parents-to-be decide where to put down roots.

How New Jersey ranks for families

Townsquare Media photo illustration
Townsquare Media photo illustration
Townsquare Media photo illustration
Townsquare Media photo illustration
Townsquare Media photo illustration
Townsquare Media photo illustration
Townsquare Media photo illustration
Townsquare Media photo illustration

What metrics were used to come up with the findings?

All 50 states were compared across 51 key indicators of family friendliness, according to WalletHub analyst, Jill Gonzalez.

That ranges from the median annual family income to housing affordability to the unemployment rate.

New Jersey is a great place to raise a family, ranking 7th best overall.

What makes New Jersey a great place to raise a family?

The state did very well in education and child care, and health and safety categories, plus it is affordable and has a low jobless rate, Gonzalez said.

New Jersey has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, making it the best in that category, according to the report. Currently, the state's unemployment rate is at 3.4%, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. It's been at 3.4% since October 2022.

“Right now, New Jersey has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. We are coming up on what might be a recession. We’re coming up on a period of uncertainty in terms of job security and layoffs,” Gonzalez said.

Great schools in New Jersey

New Jersey typically ranks very high when it comes to education because of the high quality of its public schools.

Childcare costs tend to be a little high in the Garden State (5th highest in the nation), but the quality of childcare is one of the best in the country, the report also found.

Affordability of New Jersey

You may be surprised to learn that New Jersey is actually affordable. In fact, it is the third most affordable state in the nation when it comes to raising a family, Gonzalez said.

“Affordability, we’re not only looking at tax rates which it didn’t do the best in, but even for housing affordability, we look at what it costs to own a home and we divide that by the median annual family income. In New Jersey, that’s a pretty high number. So, housing is still affordable there than in some other places,” Gonzalez said.

Mortgage debt and non-mortgage debt are also relatively low in New Jersey.

The state has better-paid family leave than in other states, which makes living and raising a family here in the Garden State very helpful, she added.

The tax rate is quite high. In fact, it’s higher than in other states but there is the mentality of “you get what you pay for,” she added.

New Jersey has the 4th highest median family income in the nation, only behind Virginia, Minnesota, and Illinois.

It also has the 4th lowest infant mortality rate, the 3rd lowest separation rate, and is one of the states with the fewest violent crimes per capita.

Family fun in New Jersey

Gonzalez said New Jersey also tends to have a lot of families with young children living there and there are a lot of attractions, especially at the Jersey Shore with its beaches that tend to bring more and more families to the state.

There are also many amusement parks, zoos, parks, lighthouses, hiking trails, boardwalks, rides, and malls to enjoy with the family.

Where does New Jersey need improvements?

The tax rate and the cost of living are high in New Jersey, which should come as no surprise to many, Gonzalez said.

The state could also be doing better in the socio-economics category, specifically the share of families living in poverty and the share of families receiving food stamps.

The divorce rate could also be better in New Jersey, she said. While the separation rate is low, the divorce rate jumped up in the past couple of years. Gonzalez said that possibly could have been due to the pandemic which put so much stress on couples in various aspects of their lives.

Where are the best and worst states to raise a family?

According to WalletHub, Massachusetts is the best state to raise a family, according to the key indicators of family friendliness. Minnesota is the second-best state followed by New York, North Dakota, and Vermont, rounding out the top five.

The worst states to raise a family are all in the south, according to the report. Mississippi is the worst followed by New Mexico, West Virginia, Louisiana, and South Carolina.

For the full report, visit here.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at jennifer.ursillo@townsquaremedia.com

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

How much does the average NJ home cost? Median prices by county

Everything is costing more these days — and housing is certainly no exception in New Jersey.

Data for 2022 from January through August, compiled by New Jersey Realtors, shows that South Jersey has been seeing homes hit the market and sell in less than a month, on average.

Median prices for single-family homes have reached $500,000 and above in nine counties in North and Central Jersey.

All but two counties have seen houses go for more than the list price, on average, this year.

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