Study: Happiest Cities in New Jersey

Read more about Can Money Buy Happiness

New Jersey is often overshadowed by New York, but many of its residents agree that the grass is greener in the Garden State. If you're already a Jersey girl or boy, or you're thinking of making a move here, grab yourself a Taylor ham, egg and cheese (unless you prefer to call it a pork roll) and take a look at which cities are the happiest places to live.

Study Methodology

We started by collecting U.S. Census data and FBI crime statistics for all of New Jersey's cities with a population of 10,000 or higher. To get our top 10, we assigned each of them a ranking based on how they rated across each of these seven categories:

  1. Restaurants
  2. Crime rate
  3. Commute
  4. Departure time
  5. Income
  6. Divorce rate
  7. Housing

Heading out for dinner or drinks with friends is always a mood booster, and Jersey has some great spots to get together. We considered the number of restaurants per capita in each city so you'll know which ones offer the most variety.

If the crime rate in your home city makes you feel uneasy, it can give you a less than positive outlook. We checked out how safe the cities in our study are by looking at the odds of being the victim of a violent crime.

Northern New Jersey attracts a lot of professionals who work in nearby New York City, but the roads in south Jersey are also fairly busy. To see where traffic tends to be the lightest, we looked at each city's average commute time.

An early wake-up call can contribute to a more positive attitude if researchers are to be believed. We considered the percentage of residents in each city who leave for work before 5 a.m. to see where more people prefer to get a head start on the day.

New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the country, but workers make more in some cities compared to others. Our rankings are based in part on the median household income residents earn.

Exchanging vows with the person you love is a joyous moment — assuming you stay together. To find out which New Jersey cities have longer lasting unions, we looked for the lowest percentages of divorced men and women.

If you're forking over a lot of money on mortgage or rent payments, the strain on your wallet can take a serious financial and emotional toll. The last thing we considered was the percentage of income residents spend on housing.

10 Happiest Cities in New Jersey

10. Vineland

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 539 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 272.2
  • Average commute time: 22.7 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 3.7%
  • Median household income: $52,708
  • Percentage of residents who are divorced: 9.9% of males, 10.3% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 25.5%

We heard it through the grapevine that people in Vineland tend to think their hometown is pretty great. With about 61,000 residents, it's the biggest city in our study in terms of population as well as the state's largest based on area. You won't be coming up short on payday, with a median income of almost $53,000 and the trek to work takes under 23 minutes on average.

Did You Know: The Welch's Co. got its start in Vineland in 1868 when Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch developed a method for pasteurizing Concord grape juice.

9. Millville

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 520 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 115.5
  • Average commute time: 21.2 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 4.2%
  • Median household income: $49,379
  • Percentage of residents who are divorced: 11.1% of males, 10.8% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 25.1%

Millville seems to be a standout among professionals, coming in at number nine with the highest percentage of residents leaving before 5 a.m. as well as the shortest average commute time. The median income is slightly lower compared to some of the other cities in our study but it's still nothing to sneeze at. There are lots of appetizing places to dig in to a good meal; Winfield's is a stand out if you're dining in the Glasstown Arts District.

Did You Know: Award-winning poet A.R. Ammons was once a resident of Millville.

8. Gloucester City

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 424 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 396.6
  • Average commute time: 22.9 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 3.6%
  • Median household income: $55,241
  • Percentage of residents who are divorced: 12% of males, 11.9% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 24.7%

Gloucester City sits along the Delaware River, south of Camden and Philadelphia. With about 11,000 residents, it's on the small side but that seems to work in its favor. Violent crime occurs less frequently compared to its larger neighbors and workers will appreciate the generous median income. Housing costs are also substantially lower; you'll spend less than a quarter of your pay on a home or apartment.

Did You Know: Betsy Ross and her husband John were married in Gloucester City in 1773.

7. Kearny

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 618 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 413.1
  • Average commute time: 29.4 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 3.8%
  • Median household income: $62,637
  • Percentage of residents who are divorced: 5.7% of males, 9.1% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 24.9%

At roughly 10 miles from New York City, Kearny has become a popular spot for both families and commuting professionals. You'll notice that the median income here is a bit higher, at almost $63,000, but the amount residents part with for housing is still within reason. There are plenty of safe neighborhoods to choose from and, based on the combined divorce rate, it looks like couples get along well.

Did You Know: Kearny is named for Major General Phil Kearny, who commanded the New Jersey forces during the Civil War.

6. Woodbury

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 403 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 238.4
  • Average commute time: 24.2 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 3.9%
  • Median household income: $55,032
  • Percentage of residents who are divorced: 6.2% of males, 11.6% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 26.8%

Around 10,000 people live in Woodbury and it's no surprise that the city made it to the number six spot on our list. Workers earn a median income that's way more than chump change, and they're not stuck in traffic for too long on the way to work. Housing is slightly more expensive in terms of the amount of income residents spend, but you should still be able to find something that fits your budget.

Did You Know: British General Lord Cornwallis headquartered his troops in Woodbury prior to successfully capturing Philadelphia in 1777.

5. Hoboken

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 267 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 338.6
  • Average commute time: 37.8 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 0.4%
  • Median household income: $108,998
  • Percentage of residents who are divorced: 4.1% of males, 7.2% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 23.4%

Hoboken is located along the Hudson River, just a hop, skip and a jump from lower Manhattan. It's one of New Jersey's more upscale communities, with workers earning a median income of almost $109,000. Its 52,000 residents face the longest commute, but it's a small price to pay to live in such a desirable area. Not only does Hoboken rank first in the housing category, it also ties with another of our cities for the lowest combined divorce rate.

Did You Know: In the mid-1800s, Hoboken was a hotspot for the wealthy and famous, attracting residents like John Jacob Astor, William Vanderbilt and Henry Ward Beecher.

4. Secaucus

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 211 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 1032.3
  • Average commute time: 29.9 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 1.1%
  • Median household income: $85,944
  • Percentage of residents who are divorced: 7.7% of males, 8.2% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 24.1%

Secaucus, which lies northwest of Hoboken, has an excellent reputation for being a safe and well-to-do town. The violent crime rate is the third lowest in our study, and residents earn a very healthy median income of around $86,000. Keeping a roof over your head won't break the bank, although you'll be spending a little more time on the trip to work. If you're hungry for Italian, Secaucus is a smorgasbord of pizza joints and high-end restaurants.

Did You Know: Secaucus was one of many New Jersey cities that served as a backdrop for the Emmy-award winning HBO series The Sopranos.

3. Westfield

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 486 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 5,106.2
  • Average commute time: 33.4 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 1.4%
  • Median household income: $130,913
  • Percentage of residents who are divorced: 3.9% of males, 7.4% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 24.1%

The 31,000 people who make their home in Westfield have an abundance of things to be happy about, starting with the best violent crime rate in our study. Not only that, they earn the highest median income of all 10 cities, taking home approximately $131,000 annually. Along with Hoboken, Westfield has the lowest combined divorce rate, so it's easy to see why couples are living happily ever after.

Did You Know: During the 1930s, poet Langston Hughes and writer Zora Neale Hurston lived near one another in Westfield.

2. Hammonton

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 410 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 990.1
  • Average commute time: 25.3 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 3.4%
  • Median household income: $59,011
  • Percentage of residents who are divorced: 4.2% of males, 10.3% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 25.2%

Hammonton is a little slice of heaven for the nearly 15,000 people who call it home. As far as violent crime goes, you shouldn't have to worry too much about your safety and the local neighborhoods feature plenty of reasonably priced housing. It takes workers about 25 minutes on average to reach their destination and the size of their paycheck doesn't leave them with empty pockets.

Did You Know: Hammonton is known as the "Blueberry Capital of the World."

1. Summit

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 446 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 1807
  • Average commute time: 33.1 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 2.4%
  • Median household income: $115,556
  • Percentage of residents who are divorced: 6.7% of males, 7.8% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 23.9%

Summit is an appropriate name for the city that peaked at the top of our list. There are close to 22,000 residents living in the area and they certainly have a reason to smile once payday rolls around. Housing costs don't put too much of a pinch on your wallet and you can rest easy at night knowing that violent crime is a rarity. Huntley Taverne is renowned for its skillfully designed dishes but if you're looking for something a little more casual, Doria Pizzeria is your best bet.

Did You Know: Oscar winning actress Meryl Streep was born in Summit.


With a combined total population of more than half a million, Newark and Jersey City are obviously popular among New Jersey residents. While their proximity to the Big Apple is a major draw, it wasn't quite enough to land them a spot in the top 10. The cities that did make our list are a diverse bunch but if finding your happy place is a priority, they don't disappoint.

The Top 20 Happiest Cities in New Jersey

RankCityPeople per Restaurants and BarsViolent Crime OddsAverage Commute Time% Leaving Before 5amMedian Household Income% Male Divorce1% Female Divorce1Income Spent on Housing
1Summit445.51 in 1,807.033.12.4%$115,5566.7%7.8%23.9%
2Hammonton409.81 in 990.125.33.4%$59,0114.2%10.3%25.2%
3Westfield486.31 in 5,106.233.41.4%$130,9133.9%7.4%24.1%
4Secaucus210.91 in 1,032.329.91.1%$85,9447.7%8.2%24.1%
5Hoboken266.81 in 338.637.80.4%$108,9984.1%7.2%23.4%
6Woodbury403.41 in 238.424.23.9%$55,0326.2%11.6%26.8%
7Kearny617.71 in 413.129.43.8%$62,6375.7%9.1%24.9%
8Gloucester City423.71 in 396.622.93.6%$55,24112.0%11.9%24.7%
9Millville520.31 in 115.521.24.2%$49,37911.1%10.8%25.1%
10Vineland538.51 in 272.222.73.7%$52,7089.9%10.3%25.5%
11Linden444.31 in 312.425.83.5%$60,6158.0%10.7%26.3%
12Ocean City116.41 in 778.425.10.3%$56,4636.3%12.7%24.3%
13Dover332.91 in 390.421.92.1%$59,4208.0%10.9%29.7%
14Clifton543.11 in 460.226.71.9%$64,1635.3%9.3%28.4%
15Atlantic City213.51 in 56.8204.4%$29,88612.3%10.9%37%
16Harrison447.51 in 226.932.34.4%$52,5984.4%7.8%28.4%
17Phillipsburg432.31 in 440.429.35.5%$45,7159.9%15.3%25.6%
18Garfield605.31 in 474.423.93.3%$51,3827.0%11.1%29.1%
19Perth Amboy544.71 in 220.423.44.3%$44,1667.0%10.6%33.2%
20New Brunswick376.91 in 145.924.72.3%$40,2804.1%7.3%40.8%

1Treated as one combined metric for ranking purposes (at a 50:50 male to female ratio).

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to Rebecca Lake at rebecca@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped consumers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

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Comments about Study: Happiest Cities in New Jersey

  • Dylan from New Jersey
    on November 5, 2014 10:32 AM said:

    I dont think that having 10,000 residents or the amount of restaurants per resident should be a necessary for this study. My town has almost 10,000 people and 2 restaurants, but I think its a great town with a very low crime rate, a high average income, a low divorce rate, great housing, a good commute, and (something that should probably be included) a great public school system. Maybe its just my biased towards my town or that I would rather live in a town with more woodland than main streets, but I dont think that restaurants make a town "happy".

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