There is a mass exodus occurring, where families are leaving New Jersey twice as fast as they are moving in. This phenomenon has been talked about before in the media, but for me, it really did become more of a “real thing” this morning during my commute to work. On three separate occasions, once in a Cherry Hill Wawa and twice in Camden, I overheard residents talking about their desires to leave New Jersey. I heard one man on the phone, saying, “Ash and I just need to move on out of Jersey soon”. Another woman spoke to a friend in Wawa, claiming, “I just can’t make it work in this state anymore. Jersey is making me broke!”
My favorite line came from a gentleman who was also talking on the phone while walking out of my parking lot. I actually did laugh out loud as he said, “I gotta get my money the hell outta Jersey before Jersey takes it all”.
By just passing by, I can’t exactly figure out why these individuals want to leave New Jersey so badly, but their accounts have created legitimacy to this new movement. In order to better gauge why New Jersey residents want to leave the state, I posed the question to my friends and family on Facebook. See below:
Although very informal, it’s clear that most residents would leave New Jersey because it is very expensive to live here. New Jersey has been rated to be the fifth most expensive state to live in, and money just does not goes as far here as it does elsewhere. New Jersey also holds 12 of the nations 20 most expensive counties to live in. Some voiced a preference to living in Pennsylvania and commuting to New Jersey for work, rather than paying NJ’s high property taxes.
Other residents suggested that they would leave because of the state’s poor infrastructure. This concern also seems to hold merit due to New Jersey’s inability to fund improvement projects on roads and bridges.
The next most common gripe from New Jersey’s residents was about the condition of the state’s public transportation systems. To be blunt, there just is not enough of it, and very little is accessible to those who need it. Also, just a quick thought, why is there still only one train entering Philadelphia from South Jersey? It’s 2015 and the PATCO is crowded!
If lowering property taxes are off the table for politicians, what are some other alternatives to keeping families in New Jersey?
Well, most of these alternatives should involve getting very creative for a very intricate problem. One suggestion that I have proposed before was to create a College Tuition Payment Program for New Jersey residents. This type of a plan may draw more families back to the State in order for their children to be debt free after college. I’d cross the Delaware for sure if that meant debt free college for my children.
I’ve also proposed legalizing marijuana in New Jersey, in order to create a brand new market which could be monopolized in the Northeast. Such a thriving and new economy could be just what New Jersey needs to begin to pay for things, rather than continuously passing the buck to later generations.
A third plan of mine would be to raise the State’s minimum wage and adjust it to the real cost of living, not the consumer price index. This would make it easier for working families to afford to live in this expensive state, and contribute to the economy at the same time.
Finally, I also have implored South Jersey politicians to take New Jersey’s relationship with Philadelphia much more seriously. Philly is on the brink of an economic boom with Comcast planning a third possible skyscraper, as well as Northern Liberties being nothing but construction over the past few years, and with people are moving in. New Jersey politicians should attempt to partner with Philly in a greater capacity, rather than letting the river act as a complete barrier between progress and inaction.
What do you think New Jersey should be doing to make the state easier to live in? Comment away, use the hastage #byejersey to tweet your complaints, and, write to your state legislator!