New Jersey has a reputation as a lousy place to retire. That's unfortunate.
First of all, one of the things the state does best is manufacture well-heeled retirees (think former teachers, cops, firefighters and other public employees). It would be nice to see more of that public pension money stay in the state that gave it to these folks. Instead, New Jersey exports many of these retirees and their money to states like Florida and South Carolina, where the weather and fishing are better and the politicians not quite as rapacious.
And, of course, it would be nice to import more retired people from other states. Retirees can be a valuable economic resource (even if you’d rather not get stuck behind one on the Turnpike). The state could point out that Social Security is not taxed in New Jersey, that the fishing can be better than you’d expect and that there are lots of golf courses. A retiree could do worse. (Maybe that’s what the state’s slogan should be: “New Jersey: You could do worse.”)
In fact, according to the most recent ranking by Bankrate.com, 12 states — Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, California, Oklahoma, Nevada, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arkansas, West Virginia and Alaska — are actually worse places to retire than New Jersey.
So there. Thirty-eighth place. We’ll take it.
Bankrate reached this conclusion by considering eight criteria: cost of living, health care quality, crime, cultural vitality, weather, taxes, senior citizens’ overall well-being and the prevalence of other seniors. Those factors were then weighted based on how seniors ranked each one’s importance.
And New Jersey didn’t come in last. Somehow, New Hampshire came in first, so you could argue that it might be legitimate to raise some questions about this survey.
But we see no percentage for New Jersey in quibbling with the results.
Besides, we have a couple of our own reasons for thinking that New Jersey is a great place to live at any age. They center around that “cultural vitality” category.
Reason No. 1: food. By which we mean cheesesteaks; Taylor ham, egg and cheese sandwiches; and every manner of ethnic food on Earth. Just try to get a decent bowl of Senegalese Maafe in Wisconsin.
Reason No. 2: the people. Jersey Guys (and Jersey Girls) are direct and funny. They can tell a joke and take a joke. They are loyal. They never forget their friends. Or their enemies. People have a certain … um, vitality in New Jersey. Youse unnerstand what we’re sayin’ here?
So sure, you can find places with lower tax burdens and a lower cost of living.
But they’re not as fun.