Residents are feeling a bit better about life in New Jersey, according to the latest Monmouth University Poll's Garden State Quality of Life Index, released Monday.

Spencer Platt, Getty Images

The index, which the university has been measuring for the last five years, saw a slight rebound from a four-year low in September 2014.

"Our Index which runs from negative 100 to plus 100, currently stands at a plus 23 and that's up from plus 18 back in September," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Residents were asked to rate the state in five separate areas:

  • 15 percent rated New Jersey as an excellent place to live and 48 percent said it was a good place to live. The 63 percent positive rating is up from 61 percent in September;
  • 72 percent said their hometown is a good place to live, up from 69 percent in September;
  • 62 percent said they feel very safe in their neighborhood, up from 58 percent in September;
  • 61 percent said they were happy with their local schools, up from 60 percent in September;
  • 72 percent gave a positive rating to their local environment, unchanged from September.

"The quality of life index has come back and it's particularly noteworthy in the center of the state and among middle income earners and young adults," Murray said.

Regionally, the index score bounced back in the two areas where it had dropped the most last fall:

  • The score increased from +12 to +24 among Route 1 corridor residents and from +4 to +19 in the state's northwest and southeast counties.
  • The score among young adults age 18 to 34 went from +12 in September to +26 in the current survey.
  • The score among middle income residents earning between $50,000 and $100,000 went from +15 in September to +30 in the current poll.

"The only area where we saw a decrease in quality of life perceptions was in the Delaware Valley, the Philadelphia suburbs where the score is a +11, and that's down from +18 in September," Murray noted.

The survey was conducted by telephone with 805 New Jersey adults from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2, 2015. The margin of error is + 3.5 percent.