A new study finds many Garden State residents are saying so long to Jersey, and moving to another state.

Flickr User Akeg
Flickr User Akeg

United Van Lines' 36th annual "migration" study, which tracks which states the company's customers move to and from during the course of the year, finds more people moved out of Jersey last year than any other state.

The top-five outbound states for 2012 were:


  1. New Jersey
  2. Illinois
  3. West Virginia
  4. New York
  5. New Mexico

So, why is Jersey number one?

Rutgers economist James Hughes says, "People are leaving because New Jersey is a very expensive place to live. We have high taxes and we have high housing costs per se - you can cash out on your very expensive house in New Jersey and move to a much more affordable state, and purchase an equivalent house at maybe half the price - half the taxes - and live quite well."

NJ Homeowners Pulling Up the Stakes

He says, "Our high cost structures particularly hurt seniors and retirees, and if they have been long-term homeowners they can cash out and move to a more affordable location."

Hughes adds, "The impacts of hurricane Sandy and some of the weather events from last year certainly applied an added push factor out of state…It may well have been people who were anticipating leaving anyway if they were near retirement - and so that simply accelerated their decision."

He points out some individuals may also be leaving because their prospects of finding employment are better in other parts of the country.

"Pulling up stakes and moving for a job is usually a very, very dramatic and drastic move and it really is the province really of younger people, however the other situation could be someone who is a more mature middle-aged person who is laid off, and is not likely to be rehired would be more tempted to move - if there are definite jobs in other locations."

Is NJ's Property Tax Cap Having an Impact?

New Jersey now has a property tax cap in place, and tens of thousands of private sector jobs have been added in recent years, but Hughes says, "It's difficult to say what the impact is - I think all of those policy changes are going to benefit the state in the long run. However it's not going to be readily apparent in the short term. It took many years of bad business policies in the state to give the state the bad reputation that it has, so you're not going to turn that around overnight."

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