Readings on the national household income meter show that New Jersey’s rankings have been shuffled: From Bloomberg:

New Jersey is no longer the wealthiest U.S. state, losing that distinction to Maryland in 2006, according to U.S. Census Bureau numbers.
New Jersey’s median household income increased 1.1 percent to $64,470, while Maryland outpaced that, rising 2.2 percent to $65,144, according to the Census Bureau’s 2006 American Community Survey.
The U.S. median household income was $48,451 in 2006, up 1.6 percent from a year earlier, officials said. Mississippi was the poorest of the 50 states with a median household income of $34,473.
The city of Camden, New Jersey, shed its distinction as the poorest among communities with a population of 65,000 to 249,999. It had a median household income of $25,961, making it the eighth-lowest nationally in that category, the Census Bureau said. Brownsville and College Station Texas both have higher poverty rates. Youngstown Ohio and Muncie Indiana have lower incomes.

For a picture of Baristaville’s income distribution, check out the Essex County “income map” on EcoRealty.

53 replies on “New Jersey: Neither Richest Nor Poorest”

  1. And there would seem to be a connection there Miss M, as a lot of the cheapest foods are the most fattening and unhealthy.

  2. ayy! I love these numbers and the Parade Magazine salary issue! WHO could live on that~whole household~?!! SCARY.
    DONT mind me, just griping again. LOOKING on CRAIGSLIST at homes to buy~very depressing.

  3. True, SSP. And often people in the poorest neighborhoods have the least access to healthy foods. This is all covered beautifully in “Prescription for a Health Nation,” by Drs. Tom Farley and Deborah A. Cohen. (Beacon Press)

  4. I hear ya, Cynd1. I am looking for a house as well and it’s amazing when you compare taxes on similar homes in Essex and Passaic counties. It’s a couple of thousand dollars difference. I said this before: try looking outside Essex to Passaic & Morris. Little Falls, for example, is close to NYC, yet you pay around $4,200 in taxes and a 3BR Cape. The same home in Verona or Cedar Grove would have taxes at $6,200 or higher. STOP THE INSANITY!

  5. I’m just happy we beat those nutmeg bastards from Conn.
    And the only problem with Little Falls is you’ll be living in Little Falls.
    Seriously though, I’m a fan of the big victorians in Boonton, NJ. Nice community too.

  6. Seriously though, I’m a fan of the big victorians in Boonton, NJ. Nice community too.
    Maybe it’s my stereotypical suburbab bias against the town you grew up in (in my case neighboring Montville), but you couldn’t pay me enough to live in Boonton.

  7. If the people who yearn to live in Little Falls, Montville, Boonton etc would hurry up and move out it would make room for people who won’t bitch and moan about paying their fair share of the cost of living in Montclair.

  8. I bet I could. EVERYONE has a price. And yes, even I could be made to move back to good old Hackensack for the right price.
    And why you hatin’ on Booton when you grew up in Montville?

  9. Prof,
    It would have to be a hell of a lot. The only possible motivation for moving to Boonton or Montville is I could ride a bike to work.
    Most people who grew up in Montville hated Boonton for one of 2 reasons:
    1) You were on the sports teams and hated Boonton because they were the closest and therefore rival school (this is going all the way back to my dad growing up in Montville in the 1960s. As soon as MHS opened up there was an instant rivalry).
    2) If you weren’t on any of the sports teams then your friends group usually ran through residents of Montville, Boonton, and Lake Hiawatha and spent enough time between the 3 they felt like one huge town.
    After a football injury in my sophomore year put me squarely into category 2, I found myself spending more time in Boonton than in Montville by the sheer happenstance that most of my friends lived there.
    Also, all three were pretty boring towns to be careless teenagers in unless you were into the abundantly available recreational drugs (which, I was not).

  10. Alabama’s state motto, when translated from the Pig Latin, is: “Thank God for Mississippi!”
    However, Bloomberg posted that number too soon: when I win the Mega Millions lottery this evening, we will once again have beat Maryland.
    (Maryland? Does that include the fat-cat salaries in Washington, D.C. during a Republican mis-administration?)

  11. “…fair share of the cost of living in Montclair.”
    For what? I just drove up Bloomfield Avenue on the way home tonight and counted a half dozen vacant storefronts and restaurants. That, and the high property taxes and rising crime, you can keep the New and Improved Montclair (TM).

  12. Conan, folks get rich everyday regardless of administration. Remember, there were plenty of “fat-cats” during the Clinton years (just look at their donations). Plenty of folks got filthy rich since the mid 90’s.
    But I guess the Baristaville Liberal mind has us hating all folks who make money during a republican administration because it must of been through bad dealings. (That hate though, does not extend to our liberal neighbors in these parts because they “worked hard” for their wealth).
    And before you label me something, remember the Prof is an independent who doesn’t trust any of them. I only hope to point out hypocrisy when I sees it.

  13. …. “this area”, I include Nutley (sux cause there is no train and that bus sux~have to drive to dumpy Delawanna) Clifton (getting hoody and trashy except for “Montclair Heights” which is ridiculously out of the realm) Verona, WO, Maplewood–etc etc-no way. Livingston is just simply Stepford. I guess parts of Little Falls could work, that borders a little WT (white trash) as well. THEN Wayne and West Paterson, forget about it. I “grew up” In Wayne an they dont even have sidewalks! The further “up” that way you go, the people get more hick-ish and clueless. I dont want to bring my kids up around a hoody environment, but I also dont want them driving a pickup listening to Kenny Chesney hanging out at the Packanack Inn like the people I went to High school are now into-yuck. I guess I have been lucky/unlucky enough to be a “visitor” renter for all these years and observing certain towns~Montclair~with its crazy amount of crime,nose in the air Whole Foods assholes~forget about Glen Ridge with the robots. WHERE does one go-? I just dont know….I guess people are people and I have to “worry about myself” as people tell me—but—then the money part rears its ugly head…aaahhh!! THE idea of having to “save up” 100K for a downpayment on a place gives me gas!!!

  14. …no oxygen to breathe vs. how rude those assholes in Whole Foods Montclair (funny how they arent in the West Orange store that we frequent) can be…hmmmm lettt me decide…

  15. You might also consider the Mars missions as well as the latest discoveries of emerging solar systems. Your options on earth seem limited.

  16. You don’t need $100 grand. $80 will get you a $400,000 home and now that prices are coming down, you may not need THAT much. However, you do need to have a cushion for closing costs (about $10,000) and any other ancillary costs like lawyers’ fees, any repairs/cosmetic work for which the seller is not responsible, etc.
    Right now, I am leaning towards Little Falls. I am working with a Realtor who sent me some listings and there are a number of nice- looking homes in the high 3s-low 4s in decent neighborhoods. Are they palaces? No, but my SO and I don’t need a huge Mc Mansion. He has grown kids and I have none. All we need is a nice yard for a Lab.

  17. yea~first time buyer…so 80-90K whe we make a combined income of $112K…ahhh–had this conversation the other day. THATS a chunk of cash-a difference of 10K really doesnt make a difference when its all unattainable

  18. Going with the 20% down / 80% mortgage thinking, it can be very hard to make a single family house one’s first purchase. Instead, consider buying an apartment, waiting a few years, and using the equity + increased value as the 20% on a house. Or, purchase a two-family and use the rental income to offset the cost of a mortgage. My husband and I have done the following since we married 5 years ago: purchased and sold a one bedroom condo; then purchased and sold a two bedroom condo; then purchased and sold a single family house; and purchased and a larger single family house where we are now. A lot of work and moving? Absolutely! Did we seem crazy to our family and friends? Yep. But it has been worth it. When the market evens out a bit, this type of strategy (maybe without so many moves!) might be helpful. Although there probably won’t be the % increases in values we saw over the past few years, it will still be there to a good degree.

  19. I thought about the 2-family route. But you had better make sure you get a good tenant. If you have a rotten tenant and you want to evict them, even for non-payment of rent, it is very difficult in the state of NJ.
    I also thought about going the condo route but to me, the negatives outweighed the positives. I don’t like the idea of condo association fees/maintenance fees which can be raised any time for any reason. Also, it doesn’t appear that condos are selling all that well these days. I think there’s too much inventory right now.

  20. I agree~Martta regarding condo’s. I also dont think such gains will be as high as they had been in recent years. WHEN prices go down, there will be even MORE available condos. ITS also, when youve been living in apartments for the last 15 years, who wants to buy one~sacrifice for the same “type” of living situation-most condos are just the same old garden apartments with a different name. I guess if I was in my late 20’s, maybe. I am in my late 30’s…so-I really want to move somewhere and stay there for the next 30 years..doing it to have a place for a family we plan to have in the next 2 years or so. ALSO-its scary–a dumpy 30 year old $150K studio-condo wed still have to put down $30K-something! Many condos asking price 300-400K. Dizzying. I keep asking the question~where does everyone get it. I thought I would have the answer by now, we started very late~~its hard when you are single and not with anyone to put money aside for when you “will be”…when you dont have it

  21. Yes, with the two-family route there is that concern. Being a landlord can be a full time job in itself. I was a landlord for one year once and that was enough for me – and I had a great tenant! 🙂
    The lower priced condos seem to be doing okay – we lived in the Park Center Condos by the HS in Bloomfield – wonderful pre-war buildings. I really liked it there. And they were very reasonably priced, I thought. But I guess it depends on what you’re looking for. It is hard to own in NJ – I hope you find something that works for you!

  22. Cyndi 1: “… but I also dont [sic] want them driving a pickup listening to Kenny Chesney hanging out at the Packanack Inn like the people I went to High school are now into-yuck [sic].”
    I can’t tell you how offensive this statement is. Part of me is happy you can’t find a home in Montclair, we have enough folks with this strange “anti-country” bias. As if those listening to the NJ Symphony drinking their wine in Brookdale are any better. Frankly, I don’t mind folks, different folks, who like different things. You won’t catch me sipping wine listening to classical, but you could hear me listening to some country (and much of now it harkens back to that breezing California soft-rock of the Eagles, which I love. And let’s not forget that NJ’s own Bon Jovi is now a Country Star who says those are the only folks who listen to his brand on rock.)
    And since the movie Cars (I have a 4 year old) I have a budding love of the dreaded NASCAR, Ohhh…. I better get my pick-up truck, wrong.
    Sorry, but I liken your comment to one many folks who say: “those kids listening to hip-hop with their pants pulled down…”
    It’s the same thing.

  23. As an aside, I am 32, and most of my friends who own either used some combination of wedding gifts, bonuses from work, inheritances/gifts from family or regular hard earned savings for their down payments. I like the idea of setting up a separate direct deposit account and taking advantage of as many pre-tax deductions employers offer to maximize the value of your post-tax $ savings. My husband and I did the separate account thing, through Netbank, for a LONG time.

  24. Oh, and doing just a quick search of the Garden State MLS via, you will find many homes in Montclair between 250k and 400k. I never understand why folks say they can’t find those prices in Montclair.
    I think the problem is that most folks mean to say, they can’t find an affortable house on a quiet tree lined street in (the fictional town of) “Upper” Montclair.
    Understand, this is a great town, all parts. Open up your search and you can buy in. But crying about prices in expensive neighborhoods is a fool’s game. Some streets, neighborhoods cost more than others, that continues to be a fact of real estate.

  25. True dat. Location, location, location, as they say. You may have to compromise by buying a house on a busy street or on a street in a *less desirable* section of town or one that needs a little TLC. But, hey, look at it as a starter home. Everyone has their deal breakers. I am pretty open-minded (right now we’re looking at a home in Little Falls that’s adorable but has no garage. BF & I don’t care. We look at it as another space we don’t have to keep tidy!) But we won’t consider split-levels (too Levittown-ish), homes on main drags (been there, done that), homes that need a tremendous amont of work (we’re both handy but we don’t want to spend our lives or our money on a real fixer-upper that needs $20,000 worth of work).
    To me, the most important things are: modern kitchen, modern baths, modern electrical and plumbing, dry basement, semi-quiet neighborhood (no motocycles…sorry, Cathar!), flattish yard/driveway.
    Make lists of what you absolutely can and can not live without. Then throw in a dose of compromise.

  26. MM: “To me, the most important things are: modern kitchen, modern baths, modern electrical and plumbing, dry basement, semi-quiet neighborhood [sic].”
    As you know, this is everyone’s list. And “modern” will cost ya. The thing many folks don’t realize is how getting a house with a beat up kitchen/bath and fixing it yourself (with or without pro help) will save you MUCH money.
    My wife and I bought a DUMP!! And slowly worked on it (the kitchen was changed 3-5 times over 7 years), fresh paint on walls and cabs (several times), new appliances, a tile counter and backsplash is nothing beyond the average homeowners ability (especially when the pro gives you a quote in the thousands). Also, you would be surprised how easy it is to find a handyman to do these things for very little money– go to Home Depot/Lowes and look at all the trucks in the lot. (Remember, not all kitchens need to be “designed” or “by Showcase.”
    (Fortunately, we have since had pros create our dream kitchen. Which thinking about it only cost about 6-8k.)

  27. I’ve been in Montclair for over twenty years and I still love my pick up truck. I usually park it right next to my range rover!

  28. KIM~~I see where you say……most of your friends who own either used some combination of wedding gifts, bonuses from work, inheritances/gifts from family or regular hard earned savings for their down payments……
    THATS our whole deal~our parents didnt exactly put aside money for our wedding, nor do we have $30/$40K for an event (not important to us at this stage in the game) so we wont have that wedding money. THANK god because friends, coworkers, going to a gazillion weddings~Im over it~now at this stage in the game the marriage is more important than another expensive event. Unfortunately, most of those people put more thought into the event than who they were marrying. Most divorced now. NO family “gifts”, no huge 30K bonuses, just regular people trying to save 80K, that was my challenge from the get go~paying every cent of debt off and getting to it. Sounds like my requirements for a house are similar to Miss Marttas~I love parts of Nutley, the no-train thing sucks there too, if we saw something decent there I’d consider it. ITS just so hard having lived in dumpy rentals to now thinking about buying a dump and spending a life in flux fixing it up on my own dime, screwing around with stuff we dont know doing it ourselves~usually you regret it and it HAS to be redone professionally anyway.
    AS for NASCAR~most of those people are the ones most of the time griping about the rap kids with the “baggy pants”, if you know what I mean. ONE end of the spectrum to the other, fortunately~ I am neither!!

  29. NASCAR is cool. I won a Dale Earnhardt cooler, BBQ set and ice cube trays at a charity event I attended a few years ago.
    Anyhoo, yes, proximity to NYC transportation is key for me.
    Also, don’t discount West Orange, Bloomfield and Belleville. Lots of affordables there that don’t suck.

  30. Cynd1 – my husband and I paid for our wedding (the $40,000 type of event you mention, 120 guests), and then we used a portion of our cash gifts from our guests for our first down payment, which was $7,700 on a $77,000, 500 sq ft condo. My parents didn’t put money aside for my wedding, nor did my husband’s. And my friends certainly don’t receive $30,000 bonuses. You asked how people do it – really, people just do what they need to do. Some start saving at the age of 18, and some start later in life. It is what it is and we reach our respective goals at different times.

  31. Wait, Cyndi1, is this your impression? Or a fact (about NASCAR and low riding jeans)?
    And most of the cities starting to “ban” low riding pants are in the liberal north. And isn’t Jr. and Jeff Gordon in a number of rap videos and commercials?
    Since your hate of (non baristaville) white folks is clear (you have labeled them as “hick-ish” and “white trash” earlier), I find it hard to listen or believe a word you say.
    Again, I’m happy you are priced out of Montclair- I hate bias regardless of whom it is directed.
    What you are is a bigot. Granted it to “poor” or “southern” white folks, but you are still a bigot. Your own words call you out.

  32. ..KIM C…if you lived at home while planning that event, then they helped you by letting you live there rent free. Thats your business and your gig, but in that sense they did help you get that 40K together. UGGH as far as NASCAR and rap~no, sorry~nt a fan of either. DONT have to defend my tastes. Like several different things, but those arent my thing….and I am not a “bigot”~ou said yourself its a southern thing. Drive down to fla, get pulled over see what happens. NEVER personally happened to me, but I have heard stories. COUNT me out, thanks…no I am not a “Baristaville” person as I ve mentioned~dad is a retired teacher–grew up in Wayne. Everyone entited to thier own personal tastes, its just not my gig. And for the record, I think the peeps with thier whine and cheese in Brookdale park are a little pukey as well…as you mentioned before~that snoozefest ient my gig either, sorry…

  33. Cynd1’s father was a teacher? I take it from her posts that he wasn’t an English teacher.
    Just an observation from an upper Passaic County hick who will enjoy wine and cheese in Brookdale park at times.

  34. I missed the spelling test for “ain’t”. Is it “nt” or “ient” …. or I guess “ain’t no difference”. Jeeze and quackers anyone?

  35. …sorry~~after a whole week’s worth of emails overseas and to clients, etc–I guess I wasnt really concerned with mis spellings, etc here. PHD in physics, buy the way~

  36. How do you know whether I lived at home? And if I did, that I didn’t pay rent? See, not everything is always as it appears.
    Good luck to you.

  37. …usually~things are exactly how they appear. Hats off to you if you were able to live in your own place~keep up with the cost of living~rent increases-food shopping-etc, handle all your debts and still manage to save up 40K for a wedding and come out with cash to put down on a place without help from anyone. 99% of the people we know had major help~people just really dont want to admit it~paid college, living with parents till they saved enough for a place, etc–it was important for us to be independant 100%.
    NOT about luck, about hard work! Thanks for your well wishes…

  38. There are good properties just 5 minutes from the Midtown direct (Bay Street or Glen Ridge stations) in the Glenfield area. Prices range from high 200’s, average 400’s, with several in the 500-600’s, for a variety of legal one-two-three-four family, colonial, split-level, etc. Most backyards are deep because the South Ward was farm land, and many houses were built/bought by Italian and African-American migrants, all of whom grew their own produce and raised chickens to supplement wages. Many, like mine, have decks (I have one for each 3bdrm unit), pools, gardens, whatever.
    Location provides easy access to almost everywhere (Central business & Lackawanna, Rte 3 and 46, GSP, 280 & Turnpike, Rte 23, etc.) And, there is class and racial diversity, including proximity to Glen Ridge!
    Ignore the fake community dev organization (nobody in it is from the real community) and weak code enforcement – strategies to keep out younger, solid middle-income buyers like like many of you, who would drive improvements and fight off the overdevelopment planned for lower Bloomfield Avenue!

  39. “…all of whom grew their own produce and raised chickens to supplement wages.”
    I may have to look into this if I buy a home in Montclair!

  40. Cynd1, I would stick to the outer reaches of the galaxy, best bet to get in on the ground floor cheap. (I bet you even have the inside track as a PHD in physics)

  41. Your dad may have a PhD in physics (or maybe you have one–I couldn’t tell by your post) but neither one of you apparently has a head for money. I feel your pain–Montclair has gotten hideously expensive–but if you’re in your late 30s and are only now thinking about saving up for a down payment, you’re way late. Going through an adjustment in expectations late in life is painful.

  42. Too much talking about buying. Just do it! Put yourself in debt and hope your future earnings keep climbing. Buy a 3 fam and put some sweat equity into it and live on the 3rd floor…I did for many years then bought a 1 fam and never looked back….PAZ in GRrrtown

  43. Cyndi1,
    Seriously, if $40k – $80k is too much of a down payment for you and your SO to afford, then you are looking at houses outside of your price range and it is time to stop. People overextending themselves is what got us, as a country, into this foreclosure mess in the first place.
    My fiance and I make a combined income of about $75k a year. We long ago realized that meant if we wanted to stay in Montclair it would be either in an apartment or a condo. Like you, we don’ want to spend the rest of our lives in an apartment or condo, so we are looking outside of Montclair. That is the bottom line: If you don’t like / can’t afford what a town is offering then you need to look at a different town.
    The people on this site have given you wonderful advice and instead of taking it to heart and looking in the possibility of following some of it, you have instead (apparently) decided to throw it all out the window and continue to wring your hands and throw your own little pity party.
    PS – I shop at Whole Foods, grew up in Montville, and have many friends who live in and around Wayne. I can assure you that none of us are either hicks or snobs and am greatly offended at your earlier comments. While, as someone who is looking to buy a house, I feel your pain, I’m also with the good Prof in being somewhat glad that someone with your level of prejudice is being priced out of this town (for as long as I remain here, anyway).
    PPS – Spelling, formatting, and grammar does count for a LOT on blog sites. When you have one paragraph for your entire post with huge spelling and grammatical errors it will render your thoughts almost illegible.

  44. After reading my last post, I would like to apologize for all of the grammatical errors. I miss you “preview” button. Get better soon!

  45. …40-80K is a lot of money. I never said once I was looking in Montclair to buy–the whole overall lifestyle is not one I want for my future children. Average prices out there are $375-400, we are not putting in bids, nor are we wasting realtors time at this point. STILL in the beginning part of this process. IN terms of my typing skills, emails-fery informal ones to my clericals-etc at work is the only typing I do, sorry to offend-just thought this was informal typing on a town website-no biggie. I know several people in Wayne, and unfortunately~~they are a little backward and a little hokey. ITS amazing how close to NYC they are, but how in the dark they allow themselves to be. NOT the kind of place I want to go back to. SINCE I want to remain working in NYC and in the industry I am in, I have to be commutable–and thats not 2 hours each way, it has to be liveable. AS FOR Walleroo~in my late 30’s–no children. Significant other and I were not thinking of getting married–AS I SAID BEFORE and were living alone. HOW DOES ONE save 40K when they make 50K a year-? NOT eat, live in a box-share an apartment with any random person-? People are always so free with thier comments as well. AS a matter of fact, my SO was helping his mother pay HER mortgage and helping her take care of her dying/wheelchair bound husband. I was with someone and very depressed, so now we are together and super happy! BUT hindsight is always 20-20…

  46. I know I mentioned this before but it works. If you are living with/married to someone, try living on one salary for a year (the bigger of the two, of course). Yes, it might be a little tight and you might feel a bit deprived at times but keep your eye on the prize: owning your own home. If you want it bad enough, you’ll do it.
    If you have any debts, pay them down. If you have credit card debt, try to pay more than the monthly payment.
    And, yes, be open-minded to living outside of Essex County. Yes, you may find a home in Montclair for under $400,000 but it will most likely be a fixer-upper and you will STILL have to pay Montclair taxes. This is why I told my Realtor not to show me any Mtc. listings. Out of principle, I don’t want to pay such outrageous taxes. I’ve visited towns in NJ and out of state and you would not believe how much lower taxes are outside of suburban Essex County. When I tell folks what the taxes are here, they think I’m exaggerating.

  47. …this is exactly what we are trying to accomplish~paying the debts down and saving it. I was just really overwhelmed at how much it actually takes. ALL our friends own homes, and as stupid as it sounds~I never asked. Most did have family help in one shape or form, as a lot of people do-its true. THE comments got somehow convoluted along the way and I am just PMSed I guess and overwhelmed by the largeness of it all. THE one thing I am annoyed about~I mean~comments like~**but if you’re in your late 30s and are only now thinking about saving up for a down payment, you’re way late**HOWS that~? Most of the people who made those “big decisions” in thier 20’s are getting divorced, or just not really happy. A few made good decisions, but who is to say. I am glad everyone had the opportunity to save thousands of dollars, had great salaries, opportunities to save, the perfect partner and set up in which to do it. SOMETIMES life gets in the way. UNLIKE a lot of people who fell into the disadvantaged category–we didnt decide to have several kids and think about the financial repurcussions “later”. WE were caring for parents who never really cared for us, both physically and financially and left with not much for ourselves. IN unsatisfactory relationships. NOW we finally find ourselves, and we are in our late 30’s~now ready to make a family and really want to do so~but its super stressful when you want better for your future kids and are trying to find a way. WE make very good money considering no college as Ive mentioned in the past posts~~but it always seems from the writing on the wall that it will never be enough~! I am just hoping with our hearts in the right places and hopefully a change in the maretplace~we will be able to have our much deserved “turn”…

  48. A friend of mine, making less money than you, older and single did it this way:
    Strict budgeting-he had help from a very good accountant who set him up based on income, made him save, and kept an eagle eye on spending.
    Stay where you are while you are doing this, and give yourself a time limit-let’s say a year (sounds like forever, goes by fast).
    When you are ready, look for a foreclosure in the area you want to live in-he has a nice home in Montclair, that he took his time in fixing and decorating-it is now worth much more than what he paid.
    You can do this. It means hard work and some sacrifice, and you may have to get some outside assistance, but you can have the home you want.

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