Monmouth Poll: Cost of living and property taxes top-of-mind for N.J. residents

Cost of living and property taxes are the biggest concerns of New Jerseyans, according to a recent Monmouth University Poll released on Wednesday. The economic issues are so top-of-mind that about half of those surveyed said they want to leave the state — although just over a quarter said they are very likely to do so.

The West Long Branch poll, which surveyed 801 adults by phone between Feb. 29 and March 4, found that about half of Garden State residents mentioned some form of taxes when asked to name the most important issues facing New Jersey right now.

Property taxes (39%) top the list, as they have on almost every Monmouth poll that asked this question going back to 2009. The second-most-frequently mentioned issue was the economy and cost of living (24%), which has not registered this high a concern since the 2009 gubernatorial election (27%).

Currently, 48% of New Jerseyans said they would like to move out of the state at some point. This number is lower than in 2022 (59%), but in line with prior polling on this question between 2007 and 2014.

Among those who want to leave New Jersey, 43% said the state’s cost of living is the most important factor behind their desire to move out, while 52% said it is one of several top factors. Just 5% said it is not a factor at all. Among those who said they are at least somewhat likely to actually leave the state, most said the move will come after retirement (63%, a number that includes those who are already retired).

“Take New Jersey’s already high cost of living and add inflationary pressures to it. This may not be driving out more people than in the past, but it certainly isn’t helping to reduce out-migration,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said.

The state is about to implement a new program called Stay NJ that will cut property taxes in half for nearly all senior homeowners, but the poll found little awareness of the program. However, the results also suggested the program may lead some homeowners who want to leave the state to reconsider. Just 36% of New Jersey residents had heard at least a little about this, including 36% of those age 55 and older. The program will have an income cap of $500,000 per year.

In other poll findings, Monmouth’s benchmark Garden State Quality of Life Index
has remained stable over the past year, with the score currently standing at +24, which is similar to ratings from 2023 (+23 in August and +24 in January), but slightly lower than the +27 result in April 2022.

The current reading is near the midpoint of scores since Monmouth first started tracking the quality-of-life index in 2010. The index number jumped to +37 at the beginning of the COVID pandemic in April 2020, but dropped back to +25 in May 2021. In prior years, the index rating ranged between +18 and +31, with an outlying low point of +13 registered in February 2019.