Population and Social Characteristics

New Jersey's Best Counties to Live In

PM Images / Stone via Getty Images

Every year in the United States, tens of millions of Americans move to a new home. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the bulk of these moves are motivated by personal circumstances, often relating to housing, family, or employment. But when it comes to deciding on a place to live, it can also be helpful to weigh other, less subjective factors.

As a means of gauging and comparing degrees of development between countries — beyond standard measures like gross domestic product and economic growth — the United Nations created the Human Development Index. By accounting for factors related to health and well-being, educational attainment, and standards of living, the HDI offers an assessment of overall quality of life at the individual level within a given geography.

When applied to communities within the United States, the core principles of the HDI reveal that some parts of the country are far better places to live than others.

Using an index inspired by the HDI, 24/7 Wall St. identified the best counties in New Jersey to live in. Counties are ranked on a combination of three measures – average life expectancy at birth, the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the poverty rate. Of the 21 counties in New Jersey, we ranked the 10 with the highest HDI score.

Across all of New Jersey, average life expectancy at birth is 79.5 years. Additionally, 9.7% of the population live below the poverty line and 42.3% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Of the 10 counties on this list, six compare favorably to the state as a whole in each of these metrics.

Among these 10 New Jersey counties, average life expectancy at birth ranges from 78.8 years to 83.2 years. Meanwhile, poverty rates vary between 3.7% and 14.2%, and bachelor’s degree attainment rates range from about 39% to over 50%.

Data used to calculate rankings are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 American Community Survey and County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a joint program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. All ACS data are five-year averages.

Why It Matters

Source: Darren415 / iStock via Getty Images

Many of the most commonly cited economic indicators — including unemployment, GDP, and industrial output — are useful gauges of prosperity and productive capacity in a given area. But when it comes to measuring overall quality of life, any single metric inevitably falls short. To address these shortcomings, the HDI combines three key social and economic measures into a single index score, allowing for objective comparisons between communities across the United States.

10. Mercer County

Source: Ultima_Gaina / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.3 years
  • Poverty rate: 11.2%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 44.2%
  • Median household income: $92,697
  • Population: 383,732

9. Hudson County

Source: OlegAlbinsky / E+ via Getty Images
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.5 years
  • Poverty rate: 14.2%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 46.6%
  • Median household income: $86,854
  • Population: 712,029

8. Sussex County

Source: Andrew F Kazmierski / Getty Images

  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 78.8 years
  • Poverty rate: 5.5%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 39.0%
  • Median household income: $111,094
  • Population: 144,808

7. Burlington County

  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.1 years
  • Poverty rate: 6.6%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 41.1%
  • Median household income: $102,615
  • Population: 461,853

6. Middlesex County

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.6 years
  • Poverty rate: 8.4%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 45.1%
  • Median household income: $105,206
  • Population: 860,147

5. Monmouth County

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.9 years
  • Poverty rate: 6.4%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 49.9%
  • Median household income: $118,527
  • Population: 643,064

4. Bergen County

Source: andykazie / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 82.1 years
  • Poverty rate: 6.8%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 51.7%
  • Median household income: $118,714
  • Population: 953,243

3. Somerset County

Source: DougSchneiderPhoto / E+ via Getty Images
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 82.0 years
  • Poverty rate: 5.3%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 57.3%
  • Median household income: $131,948
  • Population: 344,978

2. Morris County

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 81.8 years
  • Poverty rate: 5.0%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 57.1%
  • Median household income: $130,808
  • Population: 508,816

1. Hunterdon County

Source: j76n / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 83.2 years
  • Poverty rate: 3.7%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 55.5%
  • Median household income: $133,534
  • Population: 129,099
Rank County Avg. life expectancy at birth (yrs.) Adults with a bachelor’s degree (%) Poverty rate (%) Population
1 Hunterdon, New Jersey 83.2 55.5 3.7 129,099
2 Morris, New Jersey 81.8 57.1 5.0 508,816
3 Somerset, New Jersey 82.0 57.3 5.3 344,978
4 Bergen, New Jersey 82.1 51.7 6.8 953,243
5 Monmouth, New Jersey 79.9 49.9 6.4 643,064
6 Middlesex, New Jersey 80.6 45.1 8.4 860,147
7 Burlington, New Jersey 79.1 41.1 6.6 461,853
8 Sussex, New Jersey 78.8 39.0 5.5 144,808
9 Hudson, New Jersey 80.5 46.6 14.2 712,029
10 Mercer, New Jersey 79.3 44.2 11.2 383,732

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.