Should I buy a house in New Jersey suburbs or New York City?

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Anyone who has lived or worked in New York City knows that there are more affordable places to live. But does it make sense, if and when you decided to settle down and buy real estate, to buy a home in the New Jersey suburbs? It’s not as simple a decision as you may think. In this blog, we’ll go through the major factors you should explore.

We are financial advisors in Morristown, NJ, providing financial advice for New Jersey residents as well as folks across the country. Before we get started, you may want to check out other New Jersey finance blogs we’ve written:

Cost of living in New Jersey

A checklist for moving to Morristown, NJ from NYC

The New Jersey Double Tax

What is the average income in New Jersey?

What is the New Jersey 529 Plan and should I use it to send my kids to college?

Should you buy a New Jersey vacation home?

40 questions to ask a financial advisor in New Jersey

Moving from New Jersey to Florida?

Housing prices – New Jersey vs. New York

It is hard to say whether it will be more expensive to buy a house in New Jersey or New York unless you know the specific place in New Jersey where you want to settle down. Of course, the amenities and features of the home determine its price. But housing costs can vary so greatly from one New Jersey township to the next, just based upon the supply and demand for houses in that area.

As a rule of thumb, the closer you get to New York City, the higher the cost of real estate in New Jersey. Passaic and Bergen counties, for example, cater to the commuting populations who live in the state and work in New York. As a result, housing can be pricey in those areas.

Real estate estimates vary, but there is a significant difference between the typical home value in New Jersey and New York, both on an absolute and a price per square foot basis.

  • The median home sale price in New Jersey is $497,600 and the average price per square foot is $290 as of June 2023, according to Redfin.
  • Median sold home price in New York City is $645,000, according to, with a median home listing price per square foot of $826.

By the data above, New York City empirically is more expensive than New Jersey. In fact, New York real estate is more than twice as expensive as New Jersey on a square foot basis. This is of particular interest to those who are buying larger homes. 

Real estate prices vary greatly within New Jersey

It’s hard to say what a good house will cost you in a New Jersey suburb. There are vast incongruities in real estate prices within certain areas of the state. Let’s look at the difference between what it costs to own a home in the counties in the northern and southern parts of the state.

A picture of the George Washington Bridge, connecting New York City and the New Jersey suburbs

According to New Jersey Realtors:

  • In June 2023, the sale price of a single-family home in Passaic County was $515,000. In Bergen County, it was $460,000.
  • In Burlington County, in the mid-southern part of the state, the sale price of a single-family home was $400,000.
  • Cumberland County, on the southern tip of the state, presents an average sale price of $237,500 in June 2023.

To summarize, New Jersey suburban real estate can be just as expensive as New York City if you live up north in certain counties. However, with home prices varying across the state there is an opportunity to buy less expensive real estate. 

It is useful to note as well that certain areas of New Jersey are subject to risks that you wouldn’t have to worry about in most of New York. Rural areas may be more prone to brush fires, and the coastal shores of New Jersey is subject to flood risk. Buying real estate in these areas could mean that the cost to insure such properties may be greater and if these unfortunate incidences were to befall you, you may on the hook for pricey home repairs.

And last but not least – ah yes – taxes and fees!

Housing prices aren’t everything. Buyers of property in New Jersey and New York must also take into account that there may be differences when it comes to taxes and fees levied on real estate transactions in these states.

Property taxes

While New York City property taxes are palatable, we’d advise you to hold onto your hats because New Jersey property taxes are some of the highest in the country!

Municipalities with greater services need to fund them, and property tax is the major way that money is collected from its residents. If you are settling down in a place with a bigger police force, and more expansive school district, and other governmental services for those who live there, your property tax is likely to be higher. Property taxes can also vary quite a bit from one town in New Jersey to the next.

Fortunately, there are several forms of relief – start by reading our blog on how to ease the pain of high New Jersey property tax.

Transfer and mansion taxes

Only sellers pay transfer tax in New Jersey and New York. Unfortunately, though, buyers are on the hook in New Jersey for a 1% fee if the value of the property they are buying exceeds one million dollars, according to the New Jersey Tax Guide.

In New York once you get over a $1 million purchase price you’ll also pay 1% mansion tax – or more, depending on the value of the property.

New York mortgage recording tax

In New York, you’ll pay a mortgage recording tax. According to Prevu, this amounts to 1.8% for mortgages under $500,000 and 1.925% above that amount. You have to pay this tax upfront.

Closing costs

The costs to close on a home in New Jersey don’t differ than vastly from those you’d pay if you were to buy a home in New York. There are the basics such as loan original fees, loan closing fees, appraisal fees, etc.

However, one aspect of closing costs that you may experience when purchasing New Jersey real estate is a flood certification (Clever, 2023). This is because so much land in New Jersey is subject to flood risk. You’ll need a surveyor to come in and, essentially, assess which category of flood risk applies to your property.

Did we shed any light on your decision to buy a house in the New Jersey suburbs – or are you still hung up on New York City?

We hope you’ve enjoyed our blog on what to consider if you are thinking of buying a home in the New Jersey suburbs.

We are financial advisors in Morristown, NJ serving the local community and beyond. If you have questions about retiring in New Jersey, moving there, affording to live there, or (like us) are just plain old Bruce Springsteen fans, reach out and send us a message.


Babich, Luke. (2023, March 2nd). Clever. New Jersey Buyer Closing Costs: How Much Will You Pay?

Localize. The full cost of buying a home in NYC.

New Jersey Realtors. FastStats. New Jersey.

New Jersey Realtors. Monthly Indicators. June 2023.

New York State. Mortgage recording tax.

New Jersey Division of Taxation. New Jersey Tax Guide.

Prevu. (30 June, 2023). NYC Mortgage Recording Tax – Buyer’s Guide 2023. New York, NY.

Redfin. New Jersey Real Estate.

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