Living in Central New JerseyIyna Bort Caruso
The chain of cities, towns and villages that make up Central New Jersey are used to attention. They’ve been cited on such lists as “Prettiest Town” and “Best for Families.” The National Bureau of Economic Research even ranked three Central New Jersey counties, Somerset, Middlesex and Hunterdon, among the “Top Happiest Metro Areas in the United States.”
Monmouth and Mercer round out the central region of high income counties, sometimes referred to as the state’s wealth belt. Although New York and Philadelphia are within commuting distance, a skilled workforce takes advantage of opportunities in the area’s strong technology, health care and telecommunications sectors.
Hunterdon is among the most affluent counties in the country. It is an area of quintessential Americana: small towns with historic facades, Revolutionary War sites, equestrian trails, wildlife and even vineyards. Among the farmlands and pocket parks, some of the state’s most photographed sites are here.
Adjacent Somerset is one of America’s oldest counties. Its network of semi-urban, suburban and rural communities has deep roots. Scores of buildings, bridges, and districts across the county are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Owners of homes with landmark status enjoy tax incentives.
Mercer County is notably home to the state capital of Trenton and Princeton University. Between the two locations are golf courses, performing arts venues and protected greenbelts. Some communities are centuries-old like Lawrenceville, which dates back to Colonials days. Its main street was part of the historic King’s Highway. Colonial and Victorian residences as well as gentlemen’s farms are common.
Middlesex County is large, young and educated. It is a region of world-class health care institutions, research facilities and Fortune 500 companies. By contrast, it also boasts well-reserved villages surrounded by farmlands and waterfront acreage on Raritan Bay.
South of Middlesex is Monmouth County, considered the gateway to the New Jersey Shore, an area ruled by beaches, boardwalks and bikes. Its 50 miles of beachfront is lined with family friendly outposts, Victorian-era resorts and uber-upscale, uber-hip towns.