Off grid living in New Jersey ( The Garden State )

New Jersey is located on the east coast sandwiched between two massive cities, New York and Philadelphia. Currently, the population is around 8 million and it is the second state from which people move out, although the population is still increasing very slowly, for some reason. If you look at New Jersey’s geographical location and close proximity to states which have high taxes and high population density, it won’t take you long to figure it out that this state is probably not that good for off grid living.

Living off the grid in New Jersey is legal, although this is not a good state for off grid living, the taxes are high, living costs are sky-high and the price of land and houses are around 40% higher than the national average. New Jersey has also a massive problem with pollution and with the decaying infrastructure, although during the past couple of years the local authorities started fixing these problems but it will take a long time till things get better.

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The scenery is beautiful in some areas, but the closer you get to the cities the state’s problems become obvious. There are around 5 cities that have a population of over 100k people, Newark 280k population, Jersey City 270k population, Paterson 150k population, Elizabeth 130k population, and Edison with around 100k population. If you have ever visited New Jersey then you have probably noticed that the infrastructure is in shambles, most notably the bridges look like they can collapse at any minute.

Although there are some good places to live off the grid in this state, but due to the high taxes, and cost of living I simply can not recommend it. The state is simply asking way too much from its people, and it offers only high pollution, crumbling infrastructure, and an extremely bad public transportation system, some might wonder where all that taxpayer money is actually going. If you visit the rural areas in New Jersey you will notice that it is fairly similar to the neighboring states and one might even be tempted to live off the grid in some areas.

As always before deciding to buy a property in any state for off grid living, you should visit the state for at least a couple of weeks. I know you have probably heard a lot of people complain about the pollution, but you will only experience it once you drive through some of the areas during the summertime, and I challenge you to keep your windows down if you can. If you want to know how to find good land for off grid living then check out my recent article What land is good for off grid living? ( Top 15 Qualities ).

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New Jersey climate

New Jersey has two different types of climate, in the southern part the climate is humid subtropical, and in the northern part, it has a humid continental climate. This basically means that in the entire state the summers are fairly hot and the winters are cold and humid, although in the northern part of the state the climate is fairly colder than in the southern part during the wintertime. During the summertime, the average temperature is around 82°F and during the wintertime is around 34°F.

In the northern part of the state, it is not unusual to have 0°F temperatures or even lower, and during the wintertime, there will be a fairly big difference when it comes to the temperature during the wintertime. Generally speaking, the coldest parts of the state are in the northeast right next to the coast. If you want to take a look at one of the neighboring states then check out my recent article Off grid living in New York ( The Empire State ).

Best crops to grow in New Jersey

Most of the corps are actually fruits and vegetables, and this is actually a good thing when it comes to off grid living. Vegetables especially have a fairly short growing time when you compare them to other types of crops. Although the majority of the crops grown in New Jersey are either fruits and vegetables, but in some areas, you will find field crops like corn, soybeans, and wheat. Overall from an off grid living stand of a point when it comes to growing crops this state has plenty of options for a self-sustaining lifestyle. When it comes to growing crops, Rhode Island is fairly similar to NJ, for more information check out my recent article Off grid living in Rhode Island ( Size does matter! ).

Freshwater availability in New Jersey

Due to its geographic location, New Jersey doesn’t have any problems with supplying the residents with water. There are plenty of above ground and below groundwater resources, although due to the state’s high pollution rate some of the groundwater is contaminated with hard metals and dangerous chemicals. You can also legally harvest rainwater, although if you live next to industrial zones then this isn’t a good idea, as all the chemicals which have settled on your roof will be washed into your water storage system, and most water filters can not filter out heavy metals or chemicals.
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New Jersey wildlife

The wildlife in New Jersey is fairly limited for hunting, the biggest animal in the area is the white-tailed deer, although there are plenty of smaller animals like rabbits, raccoons, and skunks. If you like fishing then you will have plenty of options in New Jersey both for freshwater and saltwater fishing. You can find anything from brown trout to arctic char, smallmouth bass, bluefish, bonito, and mackerel. You will need separate licenses for freshwater and saltwater fishing, and for hunting as well.

Generating power off the grid in New Jersey

  • Solar power: New Jersey gets plenty of sunshine, both during the winter and summertime, although generating power with solar panels is better in the southern part of the state as the winter days are longer. In addition to the countrywide federal tax credit of 30% the state of New Jersey also offers local incentives, of around 30%, the actual incentive depends on when you set up the solar power system, if you have set the system up a couple of years ago then the incentive will be significantly less of around 20%.
  • Wind power: Due to its close proximity to the ocean, New Jersey is a great place to generate power with wind turbines. There are no local incentives or rebates for windpower but you can still apply for the federal tax credit.

New Jersey off grid laws

Living off the grid in New Jersey is legal, although setting up an off grid solar power system will cost you more if it isn’t connected to the power grid. When it comes to harvesting rainwater, this is also legal in the state as there is plenty of rain all year round. If you have children you can also homeschool them, although the procedures and requirements will be different from one county to another so check the local homeschool laws before.

New Jersey road access

In some areas, the road access is ok, but in the vast majority of the state, the infrastructure is in a bad shape, especially the bridges. During the past couple of years, the local administrators have addressed these issues and are working on it, so in the future, the roads might get fixed, although I wouldn’t hold my breath.

New Jersey price of land

The price of land is fairly expensive in New Jersey, although this is normal on the northeastern coast of the country. Although the land is fairly expensive you will still be able to find cheaper land in the western and northwestern parts of the state. The good news is that not a lot of people actually move to New Jersey so sooner or later the prices will have to drop.

New Jersey property tax

The property tax in New Jersey is extremely high, currently, it is at 2.44% and the national average is 1.08%, as you can see it is more than double. The lowest property tax in the state is at Middlesex county which is at 2.35%, I would personally spend this money on anything else than just throwing it out, there are plenty of places that have lower taxes and are well suited to off grid living.

Cost of living in New Jersey

The cost of living is also fairly high in New Jersey, in general, you will pay around 20% more for everything in this state. Most notably the housing is around 42% more expensive than in the rest of the country, followed by transportation which is around 27% more expensive. You will also pay around 5-9% more for groceries and utilities, in case you chose to have a semi off grid lifestyle.

New Jersey jobs

The unemployment rate in New Jersey is around 3.2% which is a lot better than the national average of 4%. The largest industry in New Jersey is the pharmaceutical industry, followed by manufacturing, transport, and information technology. New Jersey also has a fairly big agricultural industry where finding a job is fairly easy. The minimum wage is $10 which is above the national average which is $7.25.

New Jersey crime rate

The crime rate in New Jersey is lower than the national average, currently, it is at 2 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is 4 crimes per 1000 people. The areas with the lowest crime rates are in the western part of the state, although the closer you get to New York the higher the crime rate gets.

New Jersey natural disasters

New Jersey has a couple of natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and even floods. In general New Jersey is considered a fairly safe state for natural disasters as they don’t occur that often. The problem is that even a smaller storm can disrupt the traffic mostly due to the bad state of the local roads.

In conclusion

I can not recommend anybody to move to New Jersey to live off the grid, there are way too many drawbacks and the benefits are almost inexistent. If you lived your entire life in New Jersey then I could understand if you would want to live here, but moving here to live off the grid will be extremely expensive, which kind of defeats the purpose of living off the grid.