Jersey City, NJ

Jersey City Gets The Dubious Honor Of Being Unaffordable For Millennial Renters

Ossiana Tepfenhart

When Millennials were growing up, there were certain things we all expected to have happen as adults. We all thought that being married, having kids, and being able to afford a house were going to be a given. That's what adults and the media told us would be the case.

Oh, how we were lied to.

In New Jersey, we're starting to realize that being able to say that you live on your own is a little bit more of a status symbol than we were led to believe. According to CNBC MakeIt, the NYC-Newark-Jersey City metro area is one of the eight cities with the highest wage-rent gap in America.

A Growing Housing Gap

There's something to be said about living in an area where a 1-bedroom apartment requires more income than a typical single person makes. That's a major warning sign and it's also a major indicator that the economy there isn't serving the people there well.

If you can barely support yourself in a 1-bedroom, how the hell are you supposed to support a family on that? For many of us, the answer is that you can't. It's unsurprising, then, that many people in areas like Hoboken and Jersey City find living without a roommate to be a status symbol.

But, this is not a new phenomenon. Housing in New Jersey has long been a sore spot for many of us. According to a recent Rutgers article, approximately "1 in every 10 New Jerseyans don't have a steady place to live or worry about losing their homes."

This doesn't also count people who have inadequate housing, which can include things like a lack of plumbing, a lack of heating, or excessively crowded conditions. If you're a Millennial, you probably have struggled making rent. Affordable housing isn't easy to find and rental prices are skyrocketing.

Despite everything, 62 percent of New Jerseyans own their homes. Considering that this is a "wealthy state," that makes sense. Many households have families with high paygrades compared to the rest of the country. However, wages are still stagnating for Millennials.

What Can Millennials Do To Improve The Widening Rent Gap?

Truth be told, there's really not much that Millennials can do on an individual level. However, that doesn't mean you're helpless. These tips can help you afford more rent:

  • Stick to roommate and "living at home" situations if you can, for as long as you can. Roommates are not always a doable situation. The same can be said about living with family. However, if it's an option, delay it for as long as possible and save up until you can afford a down payment on a home. Owning is starting to become cheaper than renting in certain parts of the state, particularly if you have a big down payment.
  • Consider moving to a cheaper county. Monmouth, Ocean, Burlington, Camden, and Atlantic counties are noted for having cheaper rents. In some areas, the commute to New York is still fairly short.
  • Vote for candidates that encourage affordable housing, rent control, and mandates for sliding scale income housing. The rent gap is something that has the potential to be narrowed with the right legislation. When housing becomes more affordable, we all win!
  • Seek out jobs that pay a living wage. This is the biggest issue that we have as a country. Employers are increasingly averse to paying people a living wage, especially for labor that doesn't require a degree. You have the right to demand fair pay and to choose an employer who offers you enough money to make things work for you. Starting your own business can also help.
  • Research affordable housing options near you. While there is still a lack of affordable housing, you still should try to get some housing assistance if it's possible. You may be surprised at what you can qualify for if you dig deep enough.

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Englewood, NJ

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