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Retiring in New Jersey? Good luck

New Jersey residents who are on their way to retirement, or who already enjoying their golden years, would be better off in 37 other states.

Cheryl Casey, ThinkStock

According to a recently released analysis from Bankrate, New Jersey is the 13th-worst state in which to retire.

“The cost of living … is very high,” Bankrate data analyst Claes Bell said of New Jersey. “High taxes in the state of New Jersey were another issue.”

New Jersey’s cost of living ranked fifth-worst among the 50 states. Only two states — Connecticut and New York — registered a higher tax burden.

The study examined eight key factors — cost of living, healthcare quality, crime, cultural vitality, weather, taxes, senior citizens’ well-being, prevalence of other seniors — and gave more weight to certain categories based on a separate survey that asked Americans about their retirement priorities. Cost of living, healthcare quality and crime came out on top.

According to Ken Kamen, president of Mercadien Asset Management in Hamilton, the way New Jersey treats retirees depends largely on how they’ve prepared for their post-employment years.

There’s no magic number on how much to stow away, and how often, but the earlier one starts thinking about retirement, the better off they’ll be when the time comes, he said.

“There’s a double benefit of saving for retirement early,” Kamen said. “One — it certainly fills up your nest egg. And the other is it keeps you from spending money which keeps your lifestyle somewhat in check.”

Unlike past generations, more young workers coming out of college are putting money into 401k accounts and individual retirement accounts, or IRAs, Kamen noted.

But that doesn’t help the countless older New Jerseyans who would ideally throw in the career towel within the next few years, but likely can’t afford to do so. And with life expectancy on the rise, the need to play catch-up is even greater.

“Longevity is a blessing and a curse,” Kamen said. “It’s a blessing because we’re living longer, and the curse is that if you haven’t saved, it’s potentially a longer period of time that you’re going to live a lifestyle that you weren’t hoping to have.”

A silver lining in a more populated state such as New Jersey is the number of job opportunities for seniors, Kamen added. Returning to the workforce on a part-time basis, at a supermarket or department store, can help supplement one’s income.

New Jersey only ranked among the top half of all states in two of the Bankrate study’s categories — crime and culture.

While it’s not the best spot to work on one’s tan, New Hampshire ranked as the top state for retirement, followed by Colorado, Maine Iowa and Minnesota. Retirees would be the worst off in Alaska, West Virginia, Arkansas, New Mexico and Louisiana, according to the study.

Just under half of the Americans surveyed for the study said they would consider relocating when they retire.

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