2014 Oct 2nd

How Hoboken is Not Like the Rest of New Jersey

I saw this posted on FaceBook the other day and found it fascinating on many levels. Thought I’d share it with you all.  Think about what this means for schools, voting, property values, bar revenues.  The list goes on and on.  What do you think about this?


hoboken census graph
























  1. Craig

    This graph tells us lots of interesting things. One thing it tells us is something we already knew: the majority of Hoboken’s population is people 20-35, most of who are single, probably renting a place with a roommate, and not likely to stay in town long-term. This is why the majority of new construction in town is rentals, not condos (that, and rentals are more lucrative for developers). So the majority of Hoboken’s population probably doesn’t vote in local elections or care about the schools and property values, but it does fill the coffers of the local bars.

    But here’s what we didn’t know: the next biggest group in town is 35-49 year olds – and their young children. They make up the same percentage of the local population as seen statewide. So people are staying to raise their kids here now – for a time. But some leave as their kids start getting older, particularly once they hit school age, especially high school age.

    I think that’s an space issue, more than concerns with the schools. My wife and I are committed to raising our child here rather than the burbs. But we don’t fancy the idea of sharing our two-bedroom condo with a teenager. And from what Lori is telling me about prices, I think we’re priced out of the 3 bedroom market – what few of them are out there. The thing is, where else do you go? In our $800k or so comfort zone, we can find a lot more space in the burbs than Hoboken will ever offer at that price. But in that price range in a commutable suburb in Bergen or Essex counties, you’re looking at $24k/yr. in NJ property taxes.

    Yikes. That’s $2k a month before touching the mortgage portion of your payment. That extra space in the burbs ain’t so much more affordable all of a sudden. And the hour or more long commute each way doesn’t exactly make it worth it. So in Hoboken we stay. And I’ll never complain about Hoboken property taxes again. We don’t realize how good we have it here folks.

  2. Lori Turoff

    Good, yes. But still could be better. If only those 20 – 35 yr. olds voted.

  3. Cheryl

    I moved to Rutherford … On a train line… Can walk to restaurants …. 2700 square ft house … Taxes 13k per year. Rutherford is 6 miles west of NYC , 28 minutes to penn station, top 30% of schools. You can have a walkable suburb on a train line outside of Hoboken

  4. simon

    Ex-Hoboken resident now living in the burbs. Craig, I agree with much of want you’ve written except your analysis of the $24k/yr taxes. We moved for one reason – lack for decent school options. To the extent a 2 kid family opts to pay for tuition at a non-public local school (for any number reasons) a move to the burbs may not be as expensive as one thinks. HCA fees are about $7k/year. 2 Elementary aged kids plus $10k/year in property taxes….$24k. Realise not private schooling is an option to every one in which case I submit to you that you should be complaining about taxes. Last time I checked, only 22% was allocated to the schools. It wouldn’t surprise me that $/school age kid is amongst the lowest in the state…. Imagine what your taxes would be like should they ever remove the Abbotts program (the demographic have changed so much I’m still amazed Trenton sees it fit that Hoboken should get special grantsl

    What is also not clear is the percentage of the 35-49 population that are home owners stuck in negative equity and unable to move because of broader economic issues. Not sure when the data was from – possibly 2010 census which would have skewed this age category given housing prices and employment security at the time.

    What is clear is Hoboken has become a highly desirable, but transitant place to live for many young college graduate and families with young kids. Good for both the rental and purchase markets in my opinion

  5. E

    To me it looks like a plane taking off!! Go Hoboken!!!

  6. Craig

    @Cheryl – Rutherford was one of only 2 places we’d consider leaving Hoboken for (the other being Montclair). We have close friends there and spend many weekends there hanging on Park Ave. Despite it not being that far, it would still be at least an hour each way to my wife’s downtown Manhattan job with all the train changes. Lastly, I don’t know what your assessment is, but in our $700-800k price range, the taxes on properties we looked at were running about $19k in Rutherford. To which we said: Hell no.

    @Simon – Opinions vary on the schools. But I’ll tell you this: My wife is a math teacher in a top-rated NYC public school. She thoroughly vetted Hoboken’s public school system and determined it’s fine up until the 8th grade. That’s good enough for me. And we also spoke to several affluent people who actually raised kids here, and were consistently told the schools were fine. So don’t believe the negative hype – it’s all hearsay by those who never actually had a child in the schools here. Lastly, we value the diversity here that we won’t get in the burbs. We don’t want our soon to be born multi-ethnic son raised in a place where most people look the same, but few will look like him. That’s not the real world. So Hoboken public schools it is for us. We’ll cross the high school bridge when we come to it – which isn’t in another 14 years.

  7. Lori

    Simon – I haven’t come across anyone in Hoboken stuck in negative equity for some time now.

  8. Peter Kim

    Lori — you’re right on and some people are never going to understand that Hoboken basically is New Jersey in name only. Compared to all the different types of cities in America in terms of land use, demographics, etc., Hoboken is far more like New York City than the further-out towns in New Jersey and the rest of the country.

    The decision on whether to stay in Hoboken or move out to the burbs is not a cost issue but one of lifestyle. There are many suburbs that are just as expensive in terms of cost per sq foot, and especially so when you consider property taxes. The majority of people who grew up in the suburbs and haven’t had an “a-ha” moment where they recognize the benefits of living in an urban area will likely end up moving to the burbs.

    I was talking to another parent recently about how we’ve come to know when a family is likely to stay or leave for the burbs just by the things they say and the values that are reflected. Again, it’s not a cost issue but one of personal values — sacrificing space for short commutes thus more time with the kids, more socio-economic diversity, health/environment/social benefits of living in a walkable+bikeable community, wanting to expose the kids to the culture/life of NYC (let’s be honest, once you move to the burbs, you’ll never take your kids into the city), etc.

  9. Gilby

    Hoboken diverse? The public school system, perhaps – but, I don’t think of Hoboken in general beyond the public school system as a very diverse community rather I think of it as young, white and affluent. What am I missing?

  10. Lori

    I read somewhere that Hoboken has more subsidized and low-income housing plus the most pro-tenant rent laws of any city or town in the state. Think of Marine View, Church Square, all the Applied Housing units, the HHA projects, Marion Gardens, and a bunch more I can’t name off the top of my head. I would love to know the actual numbers of market rate vs. subsidized vs. condos but no one seems to have that available. Doesn’t a huge portion of subsidized housing by its very nature imply a diverse population? If not, are rich, young, white kids living in these thousands of apartments? What am I missing?

  11. Gilby

    Yes, it is interesting that we don’t have any information on our subsidized housing numbers in Hoboken. Beyond the HHA projects, I don’t think we have much diversity in any other subsidized buildings. Church Towers and Marine View all completely white (and maybe affluent too) that total less than 1000 units. Marion Towers is a senior complex of 150 units and the YMCA has 90 low income. I don’t get the feeling we have more subsidized housing than any other city, but I would like to know if we have 10% subsidized. Most of our rental units seem to be renting for market rate, so I don’t think they count. Whatever the numbers, Hoboken is a great place to live, I just don’t see it as a diverse community.

  12. Lori Turoff

    @ Gilby: Just curious – where are you getting those facts from? Just conjecture? Do you know that Church Towers and Marine View are mostly white? What about Hispanic? What about all the Applied buildings all around town (the entire block of Washington bet./ Observer & Newark, all along the south side of Columbus Park, the entire block of Wash/Hudson – the Yellow Flats – at least an entire block of Willow, around 9th St)? Why do you say most rental units are renting at market rate? How do you know that? I’m open to your assertion but like to see some factual substantiation of it.

  13. Gilby

    Hi Lori: There’s a housing group in town, don’t know the name of it that had a table at the Fair that I spoke with about a condo but somehow affordability in Hoboken came up in the conversation. They have some affordable housing numbers, but I don’t know where they got them from and I didn’t write anything down because it wasn’t really what I was asking about. As to Church Towers and Marine view, my facts come from living in the area, the residents of those buildings are clearly largely white and I read the blogs in town that have put data up from time to time about how many of the residents there are property owners and not middle/lower income. I’ve also been to the Applied website and the rents at the places you mention are around 1,900 for 1 bedrooms, 2,300-2,800 for 2 bedrooms. Isn’t that market? I’m way out of the loop if not…

  14. Lori Turoff

    Applied is allowed to increase the rents for vacated units that they can put on the market at market rate – all those that are still occupied, however, are subsided rates. That is the bulk of them, to my knowledge.

  15. s

    @ Cheryl. My point was when the 2010 cenus was made, there would have been an above average number of people in negative equity. If you’d purchased anytime between 2007 and spring 2008 you may have been in negative equity thereby limiting ones options to move on (and skewing the chart) Also, lending practice were tighter and job security was not great. Agree, there maybe fewer people in negative equity now but by no means none.

    @ Craig. Agree opinions differ and most importantly (and I think you’re spot on in this respect) each families goals, reasons for staying/going are different and must be respected.

    I don’t believe the negativity is entirely hearsay. We moved away after 1st grade so we had some exposure to it. The statistics aren’t good even for elementary schools. Wallace for example consistently ranks around the 25th percentile statewide

  16. Peter Kim

    Hoboken is clearly not as diverse as a neighborhood like Astoria, where I lived for 5 years prior to Hoboken — but Astoria may be the most diverse neighborhood in America, so that’s an unfair comparison. 🙂

    We must live in different Hobokens because when I walk around town, I see a lot of Hispanics and African Americans. There’s a lot of diversity even within “white” people — I hear lots of conversations in Russian, French, Irish/English/Australian accents. Even amongst Asians, while not as numerous as people of other ethnic backgrounds, I’ve noticed a growing number in the past year, especially with immigrants from China and India in addition to Asian Americans such as myself.

    As Lori mentioned, the low-income and subsidized housing adds class diversity that wouldn’t be in Hoboken if housing was all market rate.

    Regarding schools, not every parent feels the need to send their kids to highly ranked schools. There is a lot more to the school experience than simply making sure they do well on their standardized tests, which is what sites like greatschools.org base their ratings methodology on. I attended an urban public school system in the Chicago area where most of the kids were black or hispanic and grew up in families under the poverty line, yet my high school in that same school district graduated over a dozen kids in my year who went on to Ivy League colleges. It is possible to have schools that are racially and socio-economically diverse, which may rank poorly because many poor kids just don’t test well, but at the same time, still provide opportunities for high-achieving kids to succeed.

    I see a similar scenario in the Hoboken schools where ratings suck because of the low test scores. However, as long as there are opportunities for higher achieving kids to be challenged, I don’t see why we should put so much attention on the ratings and the low test scores. If anything, the most concerning thing about the low test scores is not how that affects kids from wealthier + well-educated families (who are likely to get a lot of help from parents/after-school programs/tutors outside of school), but the kids who come from poor, less-educated families where they may have a rough home life. That’s a complicated social problem that you can’t fix just by looking at what’s going on in the school.

  17. Susana

    Ever wonder how the test scores would change if our residents stopped proliferating this idea that the schools are so awful they demand moving? Leave your kids in the schools and scores will rise – probably astronomically.

  18. Dolores

    went there two nights ago with a group of about 20. Was scary as fukkck… we were all taking the piss out of eachother about being scared when we actually heard footsteps, thought it was security but no-one came. we broke a window to get in as everything else was boarded up and walked down the stairs. not a lot of scares but when we went back to the cars one of the lads was freaking out and saying the rosary because he saw something and trust me not a lot scares this guy so whatever he saw must have seriously shaken him up.

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