In the winter of 2001, I moved from Long Island to a cozy one bedroom apartment in Lawrenceville, New Jersey with my soon to be wife. From that day forward, New Jersey has hosted almost all of my major life events. It has seen me change jobs not once, not twice, but three times. It has seen me get engaged and married, both events taking place in New Jersey. It has also seen my wife and I get pregnant and have our first child. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for the great state that I called home…until now. Starting today, I officially work in Connecticut. And although I still own our dream home in Collingswood (anyone want to buy it?), it’s only a matter of months before that chapter is closed. In honor of New Jersey, here are my top ten things I will miss the most.
10. Not Pumping My Own (Cheap) Gas: This may seem trivial, until you live here and have to leave the state for any reason. Quite simply, this is a major luxury. As if getting gas for 30-50 cents less a gallon wasn’t enough, pulling up during a rain or snow storm and not having to get out of the car is very big deal.
9. Princeton: This is the town by which I measure all towns. It has the perfect blend of shopping (Zoë), fantastic restaurants (Mediterra & Triumph), bars (Tigers Tale) & culture. Throw in one of the most beautiful college campuses and you’re all set for a perfect weekend.
8. The Jersey Shore: Admittedly, I never became quite the shore aficionado that I wanted to. That being said, The Jersey Shore is fantastic. No other state can boast the amount and variety of beach towns that Jersey can which makes it impossible not to find the one that’s right for you. Me, I’m a Cape May guy.
7. Sports Culture: Other than the Devils, NJ claims no other major team to be their own. But try telling that to the Yankees and Giants fans of North/Central Jersey and the Phillies and Eagles fans of South Jersey. And yes, we have the New Metlife stadium where both the Giants & Jets play, but we also have Campbell’s Field & Arm & Hammer Park which are beautiful kid friendly parks.
6. Philadelphia: Before you curse me out, hear me out. I know that New Jersey doesn’t need Philadelphia to be awesome. But we have it, and that’s awesome too. More than half the population of New Jersey can get to Philadelphia in less than an hour and I have had the luxury of living 5 miles away for the past 7 years. This city is easy to get in and out of, boasts restaurants that rival New York’s best and have without a doubt the best selection of live music venues of any major city I have ever been to.
5. Live Music: As I just mentioned, Philly has no shortage of great music venues. But you can add that to the plethora of bars, coffee houses, and stadiums of NJ. From the larger Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden and the PNC Banks Arts Center in Holmdel to the more intimate Maxwell’s in Hoboken and the famous The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, one could ask, who needs New York?
4. Location, location, location: This is real estate 101, and the whole state qualifies. Proximity to everything is a huge advantage to living in New Jersey. And if you can deal with the occasional logjam on the Turnpike, you can get to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, The Shore and even Washington DC in less than a few hours.
3. Collingswood: Man I am going to miss this town. As my wife and I scouted potential towns in Connecticut, I couldn’t help but think that none offer the culture, cuisine and comforts of Collingswood. The BYOB restaurants are second to none (see Zeppoli, Indeblue, & Sappori) and the farmers market remains the best I have ever been to. If that’s not enough, throw in best restaurant for families in South Jersey (The Pop Shop), a Patco Station & the Scottish Rite Auditorium.
2. Jersey Pride: I don’t even love Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, or Pork Roll but I love the fact the New Jerseyans do. The people of New Jersey have a pride that is unmatched in other states and that is evidenced any time the people of the state need to band together. Anyone who witnessed the pride and resilience of the towns affected by Hurricane Sandy no exactly what I’m talking about.
1. The Food: This could be a separate blog all its own. It has been near impossible to lose weight in this state (Gov. Christie I feel your pain). Everywhere you turn, there are the best wings, the best Italian food and the best hoagies. And as restaurateurs leave the major cities for the suburbs, we are starting to see 4 star restaurants popping up everywhere from New Brunswick to Jersey City.