Essex County towns vary broadly in N.J. municipality rankings

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — New Jersey Monthly recently released its rankings of all of New Jersey’s towns. Essex County towns run the gamut, with the some of the best and some of the worst, according to the magazine’s methodology.

In compiling New Jersey Monthly’s 2017 Top 100 Towns list, researchers at Leflein Associates, an independent research firm based in Ringwood, considered five categories to represent the quality of life in New Jersey’s 565 municipalities: home values, property taxes, crime rate, school performance and a lifestyle factor. Due to a lack of statistically significant data, towns with a population under 1,500 were dropped from the survey, leaving 513 municipalities.

Ho-Ho-Kus in Bergen County was named the No. 1 municipality in New Jersey, while Willingboro in Burlington County acquired the final spot on the list.

In Essex County, Millburn ranked at 13, Livingston at 20, Essex Fells at 22, West Caldwell at 31, North Caldwell at 32, Glen Ridge at 38, Cedar Grove at 47, Verona at 63, Caldwell at 90, South Orange at 97, Roseland at 102, Maplewood at 141, Montclair at 166, Nutley at 175, Fairfield at 178, West Orange at 293, Bloomfield at 349, East Orange at 356, Newark at 402, Belleville at 429, Orange at 469 and Irvington at 501.

To reach these results the research team ranked each of the remaining 513 towns based on the following indicators: change in average property tax bill from 2014 to 2016; effective property tax rate in 2016; median home-sales price in 2016; change in median home-sales price from 2014 to 2016; average days for homes on the market in 2016; total crime rate in 2014; violent-crime rate in 2014; student proficiency on state-mandated standardized tests for students in grades four and eight in 2016; ranking in New Jersey Monthly’s Top Public High Schools chart from September 2016; and a lifestyle factor that considers the number of acute-care hospitals and live performing-arts theaters within 10 miles of the municipality’s main zip code, number of full-service restaurants within two miles of the municipality’s main zip code, and average commute time for those working away from home. The chart is based on each municipality’s combined scores for the 11 indicators. Extra weighting was given to the Top Public High Schools indicator.