Are you visiting or moving to North Jersey? While home to the Gateway Region and just across the bridge from the hustle and bustle of New York City, North Jersey offers a quiet lifestyle with family-friendly towns, affluent and historic communities, and gorgeous scenery. North Jersey is famous as the home of the Statute of Liberty and its iconic views of the NYC skyline, plus world-class hiking, forests, and scenic coastlines. The beaches and boardwalks of South Jersey are just down the shore, but you’ll find you don’t need to leave the North NJ area to get your fill of culture, entertainment, and excitement.
To help you know where to start your exploration of Northern New Jersey, a good place to start is exploring the largest North Jersey towns and cities. Here’s an overview of the counties in North Jersey and its largest communities.
Northern New Jersey has no official designation, and its boundaries depend on who you ask. New Jersey is usually divided into North Jersey and South Jersey, but it can also be divided into a third section: Central Jersey.
The broadest definition of Northern NJ is everything north of I-295 and I-195. People living in the most northern part of the state tend to have the narrowest definition and only include the region north of the Raritan River mouth. In South Jersey, people are more likely to consider North Jersey as Ocean County and everything to the north.
Northern Jersey doesn’t just refer to a geographical division; the division of the state is also related to the very different cultures in North and South Jersey. Most of South Jersey is part of the Philadelphia metro area, while North Jersey is part of the New York metro area.
Widely accepted North Jersey counties include:
Two counties may be included in South, Central, or North Jersey:
There are nine North Jersey cities with a population of more than 60,000, although there are two townships that could also be included on this list. Many of them are located in the New Jersey Gateway Region, which is home to six of the largest cities in New Jersey and a gateway to New York City.
Newark is the largest city in New Jersey and growing rapidly with a population that increased more than 12% from 2010 to 2020. It’s best known as a distribution and transportation hub for the East Coast with the Newark International Airport, one of the biggest airports in the world, and the Port of Newark.
A cultural and entertainment hub for the state, Newark is the third oldest city in the United States, with some of the region’s best entertainment and performing arts venues, museums, and parks. The Prudential Center is home to the New Jersey Devils NHL team and hosts major national acts, while the downtown New Jersey Performing Arts Center is one of America’s largest performing arts centers. Visitors and residents alike flock to Branch Brook Park in the spring to walk along the lakes when the cherry blossoms are blooming.
One of many North Jersey cities facing New York, Jersey City is on the Hudson River at the Upper New York Bay across from Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Jersey City is famous as the home of the Statue of Liberty and Liberty State Park which includes the Ellis Island Immigration Station and the famous Liberty Science Center. The park, which receives four million visitors every year, boasts miles of walking paths and waterfront views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan.
Jersey City is sometimes called the “sixth borough” of NYC. It boasts the same diversity as New York, with 43% of residents born outside the country, plus a fun nightlife scene and world-class attractions. Money magazine ranked Jersey City as one of the top 10 best places to live in the United States for 2022.
Paterson was the first planned industrial city in America and established in 1792 around the Great Falls of the Passaic River. The Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park is one of the most visited parks in North Jersey with its iconic 77-foot waterfall and miles of trails. It’s a popular place to live for commuters who want more space and affordability compared to living in NYC or Jersey City. It’s one of the most affordable large cities in North Jersey.
Clifton is a charming bedroom community of New York City and offers the best of both worlds: the natural beauty and space of the suburbs plus an ideal location with several major highways crossing through the city. It’s home to many unincorporated North Jersey towns and borders Paterson, Passaic, Little Falls, Bloomfield, Rutherford, and several other cities.
Served by the Garden State Parkway, Route 46, Route 21, Route 19, and Route 3 plus NJ Transit trains and only 10 miles outside NYC, Clifton has a thriving economy with major shopping destinations and job opportunities. There are many jobs in the logistics and transportation industries as well as retail, but its close proximity to many job centers has made Clifton one of the most affluent North New Jersey cities.
The picturesque city of Bayonne in Hudson County is in the heart of the Gateway Region on a peninsula between New York Bay, Newark Bay, and the Kill Van Kull. Newark, Staten Island, Manhattan, and Brooklyn are all easily within reach. It’s also one of the safest large cities in Northern New Jersey with 50% less crime than the national average.
A surprisingly quiet community given its central location, Bayonne is home to several popular parks. The 18-mile Hackensack RiverWalk stretches along the Hackensack River and Newark Bay with more than 5 miles passing through Bayonne. The walk takes you to a wetlands preserve at the north end of town and the Stephen R. Gregg Hudson County Park. Bayonne is most famous for the Tear Drop Memorial facing New York City.
Passaic is known as the birthplace of television as it was here, in 1931, that a TV station was first transmitted to homes. This historic city on the Passaic River, just north of Newark, boasts a diverse population that includes one of New Jersey’s fastest-growing Orthodox Jewish communities and a large population of Polish speakers. Passaic is one of the best places to live in North Jersey for families with gorgeous parks and many opportunities for higher education with Passaic County Community College, Montclair State University, and William Paterson University nearby.
East Orange is further inland from the Hudson River than most large North Jersey cities. It’s about an hour from New York and 3 miles west of Newark. It’s also the most affordable large city in North NJ with a median home price below the national median.
East Orange is a great place to live for the perfect blend of suburban and urban life. The city offers convenient transit access, low crime, affordable and spacious homes, and amazing Southern and Caribbean cuisine.
Union City is one of the most affordable cities in North Jersey, with a median home price only $25,000 above the U.S. median and less than 7 miles from Manhattan. Nicknamed Havana on the Hudson, Union City is home to a large Cuban community and hosts the Cuban Day Parade of New Jersey every year. It’s the most densely populated city in the country, with 51,800 people per square mile – twice as high as New York City overall!
Hoboken is an affluent Northern New Jersey town on the Hudson River known as the birthplace of Frank Sinatra, the site of the first recorded baseball game, and the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology, one of the country’s oldest technological universities. This hip and artsy city is one of the best places to live in Northern New Jersey for millennials and families alike, with gorgeous parks, nightlife options, a diverse economy, and very low crime. Enjoy panoramic NYC skyline views and the excitement of the nearby cities of New York, Jersey City, and Philadelphia with the safety and quiet of small-town living.
Learn more about what it’s like living in Hoboken with our complete guide!
Along with the ten major cities above, there are 18 northern NJ towns, townships, boroughs, and cities with a population of at least 30,000. This list includes some of the most charming Hudson and Bergen County towns like Hackensack, a gorgeous and affluent town with a combination of luxury high-rises, garden apartments, and single-family homes, as well as an incredibly diverse population.
|Large Towns in North Jersey (30,000+ Population)|
|West New York||Town||Hudson||52,912|
There are 40 towns in North Jersey with 15,000 to 30,000 residents, but hundreds of tiny hamlets and towns that are even smaller. There are several communities on this list ranked among the best towns in NJ to raise a family including Verona (#18), Mahwah (#38), Tenafly (#64), Randolph (#82), Morris (#94), and Ridgewood (#105). The ranking by New Jersey Family of 512 New Jersey towns with a population of at least 1,500 considered everything from the average commute to the quality of local hospitals and schools.
|Small New Jersey Towns & Cities (15,000 – 30,000 Population)|
Does living in one of these beautiful North Jersey towns or cities sound ideal? If you have settled on the Northern New Jersey town to call home, Catlow Movers is here to help. Give our five-star team of movers a call today to get started with a free moving estimate. We’ll help you get settled in your new town without the stress so you can start enjoying all the charm and beauty of North Jersey in no time!
"*" indicates required fields