The Gen Z Neighborhoods Some Are Calling the Next Brooklyn

Dubbed “the next Brooklyn,” parts of Hudson County, New Jersey—including Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken and West New York—are hotter than ever, and worth a closer look. For many Gen Zs and millennials priced out of NYC's intense real estate market, an emerging trend is to rent or buy in these towns, an area known as NJ’s “Gold Coast” (which refers to how they hug the Hudson River parallel to Manhattan from the Financial District up to the Upper West Side).

"We have definitely seen a sort of migration—primarily from Brooklyn, but also to some extent from Manhattan, Staten Island and Queens,” says Annette Rubin, broker/owner of EXIT on the Hudson Realty. While the trend was already happening prior to the pandemic, it certainly accelerated the migration, which has become most noticeable the last two years. We talked to local real estate experts and those who have crossed the Hudson themselves to see why these neighborhoods have become so popular, beyond the cost of living.

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the gen z neighborhoods some are calling the next brooklyn gold coast
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Why Gen Z & Millennials Are Moving To New Jersey’s “gold Coast”

Frustrated NYC renters are now paying double their previous rents, a hard pill to swallow after the early days of the pandemic, when reduced rents and roommate-free city living was the norm. Our experts all agreed that the value of what you get in New Jersey’s Gold Coast, and a reluctance to live “like before” is quickly luring people over.

“The pandemic gave more awareness to New York’s sister neighborhoods across the Hudson, where people found more space at more economically friendly prices,” Alexander Calle of JC LUXURY with Keller Williams City Life in downtown Jersey City tells us. “For example, in Jersey City you can purchase a brand-new construction condo with three bedrooms, two baths, private outdoor space, parking, laundry and roof deck with NYC views for less than $1 million. In many parts of New York City, this same condo would be upward of $2 to 3 million,” he adds.

Further fueling the Gold Coast housing market and dispelling the “Dirty Jersey” adage is access to modern amenities, overall cleanliness and relative quietness when compared to Manhattan. Gen Z tends to be renting while Millennials are putting down roots, buying across the different neighborhoods to start or grow their families, while also having extra room to work from home.

Another draw for these dwellers are hip new restaurants, which are already seeing recognition—in fact, Food & Wine recently declared one Hudson County city, Jersey City, as one of America’s next great food cities. Local chefs have been turning out tasty menus for quite some time, but now it’s notable NYC chefs who are looking to get in on the action, like Jae Park and Brian Kim’s newly minted Ondo, and fan favorites, like Wattle Cafe, opening too. There are also outposts of grocery stores (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s) and fast lunch spots (Sweetgreen) that generally make NYC neighborhoods desirable. Heck, they even have their very own Smorgasburg over there.

Aside from dining, the transplants we talked to all said access to quality shopping and great school systems, safe and clean neighborhoods and parks, and those unbeatable views have them settling in quite nicely.

“We find that residents are able to save more money while still being able to benefit from all the same lifestyle qualities that Brooklyn, Queens or Manhattan have to offer,” says Farrell. Overall, they’re also telling real estate agents they have a higher quality of life.

the gen z neighborhoods some are calling the next brooklyn commuting
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Commuting From New Jersey Towns Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken And West New York

In many cases, this quality of life might have something to do with commutes, which are shorter, Doug Farrell, Calle’s business partner at JC LUXURY with Keller Williams City Life tells us.

“It takes less time to get to midtown Manhattan from us compared to many areas in Queens or Brooklyn,” says Jenny Chen, who moved from Manhattan in the Fall of 2019.

Indeed, residents living in Hoboken and Jersey City or within walking distance of Weehawken’s Port Imperial or Lincoln Harbor ferry stops can zip across the Hudson River and be in Manhattan in under ten minutes’ time. The Port Imperial stop also has peak commute time routes to Brookfield Place and Pier 11 in the Financial District, with the commute to get downtown a cool and quick 20 to 30 minutes. There’s no traffic on the river, after all. Free shuttle buses on the Manhattan side take riders close to their offices or other destinations, with stops across major thoroughfares like 34th, 42nd and 57th St.

Bus service is also a convenient option for those who aren’t close to a PATH stop, with commute times increasingly appealing since traffic in and out of the Lincoln Tunnel have reduced thanks to hybrid and remote working schedules.

“People assume the commute is difficult, but I hop on the PATH at Grove Street and take it straight to Herald Square. My door-to-door commute is a half hour, maybe,” says Caroline Dultz, a Digital Marketing Specialist who moved to the Powerhouse Arts District neighborhood of Jersey City with her now-fiancé during the pandemic.

Compare this to commutes in further stretches of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx—nevermind Staten Island—and the obvious appeal heightens, which is good news for homebuyers who get in now or in the future. Overall, Gold Coast home values have practically doubled in the last ten years across the board, Calle says, and there’s been significant increases in just the last six months. With five or more offers on every home and sales prices averaging 5 to 10 percent over the asking price, it’s a competitive market that’s bound to become more competitive.

The Gold Coast Cities & Towns to Know

Niche already rates the waterfront, Hoboken and Jersey City the best place to live for young professionals in New Jersey. Here’s what’s attracting Gen Z and Millennials to each of the individual Gold Coast towns:

the gen z neighborhoods some are calling the next brooklyn jersey city
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1. Jersey City

“Jersey City feels like an extension of New York City with its urban feel, diversity, accessibility to NYC and local nightlife,” Fatima Bulur and Mark Foisey of The Chen Agency tell us. Jersey City is very much a small city on its own, with a population rivaling the likes of Buffalo, Salt Lake City and Boise. This means you can expect a lot of different neighborhoods to choose from, and some you might even mistake for the West Village (Van Voorst Park/Historic Downtown), Financial District (Exchange Place) or Williamsburg and Tribeca (Powerhouse Arts District). Many are urban and walkable, and others (Jersey City Heights) offer more residential and larger multi- or single-family homes you'd expect to find in Queens. Young professionals gravitate toward the Paulus Hook and Newport areas of Jersey City particularly for the access to PATH and the New York Waterway ferry.

Caroline Mullen, a home writer and editor, moved with her boyfriend from Astoria, Queens, to the historic downtown area of Jersey City in November 2021. It felt like a lateral move, she tells us, thanks to all the shopping, restaurants and bars. One big advantage, she says, is how dog-friendly it is. Plus, “it’s not too crowded but there’s enough people for it to feel vibrant,” she says.

the gen z neighborhoods some are calling the next brooklyn hoboken
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2. Hoboken

Hoboken is a wonderful self-contained city, packing in every necessity and amenity a resident could want, The Chen Agency team tells us. Boasting a glorious waterfront, a myriad of dining options, beautiful parks and great transportation, this is a pet-friendly community that attracts people of all ages and provides a wide-range of, albeit expensive, housing options from brownstones to modern condominiums.

“What I like about Hoboken is that even though it’s close to the city, it has a real small-town vibe. I run into people I know every time I leave the apartment, and they’re friendly,” says Diana Bruk, a resident and writer who lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn before relocating.

While Mullen says Jersey City is more diverse than her neighborhood in Queens, she wasn’t as keen to move to Hoboken because it lacked diversity. Even with an injection of new energy into the town, it still has more of a frat-like vibe akin to Murray Hill, especially on the weekend, Bruk notes.

the gen z neighborhoods some are calling the next brooklyn weehawken
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3. Weehawken

Celebrities and former city dwellers Nico Tortorella and spouse Bethany C. Meyers made the move to the quieter town just outside the Lincoln Tunnel. The town, although well connected by sets of steps, feels split into two, with new development condo and rental buildings on the waterfront and older—many times historic—multi- and single-family homes built on the palisades above.

Designed to be less dense, the desirable Port Imperial neighborhood on the waterfront offers more spacious, luxe residences, and it has unparalleled waterfront views and parks to show them off. Not suburban but not quite urban, many residents can walk to the ferry stop of the same name, thus providing the perfect balance and great real estate value, the Chen Agency notes.

4. West New York

This area attracts hard-working, working-class folks, families and investors. The town, like Weehawken, is mostly split in two parts, with residents living in newer, Port Imperial condo buildings on the waterfront and multi or single-family homes above them on the palisades. The older parts of West New York have many townhomes undergoing renovation, since the idea of all that space is a far reach for most folks in NYC these days.

Eric Chiu, an entrepreneur, relocated here from another big city, Toronto, for his wife’s work. He tells us that beyond the proximity, highlights of the ‘nabe include access to quality Cuban food and Asian grocery stores.

the gen z neighborhoods some are calling the next brooklyn what s next
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What’s Next For The Gold Coast

Sometimes getting in on a thriving neighborhood is all about timing. Look for North Bergen to become more popular, The Chen Agency tells us, thanks to a recently completed tax revaluation that should result in much more reasonable property tax bills.

People are also flocking to Edgewater and Cliffside Park to buy townhome duplexes. Hugging the river further North alongside Morningside Heights and Washington Heights, there are many new construction buildings that provide unthinkable amounts of space for the metro area (3,000 to 5,000 square feet), private garages and cutting-edge design features at prices that seem like a bargain compared to Manhattan, Hoboken and Jersey City.

With new high-rise buildings continuing to be constructed on the waterfront, Farrell notes that you should look for commuting options to continue to increase. “For example, Bayonne has a new ferry system underway which will be very attractive for NYC workers,” he says. The ethnically diverse neighborhood is known for multi-generational families, and with plans of constructing a Hollywood-style movie studio, it’s solidifying its position as another desirable Gold Coast town.

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Dan Koday is a travel and lifestyle writer and editor with 15+ years experience creating content for your favorite websites, print publications and brands. As a native to the NYC...