Hoboken simply buzzes with life. Washington Street, the city’s main stretch, is peppered end to end with all sorts of restaurants and bars. Shops, art galleries, a museum and even a celebrity bakery—Carlo’s Bake Shop—generate foot traffic and excitement at all hours of the day and night. “There’s so much energy here,” says Judith Marciano, a broker at Empire Realty on Washington Street.
The Mile Square, as Hoboken is known, is rich in history. It was a landing place for several waves of immigrants, a World War II port, home to national brands like Lipton Tea and Maxwell House, and the birthplace of baseball. Frank Sinatra grew up in Hoboken; now the city boasts personalities like Eli Manning and Natalie Morales. Hoboken’s cityscape reflects its past. Brownstones line the side streets; many have been divided into apartments. Former factories and warehouses occupy plots to the west. Newer landmarks, like the chic W Hotel and pricey high-rise rental buildings, now dominate the waterfront and offer spectacular views of lower Manhattan across the Hudson River. Sharing that view Stevens Institute of Technology perches above the river at the city’s highest elevation. Parks abound, including Pier A, a riverfront oasis for recreation and the occassional concert or festival.
With easy access to public transportation, in particular the ferry and PATH train to New York, Hoboken, population 52,034, has been transformed from a blue-collar town to a bedroom community for Wall Street professionals and other white-collar types. Nearly 40 percent of the city’s residents are between the ages of 20 and 34 and have never been married; no wonder Hoboken tops our list for singles. Finding an apartment is easier in Hoboken than in most New Jersey communities. Some 66 percent of residences are rentals: one-bedroom units start at $1,300, two-bedrooms at $2,000 and three-bedrooms at $3,500 a month.
Newer housing (including two- and three-bedroom condos) and the city’s focus on improving the school system have convinced some young families to stay. After a 23 percent property tax hike in 2009, the city managed to lower taxes by 9.6 percent between 2010 and 2012, giving Hoboken the most notable reduction in the state. The average property tax bill is now $6,805.
Despite concerns about flooding—exacerbated by Hurricane Sandy—real estate continues to boom. More than 660 properties sold in 2012; condos in particular move quickly.