Top Towns: Methodology

New Jersey Monthly's Top Towns methodology.

METHODOLOGY: In compiling New Jersey Monthly’s 2011 Top 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 566 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 of under 1,500 were dropped from the survey. The research team ranked each of the remaining towns based on the following indicators: change in median property tax bill (2007-2010) combined with effective property tax rate for 2010; change in median home sales price (2007-2010); total crime rate (2009) combined with violent crime rate (2009); student proficiency on state-mandated standardized tests for students in grades 4, 8 and 11 (2010); and a lifestyle factor that considers the number of acute-care hospitals, live performing-arts theaters and full-service restaurants within 10 miles of the municipality’s main zip code, and average commute time for those working out of home. The final rankings are based on each municipality’s combined rankings for all five indicators. 

The following sources were used: NJ State Data Center (for population figures); NJ Division of Taxation (for property taxes); NJ Division of Taxation/Office of Property Administration (for home sales prices); NJ Division of State Police (Uniform Crime Report); NJ Department of Education (School Report Card); NJ Department of Health (hospital locations); NJ Council for the Arts and NJ Theater Alliance (theater locations); New Jersey Monthly Dining Database (restaurant locations); and the U.S. Census/American Community Survey (commute times). The annual crime rate and violent crime rate are based on reported crimes per 1,000 residents. 

CORRECTION: The main list of Top Towns and the breakout rankings listed below have been revised to reflect a correction in the calculations for Home Values. In the original rankings, for certain towns, we inadvertently used 2011 data to determine the median property tax bill, instead of 2010 data. This made a significant difference for towns that underwent a reassessment between 2010 and 2011.

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