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Last Updated: 3/25/2020, 8:13 AM

Garden State Quality of Life Ticks Up

Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012

Now stands at +25

In its regular tracking of New Jerseyans’ satisfaction with life in their state, the Monmouth University Poll found that the current Garden State Quality of Life Index has ticked up another notch to +25.  This marks the third consecutive increase in the index.

“We have seen some upward movement in the Garden State Quality of Life Index over the past few months, led by increasingly positive views of towns and schools,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Currently, 2-in-3 residents rate the state of New Jersey as either an excellent (15%) or good (47%) place to live.  This 62% positive rating is down slightly from October.  However, ratings of residents’ own towns stand at 33% excellent and 41% good.  The 33% excellent number matches the prior three-decade high for this measure.

Ratings of local schools have ticked up as well, to 26% excellent and 42% good.  This 68% positive rating marks an all-time high on this question in polls going back to 1978.

Positive views of other local concerns stayed stable, including ratings of the local environment (77%) and crime (62%).

Examining the Garden State Quality of Life Index across various demographic groups, we currently find women (+30) much more positive than men (+20).  There has also been an increase in the state’s urban communities, where the index now stands at +11, up from -1 in October.  On the other hand, there has been a notable drop in the generally positive Central Hills area of New Jersey (Hunterdon, Somerset and Morris counties), with the score being +35, down from +45.

The Garden State Quality of Life Index was created by the Monmouth University Polling Institute to serve as a resident-based indicator of the quality of life offered by the state of New Jersey.  The index is based on five separate poll questions:  overall opinion of the state as a place to live – which contributes half the index score – and ratings of one’s hometown, the performance of local schools, the quality of the local environment, and feelings of safety in one’s own neighborhood.  The index can potentially range from -100 to +100.

Male Female 18-34 35-54 55+ White Black/ Hispanic <$50K $50-100K >$100K
February 2012 +25 +20 +30 +25 +24 +26 +29 +13 +17 +23 +38
October 2011 +24 +24 +24 +23 +21 +29 +31 +7 +15 +25 +31
August 2011 +22 +25 +19 +27 +19 +21 +26 +9 +9 +22 +32
May 2011 +23 +24 +22 +23 +22 +23 +26 +14 +15 +22 +32
December 2010 +21 +20 +23 +23 +20 +23 +26 +13 +15 +21 +31
Urban Core Route 1 Corridor Central Hills Northern Shore Delaware Valley Garden Core Urban Stable Town Growing Suburb
February 2012 +33 +17 +27 +35 +29 +19 +22 +11 +31 +29
October 2011 +31 +6 +22 +45 +35 +18 +23 -1 +31 +34
August 2011 +24 +16 +21 +38 +27 +26 +6 +4 +29 +25
May 2011 +28 +17 +16 +41 +29 +22 +20 +6 +29 +28
December 2010 +26 +15 +22 +38 +23 +14 +17 +12 +23 +27

The latest Monmouth University Poll  was conducted by telephone with 803 New Jersey adults from January 31 to February 4, 2012.  This sample has a margin of error of ±  3.5 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey.


The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

(* Some rows may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

1. Overall, how would you rate New Jersey as a place to live – excellent, good, only fair, or poor?



Don’t know


February 201215%47%26%11%1%(803)
October 201115%52%24%8%0%(817)
August 201114%43%31%11%1%(802)
May 201114%45%29%11%0%(807)
December 201017%46%26%10%1%(2864)
October 200717%46%25%12%1%(1001)
August 200422%46%21%10%1%(800)
May 200320%52%23%5%0%(1002)
April 200123%53%19%4%1%(802)
March 200025%51%17%6%0%(800)
May 199922%54%19%5%0%(800)
February 199418%53%22%7%0%(801)
March 199021%47%25%6%1%(800)
February 198827%51%17%4%1%(800)
February 198731%53%11%4%0%(800)
May 198529%52%14%3%1%(500)
October 198429%51%15%4%1%(1000)
January 198116%50%26%7%1%(1003)
July 198018%50%23%7%2%(1005)

2. How would you rate your town or city as a place to live – excellent, good, only fair, or poor?



Don’t know


February 201233%41%21%5%0%(803)
October 201126%47%20%8%0%(817)
August 201128%48%18%6%0%(802)
May 201133%40%20%7%0%(807)
December 201027%46%20%8%0%(2864)
May 200329%45%19%7%0%(1002)
April 200128%45%21%6%0%(802)
May 199530%40%21%8%0%(802)
June 199431%41%19%9%0%(801)
September 198826%46%18%9%1%(500)
October 198430%41%21%7%1%(999)
June 198023%44%24%9%0%(1005)
May 197725%41%24%10%0%(1005)


3. How would you rate the quality of the environment in the area where you live – excellent, good, only fair, or poor?



Don’t know


February 201229%48%17%5%0%(803)
October 201125%47%19%9%0%(817)
August 201131%48%16%5%0%(802)
May 201133%46%15%6%0%(807)
December 201014%52%25%9%0%(2864)
April 200127%43%22%7%1%(402)
September 198810%43%31%15%1%(500)

4. How would you rate the job your local schools are doing – excellent, good, only fair, or poor?



Don’t know


February 201226%42%16%8%8%(803)
October 201121%39%20%13%7%(817)
August 201119%44%26%6%5%(802)
May 201124%39%22%10%6%(807)
December 201024%40%23%8%5%(2864)
August 200424%37%17%12%9%(800)
April 200121%43%21%6%9%(802)
September 199918%44%21%9%8%(802)
September 199820%42%23%9%7%(804)
February 199620%40%20%11%9%(804)
September 199316%36%29%14%5%(801)
January 199215%38%26%15%5%(800)
October 198714%46%23%6%11%(500)
October 198615%40%26%10%9%(800)
October 198316%43%23%10%8%(802)
May 197812%40%25%12%11%(1003)

5. How safe do you feel in your neighborhood at night – very safe, somewhat safe, or not at all safe?


Very safe

Not at
all safe
Don’t know


February 201262%32%5%0%(803)
October 201162%31%7%0%(817)
August 201163%31%6%0%(802)
May 201168%27%5%0%(807)
December 201059%35%6%0%(2864)
February 199342%44%13%0%(801)
October 198751%36%11%2%(499)
October 198453%36%9%2%(500)
May 198143%43%13%1%(497)

[Note:  All trend results prior to 2005 come from Rutgers University’s Eagleton Poll.]

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute on January 31 to February 4, 2012 with a statewide random sample of 803 adult residents, including 641 contacted on a landline telephone and 162 on a cell phone.  Live interviewing services were provided by Braun Research, Inc. and the telephone sample was obtained from Survey Sampling International.  Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey questionnaire design, data weighting and analysis.  For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.  Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups, such as separate figures reported by gender or party identification, are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample.  In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.


36% Dem49% Male29% 18-34

63% White

22% Rep51% Female39% 35-54

12% Black

42% Ind 32% 55+

15% Hispanic


      9% Asian/Other

Region is defined by county boundaries:  Northeast (Bergen, Passaic), Urban Core (Essex, Hudson), Route 1 Corridor (Mercer, Middlesex, Union), Central Hills (Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset), Northern Shore (Monmouth, Ocean), Delaware Valley (Burlington, Camden, Gloucester), and Garden Core (Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Salem, Sussex, Warren).

It is the Monmouth University Polling Institute’s policy to conduct surveys of all adult New Jersey residents, including voters and non-voters, on issues that affect the state.  Specific voter surveys are conducted when appropriate during election cycles.

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs

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