Guide to Independent Living in New Jersey
About 16.6% of New Jersey’s almost 9.3 million residents are aged 65 and older, which is slightly above the national average. The state’s appeal may be its below-average levels of property and violent crime and attractive tax benefits for low-income seniors and homeowners. In keeping with other states in the Northeast, New Jersey’s median cost of living is high when compared to the national average. However, health care costs break from the norm with an index of 80, which is 20 points below the median for the country.
Independent living is for seniors looking to retire to safe and friendly communities where the residents are typically aged 60 and older. There are many types of independent living communities — some with apartments, duplexes or single-family homes, and others with all three. A common feature is a recreation center, where residents can participate in physically and mentally stimulating activities, join in fun games, enjoy restaurant-style meals and learn something new in educational classes. Many facilities also provide spa services.
This guide compares the costs of independent living in New Jersey with neighboring states and considers other types of senior care. It also lists some free resources available to seniors in the state.
How Much Does Independent Living Cost in New Jersey?
Note: There currently isn’t authoritative data on the average cost of Independent Living Facilities nationwide, so instead, we use the cost of Assisted Living to estimate it. Since the cost of Independent Living is typically 30-40% lower than the cost of Assisted Living, the numbers below were calculated by subtracting 35% from the cost of Assisted Living as reported in the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey.
The average fee for independent living in New Jersey is $4,222 per month, which is significantly more than the national median of $2,925 and the highest in the region. In Delaware, it’s normal to pay $3,897, while Maryland’s average fee of $3,185 is a significant reduction. In Pennsylvania, independent living residents pay an average of $2,665 per month. It’s a similar situation further north, with New Yorkers paying around $2,977 and their peers in Connecticut paying $3,334 per month.
The United States
The Cost of Independent Living in New Jersey’s Top Cities
The most affordable location in New Jersey for independent living is Atlantic City, where fees average $3,775 per month, a significant saving when compared to Ocean City just down the coast, where the median is $4,869. In Vineland, fees of $4,160 per month are normal, while in Trenton, they leap to $5,294 — the most expensive in the state.
The Cost of Independent Living vs. Other Types of Care
Although independent living fees in New Jersey are high for the region, they can be competitive when compared to other types of care. For example, an assisted living community typically costs another $2,273 for care services and accommodation, while a nursing home semiprivate room costs another $7,032 per month due to 24/7 hospital-like services. Seniors considering care at home will need to factor their current home maintenance costs into the fees for homemaker and home health aide services, which average $5,529 and $5,710, respectively. The most affordable option for seniors capable of attending is adult day health care, with a typical fee of $1,950 per month.
Adult Day Health Care
Home Health Aide
Assisted Living Facility
Nursing Home Facility (semiprivate room)
Does Medicare or Medicaid Cover Independent Living in New Jersey?
The short answer is no, Medicaid and Medicare do not cover the cost of living in an independent living community. That being said, those who need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), may be able to take advantage of financial assistance programs in New Jersey to partially or fully cover the cost of care in Assisted Living. For more information about financial assistance for those who need help with ADLs, read our guide to Assisted Living in New Jersey.
For more information about other ways to make Independent Living more affordable, such as retirement funds, the sale of a home, etc, read the section below.
How to Make Independent Living More Affordable in New Jersey
There are several ways to pay for independent living other than using savings. They include:
- Reverse Mortgages: Homeowners can release equity on their homes through reverse mortgages. A loan paid through regular installments pays independent living fees, with repayment only made after the home is sold.
- Life Insurance: Some life insurance policies can be sold to release funds. It’s best to speak to an independent advisor before committing to this approach.
- Annuities: An annuity is an agreement with an insurance provider where the senior makes an upfront lump-sum payment that the insurer returns in installments.
- Long-Term Care Insurance: Long-term care insurance policies can cover the cost of independent living for a specific period of time.
Free Independent Living Resources for Seniors in New Jersey
Seniors in New Jersey have access to numerous free resources aimed at making their lives easier. The resources in this list can provide legal advice, assist with preparing taxes and arrange transportation.
|Department of Military and Veterans Affairs||(888) 865-8387||The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs represents the best interests of state residents who served their country. It supports the families of vets as well. Services include helping vets and their loved ones access the federal and state benefits they’re entitled to. The department also helps veterans get help from specialists working in the VA health care system across New Jersey.|
|AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program||(888) 687-2277||The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program can provide online tax preparation and filing support for seniors. It’s also possible for older residents to drop off their tax documents to be prepared by a volunteer, with the senior returning to finalize them with assistance from AARP. The advisors are IRS-certified volunteers trained by AARP and located in centers across New Jersey.|
|Aging and Disability Resource Connection/Area Agency on Aging||(877) 222-3737||There is an Area Agency on Aging in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties, with all serving as the Aging and Disability Resource Connection as well. They can offer seniors a wide range of resources, particularly when multiple organizations may be involved as the agency can develop a coordinated solution. Services and supports include free and low-cost transportation, educational programs and information regarding senior support services not funded by the state.|
|LSNJLAW||(732) 572-9100||LSNJLAW is a free service for low-income residents of New Jersey who need advice and support regarding civil law matters. It can assist in many ways, such as advising senior consumers regarding debt problems, health care costs and wills and trusts.|
|AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP||(800) 942-2677||AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP is a program operating in most counties in New Jersey. It connects elders with nonprofits and government agencies that need help from volunteers. As a member of RSVP, the senior may receive training and be insured for accidents and liability while doing volunteer work. Many jobs enable seniors to use their existing skills and experience for the benefit of others in their communities.|
COVID-19 Rules and Restrictions for New Jersey Independent Living Communities
The following rules and guidelines were obtained from state.nj.us/health/legal/covid19, as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to independent living communities and assisted living facilities.
This data has been most recently updated on 2/10/2022, but keep in mind that COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving crisis, so all of the below information can change at any time. For additional questions and up-to-date information, you can contact your loved one’s senior living facility or your local Area Agency on Aging.
Visiting Loved Ones
|Can I visit my relative in person if he/she wants emotional support from me?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Can I visit my relative in person for end-of-life compassion care?||Yes|
|Will my loved one be required to self-quarantine after I visit him or her?||No|
|Do I need to wear PPE and/or a cloth mask if I do visit my relative in person?||Yes|
|Are Hairdressers and other non-medical contractors still allowed in senior living facilities?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives?||Yes|
|Are visitors being screened for elevated temperatures?||Yes|
|Are visitors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?||Yes|
Outings and Group Activities
|Are residents allowed to leave the facility for non-medical reasons?||Yes|
|Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?||No (Conditions Apply)|
|Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?||No|
|Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
Safety Measures for Staff & Contractors
|Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?||Yes|
|Are staff members and contractors being tested for Coronavirus?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Are staff members and contractors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?||Yes|
Safety Measures for Residents
|Are staff members required to regularly screen residents for coronavirus symptoms?||Yes|
|Are residents relied on to screen themselves and self-report potential coronavirus symptoms?||No|
|Are staff members required to take residents’ temperatures?||Yes|
|Are residents being tested for coronavirus?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|