Damn you New Jersey! I do love you but at the same time I’m cursed for loving you. Raising my family in this state is hard. Why does it have to be this way? I keep thinking it has to get better…right?
I was born and raised in New Jersey and have lived in the same town my entire life. I am nothing like the characters you see on TV that say they are from Jersey. In fact, I grew up a Jersey Farmer. My grandparents bought a piece of land that was once apple orchards. They farmed as a hobby. My mother grew up on the land, and then when she got married built a house on that property as well. So my roots are buried deep in this state.
My husband was born and raised in my town as well. Naturally we stayed close to our family and friends once we got married. We both loved our state and we were happy to settle in here, but now after a few years of marriage and two kids later my frustration with this state is growing. The cost of living here is killing us.
My husband and I both have good paying jobs in my opinion. We both work full time and my mother watches my children, we are lucky in both of these instances. To many politicians in the State house, we should be the middle class and really are no concern to them. But why is it that every month I find myself losing sleep coming up with ways to pay the bills. We bought a house about two years ago with a yard on a nice street to raise our kids. I think we were smart, we moved in with our parents for a few months to save extra money to buy the house and we brought a house that we knew we could afford, not one that some realtor told us we could afford or some mortgage calculator said was within our means. We had both cars paid off before the house as well. We were doing well in those instances compared to some of our friends.
My husband has one of those jobs that have been a target of attacks by our governor and he was laid off for some time because of town budget problems. It was the first real blow we felt by our state, town and local politicians. For some time, we considered leaving the state. We would look at properties and be amazed at how big they were, how much land they had and only one thousand dollars a year in property taxes; if that. Wow, it was so tempting. But the thought of moving and leaving our loved ones behind and having our children be separated from their cousins and grandparents didn’t seem fair. We decided we should stay where our roots were planted. So we looked for houses nearby once he found a new job.
Now, my job is one that seems threatened too. I constantly live in a work environment that revolves around layoffs and reductions. My job opportunities in this state are shrinking. Why; because companies are moving out of state to places that are far less expensive then New Jersey. I find myself looking at ways to recreate myself. I don’t think my job will be here in the next ten years so I need to find new skills to pick up or come up with a new career. I watch my pay shrink every year. My bonus is almost nothing these days, and getting paid for overtime or getting perks for going above and beyond is almost impossible.
However, my property taxes go up every year, as well as my cost of utilities such as water. In fact, they have gone up more than the cost of living pay increases I get every year. Trying to raise my kids and reinvent myself is tiring. I need more time in the day. I need more sleep. I need to go food shopping but can’t do it until Friday when I get paid and even then I need to pick from my list what is necessary and what is not because I can’t get it all. I saved well in my early twenties and had a great nest egg if you asked me, but it quickly went away once I went out on my own. I don’t know if I will ever have as much money in my savings as I did when I was 25.
I am lucky for what I do have. I know I have a ton to be fortunate for. But I would just like to breathe a little easier when it comes to finances. I don’t want to be struggling to stay afloat. I want to have the life vest on. I think my husband and I are good with money. We put our money in the right place every month. Therefore, if you look at us on paper we appear to be doing fine. But we are struggling and it gets the best of us some times. I know we are not alone as well. A lot of our friends are doing the same and we all consider what if, “we didn’t live in New Jersey”.
I have friends who can’t move out of their houses right now because they owe more money than their house is worth. Many have tried refinancing or looked into some of the other options out there to help them. A lot of my friends have had to move their families in with their parents because they couldn’t stay afloat in this state. With all the layoffs going on, a month or two of no income in this state is enough to ruin you. That’s what kills me. I don’t have anything to rely on for the “what if’s”. If I get laid off tomorrow what would I do?, If I get hurt and are out of work; if someone gets really sick, how will we survive? It would be impossible. New Jersey is the state of no forgiveness.
At night sometimes I dream about moving South, and getting a little more for my money. Being able to breathe a little easier sounds so refreshing at 1 am. But I am here in Jersey. Everyone I know is here, so as for now, this is where I stay. Having small children it’s always great to have family nearby. If you look closely at me, you will see me clipping coupons, looking at groupons, searching for those free beaches or at times having heavy eyelids because I’m effortlessly trying to stretch everything I have a little further. I’m forgiving when to comes to living in New Jersey, I’m hoping one day, it will pay off.