PA Offers Homeowners Haven From High Property Taxes

Many New Jersey residents in the market for a new home are choosing to move to Pennsylvania to avoid the high property taxes of the Garden State. The Hilarczyks decided to move to Nazareth, Pa. when they needed a larger home. The couple has an acre of land and pays $9,000 in taxes. Dawn Hilarczyk said the same home in New Jersey would cost between $14,000 and $25,000 in property taxes. Andy Hilarczyk commutes more than hour to his job as a New Jersey teacher while his wife commutes to New York City for work, but the couple says the move has been worth it.

The Hilarczyks are part of a trend. Of the 194,000 people who moved out of New Jersey between 2009 and 2010, more than 20 percent went to Pennsylvania. Realtor Martin Millner said more than 90 percent of people who are willing to consider both Pennsylvania and New Jersey and see the opportunities choose to buy in Pennsylvania.

New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation, averaging $7,759 in 2011, up 20 percent in the last two years. Monmouth University Professor of Economics and Finance Steven Pressman said the property taxes are so high because the state doesn’t get a lot of aid from the federal government and in turn, municipalities get little support from the state government. That means most of the burden to support local services falls on the residents and that means higher property taxes.

While the Hilarczyks are happy with their home and decision to move to Pennsylvania, Dawn is disappointed that the taxes forced them from New Jersey. “It’s a shame,” she said. “I wish property taxes were more realistic.”

NJToday’s Lauren Wanko files this report from Nazareth, Pa.