View of a town clock in Downtown Madison, New Jersey

Is New Jersey Safe? (Honest Local Advice for 2023)

So you want to visit New Jersey? Excellent! But when planning your journey, you might be wondering: is New Jersey safe?

I’ve been a resident of the Garden State for over 30 years, and can honestly say that New Jersey is definitely safe to travel to. In fact, there are a ton of awesome things to do in New Jersey, and it’s one of the safest states in the country. 

Of course, there are always precautions and areas you may want to avoid, which is what we’ll cover in this article.

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Is New Jersey Safe?

For the most part, New Jersey is safe to travel to. There is a strong police presence in most New Jersey municipalities, and pandemic-related safety precautions have been extensive.

Of course, while a majority of New Jersey is safe to travel to, there are areas you’ll want to avoid, as well as precautions to take. We’ll cover these in more detail in this next section.

Things to Know About Safety in New Jersey

Safe Neighborhoods and Areas in New Jersey

Colorful local stores in Cape May
Cape May (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

Safe neighborhoods and areas vary depending on where in New Jersey you’d like to visit. Each County and region has its own safe and unsafe areas. For example, as a whole, Essex County is pretty safe, but safety in Newark is a different ball game, where crime rates can be high.

Most of Central and South Jersey is also safe to visit and travel to. Two examples are areas like Edison and Ocean City. But one would want to avoid areas like Camden. Camden does have a very nice aquarium, but aside from that, it’s best to visit and then pick somewhere else to stay in New Jersey.

Covid-19 Safety in New Jersey

Water fountain at the Spring Lake Park in New Jersey

As a whole, New Jersey has been doing a great job of helping stop the spread of Covid-19. Many businesses have put strict cleaning protocols into practice to keep everyone safe.

New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the US. As a result, we did experience high numbers during the height of the pandemic.

Numbers soon decreased, and in March 2022, mask mandates and proof of vaccination requirements were lifted. Today, some businesses and medical offices may still have precautions in place, but New Jersey is experiencing a greater sense of “normal”.

For the latest stats on how Covid-19 is doing in New Jersey, see the below widget from Covid Act Now. It automatically updates to give you the most current information.

Crime in New Jersey

Crime rates in New Jersey vary depending on where you go. As a whole, Consumer Affairs has ranked New Jersey the safest state in the US. Crime in New Jersey is well below the national average, partially due to the concentration of Law Enforcement per municipality. 

Different areas have different crime rates. For example, in Princeton, Neighborhood Scout crime maps show the likelihood of becoming a victim of violent crime is 1 in 1,705. In Newark, it changes to about 1 in 203. It all depends on where in New Jersey you’re traveling to.

In most regions, property crime rates are kept at bay with a good home security system. Fortunately, the police usually maintain a strong presence in high crime rate areas.

Common Scams in New Jersey 

When it comes to traveling, no matter how much we plan, there’s always the chance of something going wrong. Scams can happy anywhere.

Here are a few common scams to be aware of when traveling in the Garden State, or really anywhere:

  • Pickpockets – Pickpockets are always looking for the easiest target to swipe a wallet or phone from. Keep your belongings close to you and in your line of sight.
  • Mugging – More confrontational (and bold!) than pickpockets, are muggers. They grab your bag or other personal item and take off running, usually in crowds where it’s hard to catch them.
  • Rideshare Identity – When taking rideshares like Uber or Lyft, check all details in the app to make sure you’re getting in the right car. Don’t accept rides if the car or driver doesn’t match – no matter their explanation.
  • Panhandling/Swindling – Panhandlers aren’t common everywhere, but they do gravitate towards fast food drive-ups. Some ask for money, others try to convince you to go help them with something. Don’t do it.
  • Trafficking Attempts – These criminals are all over the world, and always finding new ways to lure their victims. If you come back to your car and find items on door handles or even windshield wipers, don’t attempt to remove them. Wait until you’ve reached a well-populated area.

Hazardous Weather and Natural Disasters

Cars driving through a road with flood water
(photo: ungvar / Shutterstock)

In general, New Jersey isn’t prone to severe weather phenomena. Hurricanes are very rare. In fact, the worst was Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Tornadoes can occasionally be an issue as well, though not as common as they are in the Midwest region of the US. 

However, flooding in New Jersey can be an issue. Low-lying areas, as well as those with poor drainage, are at increased risk during spring and summer rains. Besides that, we have thunderstorms with occasional cloud-ground lightning strikes. Keep an eye on local weather reports wherever you’re traveling.

For a great breakdown, check out the best time to visit New Jersey for more in-depth advice on when to visit.

Is Tap Water Safe to Drink in New Jersey? 

A faucet with water flowing on it and a glass of water next to it

In general, tap water in New Jersey is nothing special. The taste and quality of the water depends on where you are. Newark has great-tasting water, while other areas may have some questionable-tasting water.

Even if the water tastes fine and meets EPA Guidelines when it leaves the plant, contaminants in pipes can make it less than ideal for drinking. It’s best to ditch the tap and drink filtered tap or bottled water. At restaurants, you can ask for sparkling water or bottled.

5 Safety Tips for New Jersey

Tip #1 – Be Aware of your Surroundings

A man looking around the city while holding his phone

No matter where you are, it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings. Those that wish to do harm are looking for those oblivious people that are face down in their phones. Look up, don’t keep headphones in both ears, and stay alert.

Tip #2 – Try to Avoid Being Out Alone at Night

Most New Jersey towns are quite safe, even at night. But areas such as Atlantic City and Newark have a higher incidence of violent crime after dark and you’ll want to avoid being out alone at night.

Tip #3 – Keep Belongings In Sight

Pickpockets and muggers like to prey on the unaware. Because of this, it’s a good idea to keep your belongings close to you. A good crossbody bag is a great investment. They come in many styles so that they can go with any activity or outfit. They also keep important items like your wallet and phone close to you.

Tip #4 – Don’t Leave Belongings in Your Car

The last thing you want to do after a day of sightseeing is to come back to your car and find a broken car window. Don’t leave belongings, especially valuables, in plain sight in your vehicle. If you must leave something in the car, leave it out of sight in the glove compartment or under a seat.

Tip #5 – Watch Your Drinks 

A man putting something on a drink

If you take advantage of the nightlife scene, be aware of people looking to spike your drink. Keep an eye on it at all times, or use products such as the NightCap. Along with your diligence, it helps make sure no one puts something in your drink.

FAQs About Safety in New Jersey

What is the safest town in New Jersey?

Sparta, NJ is the safest town in New Jersey according to Safewise. The crime rate, including the violent crime rate, is well below the national average.

What is the safest county in New Jersey?

Monmouth County has earned itself a reputation of being one of the safest counties in New Jersey.

Are there any travel restrictions in New Jersey?

At the moment, there are no travel restrictions in New Jersey. 

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I hope I’ve answered the question “is New Jersey safe?”

New Jersey is a beautiful place to visit. It’s ranking as one of the safest states in the US makes it even more appealing. Up next, check out some of these great places to visit in New Jersey!

(Featured Image Credit: Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock)

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