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You don’t have to leave New Jersey for property tax relief

A predictable, economical solution for retirees

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February 17th, 2016
Seabrook resident Madeline Cruoglio
Seabrook resident Madeline Cruoglio

Year after year, New Jersey continues to earn the nation’s number one spot for highest property tax rates. And while Bergen County has traditionally ranked highest in the state, Monmouth broke into the top ten in 2014, according to property tax records from the Department of Community Affairs.

For the average homeowner, they’re not going down any time soon. 

In 2014, the average New Jersey residential property tax bill increased 2.2%—the fastest rate since 2011 when it jumped 2.4%. And while the rate of property tax increases has declined in recent years under Gov. Chris Christie, so have the rebates earmarked for older adults.

Jerry Cantrell, president of Common Sense Institute of New Jersey, a nonprofit research and education organization that conducts scholarly research and analysis of New Jersey public policy, says retirees often leave New Jersey because of their property tax bill. 

However, many New Jersey retirees have found a way to comfortably stay close to family and friends. 

Relief close to home

Seabrook, an Erickson Living community of one- and two-bedroom apartment homes within an amenity-rich, village-type campus in Tinton Falls, divides its property tax amount among all residents based on apartment size and days of occupancy. This way, the tax is spread out over the entire year instead of cut into three large quarterly payments.

“By moving from a single family home where you’re using just three or four rooms to a more manageable living space, you don’t just simplify your life, you significantly decrease your property tax bill,” says Personal Moving Consultant Laurie Williamson.

To make life even simpler, Seabrook combines property taxes and other home-related costs, such as home maintenance, professional landscaping, 24/7 security, utilities, a flexible meal plan, and use of amenities like the indoor pool and fitness center. In winter, this includes campus snow clearing and year-round transportation to and from local destinations like the grocery store and doctors’ offices. 

No surprises

Jack Coogan, who moved to Seabrook in 2010 from Spring Lake Heights and has served on the community’s finance committee, says, “You know what your monthly costs are going to be. There are no hidden costs. There are no surprises.”

Surprises like weather damage from 2012’s Superstorm Sandy or the costly ice storms of 2014 that upset towns’ budgets across the state. 

While the area doesn’t see the highest property tax rates in the state, many waterfront towns were greatly affected by Superstorm Sandy and saw significant spikes the following year. 

Madeline and Leonardo Cruoglio moved to Seabrook from Manahawkin about a year and a half before Sandy hit. “We lived on the water and never had flooded, but our house is one of the ones that is no longer there,” Madeline says. “God certainly took care of us. There’s no way we could have afforded to rebuild.”

Now, they pay their property tax and all other home-related expenses with one convenient monthly check. So there’s no need to budget for the quarterly payment—or for unexpected home repairs, for that matter. If an appliance breaks, it’s repaired or replaced at no additional cost. 

“The monthly service fee stays the same all year long, keeping expenses predictable and economical,” says Sales Director Dan Simms.

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