SPRINGFIELD, NJ – New Jersey Monthly’s issue with its bi-annual “Best Places to Live” and “Top 100 Towns” rankings was just delivered to subscribers. Springfield did much better in the 2017 ranking jumping up 142 places and making the published “Top 100 Towns” list at number 98. In 2015, it was ranked number 240 and in 2013 it was ranked 269.
The reasons for the improvement in ranking were three factors used in the last three rankings and a new factor introduced in the 2017 ranking.
The new factor considered in the 2017 is the lifestyle factor. It “…considers the number of acute-care hospitals and live performing-arts theaters within 10 miles of the municipality’s main zip code, number of full-service restaurants with two miles, and average commute time for those working away from home.” Springfield is close to many acute-care hospitals and live performing-arts theaters. In town and in neighboring towns are many full-service restaurants. No relative ranking was provided for this, but it seems clear Springfield’s location is a plus.
Regarding the three other factors, the first is the pace of property tax increases was lower for the most recent ranking period at 3.8 percent for the two years ended 2016, or less than two percent a year. For the 2015 ranking property taxes increased 4.4 percent a year and for the 2013 ranking property taxes increased 8.4 percent a year. The second is housing prices rose 7.2 percent for the two years ended 2016 instead of declining as they did in the two prior rankings. Finally, the crime rate was 25 percent lower than the last ranking at 9.9 per 1,000. In the 2015 ranking crime rates per 1,000 were 13.2 per 1,000 and in 2013 it was 16.7 1,000.
Springfield held its own in educational rankings, which included proficiency exams for fourth and eighth grade and the high school ranking. Jonathan Dayton High School was ranked 103 in the 2016 ranking compared to 90 in 2014. There was no ranking for the 2013 survey. Recently, niche.com ranked the Springfield school system 74 in New Jersey.
Supporting the direction of the ranking was the population trend and housing based on days on market. Springfield’s population increased four percent relative to the level in the 2015 ranking. The measure average days on market for a house sold in Springfield was 62 compared to 83 for the New Jersey. It was also lower for Union County.
Researchers at Leflein Associates assembled the rankings based on five categories meant to measure “quality of life in New Jersey”. Those categories are home values, property taxes, crime rate, school performance and a lifestyle factor. The survey was done for 565 municipalities, but due to lack of statistically significant data, towns with populations less than 1,500 were excluded, which puts the number ranked at 513. Leflein Associates is an independent research firm based in Ringwood, NJ. Its website is http://www.leflein.com/.