Top Reasons to Live & Work in New Jersey’s College Towns

New Jersey’s universities are nationally ranked and strategically located, offering students and alumni the best college experience with the most opportunities. Our State boasts the #1 University in the U.S.—Princeton University—and we’re also the #1 state for education at every level.

Employers can hire prospective workers from New Jersey’s impressive higher education institutions, and our state’s college towns are hotbeds for top talent. Not only are our college towns ideal for students and young professionals, they are also great places for anyone looking to settle down, raise a family, or do business. After all, we’re the #1 state to live in the U.S. and the #1 state to raise a child.

This spring, Choose New Jersey visited Rowan University, Princeton University, and Rutgers University: New Brunswick to highlight some of the key amenities that make our college towns ideal places for your talent to live, work, and play.

Innovation Ecosystem & Talent Pool

New Jersey’s college towns are strategically located and are undoubtedly the best places for your business to grow. Princeton, New Brunswick, and Glassboro respectively are excellent places for employers to work and raise their families. Employers based in New Jersey’s college towns will have access to the core of our State’s thriving innovation ecosystem and a robust talent pool right in their backyard. Companies can even partner with universities for research and development (R&D) opportunities.

Rutgers University–New Brunswick is strategically located in the heart of central Jersey. New Brunswick is a hub for medical innovation and home to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and Johnson & Johnson’s world headquarters. Many career opportunities are available for students and alumni to pursue directly in their backyards, which means access to top talent for employers who choose to live and work there. Top New Brunswick-area companies include Wakefern Food Corporation (the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the U.S.), TATA Consultancy Services, and PNC Bank’s New Jersey headquarters, to name a few. Rutgers University is home to university-affiliated research facilities, including The Center for Advanced Energy Systems (CAES), the Emil Buehler Aerospace Lab, and the EcoComplex.

Princeton University offers research opportunities for students and boasts a prominent professional ecosystem. Princeton offers a dense cluster of life sciences companies, such as Bristol Myers Squibb, Otsuka, and Janssen. Other major Princeton-based companies include Origin, a digital distribution platform developed by Electronic Arts, and Covance, the world’s most comprehensive drug development company. Princeton is home to research facilities, including Princeton Institute of Materials (PRISM), Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education, and the Princeton Innovation Center BioLabs—the premier co-working space for science startups in New Jersey.

Glassboro’s rising innovation community is driven by the Rowan University campus. One of New Jersey’s premier research universities, Rowan University is also home to the South Jersey Technology Park (SJTP), a non-profit corporation offering Class-A facilities for innovative technology startups and already-established companies. Additionally, through Rowan Innovations, Rowan University helps industry partners access resources they need for new venture creation, sponsored research, and other partnerships. Major employers in the Glassboro area include Freshly, New Jersey American Water, Campbell’s, and Lockheed Martin. A Glassboro-area location offers ample opportunities for companies to collaborate with Rowan University for internships, research, and recruitment.

Transportation & City Access

When living in a college town, it is essential for residents to have access to nearby cities for career opportunities, internships, networking, and even recreation. Fortunately, Princeton, Rutgers, and Rowan universities are conveniently located along major highways and transit lines that enable residents to travel to nearby metros like Philadelphia and New York City. Moreover, the U.S. Route 1 research corridor—New Jersey’s innovation highway that connects the campuses of Princeton and Rutgers University—makes both Princeton and New Brunswick ideal places to live, work, and thrive.

College Avenue at Rutgers University–New Brunswick is reminiscent of a city in its own right, but the campus also provides residents access to abundant transportation options. NJ Transit’s Northeast Corridor and Amtrak’s Northeast Regional lines run through New Brunswick Station, located directly next to the College Avenue campus. With Rutgers University’s central New Jersey location, residents are a short train or bus ride away from New York City and Philadelphia respectively. New Brunswick Station is about an hour to New York Penn Station via NJ Transit’s Northeast Corridor, and about 90 minutes to Philadelphia with a quick transfer at Trenton Transit Center.

Located on the Route 1 research corridor, Princeton, home of Princeton University, is a prime location for individuals to pursue careers and build meaningful connections. Also, like its neighbor Rutgers University, Princeton is located in the heart of Central Jersey, making it conveniently close to surrounding metros. The Dinky is Princeton’s shuttle train that connects downtown Princeton and the university campus with Princeton Junction Station. Positioned along the Northeast Corridor, residents have seamless access to New York City, Philadelphia, and beyond via NJ Transit. It takes about an hour to travel from Princeton Junction Station to New York Penn Station, and just under 40 minutes to get to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station via Amtrak.

Glassboro, home of Rowan University, is strategically positioned in South Jersey. With an optimal location just 30 minutes south of Philadelphia by car, residents can take advantage of everything Greater Philadelphia has to offer. There are several NJ Transit bus stops in Glassboro and on campus that can transport residents to Philadelphia as well as Cape May, America’s first seaside resort. The Atlantic City Rail Line is also nearby, running along the White Horse Pike from Atlantic City to Philadelphia.

The Great Outdoors

Following the 2020 pandemic, individuals have discovered a newfound or rekindled appreciation for the outdoors. After a year of being trapped inside, wide open spaces offer us a sense of normalcy. Recently, New Jersey has seen a significant spike in our real estate climate, and new residents value easy access to outdoor recreation. To promote positive mental health and overall quality of life, it is imperative for students and professionals alike to periodically step away from their work and get some much-needed fresh air. Luckily, New Jersey’s college towns are located near plenty of protected parks, challenging trails, and even some on-campus ecological preserves. New Jersey is the #2 state in the U.S. for most land dedicated to parks, so it’s no surprise that our college towns are surrounded by greenery.

Princeton University‘s college town offers the best of both worlds: a bustling downtown district completely surrounded by nature. From woodland trails, to wide-open parks, to brooks and rivers, natural serenity is available right in your backyard as a Princeton resident. Institute Woods is a short walk from Princeton University’s campus and boasts 589 acres of woods, farmland, and wetlands. The popular 3.6-mile hiking trail starts in Institute Woods and ends at Princeton Battlefield State Park, and features a picturesque swinging suspension bridge.

Although the recent development on Rowan Boulevard is reminiscent of a city, Rowan University is surrounded by farmland and forests. Washington Lake Park is conveniently located in Sewell, just a 10-minute drive from Rowan University’s campus. As New Jersey’s largest municipal park, the area offers plenty of nature and walking trails, picnic areas, athletic fields, and even a koi pond. The park also features an amphitheater for concerts and film screenings, as well as a separate dog park.

Rutgers University–New Brunswick offers plenty of nature trails and ecological preserves for residents to enjoy when they want to get away from it all. Rutgers Gardens is a botanical garden located near the Rutgers University Busch campus that features bamboo forests, an Asian hillside garden, water conservation terraces, and more. The Gardens offer free admission and are open 365 days a year. Home to the Student Farm, a farmers’ market in collaboration with the Office of Agriculture and Urban Programs, the Gardens are the perfect place to get fresh local foods and receive hands-on, interdisciplinary research opportunities.

Recreation & Entertainment

No college town is complete without recreation and entertainment, and it’s especially important that amenities are within walking distance of campus. With this in mind, New Brunswick, Princeton, and Glassboro offer plenty of things to do along their respective main streets.

The quintessential college town and cultural hub surrounding Princeton University is populated with museums, galleries, and theatres. The campus boasts breathtaking Gothic architecture and adjacent Nassau Street is saturated with vibrant shops and scenery. While the town is notorious for its university, Princeton draws individuals from all different walks of life, including families and business owners. Music connoisseurs can check out the Princeton Record Exchange (PREX), an integral component of the town’s culture offering a wide selection of new releases and one-of-a-kind pressings. Bookworms can browse dozens of shelves at local Labyrinth Books. The McCarter Theatre Center, winner of a Tony Award for the best regional theater in the country, showcases over 200 drama, dance, and music productions a year.

When it comes to entertainment, the Rowan University we see today is almost unrecognizable compared to 15 years ago. Recent efforts put forward by the university offer students and residents plenty of activities right next to campus. Rowan Boulevard is lined with fun amenities like an escape room and a tequila bar. Craft beer lovers can stop by Bonesaw Brewing Co. and try some local brews. The Comic Book Store is conveniently located across the street from the Rowan University campus and features a “game space” for competitive card games and tabletop games. Summit City Farms & Winery is situated just outside of campus and frequently hosts wine & music nights.

College Avenue at Rutgers University–New Brunswick is packed with amenities and conveniently located across the street from downtown New Brunswick. The Stress Factory Comedy Club, located on Church Street right off of George Street, hosts standup shows, drag shows, and other comedy events nearly every night. New Brunswick is packed with bars and breweries, like Hub City Brewhouse and Scarlet Pub. Theatre buffs can visit George Street Playhouse, a local theatre company that puts on several productions per year.

Local Food & Coffee

Whether you’re a sleep-deprived student on a budget, a young professional, or a family living in a college town, accessible food and coffee options are a must. While the following examples only scratch the surface of what New Jersey’s college towns have to offer, here are some highlights of exceptional and affordable food and beverage options in New Brunswick, Princeton, and Glassboro.

If you’re looking for affordable food not too far from Rowan University’s campus, Glassboro has plenty to offer. For a simple yet inventive menu, Steve’s Grilled Cheese and Quesadilla Company is a local favorite offering a variety of options such as gourmet grilled cheeses, salads, cheesesteaks, and even specialty peanut butter sandwiches. Across the street, Angelo’s Glassboro Diner is an iconic and historic breakfast staple in Glassboro. For great, local coffee, Endgrain Coffee Roasters in Pitman, South Jersey’s self-proclaimed “original third-wave coffee shop,” serves artisan coffees and seasonal beverages.

At Rutgers University–New Brunswick, King of Gyro on Easton Avenue offers affordable halal fare such as gyros and falafel. On the same block, Stuff Yer Face is known for serving large portions at a reasonable price. They have pizza, specialty burgers, Stromboli, and even carry a few vegan and vegetarian options. If you’re looking for local coffee, Hidden Grounds Coffee Co. on Easton Avenue is an espresso bar serving up cold brews, signature drinks, pressed juices, and breakfast sandwiches. They even have a coffee roastery in New Brunswick, which is open for tours and coffee-related classes.

Directly across from Princeton University, downtown Princeton boasts dozens of eateries and coffee shops for residents and visitors to enjoy. Often acknowledged on best-bagel lists, The Bagel Nook on Harrison Street offers an expansive menu of eclectic bagel options. They have specialty spreads like sriracha honey butter, “crazy cream cheese” like ghost pepper and chocolate chip M&M, dessert bagel sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches—the list goes on. For an affordable dining option, Jules Thin Crust on Witherspoon Street serves a variety of specialty pizzas and organic salads with gluten free options as well. There are several notable coffee shops in Princeton, and we happened to stop by Rojo’s Roastery in Palmer Square, a local roaster serving artisan beverages made with sustainably sourced beans. Small World Coffee is another excellent option—a local chain offering precision-roasted coffee. The cafés host live music and art shows, too! With two locations on Witherspoon Street and Nassau Street, coffee is always conveniently around the corner.

Discover All New Jersey’s College
Towns Have to Offer

New Jersey offers individuals and companies plenty of room to innovate and succeed. New Jersey’s college towns are strategically located and are undoubtedly the best places for your business to grow. With convenient access to top talent, neighboring cities, parks and recreation, nightlife amenities, and great food and coffee, our State’s college towns are ideal for anyone to work and live in.

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