One of the nation's best communities for Gen Z homebuyers is right here in North Jersey

Originally appeared on on Dec. 23, 2019

Kaitlyn Kanzler

Gen Z-ers beginning to chart out their futures don't need to look any further than Clifton, New Jersey, one study says.

In a nationwide survey done by real estate website, Clifton ranked as one of the best six communities in America for Gen Z. That's the generation whose oldest members are now in their mid-20s.

The survey looked at a variety of factors, including diversity, accessibility, safety and affordability, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wallethub, NeighborhoodScout, their own company and the National Association of Home Builders.

Clifton Mayor James Anzaldi said he's not surprised by the ranking: The city has been receiving a lot of attention over the past several years as a great place to buy a home and raise a family, he said.

"We have a unique community," Anzaldi said. "It's a well-rounded place, and there's something for everyone."

Diversity is an important factor in Gen Z's identity, and Peter Tlatelpa, the director of business development and Realtor with Clifton-based Realty Empire NJ, said that because Clifton is such a melting pot, it resonates with younger generations.

"We have everyone from all over the world," Anzaldi said. "In general we get along really well."

Clifton is sprawled across 11 square miles and is just under 20 miles to New York City. Its 86,607 residents make it one of the largest cities in the state, albeit a largely suburban one.

One of the key attractions is Clifton's proximity to New York City. Tlatelpa said Clifton is a hub and "the artery of Passaic County" with major highways running through it and enough public transportation for those who commute into the city.

Gen Z grows up

Gen Z was born in the mid-90s, and the oldest members are now in their mid-20s, an age when some are considering buying a home. Many are using their highly developed social-media skills to facilitate important conversations.

They are also looking at the struggles of the generations before them, are beginning to prepare for their futures differently and asking questions earlier, including how they can set themselves up to purchase homes, Tlatelpa said. Many Gen Z-ers are beginning to reach out to him through social media and ask what they need to be ready to purchase a home.

"They understand they are not making enough money or have enough of a down payment to go and purchase a home right now," Tlatelpa said. "I usually like to tell them to save up as much as they can." predicts that Gen Z will shape future homebuying trends in the coming years. Tlatelpa agreed, saying that Gen Z will burst onto the scene as the next homebuyers within a year to year and a half.

Looking to Clifton

Anzaldi said while Clifton has a significant amount of single-family homes, there are apartments and townhomes, too. The city is currently considering 300 high-end apartments at the former Black Prince Distillery site and development is continuing on the former Roche site, a 116-acre property that straddles the border between Clifton and Nutley.

Clifton offers a variety of activities for families and singles, including a long-running summer concert series, parades, a Halloween festival and July Fourth fireworks, said Anzaldi.

There are 40 parks in the city. People can hit up the Tick Tock Diner, which recently reopened, any hour of the day, or they can argue whether or not Rutt's Hut or Hot Grill has the better hot dog.

The massive ON3 development on the Clifton-Nutley border is taking shape. Already home to a new medical school, it will soon host a biotech campus with Quest Diagnostics and a company that produces bio-fabricated leather.

On the downside, residents face traffic problems, crowded schools and a police department that struggles to retain officers.

Christine Romanelli, another Clifton-based Realtor, said the city's housing market is strong, with mortgage rates remaining low and "short sales" disappearing — meaning few homes are in danger of foreclosure.

Clifton's average house prices hover around 4 percent higher than New Jersey's average, with a median price around $395,880. That's still significantly lower than the New York-New Jersey metro area median of  $478,000.

"I had the best year in three years," Romanelli said.

Other cities on the list are Gaithersburg, Maryland; Aurora, Illinois; Houston; Madison, Wisconsin and Danbury, Connecticut.