Now, after six months firmly grounded in Jersey City, Mr. Elgarten, 33, can rattle off his favorite local restaurants, walking routes, neighbors, neighborhood dogs and spots for groceries. “I like to go get bread from the bakery and get cheese from the cheese shop, as opposed to just doing it all at one store,” he said.
Mr. Elgarten is starting to feel like a full-fledged New Jerseyan, he said. “I’ve definitely gotten more into Jersey City, and Jersey as a whole, since this hit.”
Many have left a “sixth borough” to go deeper into the Jersey suburbs. Susan Maryanski, a sales agent with Keller Williams Realty, spent the summer helping clients list their Hoboken and Jersey City properties and look for bigger homes in Montclair, Summit, Madison, and Chatham. Michele Farrell, a broker associate for Liberty Realty, noted that the number of available Jersey City and Hoboken rentals nearly tripled this summer from the same time last year, but that bigger rentals with outdoor space were still getting snapped up, often by locals looking for upgrades.
Jo De Maeyer Vermeiren and her husband, Thomas, recently decamped for the suburbs. Although they both loved Jersey City’s proximity to Manhattan’s bars, restaurants, theaters and operas, everything changed in March. Suddenly they were alone in their high-rise near the waterfront with two small children and a dog.
“It quickly became depressing and claustrophobic,” Ms. De Maeyer Vermeiren, 38, said. The family started to look for homes in the suburbs, ultimately moving into a rental with a backyard in Short Hills in July. “I felt like something fell off my shoulders,” Ms. De Maeyer Vermeiren said. “I was finally able to breathe again.”