Discover Central NJ 55+ Communities: A Guide Along Route 9

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13 minute read

What You’ll Gain From Reading This Article: This highlights the appeal of Central Jersey as a prime retirement location. It also provides information about Route 9 and its significance in connecting various parts of the Garden State.


New Jersey can be divided up in many ways, like South Jersey, North Jersey, and the Jersey Shore. Central Jersey is in the middle, although its borders were never clearly defined—until recently. In August 2023, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill stating that Central Jersey is made up of Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset counties. That designation changed things for the NJ Division of Travel and Tourism and also made things easier for home seekers interested in NJ 55+ communities.

This part of the Garden State is a prime retirement location because it’s close to two of the largest cities in the U.S. New York City and Philadelphia are commutable by car or train, and Princeton, New Brunswick, and other walkable towns are also nearby. There are also great beaches like:

If this sounds like an appealing area for your retirement, then let’s explore Route 9 and take a look at some 55+ communities near this thoroughfare.

Route 9: A Hub for Active Living

Aerial view of the Pulaski Skyway (US Route 1/9) at sunset.
Image provided by Erin Donahue Photography / Shutterstock.com

Some of the most-traveled roads in Central New Jersey include the Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway, and I-95. But none cover as much of the Garden State as Route 9 in New Jersey. It begins way up north to Fort Lee and heads south almost 167 miles to Cape May. NJ.com calls it the “state’s liveliest highway,” and for good reason. Active adults can take advantage of the landmarks on the way and avoid the heavier traffic on those other main arteries. There are also many NJ 55+ communities easily accessible from Route 9, particularly in Central New Jersey.

After Route 9 winds its way out of North Jersey, it passes by Newark Liberty International Airport, a Budweiser plant, and heads into the Elizabeth-to-Rahway corridor. There, you’ll find a thriving stretch of pizzerias, diners, motels, and gas stations. Next up is the Woodbridge Center shopping mall, with 1,633,000 square feet of retail stores and services.

Continuing south on Route 9, you’ll encounter many more of Jersey’s best diners as well as more shopping malls and big-box stores. This section of Route 9 is also known for its kitschy store names, like Your Bag Lady, The Pet Asylum, and Male Ego Barber Spa.

Things open up as you approach the heart of NJ, driving through Howell Township and then Lakewood. Just after Toms River, you can hop on the Parkway or continue on Route 9 as it runs parallel to the scenic Jersey Shore coastline. Double Trouble State Park is to the west and features historical landmarks and outdoor activities as well as cranberry bogs. Then, from Atlantic City to Cape May, you can hop off and head toward the casinos and beaches.

Historical Significance of Route 9

View of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry in Cape May, New Jersey.
Image provided by EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Route 9 offers the best representation of everything that makes New Jersey what it is—a small state that offers something for everyone. You have mountains and urban landscapes in the north; pinelands, diners, and strip malls in the middle; and nearby beaches in the south. No doubt about it—Route 9 has it all covered.

This long road is also historically significant. Many people think it ends at Delaware Bay, but it turns into a maritime route, courtesy of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. A few years back, it received a MARAD (United States Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration) designation. The agency named Delaware Bay crossing part of the country’s M95 Marine Highway—in other words, it becomes a marine equivalent of I-95. That means Route 9 is one of just two U.S. Highways connected by a maritime component.

Accessibility and Proximity to Essential Services

View of Newark Liberty International Airport.
Image provided by EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Route 9 is accessible from Newark Airport, with smaller nearby ones like Trenton-Mercer and Ocean County Airport. Top hospitals close to Route 9 in Central Jersey include Robert Wood Johnson and Hackensack Meridian Health. Active adults in 55+ communities in the region also have the option of traveling to Philly or New York City for medical care.

It’s not possible to list all of Route 9’s conveniences, restaurants, and roadside attractions here, but this road has every type of store, service, and outlet imaginable. It also connects to main highways but doesn’t have the major traffic of a three- or four-lane road. But since this is New Jersey, expect to pay tolls when entering and exiting those highways.

Route 9 Attractions in Central NJ

The towpath along the Delaware-Raritan canal in Princeton, New Jersey.

There are many indoor and outdoor attractions in the region, and most aren’t far from Route 9. 

Other Central Jersey attractions not far from Route 9 include:

55+ Communities Along Route 9

Looking for NJ 55+ communities? There are close to 300 active adult neighborhoods in the state, and some of our favorites are in Central Jersey. Below, we’ve highlighted a selection of these communities in both Monmouth and Middlesex Counties.

Monmouth County Active Adult Communities

Four Seasons at Monmouth Woods – Howell, NJ

Mid $500ks – High $600ks
Exterior view of a house in Four Seasons at Monmouth Woods, one of many NJ 55+ communities.

Completed in 2020, this upscale, gated 55+ community has 251 resale single-family homes built by K. Hovnanian. The 12 floor plans range from 1,747 to 3,664 square feet, with two to three bedrooms and bathrooms as well as attached two-car garages. These lovely homes also have designer features like granite countertops and oversized walk-in closets.

The resort-like amenities include a fitness center, an activities director, an outdoor pool, golf practice facilities, and tennis courts. Additionally, the community’s homeowners’ association (HOA) fees provide for trash and snow removal, lawn mowing, and common area maintenance.

Riviera at Freehold – Freehold Township, NJ

High $400ks – Mid $600ks
The outdoor pool at Riviera at Freehold in Freehold Township, New Jersey.

Surrounded by greenspaces, trees, and lakes, Riviera at Freehold is a gated active adult community with 300 resale homes. The sizes range from 1,885 and 2,170 square feet, with two to four bedrooms and two to three bathrooms as well as two-car garages. Look for features like gas fireplaces, 10-foot ceilings, and stainless steel appliances in these spacious homes.

The HOA fees cover snow and trash removal as well as upkeep of Riviera’s 11,000-square-foot clubhouse. Some of the most popular amenities include indoor and outdoor pools, an aerobics studio, golf practice facilities, and walking and biking trails.

The Villages NJ – Howell, NJ

Low $200ks – Low $300ks
The community sign for The Villages NJ in Howell, New Jersey.

Designed for downsizing, this close-knit community has 670 attached resale homes and low property taxes. Residents enjoy the outdoor pool, fitness center, and sports courts; there’s also a community transit bus for homeowners.

The Villages NJ is also known for its many clubs and activities, like movie nights, yoga, holiday parties, line dancing, and the Theatre Club. This popular neighborhood is on the eastern side of Route 9, close to a grocery store, pharmacy, and Dunkin Donuts.

Surrey Downs – Freehold, NJ

Mid $200ks – Mid $300ks
Exterior view of a home in Surrey Downs in Freehold, New Jersey.

With 443 resale single-family homes and affordable home prices, Surrey Downs could be just what you’ve been looking for. There are 13 resale models ranging from 760 to 1,383 square feet, with two bedrooms and one to two bathrooms. Many of these cozy homes also feature garages, lofts, Florida rooms, and upgraded kitchens. 

Surrey Downs has a friendly clubhouse and amenity center, with an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and sports courts. There’s also a ballroom for special events as well as a community shuttle bus. Additionally, the HOA fees include lawn care, snow removal, trash pick up, and common area maintenance.

Regency at Freehold – Freehold, NJ

High $800ks – Mid $1Ms
Exterior view of a house in Regency at Freehold, one of many NJ 55+ communities.

If you’re looking for new construction in Central NJ, Regency at Freehold is a smaller property that will have 102 new luxury single-family homes when work is completed. The eight floor plans are sized from 1,688 to 2,679 square feet, with two to four bedrooms and bathrooms as well as attached two- or three-car garages.

These stunning homes offer first-floor master suites and spa-like master bathrooms. Options also include covered backyard patios, finished basements, two-story great rooms, and gourmet kitchens with center islands. The HOA fees cover snow removal, lawn care, and clubhouse maintenance.

Renaissance at Manalapan – Manalapan, NJ

High $400ks – Low $500ks
Exterior view of a house in Renaissance at Manalapan, one of many NJ 55+ communities.

A stand-out choice among NJ 55+ communities, this gated community offers 127 resale single-family homes with seven models sized from 1,598 to 2,422 square feet. They also offer two to three bedrooms, two to three bathrooms, and attached one- or two-car garages. You’ll see features like hardwood floors, lofts, basements, and room extensions in these appealing homes.

Renaissance at Manalapan has a welcoming clubhouse with an outdoor pool, a fitness center, tennis courts, and a ballroom. It’s also within walking distance of bus transportation and local stores. Additionally, the community’s HOA fees provide for trash pickup, snow removal, and grounds maintenance.

Marlboro Greens – Englishtown, NJ

High $100ks – Low $400ks
The outdoor pool at Marlboro Greens, one of many NJ 55+ communities.

Marlboro Greens is the ultimate in low-maintenance living, with 341 resale attached homes and condos. This gated community has six condo models ranging from 1,000 to 1,500 square feet. Also, if you prefer townhomes, there are four models sized from 1,200 to 1,500 square feet.

Additionally, this community is conveniently located next to Pine Brook Golf Course, an 18-hole, par 61 executive-length facility. Marlboro Greens has its own clubhouse for residents, with a fitness center, an outdoor pool, sports courts, and meeting rooms.

Covered Bridge – Manalapan, NJ

Low $200ks – Mid $300ks
The community sign for Covered Bridge, one of many NJ 55+ communities.

This neighborhood primarily consists of condos in buildings of eight to ten units. The condos offer two bedrooms with one or two baths, and there’s a limited number of attached one-level ranch units as well. Features to look for include screened-in porches, walk-in closets, and eat-in kitchens.

Covered Bridge is also close to Pine Brook Golf Course and has its own clubhouse with a host of amenities for residents. You’ll also see gardening plots, a movie theater, and an outdoor pool. Residents have a choice of participating in over 50 social and activity clubs.

Middlesex County Active Adult Communities

Madison Crossing at Birch Hill – Old Bridge, NJ

Low $400ks – Mid $500ks
The landscaped grounds of Madison Crossing at Birch Hill in Old Bridge, New Jersey.

Want to explore more NJ 55+ communities? Let’s head north to Middlesex County. Madison Crossing at Birch Hill is a gated 55+ community with 228 resale condos and attached homes. You can choose from condo apartments, villas, or townhomes offering from 1,220 to 3,376 square feet. 

The condos have two to three bedrooms, two baths, and underground parking as well as additional storage space. The ten villa floor plans have up to three bedrooms, with first-floor master suites, loft spaces, full basements, and one- or two-car garages. The three-story townhomes have two bedrooms, with luxury owner’s suites and master baths. This neighborhood also has a lovely clubhouse with an outdoor pool and a fitness center.

Plaza Grande at Old Bridge – Old Bridge, NJ

Mid $200ks – Mid $400ks
Exterior view of a community building at Plaza Grande at Old Bridge in Old Bridge, New Jersey.

This cozy community was completed in 2007 with 279 condos for low-maintenance living. It’s close to shops, golf courses, and popular attractions like Mercer County Waterfront Park and many Jersey Shore towns.

The condos come in nine floor plans and range from 1,100 to around 1,800 square feet, with two bedrooms and baths. They’re housed in three-story, elevator-access buildings with features like terraces or balconies. Additionally, many have upgraded kitchens and bathrooms. This condo community also has desirable amenities, like an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and scenic lakes and ponds on the property.

Shoregate – South Amboy, NJ

High $100ks – High $200ks
Views of the water from Shoregate in South Amboy, New Jersey.

Where can active adults find waterfront homes priced under $200k? At Shoregate in South Amboy. The 114 condos in this community range from 520 to 990 square feet, with one to two bedrooms and one to one-and-a-half bathrooms as well as assigned parking spaces. Some of these units also offer waterfront views, in-unit washers and dryers, and private patios.

Shoregate is on the smaller side but offers a library, a demonstration kitchen, an activity room, and a community transit service. Residents get together for parties and card games and pay a reasonable HOA fee that covers common area maintenance. Additionally, Shoregate is only eight miles from New York City and conveniently located near restaurants, banks, and the Newark International Airport.

55places Can Help You Explore NJ 55+ Communities!

New Jersey’s central counties have some of the finest 55+ neighborhoods in the state with access to everything retirees need. We encourage you to explore Route 9 in New Jersey to see if the area is right for you. Need some help? 55places is here for you! Contact 55places.com today to learn more about NJ 55+ communities with homes for sale.

Discover what’s next.

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Can you spot the $207,744 difference between these identical homes?

Financing is the difference!

Get the details in The 62+ Loan Homebuyers Guide.

55places Mortgage is a joint venture between Mutual of Omaha Mortgage and 55places.com.
Details here.

We're here to help! (800) 928-2055

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I agree that 55places and its affiliates, partner providers or agents may call, text, or email me about my inquiry, which may be made with automated means. I understand that my consent is not a prerequisite for buying a property. I may revoke my consent at any time by contacting optout@55places.com. Message/data rates may apply. I also agree to 55places.com’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

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