A blue sky over a wooden fence leading to the shoreline at Bayshore Waterfront Park in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Central New Jersey is the place to be for picturesque scenery, historical landmarks, and affordable active adult housing.

If living close to major urban centers, historical landmarks, and beautiful scenery are on your list of must-haves, Central New Jersey could be the perfect place for you to find the right active adult neighborhood. This region offers 103 retirement communities with new and resale homes at all different sizes and price points.

This part of the Garden State starts at the New York Harbor and Lower Hudson River and extends down to Trenton and the Delaware River. Its five counties are all near New York, Philadelphia, and parts of Delaware, so you'll be near major international airports, big cities, and the Jersey beaches. Central NJ is also known for its world-class universities like Rutgers and Princeton, plus outstanding hospitals like Robert Wood Johnson and Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

New Jersey’s cost of living is higher on average than other states because it's close to two of the country’s biggest cities and all that they offer. Even so, you can still find homes for sale in Central New Jersey that are sparingly affordable, some with resort-like amenities. Here are five to get you started.

Shadow Lake Village - Red Bank, NJ

Low $100s - Mid $300s

Monmouth County’s Shadow Lake Village is an established, gated community of 952 resale attached homes. Its 14 floor plans are sized from 909 to 1,391 square feet with one to two bedrooms, one to two bathrooms, and garages or parking spots. Some models include dens, screened-in porches, and patios. The homeowners’ association fees cover trash and snow removal plus the use of a community shuttle.

Shadow Lake Village’s community clubhouse is a hub for activity, with a multi-purpose room, a fitness center, and a sauna. Outdoor perks include walking trails, a fishing lake, tennis, bocce, and an outdoor pool. Homeowners also spend quality time attending book club, the Kiwanis, golf outings, and pet club gatherings.

The Villages - Howell, NJ

Low $100s - High $200s

Also in Monmouth County, The Villages is our second choice for an affordable established active adult neighborhood with sought-after amenities. The community was completed with 670 resale attached homes, and it has five models ranging from 952 to 1,545 square feet. These comfortable ranch homes have one to two bedrooms, one to two bathrooms, and most units are located in the 165 buildings on the property. Some of these townhomes include garages, remodeled kitchens, and sunrooms. The monthly HOA fee provides for trash and snow removal, pest control, and common grounds landscaping.

There's a wide variety of clubs and activities for residents, like a walking club, lectures, day trips, holiday parties, and The Villages Hospital Auxiliary Club. Many meet at the community clubhouse, which also has a fitness center, a ballroom, woodworking and hobby rooms, an outdoor pool, plus tennis and bocce courts.

Surrey Downs - Freehold, NJ

Mid $100s - Mid $200s

This mid-sized active adult neighborhood was completed in 1997. It has 443 resale single-family homes and similar features to The Villages and Shadow Lake Village. There are a dozen floor plans ranging from 760 to 1,383 square feet with one to two bedrooms and bathrooms. Options include lofts, garages, Florida rooms, upgraded kitchens, enclosed porches, and decks. The reasonable HOA fee is in place for lawn care, snow and trash removal, and common area maintenance.

Surrey Downs has a lovely clubhouse with desirable amenities like an outdoor pool, tennis and bocce courts, a fitness center with an indoor Jacuzzi, and activity rooms. Friends gather here and off-site for men’s club meetings, ceramics, ping pong games, yoga, and the popular travel club.

Greenbriar - Monroe, NJ

High $100s - Low $400s

This vibrant 55+ neighborhood of 1,194 resale attached and single-family homes is in Middlesex County on a sprawling, gated property next to its sister community, Whittingham. Greenbriar was completed in 2001, and the two share a 30,000-square-foot clubhouse.

Greenbriar has a total of 15 duplex and single-family models ranging from 1,672 to over 2,600 square feet with two to three bedrooms, one-and-a-half to three bathrooms, and one- or two-car garages. Some models also include dens, basements, skylights, tray ceilings, patios, and other desirable options. The community’s HOA fee covers snow and trash removal as well as other services.

The resort-style amenities include a 9-hole golf course, the Tap Room restaurant, an exercise room, an indoor walking track, indoor and outdoor pools, craft rooms, activity rooms, a ballroom, plus basketball, pickleball, and tennis courts. There's also a community garden and RV parking, plus dozens of clubs, activities, and year-round events. Greenbriar’s full-time activities director ensures that the social calendar is full and keeps everything organized for residents.

The Club at East Brunswick - East Brunswick, NJ

Low $100s - Mid $200s

More modest in size, this Middlesex County retirement community offers 368 resale condo and attached homes, and it's in an excellent location for commuting to North Jersey or New York. The Club at East Brunswick’s three low-maintenance condo models range from 1,032 to 1,125 square feet with one or two bedrooms and bathrooms. The attached models are sized from 1,074 to 1,228 square feet and offer two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and detached one-car garages.

The private community clubhouse offers activity rooms, an exercise room, bocce and tennis courts, plus an outdoor pool and patio. There's also a greenhouse and garden area for green thumbs to enjoy. Groups also get together for golf, day trips, card games, and shuffleboard, and the HOA fee provides for trash and snow removal and grounds maintenance.