These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In New Jersey For 2018

We used science and data to determine which cities in NJ are really ghetto.

This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out.

There are lots of people who throw the term ‘ghetto’ around. But which of New Jersey’s largest cities are the most ghetto of all?

How do you decide if a place is ghetto or not? You ask the internet. According to the Urban Dictionary, a ghetto is defined as:

“urban; of or relating to (inner) city life” and “poor; of or relating to the poor life.”

Using that criteria, it’s not hard to scrape the internet, run some scientific data on where ghettos might exist in a state and then put out a list.

After analyzing all cities with 10,000 people or more, we came up with this list as the most ghetto places in New Jersey:

  1. Camden (Photos)
  2. Newark (Photos)
  3. Passaic (Photos)
  4. Paterson (Photos)
  5. Asbury Park (Photos)
  6. Atlantic City (Photos)
  7. Trenton (Photos)
  8. Bridgeton (Photos)
  9. East Orange (Photos)
  10. Jersey City (Photos)

Read on below to see where your hometown ranked and why.

Note: We’re aware that there are more ‘ghetto’ cities that are smaller than 10,000. We wanted to rank only the largest cities here for a more clear indication of which major city centers are ghettos. Therefore, it’s assumed that the cities above (and their suburbs) are more ghetto than the larger cities not listed here.


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What ghetto criteria did we use?

In order to rank the most ghetto places in New Jersey, we had to determine what criteria defines a ghetto city or neighborhood.

Since a ghetto is defined as a poor area, we used income levels, crime and education levels as a guide to determine where the most broke citizens of a state live.

Additionally, the staples of inner city life include cheap and discounted retail outlets.

We started by making a list of every place in New Jersey with more than 10,000 people based on the 2013 American Community Survey. That left us with more than 200 places in the Garden State.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using Yelp and Area Vibes, this is the criteria we used:

  • Household income levels
  • High school graduation rates
  • Number of convenience stores
  • Number of drug stores
  • Number of discount stores
  • Crime

Note: For the sake of getting reliable numbers, we counted places within a city’s border, as well as within a short driving distance.

All of these results are listed in a per capita basis. Meaning number of stores per person in a state. Additionally, high school graduation rates are determined by looking at the total number of people who live in a city, not the current graduation rate of an area’s high schools.

For more New Jersey reading, check out:


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1. Camden

Income: $26,705
Drop out rate: 41%
Crime: 3rd highest

Let’s just end this debate right now. Camden is by far the worst ghetto in New Jersey. In fact, it might be the worst ghetto in the country.

Internet research saw people calling Camden “New Jersey’s shittiest shit hole”, the New York Times called it the poorest city in America.

Most families here struggle to meet their basic needs. 40% live below the poverty line. And it’s the third most dangerous place in the state. There were ‘only’ 38 murders here in 2014, which is down from 58 the year before. Hurray!

We could go on and on. You get it. You already know this place is ghetto.

2. Newark

Income: $34,382
Drop out rate: 34%
Crime: 8th worst

Things aren’t too much better in Newark, New Jersey’s second worst ghetto. Incomes are higher, and crime is a little better. But wow – 112 murders here in 2013 means someone was killed here about every three days.

You have ‘only’ a 1 in 31 chance of being robbed for every year you spend in Newark.

Newark used to have a store called Ghetto Fabulous, but sadly, it’s closed now.

Newark led the way with Tweets mentioning #ghetto.

Someone said this: “it’s kinda cool how ghetto newark is. “

3. Passaic

Income: $31,266
Drug stores: 12th most
High school dropout rate: 40%

For those who don’t know, Passaic is a jam packed city in the Paterson/Newark area where you will see lots of people struggling to make ends meet.

The income levels here are the 4th lowest in the state, and there aren’t many other places in New Jersey – or in the country – with a more uneducated population.

And the number of drug stores per capita is really high here. Sociologists have indicated that drug and discount stores are a staple of inner city life.

4. Paterson

Income: $33,583
Drop out rate: 32%
Crime: 5th highest

Paterson is right up there when you look at the ghetto numbers. Crime is abysmally high here; the city saw 18 murders two years ago, and if you spent a year in Paterson, you’d have a 1 in 93 chance of being killed, attacked or raped. Not fun.

Twitter blew up with Paterson ghetto Tweets.

“Going to work in the ghetto today of good old Paterson New Jersey. Nothing better than section 8 housing.”

5. Asbury Park

Income: $32,694
Drop out rate: 27%
Crime: 2nd highest

If you thought crime was bad in Paterson, it’s even worse here in Asbury Park, according to the FBI. This small city of 15,000 people on the shoreline saw 6 murders in 2013. Plus, there were 842 robberies/arsons here that year.

According to Wikipedia, the downtown area is going through an economic revival, and the dilapidated downtown district is undergoing a revitalization effort, as are the empty blocks just off the boardwalk area.

6. Atlantic City

Income: $29,866
Drop out rate: 35%
Crime: Highest

Sure, lots of the robberies that happen in Atlantic City are related to the tourism industry, but statistically, this is the most dangerous place in the state, when you factor in the high number of property crimes that happen here.

This is one of the brokest, most uneducated sore spots in New Jersey. The unemployment rate here is a staggering 15%, which is one of the highest rates you’ll see in the United States.

Twitter had lots to say about how ghetto Atlantic City is:

“Atlantic City NJ is still largely a ghetto nearly 40 years since the 1st casino. Thank you Donald Trump. “

7. Trenton

Income: $36,727
Drop out rate: 35%
Crime: 3rd highest

Trenton is where criminals prey on the unsuspecting, and more likely, on each other. This place is notorious for crime – in fact there were 37 murders here in 2013, which is just about as many as Camden.

A quarter of the population lives below the poverty line, and there are just about more drug stores packed into Trenton than there are anywhere else in the state.

Like many of the other cities on this list, Trenton was hit hard when manufacturing and industrial centers declined in the 1970s.

8. Bridgeton

Income: $36,765
Drop out rate: 46%
Crime: 4th highest

There are more people walking around Bridgeton, New Jersey without a decent education than pretty much anywhere else in the United States. At least in places with a decent-sized population.

Internet forums were filled with people dogging Bridgeton for being one ghetto place. Here’s an example of a comment we plucked from City Data.

“If you like high taxes, a one party government, mobs of illegal aliens, rude people, and a ghetto mentality, Bridgeton is perfect for you. It’s Gang Land, Drug central, Dirty, NO JOBS, filled with GUN wielding thugs, and a piss poor police department. IT’S A NIGHTMARE!!!!!”

Uh, okay.

9. East Orange

Income: $38,282
Drop out rate: 20%
Discount stores: 14th worst

The other Oranges (West and South) are apparently pretty decent, but East Orange is pretty ghetto when you look at the numbers.

Incomes are really low, and crime is bad. According to folks on City Data, East Orange has high crime, and is very unsafe, day or night. Twitter agreed.

“I hate the ghetto east orange kills me”

10. Jersey City

Income: $58,304
Drop out rate: 18%
Crime: 13th worst

Jersey City is one of the largest cities in New Jersey, and can make a claim that it has one of the highest populations of ‘ghetto’ people. While there are nice places here, there are also large pockets that are really bad.

While a 1 in 52 chance of being robbed doesn’t sound bad, a lot of that is concentrated in certain areas. Places you don’t want to go into at night for sure.

Said Twitter: “If you go on, you see nothing but shootings in jersey city, why y’all so proud to be ghetto”

There You Have It

If you’re measuring the locations in New Jersey where there are a high number of poor and uneducated residents, and where there are a high number of discounted shopping stores, this is an accurate list.

Additionally, here are the least ghetto places in New Jersey:

  1. Haddonfield
  2. Upper Montclair
  3. Ramsey
  4. Westfield
  5. Hoboken

We also wrote about the 10 Most Redneck Cities In New Jersey if you didn’t happen to see it. Click here to read it.

Desktop users, below is a ghetto ranking chart of all large cities in New Jersey, along with their crime numbers:

City Crime Rank
camden 94.9 1
newark 81.4 2
passaic 78.2 3
paterson 82.8 4
asbury park 95.6 5
atlantic city 95.9 6
trenton 91.2 7
bridgeton 88.8 8
east orange 69.3 9
jersey city 69.4 10
holiday city-berkeley 4.9 11
palisades park 34.7 12
harrison 48.7 12
browns mills 40.5 14
crestwood village 8 15
west new york 54.1 16
paulsboro 51.1 17
plainfield 82.2 18
newton 24.8 18
little ferry 25.7 20
elizabeth 83.7 21
dover 43.7 22
lindenwold 71.2 23
new brunswick 66.9 24
carneys point 40.7 25
union city 56.8 26
vineland 54.4 27
pomona 31.4 28
perth amboy 56.1 29
lodi 35.2 30
ridgefield 28.5 31
hackensack 47.5 32
avenel 40 33
long branch 52.8 34
east franklin 51.4 35
clementon 52.2 36
kearny 46.8 37
bound brook 39.7 38
guttenberg 53.6 39
millville 63.2 40
iselin 22.4 40
linden 50.4 42
wharton 31 43
lakewood 39 44
carteret 45.1 45
hammonton 38 46
keyport 37.9 47
fords 26.1 48
haledon 43 49
north plainfield 49.9 50
freehold 56.9 51
leonia 17 52
prospect park 46.4 53
rahway 52.4 54
new milford 19 55
madison park 45.8 55
ventnor city 44.3 57
wildwood 84 58
bellmawr 39.5 59
burlington 59.1 60
phillipsburg 52.9 61
clifton 37.4 61
twin rivers 29.6 63
garfield 40.5 64
woodbury 55.7 65
pine lake park 24.5 66
englewood 45 67
williamstown 33.2 68
fort dix 61.4 69
cliffside park 36.8 70
hackettstown 26.7 71
kendall park 15.8 72
south river 43.9 73
norwood 22.1 74
ridgefield park 43 75
hightstown 40.3 76
bayonne 49.2 77
pine hill 58.4 78
echelon 44.2 79
bergenfield 34.1 80
woodbridge 34.4 81
elmwood park 33.5 81
jamesburg 35.1 83
fort lee 30.1 84
clayton 39.2 85
keansburg 55.6 86
northfield 17.6 87
caldwell 20.9 88
gloucester city 47.6 89
wallington 30.7 90
englewood cliffs 10.3 91
red bank 58.7 92
glassboro 45.1 93
maywood 17 94
manville 34.2 95
laurence harbor 26.8 96
barrington 21 97
brigantine 28.9 98
villas 45.2 99
bogota 38.6 100
About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.