In February 2005, we surveyed 650 homeowners in Middlesex County, NJ, to determine the relative importance of property taxes, crime, physical decay, and other negative factors in resident‐declared decisions to leave their homes and neighborhoods. We also asked about positive attributes and inertial forces that keep people in their neighborhoods.
Respondents most often cited high property taxes as the factor that would “very likely” cause them to leave. Fourteen percent said they would leave for this reason versus 4 percent because of “motor vehicle noise and heavy traffic”—the second most frequently mentioned factor. Notably, those likely to leave because of property taxes were disproportionately 45 to 64 years old, were college graduates and relatively affluent, and had no children living at home. They rated their neighborhoods as high quality, but did not depend on local services. We consider policy options for retaining this group.