Cape May, New Jersey is a popular retirement community for people who enjoy the beach, fishing, and a Victorian setting. This beach community (4,000 year round residents, 40,000 seasonal population) at the bottom of New Jersey has long been famous for its stock of Victorian homes. The town has capitalized on this fame with an intelligent redevelopment plan that has given it an attractive pedestrian shopping center that attracts tourists all year long. Its nickname is "The Nation's Oldest Seashore Resort".
One of the attractions for active adults 55+ is the ability to live in and/or restore an elegant Victorian home that is within a few steps of the world famous New Jersey beaches. Cape May became was considered one of the finest resorts in America by the 19th century. A fire in the late 1800's wiped out 30 acres of the town center, which were rebuilt almost exclusively in the Victorian Style. Today it has the second largest collection of Victorian-era homes in the nation after San Francisco. In 1976 the entire city was officially designated a National Historic Landmark city. Since the downtown is so nice, it is possible to avoid having to drive one’s car for days on end. On the outskirts of town there are some newer developments and active adult communities that cater to the newly retired. Photo of Beach Avenue, from the sea, courtesy of Wikipedia and Smallbones (public domain).
Watch this short Youtube video prepared by Philip Pizzi:
Where to Retire in Cape May and Home Prices
The retirement community housing choices are somewhat limited in town, mostly in the form of private homes or mobile homes. Real estate is quite expensive. According to Zillow.com, the median home value was about $416,096 in late 2020.
What is Special about Cape May
• Unique collection of Victorian homes • Interesting downtown • A livable small city • A top birding area • It is the only place where the entire city has been listed as the entire city of Cape May was officially designated a National Historic Landmark • Annual Cape May Literary Festival • The Travel Channel named it one of Top 10 Beaches in USA
What is Not Special about Cape May
It is somewhat remote. Crowded in summer, lonely in winter.
The economy is driven by tourism. It is the first stop over the New Jersey border and the gateway to the resorts in the area.
Climate and Physical Environment
Cape May New Jersey is at the very bottom of New Jersey on the Atlantic Ocean. It is on a coastal plain with many waterways and bays.
Restaurants & Cultural Scene
Annual Cape May Literary Festival. The town hosts the Cape May Jazz Festival, the Cape May Music Festival and the Cape May Film Festival. Cape May Stage, performs at the Robert Shackleton Playhouse. East Lynne Theater Company and the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts. Birding is an important activity in Cape May.
The crime rate in Cape May is just below the national average.
Burdete Tomlin Memorial Hospital is 12 miles away
Atlantic City International Airport is 43 miles away; Cape May is below average in walkability when compared to other towns.
Keep in mind that NJ is one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S. because of taxation. Another negative is the unbearable humidity and mosquitos.
Posted by RetCop on July 29, 2015
cape may is nice, expensive and changing
I have lived on the Jersey Shore since 1969. I now live here year round. The City of Cape may is very expensive as well as Cape May Point, Ocean City, Sea Isle City, Avalon, Stone Harbor and parts of the Wildwoods. These are the coastal towns. Lower Twp and Middle Twp are along the bay and offer housing for your 2b/2b under $300k. It is a great place in the summer and Cape May offers great restaurants and theaters about 8 months a year. After the holidays the seniors go to Florida. The census just list Cape May County the poorest in NJ. About 60% on the homes are summer homes owned by those in the Phila area. The 65+ group is about 20% of the population and has been decreasing over the last 10 years.
Posted by pat66 on February 12, 2011
Yes, there is no doubt that Cape May is expensive. But the fact that prices in the area have held up in spite of this recession, which is definitely NOT the case in most second home areas, speaks well for how well liked Cape May is. Here is what one of my friends said about Cape May: "If you retire here it is because you have owned a summer home for many years. Most of us have grown up spending our summers at the Jersey Shore. It's a strong attachment."
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