From the Press of Atlantic City:
Robert Bruni’s dream of buying a house and owning a burger joint or deli fell victim to what he said was the high cost of real estate in Gloucester County.
So Bruni left Franklin Township and crossed the border into Cumberland County, where he bought a building on High Street in downtown Millville.
The first floor of the building, for which Bruni wouldn’t supply a price, is now Bruni’s Breakfast & Burgers. The upper floors contain his two-bedroom residence.
“It was much more affordable,” the 28-year-old Bruni said of property in Cumberland County, adding the real estate costs in Gloucester County were so high that “I just stopped looking at the prices.”
Real estate and economic experts say Bruni’s search for a less expensive place to live in a still-troubled South Jersey economy may be one indicator of why U.S. Census Bureau numbers show a population migration to Cumberland County from nearby counties.
Those county-to-county numbers indicate 1,435 more people moved into Cumberland County than moved out from 2010 to 2014. Many of those new residents came from Atlantic, Burlington, Camden and Cape May counties.
The census numbers show an opposite trend in Atlantic, Cape May and Ocean counties.
“My guess would be that the rentals are cheaper,” said Richard Perniciaro, director of the Center for Regional and Business Research at Atlantic Cape Community College. “In Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May, the rents have remained relatively high in relation to income.”
That could be especially true for some of the 571 Atlantic County residents who moved to Cumberland County from 2010 to 2014, Pernicaro said. Some of those residents were likely stung by an Atlantic County economy hurt by the Atlantic City casino industry’s decline, he said.
“If you are uncertain about your future, you might as well be where you can live the cheapest,” he said.
Census figures put the median monthly gross rent in Cumberland County at $978. That’s less than the rents in Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties and the state.