Not every New Jerseyan packs up and moves to Florida to spend the twilight years. Some choose to grow old in Sussex County: Walpack, to be exact.
The sparsely populated 25-square mile township along the Delaware River is mostly national parkland today, with those residents remaining — all 17 of them — old enough to give Walpack the distinction of having the oldest population in New Jersey, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey.
1. Walpack. Median age: 83.1 years
Women outnumber men almost 2-to-1 and of the 11 women living in the township, five are between ages 80 and 84, with two age 85 or older. By contrast, the six men are almost babes, with a median age of 58.8 years.
2. Tavistock. Median age: 70.5 years
Even smaller than Walpack — in fact, the least populous community in the state — Tavistock is essentially a golf course of less than 3/10 of a square mile with a handful of residents. Evenly divided between the sexes, this Camden County community has two male residents in their early 70s and two females in their late 60s.
3. Pine Valley. Median age: 70.1 years
This is another municipality whose median age is post-retirement due in large part to its very small population. Another Camden golf community, the square-mile Pine Valley is positively crowded compared to Tavistock with a nearly identical age and sex breakdown: there are seven men, all in their early 70s, and five women in their late 60s.
4. Manchester Township, Median age: 65.6 years
The first municipality of any size, Manchester starts the expected domination of Jersey Shore communities on the list. This Ocean County township of about 43,000 is the largest on the list of 10 oldest municipalities and has a diverse population of all ages. But because it is also home to a number of retirement communities, it has a large number of senior citizens and an impressive tally of the very senior, with almost 1,400 men and nearly 2,500 women age 85 and older.
5. Cape May Point. Median age: 65.5 years
Just a hair younger, this southernmost municipality in New Jersey is part-vacation resort, part-retirement age community. Home of the historic Cape May Lighthouse, the point has a population of about 120. A plurality of men are age 85 and older, while the women are somewhat younger — most fall in the 50-54 and 70-74 ranges.
6. Harvey Cedars. Median age: 63.8 years
This is the first preretirement age median on the list. This wealthy Shore community on Long Beach Island in Ocean County is partly named for the trees that used to dominate its landscape. Its year-round population of 521 — many more spend the summer there — is flush with residents in their late 60s and 70s.
7. Stone Harbor. Median age: 62.2 years
Located at the southern tip of Seven Mile Island in Cape May County, Stone Harbor is another wealthy shore community with a relatively small year-round population of 828 that balloons, according to iLoveStoneHarbor.com, to more than 25,000 in the summer. The census estimates that nearly 20 percent of the resident population is 80 and older.
8. Surf City. Median age: 61.9 years
While not the subject of the song made famous by Jan and Dean, the name still conjures images of sand and waves and that is appropriate, since Surf City sits on Long Beach Island in Ocean County. This square-mile borough has a population of 1,393 and four of every 10 residents is officially a senior citizen (age 65 and older).
9. Mantoloking. Median age: 61.5 years
This shore community in northern Ocean County became a symbol of the devastation of superstorm Sandy, which cut a new channel through it from the Metedeconk River to the Atlantic Ocean and destroyed dozens of expensive homes. It turns out Mantoloking’s population of 414 is not only among the state’s wealthiest, but also among its oldest.
10. Berkeley Township. Median age: 61.1 years.
The largest community on the list at 56 square miles, Berkeley, like Manchester, has a sizeable, diverse population whose median age is influenced by a number of adult communities, including several with the name Holiday City, within its borders. Among its 41,358 inhabitants, Berkeley’s women are significantly older than its men — a median age of 64 years vs. 56.2 years — which helped the township earn the ranking of 10th oldest population in New Jersey.