The commute within 1/2 hour from South Plainfield will have to be by car. South Plainfield has relatively easy access to Rte 287 which is the closest major corridor that travels north and south. It's a bit more tricky to get to the GSP or the Turnpike.
Depending on your price range, there are several towns that can meet you commuting and schooling needs.
I can recommend New Providence and Berkeley Heights , Scotch Plains, Westfield , Fanwood and Clark, in Union Cty, all have high ranked schools. All have the semi-suburban look I think you are referring to as well as being close enough to South Plainfield without ever having to get on a highway to get to and from work (and definitely within the 1/2 hour commute time).
I am familiar with working with relocation buyers, and first time buyers too (if that's your situation), and since I work in these areas no need to use another agent for a referral.
Feel free to give me a call at 908-675-0167 so we can chat about what you need and I can give you more information. I look forward to you call.
I work in Essex, Passaic and Bergen counties, my office is in Clifton.
unless there is another reason for you to be in the Clifton area it is not a pleasant commute to South Plainfield from here. Better commute areas to South Planfield is Union county. There are a lot of towns with good schools in Union.
I would like to send you a free buyers guide that can help you with the home buying processs in NJ.
I can also set you up with an excellent agent that can help you in Union and South Plainfield area.
I assume schools are very important since you have 2 boys. I would reccomend areas like Verona, Cedar Grove which have very good school systems. You'd be about 35-45 minutes from Plainfield. There's also East Hanover which is great also. If you want more of a country atmosphere you may consider Hillsborough or Gladstone. If you'd like to please provide me with some specifics and I'll do a search for you. Feel free to reach me on my email email@example.com
Best of luck