Home Buying in Newark>Question Details

Matt, Home Buyer in Brooklyn, NY

Recommendations for good towns in NJ for professional couple with a new baby - decent commute to NYC?

Asked by Matt, Brooklyn, NY Tue Mar 11, 2008

Hello - my wife and I are rather new to the NYC area, having moved up from Virginia two years ago. I work in midtown in the financial sector, and we have a brand new baby girl.

We've outgrown our 2BR in Cobble Hill and have been looking at homes in mid-to-lower Westchester (White Plains and south) but have in general been less than impressed with what 600K buys in the region.

We hadn't really considered NJ but it appears you can get a lot more for the purchase price (even allowing for the PV of the higher taxes) in the area.

We hear that Montclair and other parts of Essex county are nice - are there other areas people recommend for a prof. early 30s couple who want a reasonable commute (< 45 mins ideally), lots of stuff around for mom and baby to do, and a nice community feel? We are looking for a single family home, 3BR, with enough of a backyard for our corgi mix to run around in. Many thanks!

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Hi Mark,
If you work in midtown, in your price range you can get a great house in Maplewood/South Orange. The commute is less than 1/2 hr on the midtown direct. If you go to http://www.garden-state-listings.com you can see everything for sale in these towns. In Millburn, Short HIlls, Summit & Chatham you will find more of a starter home in your price range but they're the next towns on the trainline and are really awesome. The nice thing about any of these towns is that whichever one you live in, you will use them all for shopping, restaurants, etc.. because they're all only 5-15 minutes away from each other. If you need help, this is our area of specialty. Also, I think you will find this blog entry helpful:http://sueadler.blogspot.com/2007/08/moving-to-nj-from-nyc.html
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 22, 2008
I think you should go visit Maplewood/South Orange schools before you get so excited. They had to post the police at the Maplewood library after school because students were so disruptive. They even considered banning them from the libary all together.

The combined high school for the two towns is beyond humongous. I would go walk the halls before you decide to move there.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 5, 2008
As my fellow Morris County colleagues have told you, if you just come a little further west, out of Essex, taxes fall as do home prices. Also, you don't pay the extra mortgage tax you pay in New York. When you say community feel, do you mean you want everything in walking distance or you want to perhaps live in a neighborhood. Morristown, Morris Plains, parts of Denville, Rockaway offer the walk to everything lifestyle. Morristown is trying to another Hoboken, with restaurants and new housing.

Morristown, Morris Plains and Denville have their own train stations. You can go a little further south into Madison, Chatham and the Basking Ridge area but the prices go up the more south you go. Parsippany is a large town area, with lots of shopping but they are main roads and you do need to drive there. The main transportation is bus.

Any of the agents who answered you would like to help you with your house quest: myself included. Feel free to contact me at 973-876-8645. Valerie.Reynolds@cbmoves.com My office is off Rte 287 in Parsippany.
Web Reference: http://marleneginsberg.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 13, 2008
Hi Matt:
There are the popular towns that most New Yorkers hear about that rate as New Jersey's cultural and architecturally prominent hubs and those are, of course, Ridgewood, Montclair, Summit, Westfield and Morristown and Bernardsville. They truly have the town center feeling, often with a green or a significant point which draws interest either with great shops, restaurants or entertainment. Demand can often leave the supply of good homes in these towns waning since the best ones still move off the shelf pretty quickly. Towns that are worth taking a look at are Nutley, Verona, The Caldwells, and in Morris County
Morris Plains and Montville and, interestingly East Hanover which boasts very low taxes but a good school system. If you want to stick to the train lines (the Boonton line) where access to the city is within 45 minutes then the farthest you should venture is Morristown , Convent Station, Madison, Chatham, South Orange or Montville (Towaco area train station), Montclair or Clifton. Check out http://www.njtransit.com for routes but train towns do tend to be a bit pricier.
Check out listings in these towns in your price range:
Or select any town through my Market Snapshot Report:
Contact me for further information
Sandra Bolcar
Broker Associate
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 12, 2008
My family is looking for the same house in the same price range, and I've been doing a lot of research for about a year now. My favorite family town is Glen Rock (great schools, community feel, nice people, nice small walkable downtown). Ridgewood is great too - it has a larger more urban downtown. I agree, Westfield is great. All three towns require changing trains, which you should try to see if it's OK or if it annoys you. Millburn, Summit, Chatham, and Madison are all great family towns as well, and have the benefit of a direct train line (no changing). Upper Montclair is nice, but Montclair's crime rate and schools are nothing to write home about. Denville is too far away - it will take you forever to get to the city.(Another tip - checkout njtransit.com and you can find out station by station what your commute will be like). I also highly recommend checking the train commuter parking situation (waitlist, cost) because it can vary greatly by town. If you're willing to take a bus, Tenafly, Leonia, Cresskill, and Demarest are all nice towns, with some sections that have the 600K price range. Unfortunately, as you've already realized, prices are still insane in our neck of the woods and the quality of life is better in a place like Virginia. But you're right, you get a lot more for your money in Jersey than Westchester or Cobble Hill. Good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 11, 2008
Hey Matt, Glad you found my answer useful. I just went on a listing appt yesterday- walk to mapewood village- a totally renovated adorable home & in your price range. If you're interested, call my cell (973)464-9129.

Sue Adler
#1 Keller Williams Agent NJ 2005,2006,2007
Web Reference: http://www.SueAdler.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 2, 2008
Thanks everyone for the information. We've spent several of the past weekends exploring the different areas and towns in and around Northern NJ and ended up absolutely loving the South Orange/Maplewood areas. Tons of green space, great villages, young friendly families everywhere, and 30-40 mins to Penn Station. We're already looking forward to our move!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 2, 2008
Hi Matt,

I have what you are looking for. Less than 30 minutes to NYC, 3 br. large back yard.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 20, 2008
Monmouth County provides many transportation options for commuting to NYC. A large percentage of the population commutes to NYC via ferry, train, or express bus. Driving is the least efficient. From the Jersey shore, ferry transport to wall street is 35-40 minutes, and 45-50 minutes to midtown.

Monmouth has less density than northern NJ, with a lifestyle option that is a combination of rural, suburban, and casual chic. The outdoor activies and recreation are unsurpassed. Many parks with several programs. Biking trails, jogging trails, hiking, and water based sport activities. Beaches and boardwalks, rivers with many tributaries, and open ocean waters. Boating, wave runners, sailing, windsurfing and more. Outdoor festivals, movies, and concerts. Jazz festivals, car shows, tree lightings, and a hip downtown center at Red Bank. Local theater groups and a strong arts council. You will meet many NYC commuters here who find this a the perfect compliment. We are home to many horse farms, and riding activities are abundant.

If you would like a relo package for our area, please let us know. The package is extensive and contains maps, community guides, park programs and contains many brohcures.

Deborah Madey - Broker
Peninsula Realty Group
732 530 6350
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 17, 2008
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Red Bank, NJ

I personally live and love the town of Marlboro, NJ in Monmouth County. I moved here three years ago and have 2 children. I am very pleased with the area all around and I would strongly consider it for yourselves as well. There are buses near by that all go to NYC with commuter parking lots right there. Please contact me if I can be of help finding a home for you in MY hometown. My email is LeslieT@BHNJ.com. My number is 908-377-8088.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 17, 2008
Hi Matt:
Do hope you got to get out to New Jersey to see some of the communities and counties being mentioned in these posts. If you need community reports on any of the towns you are interested in, I will be happy to send complete demographic information along with school reports - elementary I see.
For out-of-towners, we offer a comprehensive tour of area communities so that you can concentrate on the ones you like. It makes it easier to pare down your search criteria; and when a home arrives on the market in an area you like, we go out an inspect it first for you and send you photos of the unique features along with a critique to help you decide if you want to preview the home yourself. It cuts down on a lot of time seeing homes you may not like.
If you want to hire five great agents instead of one, check us out:
The Cross Keys Team
Sandra Bolcar, Broker Associate
Upper Montclair, NJ
Click here for a market snapshot of towns you like:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 16, 2008
Hi Matt,

Here are some sites where you can find some open houses to visit.



Also, when you search on realtor.com, open house dates are listed for many properties.

One word of advice: When you visit the open house, tell the agent in charge that you are represented. At some point you should interview buyer agents and pick one to represent you, if you haven't already. But if you walk in to an open house and the agent shows you the home, you risk falling into a dual agency, which is a terrible mistake. By the way, consider this post my application for an interview!

By telling the agent you are represented, you reserve the right to retain your own representation at a later date. Just tell the person in charge that you will be using your own buyers agent. Your options are thus protected.

The same holds true for yard signs. Never call the listing agent to schedule a showing. Get your own representative to show you the home. If the listing agent shows you the property, they can claim "proximate cause" and attempt to claim you and the extra commission.

This should be illegal, but it isn't, so beware.

Web Reference: http://www.marcpaolella.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 13, 2008
Thanks for all the input, everyone. Seems like there is a wide variety of places which have many, if not all, of the characteristics we're looking for. We're actually going to come out and drive through some of these towns this coming weekend, drop in a few open houses, and try to get the lay of the land. These places with the midtown direct train are especially nice...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 13, 2008
You have many choices for good communities in Bergen County, and the commute to midtown Manhatten by bus or train is very doable. For a 45 minute or less commute, I would enthusiastically recommend Teaneck, River Edge, Oradell, New Milford, Leonia. All are very nice communities with alot of activities for kids, nice downtowns and parks, and beautiful homes in the $500K-$600K range. If you wouldn't mind a slightly further commute (45 minutes to 1 hour), you could include towns like Emerson, Hillsdale, Closter, Demarest, Glen Rock, Fair Lawn. I would be happy to work with you, I have raised my own family in Teaneck but have sold property in all of these communities. Check out my website and give me a call!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 11, 2008
Ramsey, Allendale, Ridgewood and Glen Rock All have a train and a downtown area - great community feel and good schools. If either of you would like to pursue it further just let me know- I activly work & tour the new inventory in these towns. As far as the train it depends where in the city you work-some transfer but many take it to hoboken and then take the path in-some take the ferry. Easy commute -did it for years...
Web Reference: http://www.bparkes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 11, 2008
Hi Matt,

Ridgewood and Montclair are possibilities, but I think you will honestly be disappointed in the selection in these 2 towns at $600,000. I ran a quick search in Ridgewood from $575,000 to $625,000 and came up with 7 listings, 2 of which were in attorney review, 3 others on busy roads, and 2 very small Capes. Additionally the commute from Ridgewood by train involves a transfer in Secaucus, which can be a hassle. Montclair is gorgeous, but I ran the same search there and only 8 listings came up, 4 of which were on busy roads. It is a direct train in however.

I think you might also want to consider a town like Westfield. It's still upscale with a gorgeous downtown and a great community "feel". It's also a direct train ride into midtown. Prices are "slightly" more manageable. Or, one town over from that is Scotch Plains, where prices are even better and you can still take advantage of Westfield's beautiful downtown without overpaying for its prestige.

I'm also assuming you want to use the train. If you are driving, none of these options are going to be within 45 minutes, more like 60-75 depending on the day.

Matt, I have created 2 reports for you on my blog. One is a complete inventory of all listings in Bergen County from $575,000 to $625,000. This will give you an excellent idea of how far your money will go in each town.

The other is a similar report from Union and Essex Counties. Again, everything listed in a single family detached home from $575,000-$625,000.

Take a look at them and let me know what you think. If you would like to do a tour, we can schedule a couple from each of the best towns and take a ride.

Also click on my photo to learn more about me if you like. Good luck in your home search and maybe we will be welcoming you to New Jersey at some point!

I have posted these reports on my blog:



0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 11, 2008
Welcome to New Jersey.
A terrific area to look at is Morris County. Easy NYC commute via trains, buses and hghwys. Well maintained homes with large lots. Great place to raise a family in communities such as Morris Plains, Morris Twsp. and Denville. (All with NY train stations). In this buyers market you will find a large selection of homes in the price ranges from 350k+
I had left Essex County because of the high taxes and settled in the town of Denville with a downtown very reminiscent of "Mayberry" Great education for my kids and plenty of activities for all.
Wherever you settle, best of luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 11, 2008
Ridgewood in Bergen County --start there it has everything you mentioned. Also, Cedar Grove in Essex County is a good option as well. I activly work in the Ridgewood market & will be glad to help if you go that route. After looking in Westchester the next stop is usually Ridgewood.
Web Reference: http://www.bparkes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 11, 2008

There are several communities in Essex County, NJ that might meet your needs for transportation convenience and "things to do". Feel free to visit my site and check the local inventory. If you leave me your info, I would be happy to contact you and provide you with homes and communities that might meet your needs.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 11, 2008

There are a lot of options for housing that seem to meet your general requirements for transportation convenience and "things to do". Coming from Virginia, you are likely used to having significantly more purchasing power than you have in the Northeast. There are several communities I service near the trains/buses you would need for your mid-town commute. If you would like to visit my site and provide me with your info, I would be happy to send you some listings to give you an idea of what is available.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 11, 2008
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