Home Buying in Clifton>Question Details

Susan, Home Buyer in Clifton, NJ

best small towns in nj to live.

Asked by Susan, Clifton, NJ Wed Jan 21, 2009

my husband and i are looking to buy a home soon. i rew up in hudson and bergen counties, and he in ny and hudson county. we are sick of the city stress and are looking for a small town. we want that small town feel, able to walk to things, good safe schools, activities for families. we like that everyone knows everyone appeal. commuting and work are not too much of a concern. we were thinking of either morris county or monmouth county but are open to any suggestions anyone may have. thank you

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Carolyn Fenton’s answer
Susan,

I am originally from Totowa (Passaic County) and my husband was from Clifton. We first moved to Rockaway Township (White Meadow Lake) my husband felt we were moving to the sticks. We had our boys there and it was a great community for them - lot's to do and anything you need in the way of conveniences. We decided we wanted more privacy and moved to Blairstown, (Warren County). We met more people in the first 6 months than in 6 years. I love this town - there are no cabs or food delivery (Shoprite will deliver and sometimes pizza). I walk with a friend on the paulinskill path at 6:30 am and there are a few people that we pass by - there's an airport for glider rides - a small town main street - lot's of farm fresh food. Let me know if you'd like a tour!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 9, 2009
Susan: NJ abounds in small towns. From Sussex County to Cape May, there are literally hundreds of small communities, some incorporated, some merely place names in larger townships. Some have prospered more than others but the real secret to what you want is more complex. Commuting to work, for example can be easy or difficult. Walking to the corner convenience store, Mom and Pop or Wawa, may be one thing but what about grocery shopping or the movies?

You say you are fed up with city stress but just how much solitude are you willing to take? Some small towns have a two level culture, extending from those whose great grandfather lived in town to the newbies. Can you take the time to fit in? Do you want to?

Terrain in NJ can be very hilly to farmland to pine barrens. Some small communities are close to major cultural events: Kingston or Hopewell, near Princeton, come to mind. Others may be quite a distance. Do you care?

Of course, many of our townships were just farmland at the turn of the twentieth century. With the advent of the automobile, we also got suburban sprawl and so there are whole areas that have no town center at all. Robbinsville Township, among others, is trying to create a town center reminiscent of the type construction and town plan you might have seen in 1880.

My advice: Start this spring to take day trips. Find places that appeal to you. Look for the town amenities that you want and need. For example, just how close will you be to medical care? Will you commute to your old doctors? What about schools? Are they important to you?

You may find a community that looks inviting, only to discover that community life revolves around children's activities. I lived in a house for ten years and only knew my immediate neighbors and the people across the street. Not having young children, I found that driving in and out of my garage at the end of a commute and mowing the lawn were my only two outdoor activities. I did find people 6 miles away (which was not walkable) at a church I joined but it was not my immediate neighborhood that gave me the social connection that I sought.

I wish you well with your quest but it seems to me that you have to discover more about what you want on your own before you start dealing with a Realtor, who is, after all, only a person to help you find a house, not define a life style that will make you happy.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 21, 2009
best small town in south jersey to live?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 24, 2014
Fair Haven on the jersey Shore in Monmouth County is a great small town. Can take the ferry to NYC and is located near very many quaint towns, shopping and beaches. Rumson Fair Haven schools are ranked highly. Spring Lake is also a great town, a little farther South, but beautiful.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 14, 2009
We live in Mountainside lovely small, small town, no high school but the kids go the Berkeley Heights high school next door. Everyone knows everyone in town, capes, splits a variety of architecture with winding streets. There are a few towns surrounding us, Westfield, Cranford and Summit, they have lovely downtowns to stroll, eat, shop along with a train station, a bit pricey to live in. Also we have Berkeley Heights and New Providence as neighboring towns, they typically have capes, splits and colonials on good size pieces of property, they have main roads with small strip malls. Further out are Gillette, Warren, Watchung, Bridgewater, Bernardsville, Basking Ridge all with flat and elevated property, cute quaint strip malls, some downtowns, larger pieces of property with homes with character, smaller train stations. Chester is very nice & woodsy. Chatham & Madison have homes with character, a great downtown for strolling, eating, shopping, pricey towns with smaller pieces of property, close to the expensive Short Hills Mall. Metuchen is a very small town with character, small pieces of property, a downtown, train station close to 2 major malls. Whitehouse and Readington have sprawling pieces of land beautiful communities. Princeton is a gorgeous college town, great downtown with everything, Monmouth Junction is nice and not too far from Princeton. Holmdel and Coltsneck are a bit closer to the shore and have larger pieces of property, (I believe was horse farm land) a bit pricey. All the way at the bottom of NJ is Cape May if you love Victorian homes you can't beat it but tourism could get you in the summer months. There are lovely very, very, small historical type towns surrounded by rolling hills, farmland such as Asbury (not to be confused with Asbury Park) or Milford; traveling through Sussex County I've noted the same such towns.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 18, 2009
Jonesborough TN is the real thing! Not only a laid back lifestyle, but it is also the oldest town in TN with a real America feeling. Safe to keep your doors unlock and locals and visitors enjoy walking thru town not only during the day but at night. Enjoy!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 7, 2009
Susan,

Formerly from Belleville and do feel your paint. If u would like to puruse Monmounth county areas, please feel free to use the "official MLS" for Monmounth County on my website http://www.PatrizioRE.com

if you need further assistance in Monmouth County, please do ot hesitate to contact me.

Love and Peace,
Francesca, Realtor, ePro
Francesca@PatrizioRE.com
http://www.PatrizioRE.com
Web Reference: http://www.PatrizioRE.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 22, 2009
Hi Susan,
Where do you both commute to work? Have you thought about Piscataway area? It is a easy commute to NYC and being in Central Jersey one can commute to noth and south jersey easily.

Let me know, I can e mail you some nice choices of homes.
Best Wishes,
Neera Sharma
Prudential New Jersey Properties
908-400-6484 cell
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 21, 2009
Milltown was a quaint town. I was considering buying there myself. BUT it is sandwiched between East Brunswick and North Brunswick and the traffic is horrendous. So while I agree it was a great small town, the population growth unfortunately in my opintion has changed everything. I like Redbank myself.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 13, 2009
Mahwah has been voted the best place to live in Bergen County and the 9th place to live in the state by New Jersey Monthly magazine --- 2 years in a row. The magazine is a great place to start your search with lots of info about our terrific state on a town by town basis. If you are looking for someone to help with your search --- I am happy to help. Best, Pam
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 18, 2009
I live in Milltown, a great small town. It’s very quaint and has a strong sense of community. On a nice day, you will find lots of people out walking. There is the path along the water, the shops on Main Street, the famous Milltown Ice Cream Depot and more. The people are extremely friendly, the schools are excellent and it’s a small town, but still close to other places of interest (minutes to New Brunswick, less than an hour to NYC and the Jersey shore).

I run a community website called http://www.ILoveMilltown.com that you should check out. It has lots of info - local events, pictures, message boards, links, etc. It even has a section where people can write why they love the area. Hopefully this helps. Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 17, 2009
Susan,
Everyone else who answered this question is from north Jersey - I am the voice of South Jersey! You can afford so much more house in south Jersey and we have some great communities. Many residents form Cherry HIll, Marlton, Collingswood, Mt Laurel, etc work in Philadelphia. It is easy to get there by car or train. There is another sizable group who commute to NYC. We have both bus and train to the city. For about $400,000 you can find a real nice 4BR home in a good school district - so look into some of the towns I mentioned!
Sandi Lichtman
Owner/Broker
Lichtman Associates Real EState, LLC
800-413-9777
856-795-7890
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 6, 2009
Dear Susan:
There are so many terrific areas in NJ. I have lived in the state all my life. Born in Newark, live in East Orange, then moved to Essex County. This was with my parents and siblings. The towns included Caldwell and Verona. Both nice communities. When I got married, my wife and I lived in Roselle Park, Union County for a year, then moved to Clifton, Passaic County, for a year, bouht our first condo in Glen Ridge, Essex County again and lived there for 1.5 years and ended up settling in Denville, Morris County.
We, with our two children have been here for approx. 19 years and could never be happier. The feel is like Mayberry. small town feel with great services and activities, low crime rate and an active and highly rated school system, as well as a favorable tax structure and affordable pricing in which your 3-500 range will buy you a lot. This also includes the neighborin tows of Boonton, Parsippany, Rockaway, Morris Twshp, & Morris Plains.
Known as the HUB of Morris County, Denville has direct NYC trains from the Denville train station, plus Rtes 46, 80, 287, 15, & 202 pass thru it for easy access anywhere. We are just 10 minutes to Historic Morristown which is known as Hoboken West.
So if you were to ask me about towns to live in or at least explore, you can see where my passion lies.
Call me and we'll talk.Sincerely,
Jeffrey David Halpern, CSP
Broker Associate
Prudential New Jersey Properties
64 Diamond Spring Road
Denville,NJ 07834
Phone: (973) 625-1250 x143
Fax: (973) 625-1672
Cell & Txt:: (201) 317-7527
URL: http://www.JeffHalpern.PruNewJersey.com


NO EXCUSES………
……..JUST A SOLUTION
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 6, 2009
Hi Jeff, I know this is an old thread but I've been hitting the boards to help me with my search. My husband and I (and our 4 children) are relocating to NJ from Staten Island. We are trying to find the right place for us to settle our roots. I am partial to Monmouth (I think) and my husband is partial to Morris County. I do like both areas. My husband lived in Boonton for awhile. I was considering Denville myself when researching the areas of Morris County. I have noticed that both counties have good school districts depending upon which town. I like Marlboro in Monmouth and Colts Neck, although Marlboro is more within our budget. I don't know which would be a better fit for us. We both would like to have a house with some property (at least 1/2 an acre, no smaller) & I have seen that in both counties. I would like the quaintness of a small town, but I am also from SI and fear that being all the way out in Denville will be a culture shock for me, Any wisdom you could share?
Flag Sat Feb 1, 2014
Hello --- this is a great question --- and I would suggest that you consider Mahwah, New Jersey. Mahwah has terrific schools and has been called, "Bergen County's Parkland" because of the 5,000 acres of passive recreation areas plus ski area, tennis facilities, Ramapo College and MORE! Mahwah has been cited as one of the best places to live in New Jersey, it has low taxes and great schools, too. For more info --- check out my blog or email me for specific details. I LOVE IT HERE!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 4, 2009
Hi Susan, you've got some good suggestions - I would concur the Chatham and Madison come to mind, but alot will depend on your budget. Both have nice downtowns, and Chatham's in particular has a very charming downtown. Schools are good. If you haven't tapped it yet, the NJ School Report Card is a great tool to compare/contract schools:
http://jeannefeenick.weichertagentpages.com/Content/Content.…

I just heard from a couple that bought in Morris Township - moved from Brooklyn - initially drawn to Warren Township/Wathchung/Long Hill Township area - which is very nice and has an open feel. But in the end, they compromised to shorten their commute. We found a great house in the $500's and they are very happy. This area gives you the small town neighborhood feel - but access to a Metro/Suburban town - Morristown - which isn't a bad thing - I'd count Morristown along with Summit, and Westfield as communities that are similar in this way.

Long Hill Township is a less expensive option in Morris County - it feeds into Watchung Hill High School, along with Warren, Watchung and Green Brook, all in Somerset County. If you are looking for more property, Watchung and Long Hill Townhship are the points on 78 where the lot size opens up. Next along that westerly route comes Warren and Basking Ridge. Bridgewater presents many options at all price points but is a vast community, Bernardsville has a small town feel, cute downtown and a train station. Basking Ridge has train and bus access too, a small downtown, but is larger community in feel if not in fact than Bernardsville.

I'm sure that the couple that faced the same quandry you are facing would be happy to chat with you if you'd like. Just send me a quick email if I can help you with your search and provide an introduction to them.

May sound a bit like a cliche - but it is a great time to buy Susan!

Best,
Jeannie Feenick
Search and connect at http://www.feenick.com
Web Reference: http://www.feenick.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 4, 2009
Hi,

I moved to the East Coast in the 90’s from Orange County, CA. I first lived in Greenwich, CT for a year, and then moved to the Jersey Shore, where I live now. These moves were facilitated by corporate jobs before I hung up that hat and became a Realtor. When I first moved to NJ, I looked at several towns in Morris and Essex County, but ultimately decided on Monmouth County. I get up to Morris, Essex, Somerset and Hunterdon Counties regularly, but Monmouth is home. After many years, I can say I am glad I made the decision to call Northern Monmouth County home. Here’s why:

Having the best of all worlds. Easy and comfortable commute via ferry to NYC within 40 minutes. Great outdoor recreation opportunities along the shore…beaches, Sandy Hook, abundance of parks with extensive recreational programs, bike lanes, marinas, boating, horse farms. Great restaurants, theaters, downtown and pier areas for shopping and strolling. Extensive choices for education and healthcare. Gorgeous settings with lots of greenspace. Not congested. Small town feel. Small and strong communities with much community involvement. When you want the city, it’s an easy commute by ferry, train or bus.

The housing stock is varied in Monmouth County with diverse options from Victorian communities, very traditional colonials, newer developments, and areas where there are no signs of development housing.

If you would like a snail mail relo package for Monmouth County, please contact our office. It includes several community guides, maps, and recreational guides, along with housing information and statistical reports.

Deborah Madey - Broker
Peninsula Realty Group
732 530-6350
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 22, 2009
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Red Bank, NJ
MVP'08
Contact
I want to concur also with Hackettstown - I accidently left Warren County out of my original list. Hackettstown was the first place I moved to from Hudson County and it is a really charming small town and would be my Warren County pick.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 21, 2009
I live in Chester (Morris cty) so of course I'm biased - but this is a great place to look!
I expect it also depends on where you need to commute to.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 21, 2009
Spring Lake--without a doubt! Just Google it and you will see why so many people want to live here! Only one square mile, ~4000 residents, totally walkable whether to town, the parks, or the beach! Excellent school system with a K-8 population ~350 students. Family activities include recreational sports, jr lifeguard, etc. Everyone definately knows everyone, just walk down 3rd Ave on any given day, and more importantly, everyone knows all the kids, too, by first name! Known as the Irish riviera of the Jersey Shore, most consider it "Camelot"! Commuting is easy via train, bus, or car.

I came down from North Jersey 22 years ago and raised my 4 children there so I'm biased! But, I cannot imagine anywhere else I would rather have done so!

For additional info, go to my website where you'll find demographics and a whole page devoted to Spring Lake. The prices are high, but we have the 2nd lowest ratable in Monmouth County and hold our values extremely well!
Web Reference: http://www.dianeglander.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 21, 2009
Hey Susan,
Best small town ??? My vote is Clinton Twp. Hunterdon County! Clinton has a wonderful Main Street with quaint shops, great restaurants, historic museum and so much more! Great fishing, golfing, hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, you name it! Here is a link:
http://www.township.clinton.nj.us
Also, check out my website for current listings;
http://www.jeffreyvroom.com.
I'd love to help!
Sincerely,
Jeffrey T. Vroom
Weichert Realtors
908 285-8787
Email: JeffreyVroom@yahoo.com
Web Reference: http://jefffreyvroom.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 21, 2009
Hi Susan,

In Morris County, the usual suspects are Madison and Chatham when it comes to charming small towns. They are nice, but they are also wildly overpriced due to their convenient access for NYC commuters. Other interesting options in Morris County might include Denville which has a cute downtown and great schools. A surprising option for you might also be located just over the border in Warren County - Hackettstown. You might want to take a visit. Really cute downtown, small but not too small, yet convenient to shopping and recreation. Fairly affordable also. I wouldn't commute to NY City from there, but if that is not a concern, you might like it.

If you have further questions on the Morris County option, contact me via my profile or website.

Good luck!

-Marc

Marc Paolella
Relocation Director
Member, Worldwide ERC
Licensed Realtor NJ
Licensed Appraiser NJ & NY
Century 21 Joe Tekula Realtors
Agent of the Year 2008
Owner: Sands Appraisal Service, Inc.
Phone (direct): (973) 584-4235
web: http://www.marcpaolella.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 21, 2009
I have spent my entire life (except college in Atlanta) in Hopewell Township area of Mercer County. I suggest you consider Hopewell Boro for a Maybury feel (like the old Andy Griffith show). Pennington is also nice as is Princeton though Princeton is much busier and has parking meters. Hopewell boro does a variety of things that give it the small town feel. It has a mostly volunteer fire dept, summer concerts at the park, out door movies at the restored train station and is still convenient to most places though you wouldnt know it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 21, 2009
Hi Susan:
I moved to New Jersey nearly twenty years ago from Arizona. One of the most appealing things to me was the "small town" atmosphere I experienced in South Jersey. Have you possibly looked into Haddon Heights, Haddon Township, Collingswood, or Barrington? They are all located in Camden County where we still seem to be maintaining a healthy investment with our real estste. One area you can check out is the web site put out by the New Jesey Association of Realtors: http://www.RealStoryNJ.com. It is a great resource for you to find out exactly what is going on with different townships and counties in the State financially with property values. The one nice thing about this area is that it has that small town feel yet very close to a major metropolitan area and within a short driving distance to the shore!
I am constantly defending my decision to move to and stay in the area when people find out I have relocated from the west, but then again, there are good points and bad points to everything!
Sheri
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 21, 2009
While I now live in Ocean County, I grew up in a small community called Meyersville (part of Long Hill Township) in Morris County.

Long Hill Township is easily accesible by train and highway. It has a wonderful small town feel and is bordered by the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge! Yet you're close to everything!

We'd love to have you check out some of our communities in Ocean County! If you'd like some information contact me via email and I'll get it out to you.

Good Luck!

Laura Giannotta
Keller Williams Atlantic Shore
Laura@JerseyShoreViews.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 21, 2009
Come down to the Jersey Shore!!! Close to the beach and in the middle of everything. I live in Toms River. I'm about 1 hour to Atlantic City, Philadelphia and New York. Plus, in the summer all of your friends up North will be down here, enjoying the shore life.
Monmouth or Ocean County have some really great deals, schools and low taxes.
Bricktown was named the safest city in America 2 years ago.

Come on down and pay a visit. I would love to show you around.
Web Reference: http://www.SheSellsNJ.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 21, 2009
How about Essex County? My suggestions would be Maplewood & Short Hills/Millburn. Let me know if you'd like me to send you information on these communities.

http://www.MichelleKnowsMyHome.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 21, 2009
Hello Susan,

You may already know of River Vale since you were raised in Bergen County. If you have been thinking of leaving Northern New Jersey for greener pastures, you may want to consider River Vale first.. It was ranked on Money Magazines top 100 places to live, and with less than 10,000 residents you small town feel right in the middle of Bergen County. Check out the link below

Good Luck,

Roy Low (River Vale Resident and local Realtor)
royalow@msn.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 21, 2009
Hi Susan.

There are several lists that are often released about the best towns to live in, but in my opinion it's a matter of personal preference and needs. I also grew up in Hudson County and I understand exactly where you're coming from.

There are many beautiful towns. These are simply some of my personal favorites based on aesthetics, school systems, and community activities. In no particular order:

Sussex County:

Hardyston (Crystal Springs) I'm a bit biased here but this development is one of the few in New Jersey that will provide you resort style living like you would find in the golf resorts of S. Carolina or Florida. It is continually growing and utilizing smart growth. Within the next year to a year and a half the community will be building a brand new town center with old fashioned charm and appeal including an ice rink, movie theaters, a farmers market, and unique non-chain small town shops, and walkability. Good schools, low taxes, low home prices. It's work taking a look at.

Sparta: Cute town center, nice homes, good schools, but high property tax and can be somewhat pricey

Morris County:

Mendam: Beautiful community, good schools, think Polo/Ralph Lauren feel - but can be pricey

Chester: cute downtown, shares Mendham schools, more affordable than Menham

Union County:

Westfield: A bedroom community in Union County with outstanding schools. Very community oriented, close to everything, and a bustling downtown

Somerset County:
Peapack/Gladstone, Far Hills, Bernardsville, Bernads Township, Bedminster are some of my favorites.

Hunterdon:
Tewksbury - reminds me of Holly Hobby -very country storybook
Oldwick -also very quaint country

Monomuth
Fair Haven - Rumson/Fair Haven Schools are outstanding, trendy downtown area
Spring Lake - I know little about schools there but very pretty and pricey
Have heard Colts Neck is very pretty but don't know much about it
It also may be worth looking into Allentown

Two of my favorites also include: Princeton and Moorsestown, NJ (in South Jersey) which is consistently noted in reports for being one of the best towns in NJ.

There's also some towns that are spearheading Green living in NJ. If that's important to you, I'm also happy to send you that list.

You'll hear different opinions from everyone. I would take into account the towns that are mentioned in all these posts and start taking day trips. If you ever want to tour the areas in Sussex, Morris, and Hunterdon Counties I'm happy to show you around.

I hope that helps.

Best Wishes,
Darlene White
Mountain Resort Properties
973-418-3427
http://web.me.com/darlie75/Site/Welcome.html
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 21, 2009
I used to live in Milltown in Middlesex County. It's a very cute small town with lots of activities and shops along North Main St. The north side of Milltown has a lot of older homes with charm that rarely come on the market, and the south side has a lot of 2 bedroom bungalows that were built for the workers who came to work at the Michelin Tire Factory. Very safe town, good elementary schools, and the kids go to the high school in Spotswood, the next town over. The biggest problem you'll have is finding a home there since there are only about 15 listed right now. Good luck!

Jillian Mason
Direct: 732-586-5488
E-Mail: jillian@jillianmason.com
Web Reference: http://www.jillianmason.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 21, 2009
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