Here's your straight answer from a NJ shore native and resident for 25 years: anything south of Long Branch is going to be a hellish 2 hour commute via NJ Transit train, unless you're on a bus heading north at 5am. I'd say Atlantic Highlands is your best bet- the high-speed ferry is right there, and it has a small town feel yet not too far removed from everything. Numbers-wise, Long Branch is about 1 1/2 hours (one-way) via train from Penn Station; you'll need to transfer there for connections to the other shore towns. Point Pleasant and Bayhead, the southernmost stops on the North Jersey Coast train line, are 2 hours (one-way) from Penn Station.
Have you considered Brooklyn? If you can afford the rent, and don't need a lot of space, it's the best for commuting to Midtown...Good luck!
P.S. Cherry Hill is closer to Philadelphia than New York...don't waste your time.
RVP, Weichert, Realtors
I am in northern NJ, but know that many commute to the city from the shore. How long of a commute can you tolerate?
You might want to check out the NJ transit website for train information.
I am sure a few "shore" agents will come along and tell you about their areas............Asbury Park is being revitalized.....Long Branch has the new Pier Village with shops and restaurants...........there are so many towns to choose from......much will also depend on your price range.
Good luck................enjoy living "down the shore" (that's how we refer to it in NJ !)
Prudential NJ Properties
PS If you decide you prefer northern NJ (30 min midtown direct train ride)........give me a call !!