I think it makes good sense to visit the school and meet with the professionals there. Remember the old expression, "You can't judge a book by its cover"! While feedback from foks whose children attend/attended the schools in questions is always helpful, your criteria for quality education for your children may differ from others in the community in question. Perhaps it would be most fruitful to direct your concerns and questions to teachers and administration folks in these schools, and see the school environment in person.
We do have a school choice program in New Jersey, with grammar, middle and high school districts in the area participating. Check out http://www.nj.gov/education/choice/
for additional information. If you decide in the end you don't care for the schools in your targeted area, perhaps there's a neighboring district that will better satisfy your criteria. That might be an acceptable compromise and allow you to purchase a home in a more convenient commuting location, and yet place your children in schools that better fit your children't needs. There is an application process for the school choice program. It's not an automatic acceptance -- there must be room in the receiving school.