No complaints at all about Ridgewood. Great schools, great community and downtown. However for $550,000 you will not find anything very good in Ridgewood. Maybe a small Cape that needs work or is located on a busy road. Also, your commute to the upper East side will approach 90 minutes or even slightly more. The train ride alone is 50-70 minutes to Penn Station without delays, and there are always delays. Plus you have to get to the train, transfer in Secaucus, and get to your destination in the 60's. Just want you to have a realistic picture, rather than false promises. The bus is somewhat quicker, sometimes, but is a cramped and crowded way to spend 2-3 hours of your daily life and is always subject to the vagaries of traffic jams and construction delays that permeate the New York approaches.
Too many participants here seem to be in the business of "selling" and "pushing" their hometowns without regard to realities and the true picture. Ridgewood is a lovely town, but it's just another town with positives and negatives, which include unbelievably high taxes and heavy traffic. I really believe my job as a buyers agent is to throw away the "pom-poms" and provide real data with which to make an important decision. Living in a town is not "going out to dinner" and "hanging out at the art gallery". It is more about daily expenses, getting from point A to point B, getting the kids dressed and off to school, etc.
I've shown many, many, many homes in Ridgewood for $525,000 and believe me you don't get much for that price. And you will be paying close to $10,000/year in taxes for a house in that range. Is it worth it? Is it worth the so-called "prestige"? That is an individual decision of course. A decision that needs to be made with facts, not romance.