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Old 08-17-2010, 10:16 AM
 
4 posts, read 16,713 times
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Hi everyone,

First off, let me say "thanks" to what I hope will be some very informed and helpful posters to this forum/thread.

Now, on to my question: my wife and I, and soon to be two kids (toddler and infant) are finally considering the necessity of leaving the city, which we love and have lived in for over a decade (Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan), to New Jersey. I teach in Lakewood, my wife would continue to work in the city. We have started to investigate, ask questions, visit, places in NJ that make for a doable relocation, given the following criteria:

1. commute by train, direct line/station preferable;
2. good public schools, but especially the high school;
3. we would like as much as possible to retain some of the feel of life (people and/or downtown) in the city;
4. our budget is from $350-mid-to-upper $400s;
5. yes, taxes are high everywhere in NJ, but they are not all equally high;
6. most likely will own only one car.

7. anything missing from the above list?

So, we have been looking at places like Maplewood, Cranford, Summit, (we ruled out Montclair, Glenn Ridge as too $$$) etc., as they meet some or all of the above list. My question is: what advice/info can you give me to distinguish between the three (or any we have not yet considered)? We have visited Cranford (sleepy downtown) and Maplewood (very pretty, and high taxes), but not yet Summit.

Any comments or thoughts about these towns that would help us figure out where best to live? what makes for the best commute (me, south, wife, north/east)? best place to live an an ex-NYC family? etc., etc.

Thanks for the help.
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Old 08-17-2010, 11:22 AM
 
Location: Toms River, NJ
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Maplewood's high school does not compare to Cranford or Summit. IMO you are not getting a quality education in Maplewood for your tax dollars.
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Old 08-17-2010, 11:48 AM
 
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Agree with hrjersey. High School in Maplewood is not on par with the taxes. Maplewood is also very segregated and your budget barely gets you on "the right side of the train tracks". I personally like Cranford and don't think the downtown is all that sleepy but to each their own. I think Summit is the best choice(given that you said Cranford is out), you are still going to be confined to a 3 BR/2BA cape most likely for your budget. Taxes on a $400-$500K home are probably going to be in the 10-12K range.
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Old 08-17-2010, 12:33 PM
 
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Dear hrjersey & tdstyles,

Thanks. I agree with the sense of Maplewood's public school system being "below" that of the other two (rankings being what they are and how they are generated). We really liked the quaint, tree-lined block, small but funky downtown look of Maplewood and the fact that it an easy commute was a plus. Cranford is not yet off our list, because of the highly ranked schools and considerably lower taxes--almost half less for many comparable homes.

We haven't yet visited Summit, so I'm looking to be convinced. What you can read on the internet, however, does pain a good portrait.

I'm sure Cranford's downtown for many is fine, we are just used to a "more" vibrant, window shopping, cafe, restaurant type of a feel, and we seemed to miss that feeling when we visited--granted it was on a Sunday. (The real killer, again for us at least, was the really pretty mediocre eat-in Chinese restaurant experience, the only one, I was told, in Cranford. Having a good Chinese restaurant in the town is one of those way off the books but still important factors.) In some ways I would like to be convinced by Cranford, since, barring our experience, it seems to be a winner in many respects.

Tdstyles: by segregated, you mean socio-economically? Or is this a diversity issue? Both, or neither?
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Old 08-17-2010, 12:52 PM
 
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Also, are there any towns that fit with the several I have listed, that are worth considering for the same criteria? I'm looking to expand our list before we start to cross off towns or communities for good.

We've had suggested to us, Nutley, South Orange (which probably should be added to the list) and Ridgewood.

Again, thanks.
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Old 08-17-2010, 08:42 PM
 
Location: Toms River, NJ
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South Orange is the same school district as Maplewood and the taxes are just as high as Maplewood if not higher.
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Old 08-17-2010, 09:22 PM
 
Location: Montgomery County, PA
2,771 posts, read 5,902,874 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cupofespresso View Post
Also, are there any towns that fit with the several I have listed, that are worth considering for the same criteria? I'm looking to expand our list before we start to cross off towns or communities for good.

We've had suggested to us, Nutley, South Orange (which probably should be added to the list) and Ridgewood.

Again, thanks.
Ridgewood and Summit are both out of your budget unless you're willing to go with something very modest. Neither of these towns are cheaper than Montclair.

If you're looking at Maplewood, you may as well also look at South Orange (the two towns are adjacent and quite similar).

Nutley is also worth a look, though the commute isn't as easy (you'd need to either jitney or drive to Delawanna station)

It strikes me as premature to place too much emphasis on the public high school -- at least statistically, you are likely to move before then. But if you must make that a priority, you will probably need to buy less house in a more expensive town (e.g. Glen Ridge, Montclair, Summit, Ridgewood)

I'd suggest giving Montclair another look. On your budget you're not going to have the best place in town, but I'd be very surprised if you didn't like Montclair based on what you've posted.
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Old 08-17-2010, 11:27 PM
 
284 posts, read 580,237 times
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before looking into high school, have you considered child care?
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Old 08-18-2010, 04:12 AM
 
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I was looking for a home with similar criteria. Westfield (which is next to Cranford) can also be an option. It is more expensive than Cranford, but cheaper than Summit. It has a great downtown and excellent schools.
Good luck.
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Old 08-18-2010, 07:48 AM
 
Location: NJ
12,284 posts, read 33,701,749 times
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You want to commute to Lakewood from these places? Why not move to the Middletown area, close to Red Bank?
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