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Old 11-09-2011, 02:15 PM
4 posts, read 89,362 times
Reputation: 14


I am thinking of moving and am looking at Montclair, as well as a couple of Westchester river towns (Irvington and Hastings on Hudson). It seems like my kind of town -- full of displaced New Yorkers like me. But I have a few concerns. First of all, I have heard that the schools aren't great, but I don't know what is meant by that. Can anyone give me the 411 on the Montclair elementary schools? Which are the best ones and what exactly is a magnet school? Also, how do the schools compare to other NJ schools or the P.S. 234 school in Tribeca, when it comes to performance, extracurricular classes and activities and resources for working parents (like after school programs)? Also, what are the different neighborhoods of Montclair like? I want to live in a nice, safe and pretty neighborhood of mostly professional types like me where my 8 year old is able to bike over to the neighbor's house without my worrying about her. My house budget is $700-800k. Finally, what's the scoop on commuting? I hear it can be a bit of an ordeal (I work in midtown). Thank you for any input you can provide!!!
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Old 11-09-2011, 04:25 PM
Location: The Milky Way Galaxy
2,256 posts, read 5,901,941 times
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Wow do people really think the schools in Montclair aren't good?
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Old 11-09-2011, 05:23 PM
390 posts, read 1,118,146 times
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Whoever told you Montclair's schools aren't good is insane, or lives in Glen Ridge. I hate to say this, but you hear this nonsense all the time about Montclair High and Columbia High School not being good schools (Maplewood and South Orange share Columbia High School), even though they're ranked on par or higher than towns like Fair Lawn, Paramus, Midland Park, Waldwick, and Westwood (which you'll never hear a peep about not being good schools). It's because black students go there. I hate, HATE accuse anyone of racism. I really do, but I can't figure out another reason why you hear bad things about Montclair and Columbia, but not Fair Lawn and Paramus. IGNORE IT. They're ignorant remarks. The schools in Montclair are fantastic, highly regarded, and the magnet system with the elementary schools makes it even more appealing. Please also keep in mind that New Jersey schools are amongst the highest preforming in the COUNTRY, and with the exception of our inner city schools, most of our schools are fantastic - and are the main draw of living in the state!

That being said. Pros:

- Old, beautiful, homes with tons of character.
- Two awesome downtowns with lots of non chain stores. you can avoid highways for the most part living here!
- Best restaurant scene in New Jersey
- Lots of culture - from an Art Museum to an Independent Movie theater to it's own Minor league baseball team and university.
- A liberal, unstuffy atmosphere. Despite its wealth, Montclair is much more "Brooklyn" than it is "Upper West Side". It's just a cool place to live.
- The town runs the gambit from ultra wealthy (most of it) to working class, to poor (a small portion of the town). Your kids will come out much less sheltered.
- A super tight sense of community. Just check out baristanet.com. People care more about their town in Montclair than any other town I've seen.
- Short commute to new york by train. 35-40 minuts to Penn Station direct via train.


- Taxes are higher. Welcome to New Jersey. That being said, Montclair is higher than most of the surrounding towns (Glen Ridge being the exception).
- Crime way below the national average in Montclair, and way below New York City. However, it is higher than wealthy towns in other counties. Crime in higher in wealthy towns in most of Essex County (Glen Ridge, Montclair, Maplewood, South Orange, Millburn, etc) than say wealthy towns in Bergen County (Glen Rock, Ridgewood, Franklin Lakes) - given the proximity to New Jerseys urban areas - namely Newark and East Orange. However, crime is still WAY below average, and violent crime is very, very low. Most of the crime is property crime, and in Montclair, it remains isolated to a few small areas you'll want to avoid. The benefit is you get a much more young and diverse feel in Essex than in Bergen. You want to avoid living too close to Bloomfield Ave (north or south of it), and the areas around Glenfield Park, Lacawana Plaza, and Canterbury Park.

In your price range you can find nice homes in both the southern portion of town in the "Estate Section" and north of Watchung Ave in "Upper Montclair". Both are incredibly safe parts of town, and you can choose to send your children to whichever elementary school you'd like!

Neighboring Glen Ridge can also be an option in that price range (Basically the five streets east of Montclair). The school system is ranked top five, but only because Glen Ridge is VERY small (under 7,000 people) and everyone in it is wealthy, so more kids go to college. Your kids end up with spending time with other wealthy kids and families. The pros and cons of this are certainly up to you to judge. The homes in Glen Ridge are also old and beautiful, and the street is lit with charming gas lamps! There is no downtown, but you have easy access to Montclair's, and the entire town is breeming with kids playing everywhere.

I live right on the Glen Ridge/Montclair border, so any other questions feel free to ask!

Last edited by labcjo; 11-09-2011 at 05:31 PM..
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Old 11-09-2011, 05:31 PM
831 posts, read 2,273,547 times
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Montclair schools are very good and there is a large choice. It's what you put into it. The kids that are failing in the schools come from negative backgrounds, sadly. It's really upsetting that the same old kids from the same areas of town always do so poorly.
Those kids bring down the test scores, but most kids excel.

Also, glenridge is ridiculous, they're always competing with Montclair and will say bad things about the schools because that town is extremely affluent. I heard they're trying to turn their entire district into a charter program.
They have a million wealthy stay at home moms that can cater to their kids, montclair families typically have two working parents, but your kid will have a better experience in Montclair schools.
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Old 11-09-2011, 05:34 PM
3,182 posts, read 2,810,546 times
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Originally Posted by TSL0131 View Post
First of all, I have heard that the schools aren't great, but I don't know what is meant by that.
When people say this, it doesn't really mean that they are bad, it means they are a bad value. A lot of people in the NYC suburbs go into the house search with the idea of getting the best possible school district that their budget and commuting preferences/tolerances can afford them, and so will say that the schools are bad, not because they are absolutely bad (they're not), but because they are bad compared to towns with similar housing costs.

edit: The below quote illustrates my point perfectly;

Originally Posted by labcjo View Post
even though they're ranked on par or higher than towns like Fair Lawn, Paramus, Midland Park, Waldwick, and Westwood
All of these towns you will pay less for a similar house except for Paramus, where your savings will come on the property taxes end instead.
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Old 11-10-2011, 08:21 AM
4 posts, read 89,362 times
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Thanks, everyone, for the very helpful insight and information on Montclair schools, neighborhoods and commute. I really appreciate it, and you totally assuaged my (misguided) concerns about the schools. Montclair sounds awesome and perfect for me. I am having dinner next week with friends who live in Montclair, so I will definitely hit them up for more information. Any more information you want to send my way is appreciated!!!
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Old 11-10-2011, 01:36 PM
Location: Montclair
88 posts, read 301,498 times
Reputation: 50
Default Montclair NJ pros

Well said labco!

I'm a former New Yorker who moved to Montclair when my kids were ages 3 and 1. That was twenty years ago. The Montclair magnet school system first attracted and intrigued me and then impressed me. You have your choice of 6 elementary schools across town, all following the same curiculum but with a different focus. They are science and technology, gifted and talented (arts), Montessori, global, environmental sciences and the Montclair State University magnet. The schools are racially balanced and because Montclair is economically diverse as well, the public school system rankings are less than neighboring, predominently white towns such as Glen Ridge, Millburn, Summit and Livingston. However, if you look at the community rankings of the Montclair schools on GreatSchools - Public and Private School Ratings, Reviews and Parent Community, you'll see the parents give high scores to the school system. Hey, we even had a Rhodes scholar in my son's graduating class!

Another attractive bonus of the magnet system is that your children form bonds with the kids with whom they attend school, in addition to the neighborhood kids. If you are waiting on the bus stop with them in the morning, you can also develop connections with school parents.

You probably are aware that Montclair is home to a substantial number of writers, authors and journalists. I'm sure you and your daughter would feel very comfortable here.
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Old 11-11-2011, 07:15 AM
91 posts, read 220,179 times
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Montclair is basically a place to visit, not to live. everyone in that town has a i'm better than you complex
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Old 11-11-2011, 10:18 AM
Location: Montclair
88 posts, read 301,498 times
Reputation: 50
Default Montclair NJ pros


Your response is uncalled for. The poster asked various questions about Montclair and those who know the town answered appropriately.
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Old 03-28-2012, 07:08 AM
28 posts, read 100,589 times
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Can anyone comment on what living in the area around the intersection of S Fullerton and Union St would be like? I am considering renting a an apartment in that area. We want to be close to downtown and trains to NY (i.e. walking distance), but not too close to loud bars, noise, etc (for instance, we wouldn't want to live in the Siena condos). My impression is that S Fullerton and Union St, or S Fullerton and Hawthorne Place, would be considerably quieter than the area where the SIena is. Is this so? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
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