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Old 11-15-2011, 09:24 AM
 
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Our family (with 3 school age children) is relocating to NJ from IL at the beginning of 2012. We are trying to decide between these three towns - Mendham, Madison, and Bernardsville. We are planning on renting before deciding where to buy.

What we are looking for: nice town area, low crime, good schools (we are also open to good parochial schools), roomy home (4+ bedrooms) on larger lot (bigger than .25 acre). We would like a community feel with access to sports for the kids (soccer, competitive swim team, pop warner football) and volunteer opportunities for SAHM. Husband will commute to Morris County so distance to NYC not critical.

We currently live in family friendly IL town and would like to find same in NJ. Would love to hear pros/cons of each town. Thanks!
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Old 11-15-2011, 03:10 PM
 
Location: The beautiful Garden State
2,683 posts, read 3,261,218 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucky836 View Post
Our family (with 3 school age children) is relocating to NJ from IL at the beginning of 2012. We are trying to decide between these three towns - Mendham, Madison, and Bernardsville. We are planning on renting before deciding where to buy.

What we are looking for: nice town area, low crime, good schools (we are also open to good parochial schools), roomy home (4+ bedrooms) on larger lot (bigger than .25 acre). We would like a community feel with access to sports for the kids (soccer, competitive swim team, pop warner football) and volunteer opportunities for SAHM. Husband will commute to Morris County so distance to NYC not critical.

We currently live in family friendly IL town and would like to find same in NJ. Would love to hear pros/cons of each town. Thanks!

You really can't go wrong with any of those towns. They are all beautiful and affluent and have great schools. Madison is a cute little town with a charming downtown and is upper-middle class (although there is apparently a real-life princess living in the town). I would say that Madison would definitely be more diverse than the others you mentioned.

Madison High School is ranked in the top 20 in the state.

Bernardsville is even wealthier and also has a cute downtown.

Bernards High School is ranked in the top 10 in the state.

The Mendhams (there are two of them, a borough and a township) are extremely affluent and more rural. Very beautiful towns (and a very nice independent bookstore!)

West Morris Mendham High School is ranked in the top 10 in the state.
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Old 11-15-2011, 04:56 PM
 
Location: NJ
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Ditto to above, my only comment is if you want more than .25 acres you're more likely to find that in Bernards township or Mendham township (not boro as mentioned above).

If you want the best "walkable" downtown with a great variety of shops/restaurants, it's Madison.

Bottom line, excellent choices. Basically, find the house you like and wherever it is, you'll be fine.

People would give their left arm to have a decision such as this!
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Old 11-16-2011, 10:23 AM
 
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I would suspect Madison to offer more volunteering opportunities for SAHM's. Mendham and Bernardsville are very small and very quiet in my opinion.
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Old 11-16-2011, 08:40 PM
 
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All great towns.....

Add Chatham, Summit, and Short Hills to your list.
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Old 11-16-2011, 09:07 PM
 
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Thank you for the responses! All seemed like great towns but it's hard to differentiate. We are leaning towards Bernardsville because we like the large lots. Question regarding kids activities: is there a swim club for winter swimming in the area?
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Old 11-17-2011, 07:12 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucky836 View Post
Thank you for the responses! All seemed like great towns but it's hard to differentiate. We are leaning towards Bernardsville because we like the large lots. Question regarding kids activities: is there a swim club for winter swimming in the area?
I love that area it's one of the best places to live in NJ. Drive around a bit to see what is a better fit for you. Each town is unique. Someone mentioned Chatham, Summit and Short Hills. Along with Millburn these are all great areas too. THey will be a bit more crowded and expensive though. If you need/want to be closer to the city and need for space extra land is not an issue, I would look here too.

All three towns you are considering are great.
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Old 11-17-2011, 07:16 AM
 
838 posts, read 1,727,079 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucky836 View Post
Our family (with 3 school age children) is relocating to NJ from IL at the beginning of 2012. We are trying to decide between these three towns - Mendham, Madison, and Bernardsville. We are planning on renting before deciding where to buy.

What we are looking for: nice town area, low crime, good schools (we are also open to good parochial schools), roomy home (4+ bedrooms) on larger lot (bigger than .25 acre). We would like a community feel with access to sports for the kids (soccer, competitive swim team, pop warner football) and volunteer opportunities for SAHM. Husband will commute to Morris County so distance to NYC not critical.

We currently live in family friendly IL town and would like to find same in NJ. Would love to hear pros/cons of each town. Thanks!
One other thing to consider also is budget. Homes in these areas are rarely less than 700K and up (for what you are looking for) and taxes can and will be 10K-15K on average and up.

If you're want to get more for your money you'll need to keep going further west in NJ. If you do consider that stay in Morris or Hunterdon. Avoid Warren County.
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Old 11-17-2011, 08:20 PM
 
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I only had two seconds to answer this the other day so I wanted to pop back in here and just elaborate a bit.....

For starters, I absolutely think from what you've said that Bernadsville/Far Hills may be the absolute perfect fit. You nailed all it offers--it's beyond charming. It's a nice wealthy area with gorgeous roads, homes etc--and the lots are decently sized. The schools are very good but be sure you end up in Bernard schools--we looked at a few homes that border. The drive to Morristown is fantastic from there--a straight shot up 287 to 24 and it should take you around 35 minutes even in the morning.

For the occasional jaunt into NYC, you can train it in. The train in is long but people do daily commutes from there. I did it years ago and for me, it was too long but many folks do just that. For the occasional drive in, you can train it or you can drive to Summit, and train it from there. There is great shopping nearby--and you would have access to the Bridgewater Mall, as well brand new supermarkets, etc etc.

These are all the reasons that when we returned to this area after years away, we went back to Bernardsville. It surprised me greatly, however, that in the long run we concluded Millburn was a very fit. I'd like to share our thinking for the purpose of discussion--but we had and have a different circumstance than yours. For starters, my husband travels out of Newark and goes into NYC once or twice a week. So the proximity that Millburn offers was very attractive. We have children in the arts, and we found more options near Millburn--from NYC itself, to Maplewood and Summit--all of which offer a variety of top notch art/cultural enrichment programs that better fit our children's needs. I also found this area to be more diverse culturally than Bernardsville--I think it has to do with the proximity to the city.

In the end, it came down to economics, however.

We bought at the height of the bubble and at that time, all of the prices in NJ shocked the crap out of us. When I realized we were going to spend more than we had planned to get what we thought we needed, I started thinking about our investment a little bit more coldly. In the end, I reasoned that the Millburn/Summit/Chatham areas had perfect "fundamentals"---they had the schools (but Bernards has that too).... but I reasoned the train and accessibility into NYC would protect our investment.....and I was right. Homes that I saw in Bernardsville years ago are not selling for what they were listed when we looked and while prices have dropped everywhere, we've held our values more or less.

You, however, are buying in a different market so back to the Bernardsville point--I believe you may find fantastic values right now. We perused again a couple of years ago and looked at a few homes for the sport of it. Stuff ended up selling for a lot less than it was listed--so I do think it's a good market for you.

Hope that helped!
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Old 11-18-2011, 03:35 PM
 
Location: Martinsville, NJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucky836 View Post
Thank you for the responses! All seemed like great towns but it's hard to differentiate. We are leaning towards Bernardsville because we like the large lots. Question regarding kids activities: is there a swim club for winter swimming in the area?

There are several indoor pools within a reasonable distance. I believe one of the best, and possibly closest to Bernardsville, is right next door in Basking Ridge. The YMCA on Mt. Airy Rd did a MAJOR addition & renovation to their "aquatic center" just a couple of years ago. And there is a swim team at that location.

Also, once you start looking in Bernardsville, you may decide that you can expand your search to the nearby towns like Basking Ridge, Far Hills, Peapack & Gladstone, and Bedminster. Those towns are fairly similar to Bernardsville in many respects. In fact, Far Hills, Bedminster, and P&G send their kids to the Bernards High, which is the public high School in Bernardsville.
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