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Old 12-21-2011, 09:10 PM
 
261 posts, read 315,938 times
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I would be curious to hear from everyone how they would compare the Mendham/Chester area vs the Westfield/Cranford area. We are raising kids, so a parent's perspective would be really helpful.

We like the Mendham area, the schools are great, (etc.), but... once in a while life here seems sort of boring. After 8pm, the town is dead. Yes, we can walk in town during the day, but I can't help to feel that we are living in a semi-retirement community. The local businesses are not very kid oriented so it's hard to find places we love to go to here (for example, no ice-cream place, no bakery, no cinema). There are plenty of kids in town, don't get me wrong, but they seem to go straight home after school, and only seem to emerge on sunny days.

How is it in Westfield/Cranford? How does living there differ? Do people walk around with their kids in the early evening, say to grab something to eat? Do we need to consider moving to a city to find that here? I've been reading many reviews here, and those two towns always get high praises, especially Cranford for its affordability. I'm very curious about what everyone has to say. Thanks.
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Old 12-21-2011, 11:24 PM
 
Location: North Metro Atlanta
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Not totaly Dated.... I grow up in Mendham in the 70's school are great, but there is nothing to do for teens. We would go into Morristown(mostly) or Chester sometimes.
My bestfriend grew up in westfield, there downtown had a nice walkable town. more thing to do, a Y, and a 'teen' club. Westfield/Cranford are both nice town to grow a kid in.
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Old 12-22-2011, 08:29 AM
 
Location: NJ
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Chester has what you feel is missing in Mendham so I'm not sure why your title says Mendham/Chester?
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Old 12-22-2011, 03:59 PM
 
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i live in Westfield and love it. yes, downtown is great and tons of things to do for kids. Cranford also has a great downtown, a little smaller and a little more mom & pop type shops then westfield.

that said, remember that the grass is always greener. mendham is a fantastic town. sometimes you begin to take things for granted with a place once you've been there a while.
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Old 12-22-2011, 05:52 PM
 
Location: UK but on the way to NJ!
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I live in Westfield with 2 young children 7 and 3 years. After school we always have something going on, gymnastics, a nature class at Trailside (Watchung Reservation), Science class at the Rec Center downtown, swimming at the Y, a playdate or meeting up at a park with friends/neighbors. I meet up with friends downtown once or twice a week for lunch, usually with our preschoolers--so yes--kid friendly. About once a week or so we eat dinner downtown, and pretty regularly (but not nearly as much as I'd like) I will go downtown to meet friends for coffee or drinks at night. In the summer we practically live at the pool and arrange day trips with neighbors to go blueberry picking or down the shore...I don't know if that is the kind of lifestyle you're looking for, but that's what we do. There is always something going on, in the winter the Y is open for FamilyFun on Sundays, and the schools have many activities going on. My friends with middle schoolers walk downtown every Friday--go visit at that time--the place is crawling with 6 graders through highschoolers. It's very sweet, they eat pizza, see a movie, grab an ice cream and hang out at Starbucks, great big giggling groups of them. I would say it's a very family friendly place and we love living here. My friend lived in Chester and she also liked it a lot but it seems a little more rural than here, and involved more driving.
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Old 12-23-2011, 10:54 AM
 
1,164 posts, read 1,081,734 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ResearchMom View Post
I would be curious to hear from everyone how they would compare the Mendham/Chester area vs the Westfield/Cranford area. We are raising kids, so a parent's perspective would be really helpful.

We like the Mendham area, the schools are great, (etc.), but... once in a while life here seems sort of boring. After 8pm, the town is dead. Yes, we can walk in town during the day, but I can't help to feel that we are living in a semi-retirement community. The local businesses are not very kid oriented so it's hard to find places we love to go to here (for example, no ice-cream place, no bakery, no cinema). There are plenty of kids in town, don't get me wrong, but they seem to go straight home after school, and only seem to emerge on sunny days.

How is it in Westfield/Cranford? How does living there differ? Do people walk around with their kids in the early evening, say to grab something to eat? Do we need to consider moving to a city to find that here? I've been reading many reviews here, and those two towns always get high praises, especially Cranford for its affordability. I'm very curious about what everyone has to say. Thanks.

While Mendham does not have a cinema nor an ice cream store, nearby Chester has both. Mendham does have quite a few things you seem to have missed, Pastime Lanes (543-6631) for bowling, the beach at Brookside, as well as a very active sports program. (everything from soccer, baseball, football, softball, tennis, fencing, rugby, swimming, swim team, track & field, skiing, wrestling and lacross. Contact the Rec Department at town hall for more info. The conservation trust has wonderful programs at the Schiff Nature Preserve, located in Mendham for kids. (Schiff Natural Lands Trust, Schiff Nature Preserve, Mendham New Jersey (NJ)) the Backer Farm on Ironia Road has a horsemanship program Backer Farm - Full Service Equestrian Facility - Horse Boarding - Riding Lessons - Training There is also Mennen Area in nearby by Cedar Knolls for ice skating, and the rec department has regular trips there.

The Morris County Parks commission has wonderful programs all year round for the kids at local parks, including just 5 minutes down the road Lewis Morris Park and Sunrise Lake. Morris County NJ USA Park Commission

If your kids are school aged, the schools have a wealth of after school programs, and there are brownie/daisy as well as boy scout troops.

Have you checked out the Morris Museum in Morristown? Morris Museum - Morristown, New Jersey (http://www.morrismuseum.org/ - broken link) They have wonderful programs for the kids! Morristown also has the Communty Theatre/ Mayo Center Mayo Performing Arts Center for concerts, performances, shows, lectures, etc.

That is what I came up with off the cuff, I know there is more going on....

KoalaNJ
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Old 12-23-2011, 04:44 PM
 
261 posts, read 315,938 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tahiti View Post
Chester has what you feel is missing in Mendham so I'm not sure why your title says Mendham/Chester?
When I thought of the question, I wanted to see how the two geographical areas compare. I do know that Chester has a few more things to offer than Mendham, however, it is not what I am looking for.

Yes, there are plenty of activities in both towns, but that is the problem. I am tired of constant signing up for activities just to meet people. Always new faces, always new kids. It's not healthy after a while. I want to bump into local kids while sitting on a bench in town, while at the playground (they are super empty here - even in Chester on a sunny day in December - summer no problem though). I want to meet folks apart from activities, just by spending time in town and hanging out with the kids. I find most of the area parents a bit reserved, always nice at first, but quite in a hurry to go on to the next thing. I don't see people enjoying watching their kids play anymore. Maybe that's why many are not looking for what I am looking for. I was simply curious about Westfield/Cranford, because those towns are closer to the city, and I find NYC parents (Battery Park area, not sure about UES/UWS) to be super easy going, INVITING, and open to laid back conversation. Most Mendham/Chester parents are not inviting (not interested in forming friendships, only scheduled relations), that's why a year later, we are still mostly nibbling in playdates.
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Old 12-23-2011, 07:11 PM
 
Location: UK but on the way to NJ!
239 posts, read 716,651 times
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Well so much of our lives these days has to do with scheduling things--a lot of people work during the day and have only the evenings and weekends to catch up and do chores etc. but for those who stay at home/work from home, there is plenty of overlap here in Westfield. I've never been downtown without running into someone, the people we know through the Y we end up seeing at pool, we see friends from school at town events. A few recent examples--we ran into my son's former kindergarten friend at the "pumpkin patch" at Williams Nursery in town, and ended up spending the afternoon together, hayride, ice cream, etc. We ran into friends from a mom's group at the Christmas tree lighting downtown, while meeting others we had arranged to see there, and after we met up at dinner, kids that we met at a birthday party we see trick-or-treating. The people here are very friendly and strike up conversation about just about everything. Tonight I was in the Farmhouse store and was chatting with a man I never met about some candles, in Trader Joe's a woman asked me what was in my basket and if my family liked it, and while out to lunch with friends we came across neighbors there at the same time. Not all of these are friendships, but it is nice to see familiar faces frequently. I think it's really easy to meet up with people--hey, our kids are having fun, do you want to meet up here next week/get a slice of pizza/etc. There are a few groups dedicated to newcomers (Newcomers of Westfield and Westfield Welcome Wagon) with tons of activities for kids and adults, and many friendships are formed there. Other popular moms groups here are Mother's Center, Holistic Moms Network, and La Leche League. Again, lots of overlap of people in these groups. It's very easy to be integrated into this community--I felt more connected in a few months than I did in several years in other places.
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Old 08-12-2012, 02:31 PM
 
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We've had the same experience in Mendham-- "not interested in forming friendships, only scheduled relations" -- and can't explain it. We've made a few friends, but miss the kind of relationships you're talking about. If you're not heavily into sports, you don't fit in. That aspect of life here has been a disappointment for us.
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Old 08-13-2012, 07:34 PM
 
261 posts, read 315,938 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valerize View Post
We've had the same experience in Mendham-- "not interested in forming friendships, only scheduled relations" -- and can't explain it. We've made a few friends, but miss the kind of relationships you're talking about. If you're not heavily into sports, you don't fit in. That aspect of life here has been a disappointment for us.
Have you found a town that you are happy with?

Would you say that all of the following towns compare the same (Mendham vs Chatham/Madison vs Millburn/Summit vs Ridgewood/Glen Rock vs Glen Ridge vs Westfield)?
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