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Old 10-26-2013, 10:43 PM
2 posts, read 18,798 times
Reputation: 13


Iím afraid my current town has spoiled me. It has two small private colleges, fewer than 20,000 people, a charming downtown with unique shops and restaurants and even a riverwalk, and awesome community events. It's also within commuting distance to Minneapolis/St. Paul. And my husband would point out there is easy access to hunting and fishing opportunities. Did I say I love this town?

Where are you coming from? Northfield, MN
Why are you moving? Husband is transferring
Where will you be working? West Orange Ė My husband would likely drive, and a commute of 50 minutes or less would be preferred.

Will you buy or rent? Rent
What is your budget ? $2000-2500
What kind of place are you looking for? House

Will anyone (spouse, children, pets) be moving with you? Husband, three children age 5 and under, and a dog
Do you need/want good public schools? Yes

Briefly describe the kind of neighborhood you'd like to live in
(examples: families with young children, young, mature, artsy, diverse, safe, close-knit, block parties, etc)
Families with young children, close to elementary school would be ideal

List three things that are important to you in order of importance.(examples: nightlife, outdoor activities, rural/urban, safety, downtown area, charming, new construction, proximity to XYZ, family oriented, easy parking, short commute, etc)
1. family oriented
2. safety
3. charming

Iíve never been to New Jersey and quite frankly have no idea what to expect. I doubt we will find another Northfield in New Jersey, but Iím hoping we can come close. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks!
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Old 10-27-2013, 07:25 AM
45 posts, read 139,011 times
Reputation: 51
I live very near West Orange. WO is rather spread out with 3-4 distinctly different sections, almost as though it is a collection of several communities rather than a single city. Each area is very different with respect to whether it is residential vs. business, the demographics, the density, and the "charm".

Based on the criteria you've provided (family oriented, safety and charming), in my opinion, you probably are looking at two different sets of choices.

The first option is to live in a town nearby WO, thus the commute would be 15-30 minutes along local streets/roads (e.g. Prospect Ave from the north, South Orange Avenue, Eagle Rock Road, or Mt. Pleasant Avenue from the west). Towns you might want to explore in light of your description would be Montclair (specifically the "Upper Montclair" area near Montclair State University), Verona, West Caldwell, Madison, Chatham, Maplewood (very charming and family oriented but perhaps not quite as safe as the others) or Livingston (which is not as visually charming but has top-rated schools and is very safe). I don't think any of these are going to be as charming as you've described Northfield but they are safe and have a "community feel".

Option #2 would seem to be to look a bit further west (along Route 80 which feeds into Route 280, the main commuting artery leading to WO). Commute times will vary depending on the distance and time of day since it also is used by commuters headed into NYC. Relatively speaking, the further west one goes, the more rural (although NJ standards will differ substantially from Minnesota in terms of what is rural). Given your price range, you might want to look at Denville, Mountain Lakes (more expensive), or Troy-Parisippany (not as quaint but meets other criteria). If your husband does enjoy outdoor life, you might even want to consider looking up Route 15 such as in Lafayette or Sparta. The commute from there will be a bit further, of course, but those communities are more on the edge of open land and forest areas.

Google maps will show you the location of all of the above suggestions.

These are, of course, just one person's opinions. Good luck in your search.
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Old 10-27-2013, 07:37 AM
Location: Randolph, NJ
4,074 posts, read 7,053,440 times
Reputation: 3231
Madison - nice downtown, 2 colleges, train lone, very good schools, reasonable commute to WO.
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Old 10-27-2013, 05:22 PM
Location: The State Line
2,207 posts, read 3,016,388 times
Reputation: 2477
I'm going to be honest with you. NJ's idea of quaint is going to be different than MN's idea of quaint. I can imagine there's more outdoorsy terrain and it's likely easier to find yourself in the middle of nowhere. NJ suburbs in general may be denser than your used to, the culture may be a bit more fast-paced, the general makeup of people might be more varied, and likely more sprawl. That's not a bad thing, but I wouldn't move to a new area hoping where I go might come close to what I'm used to at home. IMO, it can easily set you up for disappointment. You're moving across the country: it's going to be different. Try to embrace the differences as a new adventure of sorts. Hopefully you'll be able to appreciate the differences for what they're worth.

I would look into Morris or Sussex. I can't promise an abundance of hunting and fishing as you would in MN, but it may be more to your liking than much of Essex, which can range from suburban to urban, and an even bigger change.
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Old 10-27-2013, 06:33 PM
Location: Dallas TX
14,311 posts, read 20,569,109 times
Reputation: 20215
Maplewood, South Orange, Summit (May be a bit much) Madison will be feat places to start.

We lived in Maplewood for ten years absolutely loved it. Only bad thing were the taxes.
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Old 10-27-2013, 07:20 PM
3,269 posts, read 8,726,963 times
Reputation: 2003
$2,000 - $2,500 rent for a house for 5 people in a charming, safe, family neighborhood with good schools isn't going to happen.

If you can pay more Madison would work.
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Old 10-28-2013, 06:49 AM
Location: Randolph, NJ
4,074 posts, read 7,053,440 times
Reputation: 3231
Originally Posted by Obrero View Post
$2,000 - $2,500 rent for a house for 5 people in a charming, safe, family neighborhood with good schools isn't going to happen.

If you can pay more Madison would work.
well... in realtor code, "charming" could be had for $2500... for a house with "character".
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Old 10-28-2013, 09:44 AM
Status: "Even better than okay" (set 12 days ago)
Location: Coastal New Jersey
51,318 posts, read 50,576,723 times
Reputation: 60245
^Yes, I don't get what "charming" is supposed to mean as regards a town. What the OP describes, minus the colleges, is Red Bank, NJ, although I've never heard anyone describe it as charming. Maybe it's a Midwestern term that's really not used in NJ in the same way. I only ever hear people say something is "charming" in a sarcastic sort of way, lol.

Red Bank wouldn't be a good commute for West Orange, though. The Parkway is hell at rush hour. And most other hours, too.
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Old 10-28-2013, 10:02 AM
880 posts, read 1,174,972 times
Reputation: 658
South Orange has a university, a downtown; nearby Maplewood is similar. Montclair has like 4 downtowns and a university as well.
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Old 10-28-2013, 10:12 AM
Location: West Orange, NJ
12,542 posts, read 17,742,627 times
Reputation: 3681
Of course this won't be popular, but I'd seriously consider looking at houses in the Gregory section of West Orange, or the section up by Liberty Middle School (pleasantdale section, i think?).

The alternatives would be South Orange for a nice downtown, but I'm thinking it might be too busy for someone coming from MN, unless they have a chance to visit and spend some time there.

West Orange gets put down a lot, but many sections are very cute and quiet. We lack a downtown though.

Rental houses are quite reasonably priced, in some cases.

Millburn is great, but not sure if you'll get that rent
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