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Old 12-16-2015, 01:51 PM
1 posts, read 1,621 times
Reputation: 10


First off, thank you City Forumites, for all the awesome information you've put up here. I've gotten a ton of great leads from this board.

Here's an unusual question for you:

We're a large homeschooling family on one income. My job is 3 days a week in NYC FiDi and 2 days a week from home. (3 months of the year it's 100% from home -- College Professor). We moved from the midwest 5 years ago and have been in Boonton Town since then (in a medium-sized colonial in the town).

We're looking to buy:

Max budget: $475,000 (presuming property taxes at $12,000). Would prefer $400,000.
Size: 4+ bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths. We're open to renovating the right place. Needs to be 2,000sq ft. plus. Bigger is better. Must have usable yard, minimum 7,000 sq. ft. lot.
Location: within 20 minutes of Mountainside & Millburn (because of friends & church). So, no Suffern, Fair Lawn, Rutherford, Red Bank, or anything too far north or south.
Commute: 3 days a week into NYC. Ideally walkable to a train station but open to a 30 minute drive to Harrison. NJ Penn + PATH is good since job is in FiDi. Currently 1-car and would like to stay that way, but will buy 2nd if everything else makes sense. Total commute time at or below 1hr30min is a necessity.
Neighborhood: Strongly desire a pre-1945 home with historic elements (woodwork, fireplace, etc.). Safe enough for our middle school aged kids to walk to the park and play -- ideally ride bikes in the street. We're not safety nuts like some people in NJ. We feel safe walking around Harrison, NJ. Doesn't have to be Westfield-level stuff. Doesn't need to be trendy at all. We've enjoyed the cute but a little run-down downtown of Boonton.
Schools irrelevant: we homeschool and will do so through high school. We literally do not care about the schools. I know this totally messes with the usual decision-making matrix for such things.

Obviously, we're priced out of basically everywhere -- not only places like Summit and Westfield, but also places like Mountainside, South Orange, West Orange, and (for the most part) Springfield.

So, this is all impossible, right? Well, based on driving around and researching on the board we actually think there are a few options. We checked out Forest Hill in Newark and Seven Oaks in Orange but they both still seem too sketchy. We like the thinking behind these places, though.

Towns we're currently considering:

Walkable to Train:

Sleepy Hollow in Plainfield. Love this little neighborhood.
Roselle Park -- Well within price range, but most houses are too small and the density is pretty high.
Boonton -- could stay here and move to a larger lot/quieter street. Over 30 minutes to Mountainside and over 1hr30commute (is 1:45 most days).

Not walkable to train
Evergreen section of Plainfield. Haven't spent enough time here to decide on safety. Definitely a concern.
Union -- Same issue as Roselle Park -- most houses are too new, too small, or too densely packed.
Springfield -- there are some old homes on Tooker Ave. and surrounding streets. Anyone know the scoop on this part of town?
Kenilworth -- Maybe some options?
Elmora Hills section of Elizabeth -- Some possibilities here.

Keeping it within 20 minutes of Mountainside and Millburn is there somewhere else we should look?
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Old 12-16-2015, 09:40 PM
Location: West Orange, NJ
722 posts, read 1,698,617 times
Reputation: 231
Technically Westminster section of hillside would fit the bill. You can probably get a house that fits your requirement in west orange for 400K and about 14k taxes. The Hazel section is a good location and has older homes. Springfield is nice but the houses are probably to knew. Technically seven oaks in Orange fits your needs but I wouldn't recommend living their.
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Old 12-21-2015, 10:02 AM
Location: Brooklyn
39 posts, read 46,016 times
Reputation: 44
Personally would drive me nuts to be paying those kinds of property taxes in NJ and not using the school system, but hey to each his own.

That being said, I don't think you're priced out of West Orange... I found two places that recently sold in your price range that seem to meet your criteria. Both are "walkable" to train if you consider about 20 mins or so walkable. Otherwise you could bike. Not so bad given you'll only be doing it three days a week. I would look into West Orange a bit more if I were you. $400K would be stretching it but under $475K definitely seems doable there. Good luck.

65 Walker Rd, West Orange, NJ 07052 | Zillow

1 Belgrade Ter, West Orange, NJ 07052 | Zillow
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Old 12-21-2015, 12:37 PM
Location: The Sand Hills of NC
8,774 posts, read 16,116,825 times
Reputation: 11934
Sleepy Hollow in Plainfied is not a bad choice if you never venture into the undesirable areas.
Nice selection of better built historic older homes.
Close to the train.
If you already own a home invasion prevention device it might come in handy in any home in the Plainfield area.
I don't normally recommend Plainfield unless the poster is stressing diverse area.
You already said schools don't matter so maybe Plainfield would work for you.
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Old 12-21-2015, 07:12 PM
Location: NJ
377 posts, read 433,460 times
Reputation: 431
I've been looking to buy in Sleepy Hollow for over a year now and have spoken with many residents and others who know the area. There are few to no home invasions there and very little crime overall. Those who live there love it there.

Would I skip the security system? Probably not. But would I worry about living there? Not in the least.

Edited to add: Forgot to mention, most homes in Sleepy Hollow (not all) are kinda small. Less than 1800 sq. ft. Even if they have 4 bedrooms, they are small ones.

Last edited by pruebas; 12-21-2015 at 07:22 PM..
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Old 12-21-2015, 07:14 PM
1,450 posts, read 3,041,621 times
Reputation: 725
The first 2 towns I though of when reading your needs/desires list was Morristown and Maplewood. Both towns have some wonderful large older homes within your budget that meet your other criteria. Although some of the larger homes in Maplewood are not walkable to the train station, there is a shuttle that will take one to the train that goes through much of the town. Morristown has many large older colonials and victorians around the downtown area, though the walk to the train may be slightly longer than you desire, (.5 mile).

Another town that comes to my mind is Dover. It is a little farther from the Milburn area than you'd requested, (more like 30/35 min) but the housing costs are significantly lower. (you'll find many around the 250 to 300k range) There are plenty of gorgeous large older homes, many of which are on larger lots. The western side of the town, by the hospital has quite a few, all on larger lots (more than .25 acre) though that area is not walkable to the train, so you'd have to spend some of the savings on the house purchase to buy a commuter car to get you to the train. I'd stay away from the area around east Blackwell, as it is not the safest, but we are not talking Newark/Patterson bad. The area around the hospital is very nice and safe. The other thing you'd have to deal with is the commute to work will be slightly over your 1.5 hour wish. The 6:30 am train from Dover to Hoboken takes 80 min, and in Hoboken you'd have to switch to either the adjacent PATH station or ferry terminal for the short (10/15 min) trip to the financial dist. It's something to consider, especially due to the lower housing cost.

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Old 12-21-2015, 08:49 PM
377 posts, read 365,975 times
Reputation: 278
First thing I thought of was Sleepy Hollow (Plainfield). Taxes being the main concern.

What about Orange (near South/West Orange borders)? I think there are some big Victorians.

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Old 12-22-2015, 10:06 AM
Location: cranford, NJ
77 posts, read 57,760 times
Reputation: 31
How about Garwood or Sotch Plains
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Old 12-22-2015, 04:22 PM
4 posts, read 7,255 times
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I'd look further in Union in places like Putnam Manor. Really beautiful pre-1945 houses with awesome yards and tree-lined streets. The train station is also pretty walkable from there.
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Old 12-26-2015, 06:26 PM
60 posts, read 77,877 times
Reputation: 57
One comment I have is that I would consider the school district of the town you buy in. While you won't be using them, it will greatly impact your resale value down the road for a large home if it's in a place where one would have to send their kids to private schools (i.e. Newark, Orange, Plainfield, Hillside).
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