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Old 02-26-2016, 03:14 PM
 
15 posts, read 26,111 times
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Hi all,

I know there are several threads on Montclair and West Orange but some are older (still helpful!) so I thought I would reach out for current opinions. My husband and I have been researching and looking around Montclair and West Orange for the past year (after arrival of baby). We lived in Brooklyn for +10 years and then bought a house in Jersey City 8 years ago and are ready for our next move. We really like both areas but we recently saw a home in WO (St. Cloud) and loved the bigger lots and quiet blocks (even though the house wasn't for us). We initially saw homes near Eagle Rock Res (on the Terrace STreets next to Montclair with city views) and really like the area, but I'm under the impression that the schools aren't great? We love the artsy, diversity of Montclair (Surprise! esp the Walnut St area) but the cons are (obviously) cost, bidding wars, and smaller lots. Also the magnet schools are a draw, and I have only recently started researching the schools in WO. The negatives to WO SEEM to be school system and the lack of a downtown?
Note: husband is a freelancer and can work from home, I'm transitioning to a job in NJ so walk to train isn't a must, it would be a bonus.

In sum our priorities: QUIET, walkable neighborhood, nice backyard with decent lot size and trees, community feel with kids around, good school system. Budget $350-500, but the higher end would be a stretch.

My questions are:

Is there really a difference between the quality of education in the two areas?
What does Montclair have to offer that WO does not?
Is there a similar feeling of community in WO ?
I haven't really checked out the Gregory area but heard it's also nice. General feedback about the different areas would be helpful.

Thank you very much!
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Old 02-26-2016, 04:05 PM
 
Location: nYC
684 posts, read 658,665 times
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If you ask me, for the property taxes you will pay in WO or Montclair you can get better schools. School rating 8 an up with bigger lots.

People are here because of NYC proximity. Why not consider central jersey ? lower property costs ?

Every-one always wants to move where I live and thus it's becoming crowded. from now on i am going to tell people how much it sucks where I live so that they would stop trying on being my neighbors
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Old 02-26-2016, 04:27 PM
 
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From what I can see West Orange has a little less of an identity of it's own. Generally the different areas take on character from the areas they border. People that live in the Gregory section tend to somewhat include themselves in the South Orange/Maplewood community. The downtown area is really more like just a small extension of Orange's downtown. Same for the areas near Verona and Montclair (full disclosure, I live in SO, so I know less about that area!).

Montclair and South Orange/Maplewood (SOMa) are kind of the generic places where people that leave the city gravitate to. This means high prices, insane property taxes and a competitive market. West Orange is generally the option for people that don't really want to pay the premium for living in these aging-hipster paradises. As far as community, West Orange tends to be a little more spread out and classic suburban than SOMa. I suspect the community may not be as tight, but SOMa is a pretty tight community - and perhaps a little full of itself at times. Dialing things back a notch may not always be bad in that regard.
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Old 02-26-2016, 07:27 PM
 
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I'm also curious about the West Orange schools. Elementary schools seem solid. What's going on at the middle school/high school level?
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Old 02-26-2016, 07:54 PM
 
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Montclair has a few nice downtown-type areas. West Orange has some lousy ones that they keep talking about improving (but don't hold your breath). Montclair has a bunch of train stations, West Orange doesn't though some parts are near Highland or Mountain. West Orange has some well-reputed elementary schools (including St Cloud and Gregory) but its 6th grade middle school and high school don't have great reputations. Montclair has an odd school system that some people swear by and some swear at; not having any kids myself, I don't know.

West Orange is generally less expensive for a similar property. Both vary quite a bit; West Orange goes from frankly urban with tiny houses on small lots near the Orange border to typical suburban on the west side (plus there's the mansions of Llewellen Park). Montclair has its own mansion sections, some large houses on small lots in Montclair Center, plus some typical suburban stuff in Upper Montclair and elsewhere.

Your desires are somewhat in conflict; it's hard to find a place both quiet and walkable, or with a large backyard and walkable. The areas near the town centers tend to have smaller lots and more noise, for most towns.
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Old 02-26-2016, 09:58 PM
 
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Why not go West or Central NJ since your husband can work from home.
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Old 02-27-2016, 08:01 AM
 
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Default Thanks for feedback

Hi all, thanks for the responses!

RE: why not consider moving further out (yes Essex taxes are crazy), good question. I'm looking to transfer to Bergen county (I'm also researching some towns but many are too pricey); he's in the film industry and sometimes has to work in the city, so we are trying not to move TOO far out.

We've checked out some other towns in NJ and we keep coming back to this area for two reasons: it's a nice distant to NYC and we like the vibe. We've lived in the city for so long that I'm concerned that if we moved to a town that is lacking culturally to what we are used to it might be too much of a shellshock. Ex-we checked out Summit and Cranford and although we can understand why they would work for some people, they weren't for us. We are homebodies but at the same time we like that there are good grocery stores and many towns diverse close by that have different things to offer. Also important to consider things for our kid to do now. For those of you who live in these areas I'm assuming you understand the draw (right?!) but the prices in Montclair do seem outrageous. I'm open to other town suggestions as well that maybe I'm missing, but from what I know there don't seem to be other towns like Montclair.

Also to clarify-the town does not have to be walkable but we would like amenities to be a short drive.
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Old 02-27-2016, 03:26 PM
 
1,174 posts, read 1,649,158 times
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These two towns are a part of my search. In the end, you get more house in WO, but the taxes are much higher. For us, not having a downtown and a train are the big downsides for us.

You might check Livingston, Verona, or Cedar Grove. Since you dont need to be close to a train, then looking in towns without easy train access will get you more for your money.

But if it was between Montclair and WO, id prefer smaller house better location and less taxes.
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Old 02-28-2016, 08:38 AM
 
Location: West Orange, NJ
727 posts, read 1,860,332 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qrysdonnell View Post
From what I can see West Orange has a little less of an identity of it's own. Generally the different areas take on character from the areas they border. People that live in the Gregory section tend to somewhat include themselves in the South Orange/Maplewood community. The downtown area is really more like just a small extension of Orange's downtown. Same for the areas near Verona and Montclair (full disclosure, I live in SO, so I know less about that area!).

Montclair and South Orange/Maplewood (SOMa) are kind of the generic places where people that leave the city gravitate to. This means high prices, insane property taxes and a competitive market. West Orange is generally the option for people that don't really want to pay the premium for living in these aging-hipster paradises. As far as community, West Orange tends to be a little more spread out and classic suburban than SOMa. I suspect the community may not be as tight, but SOMa is a pretty tight community - and perhaps a little full of itself at times. Dialing things back a notch may not always be bad in that regard.
I think that's spot on about West Orange neighborhoods having characteristics of the neighboring towns. Except for the parts by Orange I think that's a good thing and is part of West Oranges draw. Also the nicest parts of these neighboring towns are on the West Orange border (Livingston, Verona and South Orange).
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Old 07-20-2018, 09:56 AM
 
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Default Montclair school vs West Orange Schools

On the topic of schools between Montclair and West Orange, I would pick Montclair. We have four kids, three of which attended Montclair then moved to West Orange. I like the closeness and the support offered to the kids in Montclair vs that of West Orange. I the student to teacher ration and the tools used made us feel like we had a better experience in MO. West Orange seems to have a vibrant educational system but I felt the teachers in MO (Bullock Elementary) cared more. The teacher to student ratio was higher and they had days were parents could come for an our to volunteer in the classroom. MO also partners with the Montclair University to have students conduct their in class training at the MO public schools.


What I love about WO. I live on the south side of the Verona border which is walking distance to the Verona Park and driving distance to the train station in Montclair. There is also a jitney that can you to the train station, I have never used it so I can't confirm or deny. There is a bus that stops at the main street that goes direct to the city. My neighbors that work in the city use all the time. I live the community feel of my neighborhood. I can only speak for my neighborhood and not the entirety of WO. The kids have plenty of friends to play with and space in the back yard to run about. WO itself does lack a strip where you can have a leisurely stroll and take in the different restaurant or people watch. There is Essex Green commons but it just seems away from everything. My family and I feel relatively safe and not overly concerned with our kids riding their bikes around the block. All in all, I enjoy where I live but I prefer the education in MO.


MO does have a bit of a hipster vibe to it which is slightly attractive to me. The homes can seem a bit clustered at times but that's the trade of if you are looking for the city vibe. I do enjoy the variety of activities and restaurants they have to offer.
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