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Old 03-19-2018, 04:33 PM
 
5 posts, read 7,713 times
Reputation: 11

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Hi all,

First time poster, but long-time lurker - I've found this forum to be extremely helpful when it comes to neighborhood knowledge. My husband and I currently rent in Roseland, but are looking to buy within the year for family-planning purposes. I work in Parsippany, and he works in Roseland, so we both have a fairly quick commute. I also go down to DC for work frequently, every week at certain times of the year. I typically take the train from Metropark, but occasionally fly out of Newark. Close proximity (~30 minutes or less) to our NJ workplaces, and to these transit hubs, would be ideal. We go into the city occasionally, but no need to be close to a NYC train or bus line. I also care nothing about a walkable downtown. After living in DC for several years, I'm thrilled to drive everywhere and be in a non-city atmosphere.

Our budget ranges from $400k to $600k. We'd want at least a 3 bed/2 bath home. We are in our late 20s and expect to start a family soon, so a safe, pleasant area with young families and parks might be nice. We don't expect that this would be our "forever" home, but having some flexibility would be nice, so a good school district would be helpful. I have a very favorable impression of West Orange in terms of atmosphere (and I love the proximity to Turtle Back Zoo), but I haven't heard great things about the high school, especially compared to Livingston. Are the elementary/middle schools alright? And is the high school not ranked highly because it's large (i.e., high student:teacher ratio), or because it's dangerous or lacking in good programs? Additionally, would you have any reservations about safety in West Orange, and any concerns about burglaries or other property crime? Absent school district considerations and safety, West Orange would be the ideal location for me - many of the streets seem a little quieter and leafier than Livingston and Roseland, and you certainly get more bang for your buck in terms of housing.

Livingston has some beautiful areas, but anything renovated appears to be over our budget. This past weekend, we spent some time driving through other potential neighborhoods - North Caldwell and Verona seemed nice as well, and fit our budget and commute preferences. My husband is a NJ native, but grew up in Watchung and isn't that familiar with the areas we're looking to live. I'd love to hear neighborhood impressions and suggestions from the forum. Are there other towns we should be looking at that may fit the bill in terms of budget, commute, and atmosphere?
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Old 03-19-2018, 10:52 PM
 
Location: West Orange, NJ
727 posts, read 1,859,918 times
Reputation: 235
Quote:
Originally Posted by HoyaLawya View Post
Hi all,

First time poster, but long-time lurker - I've found this forum to be extremely helpful when it comes to neighborhood knowledge. My husband and I currently rent in Roseland, but are looking to buy within the year for family-planning purposes. I work in Parsippany, and he works in Roseland, so we both have a fairly quick commute. I also go down to DC for work frequently, every week at certain times of the year. I typically take the train from Metropark, but occasionally fly out of Newark. Close proximity (~30 minutes or less) to our NJ workplaces, and to these transit hubs, would be ideal. We go into the city occasionally, but no need to be close to a NYC train or bus line. I also care nothing about a walkable downtown. After living in DC for several years, I'm thrilled to drive everywhere and be in a non-city atmosphere.

Our budget ranges from $400k to $600k. We'd want at least a 3 bed/2 bath home. We are in our late 20s and expect to start a family soon, so a safe, pleasant area with young families and parks might be nice. We don't expect that this would be our "forever" home, but having some flexibility would be nice, so a good school district would be helpful. I have a very favorable impression of West Orange in terms of atmosphere (and I love the proximity to Turtle Back Zoo), but I haven't heard great things about the high school, especially compared to Livingston. Are the elementary/middle schools alright? And is the high school not ranked highly because it's large (i.e., high student:teacher ratio), or because it's dangerous or lacking in good programs? Additionally, would you have any reservations about safety in West Orange, and any concerns about burglaries or other property crime? Absent school district considerations and safety, West Orange would be the ideal location for me - many of the streets seem a little quieter and leafier than Livingston and Roseland, and you certainly get more bang for your buck in terms of housing.

Livingston has some beautiful areas, but anything renovated appears to be over our budget. This past weekend, we spent some time driving through other potential neighborhoods - North Caldwell and Verona seemed nice as well, and fit our budget and commute preferences. My husband is a NJ native, but grew up in Watchung and isn't that familiar with the areas we're looking to live. I'd love to hear neighborhood impressions and suggestions from the forum. Are there other towns we should be looking at that may fit the bill in terms of budget, commute, and atmosphere?
My wife and I bought in West Orange in the summer of 2016. You definitely get a lot more bang for the buck and it’s one of the best locations in North Jersey. We don’t have kids as we are in our mid to late 20s. From what I see/hear the elementary schools are very good. The issue with the high school is that West Orange is very large and down the hill near Orange is not that nice and there is one high school. The school has many great programs and it should improve as more people who are priced out of the nearby hot towns look at West Orange. I wouldn’t think the high school is actually dangerous. West Orange is 12 square miles, if you remove the down the hill area by Orange it is just as safe as Livingston, Roseland, Verona, etc. With your budget you would find something easily, go on the lower end since taxes in this entire area are high.
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Old 03-20-2018, 10:31 AM
 
25 posts, read 61,094 times
Reputation: 22
I'll recommend Caldwell / West Caldwell and for your budget you can get a nice house.
It's very safe, very convenient, and schools are good.
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Old 03-20-2018, 11:14 AM
 
5 posts, read 7,713 times
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Thanks for your response, it's good to hear from someone that's had a good experience living in West Orange. We will certainly keep that on the table. I love the neighborhoods up the hill, and it's just as convenient as our current spot in Roseland. Also, very helpful to hear that that elementary schools are good. It would be nice to not have to move within 6 years for education, assuming we have kids in the next year or so.

Taxes are killer, but appear to be awful in all of Essex County. I agree with going toward the lower end of our budget for that reason, especially with the new $10k deduction cap.
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Old 03-20-2018, 11:18 AM
 
5 posts, read 7,713 times
Reputation: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by eqt2010 View Post
I'll recommend Caldwell / West Caldwell and for your budget you can get a nice house.
It's very safe, very convenient, and schools are good.
I like Caldwell, it's seemed nice the few times we've been out to eat in the area. Is James Caldwell High School (the high school for West Caldwell) generally regarded as better than West Essex (HS for Roseland, North Caldwell), or are they pretty comparable? May be a little early to start worrying about high school, but if there's a drastic difference I'd want to take that into account for resale value.
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Old 03-20-2018, 11:40 AM
 
58 posts, read 145,246 times
Reputation: 30
cedar grove.

lowest taxes in the area.
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Old 03-20-2018, 12:47 PM
 
25 posts, read 61,094 times
Reputation: 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by HoyaLawya View Post
I like Caldwell, it's seemed nice the few times we've been out to eat in the area. Is James Caldwell High School (the high school for West Caldwell) generally regarded as better than West Essex (HS for Roseland, North Caldwell), or are they pretty comparable? May be a little early to start worrying about high school, but if there's a drastic difference I'd want to take that into account for resale value.
Basically both high schools are pretty comparable.
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Old 03-20-2018, 06:19 PM
 
Location: NJ & NV
5,733 posts, read 15,678,803 times
Reputation: 2402
I would also consider going 10 or 15 minutes west to say White Meadow Lake or around that part of Rockaway Township
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Old 03-20-2018, 07:32 PM
 
10,127 posts, read 18,085,668 times
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There are several neighborhoods of West Orange that have high rated elementary schools -- St Cloud, Mount Pleasant, and Gregory to name three. The 6th grade school (there's only one, takes everyone in the district; I suspect this is an experiment that didn't quite work out) gets bad scores, as does the high school. But you've got no kids yet, right? So you're talking 11-12 years minimum before you have to worry about the middle school, and a lot can change by then.

Note that taxes are awful here. You get cheaper sticker price, but the taxes are the same as if you paid Livingston prices in Livingston. And they go up the maximum every year.
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Old 03-20-2018, 08:05 PM
 
Location: West Orange, NJ
727 posts, read 1,859,918 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captne76 View Post
I would also consider going 10 or 15 minutes west to say White Meadow Lake or around that part of Rockaway Township
We looked there. I felt it was too far out, nice area though.
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