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Old 09-05-2021, 07:37 AM
 
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My wife and I are expecting our first child and need more space, so we’ve narrowed our search down to these two towns. I like these towns because they seem allow me to get to work very quickly across the Tappan Zee/Governor Mario Cuomo bridge - I work mostly in Bronxville, NY, and occasionally I need to cross the George Washington Bridge to my other location in Washington Heights. We’ve been to both towns several times mostly to shop at the Wegmans and Whole Foods, on our way up to our apartment in Stamford, CT, from my dad’s house in the Princeton, NJ area (where I grew up). So while I’m an NJ-er, I know Mercer County but not Bergen County and would appreciate the insights here. We believe our $1M budget will go much further in Bergen County than Westchester/Fairfield counties where home prices (and taxes in Westchester) are relatively out of control.

-As far as I can tell, both towns are upscale - but is is there any significant difference in the type of people who live in either? We’re both South Asian (culturally American/Canadian) and would appreciate knowing that there are some similar minorities in the school district.
-How is the commute to the Tappan Zee Bridge from both? From Montvale, I see you can go to 287 or the Palisades Parkway North through Rockland County. Whereas from Closter you have to approach the Palisades Parkway North via Closter Dock road. How fast or backed up is Closter Dock Road in the mornings/evenings?
-It looks like getting to the GSP form the Tappan Zee Bridge to go to back to Montvale in the evening would take a significantly longer time than making it down to Closter, give the traffic that builds up on 287 South on the way to the GSP.
-Am I right in correct in assuming getting to the GWB will be much faster in the morning from Closter via the Palisades Parkway North than from Montvale via the GSP?
-Is it possible to build new in either town with a $1M budget?
-Am I correct in feeling that Montvale is a little more “open” and easy to drive around than Closter, where the streets feel tighter?
-Which town is easier to get to Central NJ from?
-Which town would you choose, why, and are there others you would recommend?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 09-05-2021, 09:17 AM
46H
 
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Closter will be the better commute. You would head up Peirmont Rd which turns into 340 in NYS, then get on 9W north directly onto the TZ Cuomo Bridge. This will be the fasteset way to and from the TZ Cuomo bridge. Closter will also be quicker to the GWB vs Montvale.

Closter has a nicer downtown than Montvale. Montvale does have a train station and Closter does not. Montvale will be easier to get to central NJ. It might be difficult to build new in either town for 1 million due to land costs.

For your situation I would choose Closter.
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Old 09-07-2021, 11:55 AM
 
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Buying land + building for 1mm seems very difficult in Closter, I don't know Montvale as well.

I disagree with previous poster, I think Montvale a shorter trip to the Tappan Zee since you just take 304 up to 287, google maps doesn't think there's much traffic usually. Whatever the difference is though it's fairly small. I commute up 9W to the Tappan zee sometimes and there's never traffic except when you get stuck behind school buses in Piermont (heading back on 287 to the bridge is another story). If you live on the closter east hill you could go to 9W otherwise you'd go the back way. Closter definitely easier to the GWB, the traffic can get backed up right at the tolls but rarely any traffic north of that. You can also go the local route down to route 4 to get to the lower level if need be, or get off 9W and go through fort lee.

I'm sure you have reasons for these towns but Old Tappan seems like it has some nice houses and a similar easy commute for you, I've considered moving there as housing is much cheaper than my town.

Closter has a very nice downtown these days with the renovation of Closter Plaza and lots of useful shops in the old downtown area. We live a few towns away and drive up there at least once a week for errands.

Closter has tighter zoning, the single family zoning is all 15k+ minimum (though some lots on the east side are bigger), while Montvale has areas zoned for 1 acre+. Probably why Montvale feels a bit more open driving around.
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Old 09-08-2021, 12:24 PM
 
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Helpful posts - thanks.

We've been driving through Closter and can see that zoning is much more compact on the west side than the east side... the two halves feel like different towns. Particularly in the area of Pine St. it seems if there can be three houses built on under 1/2 acre of land, and the streets are very narrow. Is this area of town safe?

Old Tappan also seems like it would work well.
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Old 09-08-2021, 06:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsek View Post
Helpful posts - thanks.

We've been driving through Closter and can see that zoning is much more compact on the west side than the east side... the two halves feel like different towns. Particularly in the area of Pine St. it seems if there can be three houses built on under 1/2 acre of land, and the streets are very narrow. Is this area of town safe?

Old Tappan also seems like it would work well.
The entire town of Closter is nice and a safe neighborhood.

In Bergen county, rich towns with a lot of million dollar homes tend to have neighborhoods with capes and ranches on relatively small lots. They existed before the million dollar homes were built in most cases and I’m sure most sell for $500k+ in a town like Closter.
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Old 09-09-2021, 09:50 AM
 
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Closter does have somewhat strange zoning compared to many surrounding towns. There are only 2 residential zones, 15k square foot single family (east side) and 12.5k two-family (west side). Doesn't mean that all lots are that small or that all of the ones on the west side have two-family. You also cannot subdivide unless it's an actual acre (43.5k).

Except for some parts of Englewood I don't think there's anywhere in northeast bergen (ie north of 4 east of GSP) that could be thought of as unsafe. Biggest issues are car and home robberies which can happen anywhere (and if anything tend to happen on larger properties where there are fewer neighbors to notice).
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Old 09-10-2021, 12:27 PM
 
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I'm just rambling but here I go

1. Neither closter or montvale are that diverse. Closter has Korean Americans but thats about it.
2. Neither town has much new construction, and your $1M won't go very far.

Neither town is conveniently located.

Have you tried Paramus or Ridgewood or Mahwah?

Paramus has a never ending supply of new construction homes. Paramus also has the 4th lowest property tax in Bergen, and one of the largest South Asian populations.

Mahwah has the hindu temple, and ridgewood has some of the top schools in the county.

And if lucky you might get an incredibly built home in Paramus... 5000 sq feet excluding basement for $1.3M


Just my thoughts.
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Old 09-10-2021, 01:03 PM
 
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If OP thinks Closter feels tight Paramus is going to be even worse. Lots are smaller with very high coverage allowances (50% for the R_75 zone, which is much of the town) and smaller side yard requirements, etc. I know a lot of people on here like Paramus because taxes are low but I don't get it...cramped lots and right next to multiple highways and malls with lots of traffic. And if you're getting a 5k house built + land for under 1mm in Bergen County I don't want to see what that house looks like in 10 years. I know there is the argument about convenience to shopping and highways but how often do you need that? On the other hand do you want to deal with mall traffic when picking your kids up from school or bringing them to gymnastics?

Ridgewood is a great town but expensive and longest trip to the Tappan Zee.

Mahwah doesn't really make sense geographically and commits you to having to take 287 to the Tappan Zee (unlike montvale or other towns nearby that can go the back route).
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Old 09-10-2021, 01:15 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubulus View Post
If OP thinks Closter feels tight Paramus is going to be even worse. Lots are smaller with very high coverage allowances (50% for the R_75 zone, which is much of the town) and smaller side yard requirements, etc. I know a lot of people on here like Paramus because taxes are low but I don't get it...cramped lots and right next to multiple highways and malls with lots of traffic. And if you're getting a 5k house built + land for under 1mm in Bergen County I don't want to see what that house looks like in 10 years. I know there is the argument about convenience to shopping and highways but how often do you need that? On the other hand do you want to deal with mall traffic when picking your kids up from school or bringing them to gymnastics?

Ridgewood is a great town but expensive and longest trip to the Tappan Zee.

Mahwah doesn't really make sense geographically and commits you to having to take 287 to the Tappan Zee (unlike montvale or other towns nearby that can go the back route).
False. Lots are more expansive in Paramus. Paramus averages .35 acres, and closter at .1 acre

Taxes are much lower than closter yes. And the ease of convenience of getting anywhere in NJ/NY/CT/PA from Paramus cannot be beat. Montvale, and Closter are in the middle of nowhere.

Those highways, and traffic aren't a big deal when your home has local roads.

Around $1.3M gets you a brand new construction 5K (excluding basement) sq ft house in Paramus on .35 acres. You can't get that in Closter. Closter's so called commercial area is a joke compared to the endless shopping/entertainment options in Paramus.

Ridgewood, and Mahwah were just alternative towns since OP is South Asian.
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Old 09-10-2021, 01:54 PM
 
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Thanks for the comments. It's challenging when you're not from the area (and don't have the time to rent in it) and this helps. Getting to and from work as fast as possible (<45 min if possible) is the #1 criterion and the others follow. I've looked at Ridgewood - it seems even more expensive than Closter and with higher taxes, and from what I've read, Rt. 17 is a busier route to the GWB than the Palisades Parkway. I don't know anything about Mahwah... I'll have to drive through. I know Paramus from Rt. 17 and Rt. 4 when I shop there occasionally on Saturdays and the traffic is rough.

I don't need a big house, but we do like the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your roof is new, etc. Ultimately there's no perfect answer and a new home doesn't mean no issues, but still...
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