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Old 10-26-2021, 09:57 PM
 
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My husband and our 2 boys aged 10 and 13 need to move in the spring, currently live in Westchester NY. My husband is a huge beach person and says that now is the time to relocate to FL. However, our whole family absolutely enjoys spending a time in Stone Harbor, which made me think what if we lived closer to Stone Harbor. I have very little knowledge of NJ. Could you help me find an area that checks as many boxes as possible.
Needs to have strong public schools, strong sports programs and outdoor activities for teens, a downtown, and beautiful housing for under $625K. My husband works at home, so his commute wouldn't be important. Thank you!
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Old 10-27-2021, 12:07 AM
 
Location: New Jersey
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How about Delaware? Much cheaper and lower taxes.
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Old 10-27-2021, 07:14 AM
 
Location: My house
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If your commute won’t matter how about a normal state?
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Old 10-27-2021, 08:30 AM
 
Location: Hoboken, NJ
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Pricing basically anywhere along the shore right now is insane, like +40% from where it was 2 years ago. That $625K won't get anything bigger than a 2BD fixer in Stone Harbor (I'm sure you know that, so just stating the obvious) or any town directly on the ocean, so you'd be looking on the bay side or further inland.

I'm not familiar enough with South Jersey to know anything about the schools, but my assumption would be you need to get closer to the Philly burbs to get a similar school quality vs. Westchester or North Jersey. Someone suggested Delaware and that may be good to investigate if you wanted to stay in the Northeast.
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Old 10-27-2021, 12:58 PM
 
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Oh yeah we know buying in Stone Harbor is out of the question. We're hoping just to move closer, maybe an hour and half to two hours away.
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Old 10-27-2021, 01:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by CNR22 View Post
Oh yeah we know buying in Stone Harbor is out of the question. We're hoping just to move closer, maybe an hour and half to two hours away.
I'm sorry to say, I know of no shore town that even comes close given your criteria.

ETA: Maybe Point pleasant.

Last edited by foodyum; 10-27-2021 at 01:15 PM..
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Old 10-27-2021, 03:09 PM
 
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Manasquan/Brielle/Spring Lake Heights. Basically any of the towns that send to Manasquan High School. Wall is a decent substitute. Fair Haven you can occasionally find something in your budget. Rumson-Fair Haven is the better high school there. Holmdel is the best high school in the county (my youngest brother went there) but I don't know if you'd find a house in your price range. High Tech High in Lincroft is a County run magnet school as is MAST on Sandy Hook. Both have really great reps.

The bigger downtowns there are Red Bank (right next to Fair Haven) and Asbury Park but really Main Street in Asbury is more or less one downtown that stretches through Bradley Beach, Avon, Belmar, and into Spring Lake. Manasquan also has its own downtown.

In South Jersey - at the Shore - it's really only Ocean City. It's not "the best" school but the college readiness seems to be pretty solid. I'm saying this because I went to college in Philly and knew a lot of people who went to high school in Cape May/Atlantic counties. I would not send my kid to any of the high schools on the mainland (mine are around the same age as yours).

If you're closer to Philly then Moorestown, Cinnaminson, and Haddonfield are the best high schools. Cherry Hill East. Haddon Township could also be worth looking more into. Moorestown and Haddonfield both have pretty posh downtowns. Haddonfield has the benefit of having a train station that gives you 24/7 subway style service into Philly in under 20 minutes. Haddon Avenue is also more or less one long "Main Street" that goes through Haddon Township (aka Westmont) and Collingswood. There are actually a lot of homes here in your price range that would send to those high schools and it would put you about 75 minutes from Stone Harbor - just don't look at the property taxes because they're absurd.

You'd be better off in Haverford or Ardmore (in Pennsylvania) where the schools are just as good, where the home prices are similar, and where the property taxes are about half of what they are in NJ. Lancaster Avenue is one big downtown for the whole "Main Line" but downtown Ardmore is great. When I lived in Philly we used to take the train out there because the movie theater was always playing something we couldn't find in the city.

Other people have said Delaware - that's cool. Property taxes are pretty low but the good high schools are pretty slim and limited to the Philly suburbs north of Wilmington. It's also really suburban and as hard as Wilmington tries, it's just not there yet. Otherwise way down in Rehoboth or Bethany you'd find affordable housing and decent high schools. You're also far enough south at that point that the weather is noticeably warmer then where you are now. My parents were living in Chester County, PA for a few years before they retired and in September and even early October, even though we're from NJ, they would go down to the DE beaches on the weekend to get a few more weeks out of beach season.

Or you can do I what I did and move to FL. We sold our place in South Philly, bought something similar in square footage and price here, but on a much larger lot and with a pool. Look up Winter Park. It has most, maybe all of what you're looking for. The local, public high school is OK but it's a county run school district so you can send your kid to any district or magnet school if there's a slot open just by applying. Orlando Science is top notch. We pay 0 state income tax and our prop taxes are half to 1/3 of our friends who are still in NJ with similar homes and about 20% less than our friends who are still in PA.
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Old 10-27-2021, 05:43 PM
 
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@drive carefully, you gave me a lot of great info! Winter Park sounds intriguing. You currently have kids, 10 and 13? I ask because having a lot kids in the area is important. My older son plays competitive soccer and I know Orlando has amazing soccer programs. Wondering the closest beach and about schools - we don't oppose to private schools.
Thank you!
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Old 10-27-2021, 06:53 PM
 
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I was born in the Philly area and know the NJ side like the back of my hand. I also lived in Bergen County (Tenafly) and NYC for 6 years total and know Westchester fairly well, so I can compare them well. If you want to be near Stone Harbor you're going to want to be in South Jersey or Philly suburbs on the PA side.

In SJ, Haddonfield and Moorestown are your best bets for great school system and check every other box 100%. Moorestown has an edge with some of the sports programs. I'd say third and fourth picks would be Medford and Voorhees. Good school systems, good sports, very nice housing with larger lots and more footage than Haddonfield and Moorestown for your dollar. They both have a semi-rural/spread-out feel. Medford has a small historic downtown where Voorhees doesn't. Mt Laurel is similar to Voorhees. Haddon Heights is a nice town, school system is good but not excellent, sports so so. For housing there you're going to want to look at center and east side of town. Cherry Hill East has a good school system and nice housing but no downtown, sports are only decent, though good in some specialty sports (like maybe swimming and gymnastics? not really sure). Most other towns will be lacking for you in one or another department. Collingswood has a very nice downtown with a pretty good school system, though there are some occasional problems there which I know about by having grown up right around there. Don't get me wrong, if I had kids and wanted public schooling I'd send them there, but it's not completely optimal. Feel free to DM me for more details on that. Haddon Township is very similar to Collingswood with probably slightly better school system, OK sports. Collingswood Haddon Twp Haddonfield and Haddon Heights I'd say have the best downtown feel in the area and the most in the way of outdoor events/festivals. Personally I'd choose Haddonfield over Moorestown because the surrounding cluster of walkable towns and the location (tad closer to Philly and the shore) is more appealing to me, where Moorestown is slightly more of an island in that regard and is surrounded a little more by sprawl with less character.

There are also many towns in the Main Line of PA (Bryn Mawr, Ardmore, Swarthmore, Media, etc.) that have a very similar feel and look to Westchester. Pricey but within your budget. Then there are some ritzy areas there like Lower Merion and Gladwyne which are as nice as the nicest pockets of Westchester. West Chester (PA) probably has the largest and most happening suburban downtown outside of Philly, followed maybe by Collingswood somewhat distantly (advantage for Collingswood is Center City is 15 minute train ride away). West Chester has a few slightly dicey pockets but the housing in most of the town and the towns surrounding it is very nice. The nearby town of Chester Springs is really nice. South Jersey is going to put you about 20-30 minutes closer to the shore relative to the Main Line, with less traffic by not having to cross through Philly and go over bridge. Property taxes are pretty brutal in SJ (but probably comparable to Westchester). Taxes are lower in PA but home prices tend to be higher so it's a bit of a wash, but still a good bit cheaper overall in PA especially once the house is paid off. Doylestown / Yardley / New Hope / Lambertville are very nice areas but you're a little far from Cape May County. The Chadds Ford PA area is also worth checking out.

In normal circumstances (pre covid) you can get a nice (maybe not knock your socks off, but roomy, updated, and comfortable) house in pretty much any town in those areas for under $625k, about 60% of that number in fact ($350-500k depending on the town). Currently prices are (still) crazy and Haddonfield and Moorestown are averaging $550-700k for larger houses which is $100-150k over what they were prior to covid. Still within your range though and due to the prime location you probably won't lose too much long-term even if you do overpay a little.

Drivecarphilly's assessment is pretty accurate aside from Cinnaminson having among the best schools. It's a nice-enough town and I'm not bashing it, but it's not on par with Haddonfield or Moorestown at all. Voorhees Medford Mt Laurel and Cherry Hill (East) among other towns have better schools. Monmouth County as he said does have some very nice shore towns with full-time residents, but it's very pricey and far from Stone Harbor. For what you may be expecting in terms of home quality it actually may be a bit above your range at the moment, since for the large homes you are competing with well heeled NYC workers who might be looking there and in Westchester, Greenwich CT area, etc.

You probably don't want to live down the shore full time in South Jersey. Towns like Stone Harbor and Avalon are very nice but have almost no full-timers and are desolate 6-7 months of the year. Ocean City HS seems pretty decent but OC also has few full-timers. I believe most of the students live on the other side of the bay in Upper Twp and surrounding areas, which is somewhat rural and set in the Pine Barrens. The population isn't backwards or anything (don't know what your impression of Pine Barrens is) but it does have a slight country-ish feel and not much in the way of downtowns. Cape May has more full-timers but many are retirees and school system/sports aren't top notch.

No offense, but I find Delaware kind of a weird state. Wilmington sucks pretty bad IMO and everywhere else feels like it lacks a center of gravity. It's cheaper but there aren't many other advantages. Some people retire there though to escape the taxes.

I'm not too well versed on Florida but I've heard good things about Howey-in-the-Hills which is near Orlando. My dad was offered a job transfer there in the 90s and almost went with it, but ultimately decided to stay.

Last edited by pclem; 10-27-2021 at 08:19 PM..
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Old 10-27-2021, 07:23 PM
 
Location: Bergen County, NJ
3,488 posts, read 2,703,534 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CNR22 View Post
@drive carefully, you gave me a lot of great info! Winter Park sounds intriguing. You currently have kids, 10 and 13? I ask because having a lot kids in the area is important. My older son plays competitive soccer and I know Orlando has amazing soccer programs. Wondering the closest beach and about schools - we don't oppose to private schools.
Thank you!

I’ll echo this, Winter Park is beautiful. They have older housing (by Florida standards anyway) than you’ll find in most of Central Florida but they have some very nice homes. I was seriously considering a move down to the Orlando area last year but the pay was literally half of what I make now. One thing to note about FL regarding schools, nearby Seminole County generally speaking has much better ranked schools than most of the schools in Orange County.
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