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Old 04-14-2009, 05:29 AM
 
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Default job in New York, need EXCELLENT NJ schools

Hi, my husband just got a new job in New York, and we're moving from Chicago. We'll be living in New Jersey, with our kids, and want to find a town with great schools, within about a half hour to 45 minute train ride to Midtown. Ideally, it would also be a place with a vibrant and pretty atmosphere of its own, and kid-friendly. Any suggestions, even for specific elementary schools? Thanks!
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Old 04-14-2009, 05:49 AM
 
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That's the universal request: short commute, excellent schools, wonderful community. What is your budget?
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Old 04-14-2009, 05:50 AM
 
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What is your budget? That is going to be the biggest driver in what towns you should/can look in.
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Old 04-14-2009, 05:54 AM
 
Location: NJ
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30-45 minutes by train is a tall order in a town with excellent schools. assuming no budget, you can look in summit, cranford, westfied, millburn, although millburn will require a drive to train in another town (i think).
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Old 04-14-2009, 07:37 AM
 
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Where exactly in Midtown?

If in the 30's, you might consider a NJ town with a NJ Transit train station. You might also consider taking the PATH train to 33rd St. (it's a 22 minute ride from Journal Square PATH station in Jersey City, or a 33 minute ride from the PATH stations in Newark or Harrison), in which case you could pick a suburb within a 20 minute drive to one of these PATH stations.

There is also the NY Waterways ferry which drops you off at 39th St. & 12th Ave. on the west side (this ferry company offers free bus service to various points in Manhattan).

If your job is in the 40s, you can also consider a town that offers bus service to the Port Authority bus station.

If your job is in midtown EAST (as opposed to WEST, where the above mentioned forms of public transportation will drop you), you can even look in central Jersey...the Atlantic Highlands ferry takes you to 35th St. right on the FDR.

The possibilities are endless. You don't have to limit yourself to NJ Transit train station towns.

P.S. a 30-45 minute train ride translates to a 60-minute to 90-minute commute when you factor in the time it takes to drive to the station, park, pay and walk to the platform to wait for the train, and also the time it takes to get to your office from wherever the train lets you off in Manhattan.
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Old 04-14-2009, 07:55 AM
 
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Hi, actually I was wrong - it's further south, in downtown, at Broadway & 3rd. Thanks, though - that's very helpful advice.
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Old 04-14-2009, 08:11 AM
 
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3rd and Broadway, huh? That's going to be a bear, since he's going to need to take a subway ride from wherever he's entering Manhattan.
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Old 04-14-2009, 08:22 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lagourmande View Post
Hi, actually I was wrong - it's further south, in downtown, at Broadway & 3rd. Thanks, though - that's very helpful advice.
Budget???
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Old 04-14-2009, 08:47 AM
 
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Here's what I'd recommend:

First, start out at the NJ Transit website. There's a map of the rail system here:

http://www.njtransit.com/pdf/rail/Rail_System_Map.pdf

You can also use the website to check train travel times between various towns in NJ and New York Penn Station (midtown). What you'll find is that you can identify a radius outside of NYC where you can stay within about 45 minutes of train travel time from NYC. That radius will include towns like Westfield, Cranford, Fanwood, Maplewood, South Orange, Millburn, River Edge, Montclair, etc.

All of the above towns I mentioned have good school systems, and there are other towns that didn't come to mind right away but that are also within the distance you're looking for.

Keep in mind that a 35 to 45 minute train travel time from town to NYC will equal a roughly 75 to 90 minute door-to-door commute EACH WAY, for a total commute time of approximately 3 hours per day. Yes, it sucks. Welcome to New Jersey. The commute in and out of NYC from any typically "nice suburban" town in NJ sucks, especially if you work anywhere other than midtown near the train (and apparently, your husband does not work near NY Penn Station either). Many people make the commute as a sacrifice to other things they want to have in life, but just be aware that's the reality of it.

You can do some research on the towns within your radius, and also start to get a feel for what houses cost in each town. I would strongly recommend that you rent for the first year that you are here. Real estate prices are falling slowly but consistently here in NJ (we've had numerous threads on the subject on these boards that you can find if you search). You will probably find that by this time next year, many homes that seem out-of-reach today will be within your range. In fact, prices are predicted to decline around here through the end of 2010/start of 2011, so even waiting until this time next year won't protect you from buying a house that loses value from the time you purchase.

But renting for a year and waiting will do two things: (1) it will allow you to buy much more house for the money, as home prices fall back to Earth here (the bubble was slow to deflate around here, but NY/NJ's economy is getting hit hard, and house prices have started their inevitable decline) and (2) renting for a year will allow you to really get to know the area, and determine what towns you like and dislike, before jumping in and making such a big investment. This is important not only so that you find a town that really works for you, but also because, with home values continuing to sink, anything you buy will likely be worth less in the future, so you don't want to find yourself in a position where you're not completely happy with where you live and then feel like you have to move again -- that's a sure recipe for losing money in this market, because you won't be able to sell for what you paid especially after you factor in real estate transaction costs.

I personally think you should check out Westfield, Cranford, Montclair, and Maplewood/South Orange first, based on your post. There are houses for rent in all of those towns (plenty of people who are unable to sell their houses). As for specific elementary schools, I don't know what others think, but my experience is that within a school district, most of the elementary schools are pretty much equal -- any differences are extremely minor and not worth worrying about. NJ school districts are small, as a rule, and the kids usually all end up at the same middle school and high school, the smaller elementary schools are more a matter of convenience than anything to do with differences in academics.

Good luck.
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Old 04-14-2009, 08:48 AM
 
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Originally Posted by BobKovacs View Post
3rd and Broadway, huh? That's going to be a bear, since he's going to need to take a subway ride from wherever he's entering Manhattan.
If he takes the PATH train to the 9th St. station, it would only be a half mile walk to Broadway and 3rd St...an easy 10-minute stroll.
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