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Old 10-18-2008, 02:06 AM
4 posts, read 17,534 times
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I am so glad I found this site. I have spent the last week or so just lurking and reading the various threads and I still am a bit confused on the best options for commuting to 452 5TH Ave, NY. I will be relocating after Christmas for a new role.

So far it seems like my best options will be either CT or NJ, the problem I have is where?

I do not know anything about the East Coast so I really need your help please.

My profile is:
I currently live in Guildford, Surrey (a suburb in the UK) with a 1hr commute to London for work. I am originally from Forth Worth, Texas.

I am a 40 year old, with a 2 year old son, so one of my top priorities is an area with really good schools.

I am willing to commute up to 1 - 1.5 hours by train door to door.

Since I am a single mom I would really like an area that is quiet, quite safe and very little crime. My plan is to rent in the area I decide on first then buy. We will be looking for a 2 bed townhouse (preferably) or condo under $500,00 in the next year or so. I am willing to pay up to $2200 for rent until we buy.

A colleague of mine mentioned Hobokken NJ, but the posts I have read seem to say that it is a town for a younger crowd. Our other options seem to be Stamford or Greenwich CT, but I am not so sure of the commute to 5TH Ave.

I am really looking forward to hearing your ideas.

Please help. Your input will be much appreciated.

Kindest Regards,
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Old 10-18-2008, 05:21 AM
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Not real familiar with areas within NYC reach, but just wanted to say that getting anything in Greenwhich under 500K will be tough.
I searched online and found a few condos not townhome style but they are all right at 500K so it would likely max you out.
You dont get much for your money their.
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Old 10-18-2008, 06:32 AM
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Yes, Greenwich would be perfect for you, it has excellent schools with a reasonable commute. But it's extremely expensive.

Stamford is a very nice city with a lot of amenities, and a lot of people commute from Stamford into NYC. However, the schools do have some issues. A lot of people send their children to private schools. But housing is a little less expensive in Stamford than in Greenwich.

I would suggest Fairfield, it is a wonderful large town with excellent schools, shopping, beaches etc. I'm not sure exactly how long the commute would be, but it might still work for you, many of those in Fairfield do commute to NYC. And you get more for your money in Fairfield, too.
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Old 10-18-2008, 12:22 PM
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I second Fairfield, lovely town, great schools, real community feel.
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Old 10-18-2008, 02:38 PM
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Generally, the NJ suburbs (aside from perhaps ShortHills) have weaker public schools...and a less educated/education-oriented parental population vs Scarsdale, NY and the various CT suburbs (Greenwich, NewCanaan and Darien esp)....

My understanding is that commutes into MidtownManhattan, via either car/mass transit, are notably easier from Scarsdale or the CT suburbs vs NJ (many of the ShortHills, NJ crowd work at Goldman/Merrill which are Downtown/WallStreet, not in Midtown)....

But suspect most people's door-to-door commutes via train from Scarsdale or the CT suburbs to Midtown offices are some 60-90mins each-way...

My sense is Stamford may have a more urban feel than one may expect (or desire) vs the otherwise leafy, upscale suburbs found in much of Fairfield County (and in Westchester County, NY)...

Also, IIRC, one may save a few percentage points in state income tax by living in CT, rather than NY (or NJ)....
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Old 10-18-2008, 02:45 PM
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The train to Scarsdale is about 30 minutes, actually. BUT housing costs there are amazingly high.

NJ property taxes, especially in places like Short Hills, approach the astronomical.

Where to choose to live all depends on priorities!!!
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Old 10-18-2008, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by hsw View Post
My sense is Stamford may have a more urban feel than one may expect (or desire) vs the otherwise leafy, upscale suburbs found in much of Fairfield County (and in Westchester County, NY)...

It sounds as though you've never ventured more than a few miles from I-95. If you had, you would know that there are plenty of leafy, upscale neighborhoods in Stamford.
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Old 10-18-2008, 03:41 PM
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North Stamford has some pretty, leafy neighborhoods with less dense development, and upscale neighborhoods. But Stamford is still a city, maybe that's what hsw was referring to? And Stamford schools just don't compare with those in smaller, upscale towns in Fairfield County, and the OP is looking for "really good schools". But of course those smaller upscale towns also come with a higher price tag, so the OP will need to consider all the options.
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Old 10-19-2008, 11:02 AM
Location: Fairfield
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Hi Kathleen:

I was born and raised in central NJ (outside of New Brunswick), lived in Manhattan and Hoboken for about 9 years, and have been in Fairfield for 18 months. I've enjoyed every place that I've lived so far.

Considering your situation, with a small child, I would definitely advise you against Hoboken. Although there are a ton of people in their 20's in Hoboken, there are a lot of people in their 30's and early 40's also living in Hoboken. The town had a surge of young people starting about 10-15 yrs ago, and a lot of people have stayed. However, the schools are terrible and it's really expensive (nearly on par with prices in Manhattan, but you get more space). We loved living there, but my wife and I left for the suburbs knowing our commute would be longer but our family (once we started one) would not be crowded into an apt or forced to pay exorbitant private school rates.

One thing to remember about NJ vs. CT is that the NJ trains come into Penn Station (which is a nightmare to deal with), and CT trains enter Grand Central (MUCH more pleasant). You can always find a bus that goes to Port Authority. With your office on about 40th and 5th, Grand Central would be much easier. It would be about 5 minutes walk from Grand Central, 15 or so from Port Authority, and 20+ from Penn Station.

Check out the websites for the trains to check schedules - Greenwich/Stamford to Grand Central is around 30 mins. PATH train from Hoboken to Penn Station would be about 15-20 mins, depending on the time and if it's running properly. Trains from NJ vary based on the line, but I would recommend looking at Midtown Direct line. Short Hills, Summit, Madison, Millburn and Chatham are all really nice towns on a direct train line to Manhattan. With a $500k budget, you could get an older small 3br 1.5ba house in those towns, or a really nice townhouse. There aren't too many townhouses from what I remember though. Be careful of not getting too close to Newark or Irvington as that can bring down property values. Also, be very careful of property tax -- it can be a huge change from 1 town to the next. Union and Morris counties are reasonable, but Essex is outrageous.

As far as the schools in NJ go -- many of them are very good. There's some prejudice against them from what I've seen on this board, but probably because people from here didn't go through the school system there. My public school was excellent and one of the top in the country (when I was there). There are still a large number of towns with top-rated schools.

Good luck!!
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Old 10-19-2008, 01:00 PM
4 posts, read 17,534 times
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Hi Ladies and Gents,

Thank you so very much for your replies. You have been extremely helpful.

Based on your comments I think I'm going to consider CT over NJ, especially for a more pleasant train ride into GC and the proximity to the office. CT also passes all my check for good schools, leafy suburbs and cheaper property taxes too (didn't realize that NJ taxes would be more expensive than CT)

It seems like my options are:

1. Fairfield, CT
2. Greenwich, CT
3. Stamford, CT

I really like what I have seen of Greenwich online, but it is crazy expensive . I do like the proximity to NYC though! 47 mins by train is really nice , but I'll probably go for Fairfield so I don't max out my budget. I'm sure we'll be equally as happy in Fairfield based on the comments I've read.

I checked out the Metro-North Railroad Website for train fares from GC and they are much reasonable that I expected. $237 for a monthly ticket on the New Haven Line (Greenwich - GC). Fairfield was $308, still not bad compared to what I'm currently paying to travel into London.

I will be really grateful if you don't mind sharing websites used for securing both rentals and purchases. There are a good bunch of websites out there but I'd really love to know which ones are the good ones in your opinion.

I need to do some research on rental prices, house prices and property taxes. Once I've got that sorted then I'll start looking for rental property in the area. I'm planning to visit my top 2 choices in November to have a good feel for the areas before I finally make up my mind.

I had another question, which of the towns has the easiest access to the NY area airports?

Thank you again and again for all your valuable input. I feel so much better now and certainly less confused.


Last edited by Kathy69; 10-19-2008 at 01:17 PM..
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