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Old 07-15-2010, 02:39 PM
 
25 posts, read 78,715 times
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Hi all,

My husband and I have been trying for the last few months to decide whether to leave NYC and move to NJ and if so which town. We keep going back and forth, but we'd really like to make a decision!

Background - We are 29 and 28, married for 3 years. We currently live in Manhattan (gramercy area) and both work downtown, me at the world financial center and he closer to wall street. Our work hours are somewhere between 8am and 7pm. We love living in the city. We love being able to take a walk after dinner or just run out to grab something w/o having to drive or take train. With that said, we're in a 1 bedroom apt and slowly running out of space. And we also have kids in our 5 year plan, so we need to think about all those factors. We are thinking about selling our apartment next spring and finding a house in NJ that has excellent schools and is a reasonable commute to the city.

We've narrowed it down to Chatham, Summit, Westfield, Millburn and Glen Ridge. Because I want to leave the option of taking time off work once we have kids, we've limited our budget to max $650k for a house that is at least 3 bedroom, 2 bath.

If you are familiar with these areas, I'd love to get some advice about which town you would choose. Thanks!
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Old 07-15-2010, 02:58 PM
 
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This is completely a matter of personal preference. Millburn is by far the wealthiest of the towns, but even at $650K you are going to be on the lower end of houses in that town and in my opinion $650K is a lot to pay to be the low man on the totem pole. But if you are cool with that than it would be a great choice since schools are fantastic(better than any other town in the area). I would personally choose Summit or Chatham. You will have many houses/locations to choose from in your price range, schools are great and the commute is not much different. You also might want to look into Maplewood as well. The area west of the RR tracks is where you want to be. I know nothing about Glen Ridge.
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Old 07-15-2010, 05:03 PM
 
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You picked the best of the best already! I would concentrate on Summit or Westfield. Great downtowns with trendy restaurants and coffee houses. They also have excellent schools.
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Old 07-16-2010, 02:06 PM
 
Location: Ashburn, VA
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I strongly suggest Westfield. A 3 BR house is certainly within range for 650k. Your most difficult issue will be 2 baths (many 3BR are 1.5 bath), but they are around. If you work in the financial district, being able to take NJT from Westfield Station to Newark, then jumping directly on the PATH makes for a pretty speedy commute - all the Raritan line trains end at Newark.

I was in the same boat, with a slightly higher limit (750k) and a need for four bedrooms. The places in Summit and Millburn were just not sufficient quality for that kind of money.

One thing to look into is train station parking waiting lists. In Westfield, its a long wait. I think that may be the case in other places, too, though.
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Old 07-16-2010, 02:19 PM
 
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i'm pretty familiar with all of the towns you mentioned. here's my take on them:

chatham borough - cute downtown though not very functional. dining choices somewhat limited when compared to westfield, summit. can walk to town and train from many parts of town. the lafayette section of the borough is very nice.

chatham twp - larger yards, can get more house for your money then the borough. can't walk to town or train though. basically you need to drive everywhere. because there is a very large wildlife area (the great swamp) deer are everywhere, and are a menace especially when driving at night.

summit- great downtown, less bustling then westfield but still much to do there. the north side of summit is where the very affluent live; many of those kids go to private school. the area east of the hospital has an increasingly hispanic population. the memorial field area is great (brayton school) the town is very hilly overall.

westfield - best downtown of all your choices imo. many of the homes are located on smaller lots, (depth of less the 150 ft is not uncommon). westfield to me has a great family vibe to it overall. i'm biased though because we just bought a home there and will be moving next month.

millburn - i don't know as much about this one. essex county taxes are insanely high, and i think you probably get the least house for your money here when compared with your other choices.

all of these towns have very highly regarded school systems, you can't go wrong with any of them. i personally wouldn't choose one town over the other based on a higher school ranking.
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Old 07-16-2010, 02:20 PM
 
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Thanks for the feedback.

We are planning to visit Westfield, Chatham and Summit this Sunday to take a drive around. I worked for a month in Westfield so I'm familiar with the town and really liked that it had quite a number of shops and restaurants.

For people who are waitlisted for parking at the train station, what can you do? Is there a private lot that you can pay for? My husband and I both work downtown right now, so we were thinking that maybe we can pay for a parking lot next to a path train station and each morning we'd just drive to the path, instead of drive to NJT, take NJT to Newark and then transfer to the path.
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Old 07-16-2010, 08:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eleguin View Post
Thanks for the feedback.

We are planning to visit Westfield, Chatham and Summit this Sunday to take a drive around. I worked for a month in Westfield so I'm familiar with the town and really liked that it had quite a number of shops and restaurants.

For people who are waitlisted for parking at the train station, what can you do? Is there a private lot that you can pay for? My husband and I both work downtown right now, so we were thinking that maybe we can pay for a parking lot next to a path train station and each morning we'd just drive to the path, instead of drive to NJT, take NJT to Newark and then transfer to the path.
Your SOL if you can't park at a train station. Unless you strike a deal with a business or someone's personal house, you have to get someone to drop you off/pick you up.

As far as driving to the PATH, that's quite a commute.
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Old 07-16-2010, 11:14 PM
 
Location: UK but on the way to NJ!
239 posts, read 1,086,378 times
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I don't think you could go wrong with any of your choices, but I live in Westfield and absolutely love it here. We do have two small children 5 and 2, so our focus is on the family-friendly aspect. The YMCA is wonderful, the Westfield Memorial Pool is the best (get on the wait list for that too!) There is always something going on downtown--Jazz on Tuesdays throughout the summer, concerts in the park, street fairs, farmer's market, parades (Halloween, Little League, Memorial Day, etc.). I love my neighborhood, the people are so friendly and welcoming. It took a very short time to feel well-connected and "home". This is a wonderful place to live. Feel free to contact me for more details--or do a search here, there is tons of great info right here!

Check out my friend's blog, she really highlights the charm of this town in words and photos:

Westfield Clio

I've posted this before too:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/re...pagewanted=all


Regarding the parking, here is some useful information that I am copying from an email I received from someone else. (I've edited it a little):

My husband and I both commute into the city every day so when we moved to Westfield we put our name down on the wait list for the permit lots. After 2 years we are now parking in the permit lot by the Catholic School (Holy Trinity) However before we got a permit I used to park in the
Lord and Taylor lot it is next to the Y on North Ave and Clark street
(across from L&T ). Lord and Taylor allow commuters to park there all year
except between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you park there you have an option to get the bus across the street or walk over to the Train Station.The bus stops at L & T by Clark and North ave and also at the train station. The L&T lot usually fills up by 7:30 though. While I parked there my husband used to get a daily permit for $5 from Jonathan (the cop at the train station). you also would want to be there before 7:30 because some days hesells out very quickly. If he does not know you he may ask for your drivers license because he wants to know you live in the town. So if you do not have your license by then bring 2 house hold bills to show him to prove you live in Westfield. I had to do that before I got my license and before I got to know him.

That being said there is also all day meters for commuters as you know in
the train station, also by Catholic school plus in the town lot next to
Trader Joes. I also think you can park in the other Lord and taylor lot across from the store. Some people park there when they go to the Y. I think you could park somewhere in the corner. If you decide to take the bus I have heard that Shop Rite in Garwood rents out some spaces. But if you do that you are then committed to the bus. I take the 113x express bus in every day it is wonderful if you get it early in the morning. It stops all along to from Westfield to Cranford and then it is goes on to the GSP and express from Cranford. If you go early enough it takes aprox 40- 45 min. I take the train home. Your monthly train pass works
on the bus and train. The bus is very reliable and comfortable and it is one
straight shot in to the city. Some evenings I take the bus home you get that at gate 222 in Port authority.

But mostly I take the train home because I am nervous of the traffic some
days and I need to get home to pick up my kids from day care. The train you have to change at Newark and it can become very stressful in the morning if you are in a hurry to get to work. (Because of train delays) Good Luck with your move, you are going to love living in Westfield, it is a great place to live.OH you should go as soon as you can and put your name down on the wait list for the permit lot (it takes 2-3 years to get into the remote permit lot (next to the Catholic school) and aprox another 2 years after that to get to the main train station lot.) While you are at the municipal building put your name down for the wait list for the swimming pool. The pool is so much fun in the summer. The municipal building is the same building as the police station.

Hope that helps!
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Old 07-18-2010, 09:06 PM
 
Location: Ashburn, VA
467 posts, read 1,443,308 times
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Pool waiting list is about 18 months, I think.

BTW, does L&T charge for parking in the lot? And the 113x stops at Clark&North? Pretty sweet. I'm looking to find/rent a spot until I get to the top of the waiting list.
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Old 07-18-2010, 09:30 PM
 
Location: UK but on the way to NJ!
239 posts, read 1,086,378 times
Reputation: 102
Last I heard people putting their names on the waiting list for the pool NOW were told, don't expect to get a membership next summer. So I would think the pool waiting list should be calculated by summers you have to wait, not months. It depends on how many renewals there are each year. There are 9000 memberships available I was told--or is it 8000? Every person=member. My 2-year-old counts as 1 member. The year before I joined the pool, there were 500 openings. The year I joined (last year) there were 200 openings. If you figure a family of 4--that's only 50 new families the year I joined. When I joined there was no waiting list, it was the last year you sat outside all night waiting for the rec dept to open. I was in line at 1:45 am and was in no way at the front of the line. The first people were in line at 9:30 pm.

As far as I know LT does not charge for parking. I park in that lot when the YMCA lot is filled. The yMCA lot is only for members, and only for 2 hours--not for commuters, btw.
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