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Old 06-14-2012, 03:47 PM
 
15 posts, read 54,745 times
Reputation: 11

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Hello everybody,

I am a software engineer from South America and I just got my work visa approved to work as the CTO of a NYC based media company so I'll be moving with my family to New Jersey in September 2012. I'm looking for the right place to move and have been searching and reading a lot in this forum.

My candidate towns are the following, from higher to lower priority:

- Ridgewood.
- Glen Rock.
- Fair Lawn.
- Montclair.

Here's some more information about my needs and background:

- I'll have to go to work in Manhattan two or three times a week, and will work remotely the rest of the days, so I need a town with train and/or bus and an adequate commute (one hour-ish) time. Having coffee shops or other places in town where I can get online and work (when I need to "escape" from my girls), without being the only nerd around, would be a plus.

- We consider ourselves a young family, I'm 40 and my wife is 38, so we like having fun, traveling and learning with our daughters.

- I'll make 125K per year to start and will have private health insurance for the whole family included as part of my job offer. My wife won't work because the work visa is just for me. We plan to apply for permanent residency so she will be able to work but that's a very long process so I'm not counting on it at the moment.

- My plan is to rent a 2 or 3 bedrooms apartment and my budget is US$ 2000 per month. From my online searches it seems a 2 bedrooms apartment at that price is realistic. The 3 bedrooms option could be a few hundreds more, which I could consider paying if it's a really good place.

- We are very sociable and would like a family-friendly town where we get to know our neighbors and would prefer them to be normal families with children who can play, and ideally attend to school, with ours.

- I have two daughters, they are 3 and 10, and I'd like to send them to a good public school. Education is a big deal for us but I don't think we can afford private schools, besides I've read good things about public schools in Bergen County. Our native tongue is Spanish and my 10-year-old already reads and speaks some English so I don't think she'll have much trouble adapting to a new language. I don't worry much about my 3-year-old because many friends with little ones have told me about how fast they get up to speed.

- My girls like dancing and exercising, and we consider it important to keep them healthy, so towns with schools and communities where art, music and exercise are important would be great.

- I love computers and work in a technology related company in NY so my family is used to gadgets, videogames, fast Internet and everything that has to do with that. I'd like to be in a town where all of us can meet people with similar interests, specially my daughters so they can share their hobbies with other kids.

- Obvioulsy we want a crime-safe area. I'm aware the world has changed and nowhere is 100% safe but anyway, we're looking for a place where families at least feel they are safe and are part of a friendly and helpful community.

- I'm planning on buying a car but would also like a town where we can walk, or have a short bus trip, to different places: downtown, grocery store, school, parks, restaurants.

- We love eating and having good restaurants to visit, the more variety the best, would be great.

- We'll be visiting NYC for fun too and I think it wouldn't make sense driving there so having family friendly public transportation is important. I understand going around NJ with a car is easier than in NYC.

- I'd like a place where my wife and I, individually or together, can participate in different activities such as cooking school, English classes, music school, readers and writers groups (we love books). Oh, and being able to get a nanny to take care of our girls when we go out on adults-only nights would be awesome.

- I'll have private health insurance for the family and would like to be close enough to clinics or hospitals.

From the research I've done I've concluded that Ridgewood, Glen Rock and Montclair are considered expensive places to live but I also think the term "expensive" is subjective. If I need to pay extra to feel safe and give my family a better place to live I'm all for it, of course, that's assumming that my salary is enough and that I can save something every month. I don't plan to live spending more than what I earn or create debt.

Fair Lawn seems to be more affordable than the other towns in the list and a little lower on the coolness scale but considering we're coming from South America (I've lived in Peru, Argentina and Uruguay) it may be much better than the towns where we've lived. Besides, I've seen in Google Maps that Fair Lawn is just a few miles south of Glen Rock and Ridgewood so we could just take a bus or drive and enjoy those towns, not sure about how long that trip would be, though.

All these towns seem to have good public schools. Some threads in this forum considered Montclair's schools not good enough but this thread included many posts that mentioned good things about Montclair's schools: Montclair NJ pros and cons

We've been living in a few different cities in two countries during the last years and we have an idea of what to expect but this is the first time we go from South to North America, or expressed in other way "from the third to the first world", and I'd like to find the best possible place to settle. I know children have to go to public schools on the area where they live so I'd like to avoid moving constantly so that my girls can make friends and get the best out of the experience of growing and learning together with other kids.

As I said before, I've already read lots of threads in the forum about these four towns but you know every case is different; I'll appreciate all your comments.

Please ask me if you need some more details.

Thanks!

Last edited by zuska; 06-14-2012 at 03:54 PM.. Reason: fixing url, adding apartment options
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Old 06-14-2012, 05:15 PM
 
3,984 posts, read 7,075,143 times
Reputation: 2889
Welcome to NJ. You can't go wrong with any of the towns you've listed. Ridgewood & Montclair are probably the most similar with well-established downtowns and some high-end neighborhoods. You can get into the city a bit faster from Montclair. Ridgewood schools are considered better than Montclair's as are Glen Rock's. I believe F.L. and Montclair's schools are comparable. Out of all the towns, Montclair may have a higher crime rate and a few rundown areas, but nothing real bad. F.L., Glen Rock & Ridgewood are all close to each other but Montclair is 25-30 mins from Ridgewood and in Essex County, not Bergen County.

You'll get more for your money in F.L. than the other towns, but they're lacking a real downtown. Glen Rock's downtown is pretty small but is closer to Ridgewood. A relative lived in Glen Rock and enjoyed her time there.

It's a good idea to have a car in North Jersey as getting around and doing some shopping is pretty difficult via mass transit.

As far as Spanish-speakers, you'll have more in F.L. and Montclair. Paterson is a close by city that has many different latin stores and restaurants if you're feeling homesick.

One town that I'll throw into the mix is Waldwick which is just north of Ridgewood. Nice little downtown, low crime rate, good schools. Similar to Glen Rock in many ways but not as "fancy." Worth checking out if you're in that area.

Good luck in your search and let us know where you settle
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Old 06-14-2012, 07:41 PM
 
15 posts, read 54,745 times
Reputation: 11
Thanks for the very helpful reply, I'll take a look at Waldwick, I hadn't read about it.

Any comments about my budget for renting an apartment on any of these towns? Am I estimating correctly and would 125K a year be enough for a family of four to live in this area?
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Old 06-15-2012, 06:33 AM
 
3,984 posts, read 7,075,143 times
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I haven't checked out the rentals in the area. I would say buying a decent house in a town like Ridgewood, Montclair or G.R. would be difficult on that salary. You might be able to get a starter house in Waldwick or F.L. for that amount.

Just a quick search on realtor.com rentals I saw this house on a quiet, dead end street in Waldwick close to Franklin Tpk (the main road through Waldwick, Allendale & Ramsey):

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/20-Grand-Ave_Waldwick_NJ_07463_M58774-65477?rental=1&row=10

Last edited by EBWick; 06-15-2012 at 06:42 AM..
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Old 06-15-2012, 06:56 AM
 
Location: Tri-State Area
2,942 posts, read 6,006,525 times
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Ridgewood, Glen Rock and Fair Lawn are in close proximity to the malls in Paramus. They are also close by to medical offices and hospitals - Valley Hospital is in Ridgewood and Hackensack (good for women and children with their own building) is in Hackensack - a 10 minute ride. Commuting to NYC from Ridgewood/Glen Rock is convienient with two different train lines running through the town - however you will need to connect in either Hoboken or Secaucus (for midtown NYC locations) - so commute can be anywhere from 1 hour to 1.5 hours depending on train traffic.
You will need a car in Northern NJ if you like to travel, as the trains and buses only go so far.
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Old 06-15-2012, 07:45 AM
 
Location: Randolph, NJ
4,073 posts, read 8,979,002 times
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You have good towns on your list. I think Glen Rock and Fair Lawn might be the best bets based on your budget. You might also want to take a look at Rutherford -- shorter commute, pretty good downtown, may get more on your budget, schools good but perhaps a notch below your other towns.
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Old 06-15-2012, 08:01 AM
 
15 posts, read 54,745 times
Reputation: 11
So far Ridgewood seems like my best choice, confirming what I thought before publishing my question, but the budget situation worries me a little, as I mentioned, I wouldn't want get into debt or pay more than I can afford.

I'll research a little more about Rutherford and Walwick, two towns that weren't initially on my list but were mentioned.

Thank you all for your advice.
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Old 06-15-2012, 10:23 AM
 
Location: Tri-State Area
2,942 posts, read 6,006,525 times
Reputation: 1839
Quote:
Originally Posted by zuska View Post
So far Ridgewood seems like my best choice, confirming what I thought before publishing my question, but the budget situation worries me a little, as I mentioned, I wouldn't want get into debt or pay more than I can afford.

I'll research a little more about Rutherford and Walwick, two towns that weren't initially on my list but were mentioned.

Thank you all for your advice.
I would take Rutherford over Waldwick. Rutherford is about a 10 minute drive to Hackensack Medical Center off of rte. 17.
Again, you need a car to get around, but from Rutherford could be in the city within 1 hour. The malls are about 20-30 minutes away depending on velocity of the car you ride in.
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Old 06-15-2012, 10:32 AM
 
3,984 posts, read 7,075,143 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrmlyBklyn View Post
I would take Rutherford over Waldwick. Rutherford is about a 10 minute drive to Hackensack Medical Center off of rte. 17.
Again, you need a car to get around, but from Rutherford could be in the city within 1 hour. The malls are about 20-30 minutes away depending on velocity of the car you ride in.
For commuting to NYC, yes it's better. Rutherford's downtown is bigger. But I've lived in both areas of Bergen and Waldwick's area is far better. Valley Hospital is 5 minutes away and shopping in Paramus is 10 minutes down Rt. 17 with no stupid traffic lights to fight through.

If you love constant airplane noise, live in Rutherford.
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Old 06-15-2012, 12:07 PM
 
Location: Glen Rock, NJ
667 posts, read 1,744,342 times
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We live in GR. We have some friends that rent. The 2BR home they were renting was about $2500/month. I would assume an apt should be a bit lower. You can live on that salary for rental purposes. Buying a property here would be a different situation dependent on your financial means (down payment, emergency funds, etc). Taxes in all the towns you mentioned are high, so keep that in mind in your calculations if you are looking to purchase. Overall, all great towns. BTW, I'm also South American

Suerte
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