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Old 12-22-2012, 07:01 PM
 
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My wife and I are looking to buy a home and have checked out several areas (Old Bridge, Metuchen, Matawan, Hazlet, and many others). We love Metuchen, but Matawan and Hazlet seem like the best towns to get bang for our buck (our budget is in the low to mid 300's).

I can't seem to get a good read on either area. I've done research online, but I've found conflicting info. We found a very nice home in Matawan near Main Street and Broad Street. Many of the houses on the block seem very nice, but then there are a few that look a little run down. Also, much of Main Street seems a little run down and there seem to be a lot of foreclosures in the area (more so than other areas).

In Hazlet, we've found a couple of nice homes, but I can't get a great sense for how the neighborhood is. One is on the east side of Hazlet off of Middle Road. The neighborhood looks very nice, but I don't love the fact that the area is somewhat close to Keansburg. We also found another home on the west side of Hazlet (west of the GSP). The area seemed nice enough, but again, it's hard to get a good sense for the area.

Can anyone provide any insight on either of these areas? It would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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Old 12-22-2012, 07:16 PM
 
Location: New Jersey
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We lived in the Lakeridge development in Old Bridge for 27 years and just moved out as it was time to downsize.

You could find something there in the mid 300's and Lakeridge is a great family community.
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Old 12-23-2012, 06:18 AM
 
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Matawan and Hazlet are decent, but Metuchen is better. I don't know much about Old Bridge. If I were to buy in that area I would opt for the Strathmore section of Aberdeen. If you can allot a little more budget I would upgrade to Holmdel or Middletown, much better. Good luck.
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:09 AM
 
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Main Street in Matawan isn't exactly a desirable residential space; mostly commercial. If you're looking for residential there, you're not going to be living the more suburban lifestyle that most of the locals live. There are some residences along Broad Street, but it's a main drag so not very private.

There are fine places in Matawan in a radius of Daniel Drive and Union Street. Also take a look at the neighborhood off Schenck Avenue on the other side of Route 34.

Matawan is a borough surrounded by Aberdeen Township. Strathmore is in the township. Some people speak of Matawan broadly, including Aberdeen, which was Matawan Township until the 1970s. Strathmore was built in the 1950s. There are several models. Be cautious of the in-floor heating pipes still in some of the Strathmore homes. Seems to have been a bad idea to embed water pipes into the concrete foundation of the home, an innovation in the 1950s. See if the owners have remediated that issue or check with an engineer to see if you face future costs.

The Matawan-Aberdeen area is close to many things. Cheesequake State Park, Holmdel Park, Red Bank's night life and restaurants, Freehold horse racing, malls are 20 minutes away in Eatontown and Freehold and Woodbridge. The Raritan Bay and Jersey Shore towns are in disarray at the moment, but money is being allocated to restore the shore life. Nearby Keyport usually has themed public festivals. Matawan and Aberdeen both have public celebrations.

Matawan is the more historic town, but taxes are higher than Aberdeen. You're right on the border of Middlesex County. Old Bridge is our Middlesex Co neighbor, a huge township that goes from the Raritan Bay to Route 9. They have a nice public library and ice rink facility and nice homes.

Holmdel is a wealthier community with larger lots and more expensive homes. It's tax base is in a bit of a tailspin because of AT&T Lucent. Plus lots of engineers have left the area. $300k might get you in. Do a bit of online newspaper research to see what's up there.

Good luck.
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Old 12-23-2012, 03:44 PM
 
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Thanks, I appreciate all the info. Could you give me an idea of which towns in the area are on the way up or down?

Also, which school systems are good?

Thanks for the help.
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:50 PM
 
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go to greatschools.net for school ratings. BTW Holmdel ranks highest in Monmouth County and top ten in the state
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Old 12-24-2012, 02:48 AM
 
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Metuchen has an edge over almost every town mentioned, except maybe Holmdel. Both have excellent schools, but are quite pricey at that, and the low-to mid $300s would really be stretching it. Metuchen is a smaller town with a nice main street and a train station and very good schools. Holmdel is quieter and more spread out and has some beautiful parks such as Holmdel Park, Tatum Park and Deep Cut Gardens.

Matawan Borough and Aberdeen Township are two rather small municipalities that share most services, including the schools which are pretty good (not spectacular, but solid). Downtown Matawan has gotten rather grimy, and I know people who have said they felt less than safe around the train station late at night, which I personally feel is ridiculous. However I for one never used that station so I do not know, just driving around the area I never felt unsafe. Also, a lot of what you think is Aberdeen is really in Matawan too. A good portion of Matawan contains some suburban residential development and is not just the downtown area. Aberdeen itself is quite small, only about 5 square miles, and portions of it are on the bay, known as the Cliffwood section (different from Cliffwood Beach in neighboring Old Bridge). The more desirable section along Rt 34 and Lloyd Rd is known as Strathmore. Overall, the Aberdeen/Matawan area is a lower middle class area, but serves as a very good option for anyone on a budget. And you can throw Hazlet into this bucket too. Keansburg, Keyport, Union Beach...don't even think about buying in any of these towns.

Middletown is big and sprawling. It covers a good 40 square miles in territory and has a population of around 65,000. Schools are good to better-than-average. And as far as developing goes, you have everything from the old blue collar neighborhoods off Rt 36 on the bayshore (Port Monmouth, East Keansburg, Leonardo, Belford) to the super-expensive Navesing River Rd section (Jon Bon Jovi had a house there once), and everything in between. Brookdale Community College has its main campus there in the Lincroft section in the extreme southern portion of the township, situated between Red Bank and Holmdel, and it is a very fine academic institution. The township also includes Sandy Hook, situated around Highlands and Atlantic Highlands which are two separate entities surrounded completely by Middletown Township, and actually have some of the most beautiful views on the Raritan Bayshore.

Old Bridge is essentially Middlesex County's version of Middletown. Much of the town is served by the Rt 9 corridor, which is the most congested artery in the area. Again, very large and sprawling and the town is full of zip codes baring names of other towns in the area. You have the Laurence Harbor and Cliffwood Beach areas on the Raritan Bayshore along Rt 35 which are considered the lesser desirable areas, as well as South Old Bridge way on the other edge of town near Rt 18 and Old Bridge-Englishtown Rd (CR 527). The most desirable areas are east of Rt 9 along Rt 34 and Morristown Rd, which actually uses the Aberdeen/Matawan zip code (07747). This is known as the Cheesequake section. Browntown area immediately west of Rt 9 looks similar to a lot of the old development in Aberdeen and Hazlet, but is still very solid, if a little worn down. The proper zip code for Old Bridge is 08857, which does serve a significant portion of the township, but not all of it. Laurence Harbor and the northernmost development off Rt 34 (near Outback Steakhouse) use the 08879 zip code, which is the South Amboy zip code and also serves the Morgan bayshore community in neighboring Sayreville. Cliffwood Beach uses the 07735 zip code, which belongs to Keyport and also serves neighboring Cliffwood in Aberdeen I believe. A small portion also uses 08859, which belongs to Parlin (part of Sayreville) and the extreme southwestern portion near Raceway Park uses Englishtown's zip code 07726, which is part of the confusion that most people think the racetrack is in Englishtown, but it is really in Old Bridge. Schools are good to better than average again.

Sayreville is a town that has seen better days. The Parlin section is definitely the most desirable, but the school system has declined radically over the last two decades. While some areas are still beautiful, the town has many growing problems and show no signs of turning around. I know many people who hail from this town and they agree while it is an excellent location and has so much potential, it is on a definite downward path in terms of a growing crime problem due to taking outsourced section 8 housing from other towns, and none of them would recommend making any long term plans to settle there and they are all trying to get out themselves. Don't go near Lakeview or Winding Wood. The town was without power for more than two weeks after Sandy destroyed the power station on Main St, which had to be rebuilt. I know some people who live behind the Quick Chek on Bordentown-Amboy Tpk at Cheesequake Rd who got power back the next day, but others in Lower Sayreville near the South River bridge waited a few weeks. The Wawa there is destroyed, with a huge sign that says "Temporarily Closed due to storm damage", but no one seems to think it will ever reopen. This is one town that really got screwed by the hurricane.
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Old 12-24-2012, 07:35 AM
 
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Thank you so much. That information is really helpful. Hazlet seemed okay, but we noticed a couple of trailer parks, which we found a little concerning. We've spent a good deal of time looking at homes in the Sayrewoods South section of Old Bridge, as well as the Southwood section. Are these areas okay? They seemed it from the research I did.

As I mentioned we're really struggling with whether or not we want a really small home in Metuchen or a decent home in one of those other towns. We really liked the town of Metuchen a lot, but I don't want to buy a home I'm going to grow out of in a few years (we have our first child on the way).
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Old 12-24-2012, 08:08 AM
 
Location: New Jersey
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What do you considering "growing out of" in a few years?
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Old 12-24-2012, 08:45 AM
 
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I just don't want to feel cramped as a family of four in a small home in a few years (if we were to go to Metuchen). I like the idea of having enough square footage and a nice yard, so that we'll have adequate space in the future.
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