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Old 04-17-2013, 04:00 PM
501 posts, read 399,260 times
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Firstly thank you to anyone who reads this and responds. We really need some help! We are very apprehensive about our necessity to move. While we've considered NJ for quite sometime, our unexpected fourth child is forcing us to make that happen sooner rather than later. We are currently in a 2 bedroom 1 bath in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. We LOVE our neighborhood, but I'm just not sure that we can feasibly stay here. We can't afford anything bigger. We've looked on LI as that would be a bit of a better commute for my husband but really hate all the towns out there that we can afford and the schools are awful. With that said, he will both drive and take the train depending on his schedule. He often works off hours so on those days he'll drive in as there won't be as big a concern for traffic.

Where are you coming from? Brooklyn
Why are you moving? Need more space
Where will you be working ? husband will commute to Downtown Brooklyn and I'll be at home

Will you buy or rent? buy
What is your budget ? < $350,000
What kind of place are you looking for ? Single family home with a nice yard, minimum 3 bedrooms, but 4 would be great!

Will anyone (spouse, children, pets) be moving with you ? Husband, 3 kids and 1 on the way
Do you need/want good public schools? Yes

Briefly describe the kind of neighborhood you'd like to live in:
So while good schools are a must, I'm not a huge relier solely on scores. We really want a diverse community, both ethnically and socio economically and as long as the schools can offer our kids a place where they will thrive, I won't overly emphasize test scores

List three things that are important to you in order of importance. community, schools, commute

Also how do I find a good realtor in the area?
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Old 04-17-2013, 04:47 PM
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South Orange and Maplewood are popular destinations with ex-Brooklynites making the move to New Jersey, and both towns are diverse, artsy, with good schools and short train rides or drives into the city. $350,000 will be very tough in either town unless you're comfortable living close to either the Newark or Irvington border.

West Orange is more affordable but real estate there seems to be trending in the opposite direction of South Orange and Maplewood. You can buy there though and be a close drive to all both those towns have to offer though.

I don't know as much about Livingston, but I definitely think the town is more classic suburbia.

I highly recommend going to the "Maplewood Online" forum and asking there for advice. People from all the towns you mentioned are likely to weigh in. Super friendly and helpful board!
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Old 04-17-2013, 06:07 PM
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I second Maplewood. I"ve only been there a few times but I just got a good friendly "vibe" and it seems very diverse. I don't know much about South Orange. If you are picking those 4 towns, I'm guessing you are already aware of the high taxes and have figured that into your budget.

Just from doing a quick search on Zillow, you would be closer to the Union border. This is a sample from that area in your price range, it's older but looks like it has a newer kitchen: 42 Menzel Ave, Maplewood, NJ 07040 - Zillow

The Irvington border is even cheaper but I think it's more run down area (I work in Irvington). You have to of course come out and see for yourself.

Maplewood and S. Orange are also train towns which would be a plus for your husband in his commute.
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Old 04-17-2013, 06:09 PM
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West Orange is probably your best bet for your price range. Consider adding Bloomfield to the mix as well.
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Old 04-17-2013, 06:21 PM
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Diversity: West Orange, then South Orange and Maplewood, then Livingston a distant last.

Schools: Livingston is considered the best, then South Orange and Maplewood, with West Orange bringing up the rear.

Commute: For the train, South Orange and Maplewood are best if you're within walking distance of the train stations. Livingston is least desirable for the train. For driving, South Orange has the poorest highway access.
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Old 04-17-2013, 06:24 PM
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Thanks for the feedback. I've factored in taxes for all locations based on Zillow. I'm not sure if those are accurate or not.
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Old 04-17-2013, 06:27 PM
Location: NJ
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taxes on zillow should be accurate. LOVED the maplewood house linked above.
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:39 PM
501 posts, read 399,260 times
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Yes that Maplewood house is nice. Kind of a questionable section though. My debate is whether or not to do South Orange/Maplewood in areas closer to Irvington (because that's all we can afford) and have "better" schools or West Orange which has some really nice areas in the western sections but where across the board the schools aren't as well regarded. We really liked both areas. We haven't seen Livingston or Bloomington yet.
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:49 PM
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Another vote for Maplewood/South Orange. They're essentially one town, with a shared school district, but Maplewood has the name recognition. Many, many ex-Brooklynites.

Find your compadres here:

Brooklyn --> Maplewood - M/SO Community Forum

Maplewood and South Orange are both highly walkable and have compact, interesting downtown areas -- things that appeal to people moving from the city. Livingston and West Orange are more sprawling and don't really have downtowns to speak of, but nice areas of West Orange are very close to downtown South Orange, so you could still visit.
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Old 04-18-2013, 05:54 AM
Location: NJ
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From what I've read about the school districts, SO/Maplewood really isn't significantly better than WO. At least not to the point where I would go out of my way to buy in SO/M instead of WO. Both districts are very diverse. There are some really great deals on houses in WO, and my neighborhood is full of Brooklyn/NYC transplants. It's amazing how many people on my street have "917" cell phone numbers

I'm not too familiar with Maplewood, but the close proximity to Irvington and Newark would probably steer me away. There was a shooting at a Maplewood convenience store within the last couple weeks, so there is certainly an element of crime that spills over. The crime rate of SO/M is actually twice as high as WO.
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