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Old 02-03-2019, 10:55 PM
 
350 posts, read 259,617 times
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As NYer for over 20 years, I've always considered moving to Long Island for the good schools but it seems like the houses we would be getting for the money are not really in great condition, even $600-$700k can't guarantee a nicely built home, not to mention taxes close to $20k/yr.

So I thought why not consider NJ, would you guys recommend it, if so which areas?
We are not considering a huge house, something like a nice 3 bedroom with nice kitchen/bath and a backyard to call our own..

I thought I'd add some information about work situation to help get better answers:
My work will be OK to work remotely with office visit twice a week (right by Whitestone Bridge in Long Island/Queens border).
My wife gave up her career to take care of our son, but eventually she would like to return to work, perhaps once our son gets close to high school (he is going to be 9 soon)
My wife also wanted me to ask if there are gated communities of either condos or single family homes with pools/gym/parks in NJ, or are they also in the $1M range like they are in Long Island? We both can drive, so driving to commuter rail and taking it to Penn/etc to get to city should not be an issue. We have some relatives in Brooklyn (right across Verrazzano Bridge) but driving back home from their place to our queens home takes 1:15 to 1:30 some nights, it's horrible, meaning we are used to sitting in traffic every time we visit them.
Some place close to beaches would be great too, view of ocean would be amazing but I am not sure it's possible to get something like that in $600's in a nice school district that's not far down south?

If there are any other questions I can answer to help narrow the choices, I'd be happy to share more details.
PS: We are also open to renting as well, especially if it can get us a condo with amenities I mentioned above.
Thanks in advance.

Last edited by tailgunner_ed; 02-03-2019 at 11:17 PM..
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Old 02-03-2019, 11:13 PM
 
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https://www.usnews.com/education/bes...ols/new-jersey

But frankly, your home costs are going to be similar for a top district, taxes might be more as well. Add the fact that you're making that awful drive twice a week and if I were you I'd be looking at Long Island as well.
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Old 02-04-2019, 05:34 AM
 
Location: Central NJ and PA
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I agree with Jay, 100%. There's just one thing I'd add to what he said. Parking at the train/bus stations isn't always easy. We waited three years for a parking pass in our town. That meant three years of me driving my husband to and from - 5:55 am, and anywhere from 6:40 to 7:10 pm on the way home. When I couldn't pick him up (kids' extracurriculars) he had a 15-20 minute walk to get home.


As far as budget, we paid $560, slightly less than your target. For that, we got fantastic schools, but only three bedrooms and one bath (a second bathroom in the basement, so the shower is only good for someone 5' and under), both fairly nice, but neither with top-of-the-line finishes or recent updates. We do have a great yard, about 1/2 acre. With three active kids and two dogs, yard was every bit as important to us as house.


You can probably find something more recently updated for your price, depending on town. Taxes vary quite a bit, but plan on roughly $15,000 a year for a house in that price range. Not a huge savings if you were looking at $20.
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Old 02-04-2019, 06:45 AM
 
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What is 1/2 acre yard looking like ?
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Old 02-04-2019, 07:20 AM
 
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I would stick with Long Island if that is easiest for your commute. They are more alike than different. There are no great bargains to be had in NJ.
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Old 02-04-2019, 09:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swilliamsny View Post
I agree with Jay, 100%. There's just one thing I'd add to what he said. Parking at the train/bus stations isn't always easy. We waited three years for a parking pass in our town. That meant three years of me driving my husband to and from - 5:55 am, and anywhere from 6:40 to 7:10 pm on the way home. When I couldn't pick him up (kids' extracurriculars) he had a 15-20 minute walk to get home.


As far as budget, we paid $560, slightly less than your target. For that, we got fantastic schools, but only three bedrooms and one bath (a second bathroom in the basement, so the shower is only good for someone 5' and under), both fairly nice, but neither with top-of-the-line finishes or recent updates. We do have a great yard, about 1/2 acre. With three active kids and two dogs, yard was every bit as important to us as house.


You can probably find something more recently updated for your price, depending on town. Taxes vary quite a bit, but plan on roughly $15,000 a year for a house in that price range. Not a huge savings if you were looking at $20.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bookspage View Post
I would stick with Long Island if that is easiest for your commute. They are more alike than different. There are no great bargains to be had in NJ.


Thank you, I love this forum because most members either went through similar situations or they know exactly what we are talking about.

swilliamsny, 1/2 acre sounds like a lot of grass to cut and patches to cover in heat waves, how do you manage it, I hope most of it is on the back so you don't have to make it as nice as the front. That's another pet peeve I have with most long island homes, at least the ones closer to Queens/Nassau border. The houses are somehow places right the middle of the lot, so you have a huge front yard that you can't really use, while you have to maintain, meanwhile in the rear it's a smaller yard.

Lack of available permit is a bit scary, I can't imagine waiting 3 years for space at the station, is that norm for where you live, or just they happen to have a small lot with not a lot of permits being canceled? I don't mind the 2nd bathroom with no shower since we have only one kid, but in your situation it can get a bit hectic.

I am not really trying to save on taxes, since it difference is not that huge, but I was hoping we could get more/better house for the money in NJ. Which area did you move, if you don't mind sharing, or you can PM me if you prefer. It sounds like you did a lot of research and went for one of the best school districts since you have 3 kids and you intend to stay long term. In our case, it would be about 10 year stay until my son finished high school, and unless we love the neighborhood we would probably move to a different area. Like I said there some amazing houses for much less price, only because schools are not that great.

bookspage, Thanks, I guess I will still consider both, I wasn't looking at NJ for bargains but in hopes that we could get a newer construction/better and more spacious area for similar cost, for example looking at places like Roslyn, Garden City, Syosset, you really cannot get anything that's recently upgraded and that you can go in with minimal upgrades that's under $700k, and Syosset taxes are usually highest. I am not even considering Jericho anymore because of current shortage of supply (and much smaller town).

I guess I didn't consider Suffolk county, maybe there are some nice places/schools out there with bigger lots, better houses since we are now talking about 2+hrs from the city by car and possibly 2:30+hrs by train in rush hour, but getting to work in Cross Island wouldn't be as bad.

PS: I never thought trying to find a place to live would be this difficult when we think about schools. I always heard people talk about these things but never realized until you have a kid and your priorities shift.
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Old 02-04-2019, 10:14 AM
 
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Station parking is about a three year wait in my town as well, some people actually drive a town over and get the train from there. We moved close enough to the station so we only have one car, but three to five years is pretty typical.

I don't think you'll find newer, better, or larger in NJ. My house is 96 years old, for example, NJ also had a building boom in the 1940's the same way Long Island did. There are newer places around the corner from me that just went for 700K. They're two family houses that share a wall. In comparison, I paid less than half that for our single family home. So newer construction is going to be at a huge cost.

NJ totally works for us, but I'm going to Union Square every day, about 70 minutes door to door. I wouldn't want to fight the GWB and then the Whitestone twice a week. I would recommend getting a hotel in NJ some night and just see if the drive is at all tenable for you before considering even looking at any areas or schools. Spending a hundred bucks now could save you a ton of time and effort in the long run.
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Old 02-04-2019, 10:59 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tailgunner_ed View Post
bookspage, Thanks, I guess I will still consider both, I wasn't looking at NJ for bargains but in hopes that we could get a newer construction/better and more spacious area for similar cost, for example looking at places like Roslyn, Garden City, Syosset, you really cannot get anything that's recently upgraded and that you can go in with minimal upgrades that's under $700k, and Syosset taxes are usually highest. I am not even considering Jericho anymore because of current shortage of supply (and much smaller town)..
Newer single-family construction really doesn't exist in North Jersey for the most part. Here and there you will see one pop up on a existing lot/teardown. But you'll pay dearly for those. I'm sure LI is the same. Even finding existing homes that are recently updated can be tough. You might be able to get a tiny bit more for your money when you head to Mercer and Middlesex County, but that is probably taking you out of your radius for your commutes.

I don't know LI that well to be able to say where you will get more house. But from my experience with jobs and kids and commuting around NJ, my first suggestion is always make do in the area where you will have the better commute even if it means a slightly lesser house
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Old 02-04-2019, 11:03 AM
 
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Hi Jay,
I am not expecting new construction, and I don't think there will be any affordable ones unless I decide to go way out of state or somewhere like Nevada, Arizona or Utah, where they are simply building on desert, aka free land, and most can easily get a huge property that's "new" by tri-state standards for high 200's or low 300's.

I live in a house that's also over 90 years old, approaching a century, but we were able to remodel it where you can't tell its age when you are in the house. There are pluses and minuses to getting a house that's already been remodeled, but since interest rates are still relatively low, I'd pay $100k more for a remodel that could cost me $70 to do, so I can spread the payments to 15 or 30 years.

bookspage, yes commute is a huge factor especially these days with more and more people on the roads, but with same amount of roads as we had 50 years ago, at least main roads, LIE/495 gets clogged from tunnel to about middle of Nassau county, generally once you pass certain exits, it becomes much easier.
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Old 02-04-2019, 11:13 AM
 
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Yeah, you just have to trust that they did a decent job along the way, which too often is a surprise after the former owners move out. I think bookspage summed it up when they made that comment about similar deals being offered on LI, I'm the last to tell people not to move to NJ but you should try the drive to see if it's worth it first, LI is just so, so much closer.
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