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Thread summary:

Relocating to New Jersey: taxes, assisted living homes, real estate, market, downtown.

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Old 12-29-2008, 10:48 AM
 
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We're a couple in our mid 30s looking for a neighborhood to settle in. I grew up around NYC and she's from CA and lived in Morristown. We know a little about NJ, and we started looking around Summit. Here are the basics of what we're looking for.

Neigboorhood - We love nature, lots of trees, friendly, quiet streets, privacy. Prefer some distance between houses, but could be houses closer together in the right setting. Close to train/grocery would be nice. We're fairly cosmopolitan, and like reasonable access to culture (a town away is ok though). Down to earth neighbors is key; don't like glitzy / auspicious / McMansion neighborhoods like Millburn we've seen. We're ok with a mix of people, but also ok with mostly caucasion towns. Low crime rate is important. We're not religious, so somewhere not very denominational is preferred.

House - ideally a 4BR, under $800k, colonial or cottage style, taxes under $12k (our NJ pet peeve!)

Kids - plan to have 2, and prefer public schools over private

Commute - I work in downtown NYC (sometimes midtown east), she works in Morristown (drives). So convient commutes to both is a priority for us. I have a hard time commuting over 1 hour each way.

My parents - ideally we'd like my parents (in their 80s) to live close by. We'd consider a mother-daughter style house (under $1mm), a condo, not their own house. Nothing fancy, but safe and quiet. An assisted living home is also a good option if you know of any in the area.

This weekend we drove through some neighborhoods and here are were our initial impressions:
- Montclair - Possible, like commute, but taxes too high
- Morristown - love town, feel, but commute to NYC too much
- Millburn - too ostentacious, not comfortable
- Summit - possible, express train to NYC, will look at more
- Chatham - our favorite so far, felt good, nice streets close to town
- Madison - also nice, would look into more
- New Providence - didn't find any streets we liked, had expected more
- Fanwood - friend lives there, houses too close together

Please let us know if you have any advice or suggestions on towns we might consider, or input on the towns we've seen. We're now in learning mode, so the more comments the better! Thanks in advance.
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Old 12-29-2008, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Historic Downtown Jersey City
2,705 posts, read 7,806,121 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zing View Post
We're a couple in our mid 30s looking for a neighborhood to settle in. I grew up around NYC and she's from CA and lived in Morristown. We know a little about NJ, and we started looking around Summit. Here are the basics of what we're looking for.

Neigboorhood - We love nature, lots of trees, friendly, quiet streets, privacy. Prefer some distance between houses, but could be houses closer together in the right setting. Close to train/grocery would be nice. We're fairly cosmopolitan, and like reasonable access to culture (a town away is ok though). Down to earth neighbors is key; don't like glitzy / auspicious / McMansion neighborhoods like Millburn we've seen. We're ok with a mix of people, but also ok with mostly caucasion towns. Low crime rate is important. We're not religious, so somewhere not very denominational is preferred.

House - ideally a 4BR, under $800k, colonial or cottage style, taxes under $12k (our NJ pet peeve!)

Kids - plan to have 2, and prefer public schools over private

Commute - I work in downtown NYC (sometimes midtown east), she works in Morristown (drives). So convient commutes to both is a priority for us. I have a hard time commuting over 1 hour each way.

My parents - ideally we'd like my parents (in their 80s) to live close by. We'd consider a mother-daughter style house (under $1mm), a condo, not their own house. Nothing fancy, but safe and quiet. An assisted living home is also a good option if you know of any in the area.

This weekend we drove through some neighborhoods and here are were our initial impressions:
- Montclair - Possible, like commute, but taxes too high
- Morristown - love town, feel, but commute to NYC too much
- Millburn - too ostentacious, not comfortable
- Summit - possible, express train to NYC, will look at more
- Chatham - our favorite so far, felt good, nice streets close to town
- Madison - also nice, would look into more
- New Providence - didn't find any streets we liked, had expected more
- Fanwood - friend lives there, houses too close together

Please let us know if you have any advice or suggestions on towns we might consider, or input on the towns we've seen. We're now in learning mode, so the more comments the better! Thanks in advance.
Chatham and Summit are your friends. Both towns fit all of your requirements!
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Old 12-29-2008, 12:13 PM
 
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Reading your requirements, I was thinking I had a very good opportunity for you as I will be selling both a 1-bedroom condo and my house in Cranford. But unfortunately the house is a little out of your price range. I would still recommend you check out Cranford, as it offers pretty much everything you are seeking in a town.
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Old 12-29-2008, 12:55 PM
 
Location: Pennsylvania & New Jersey
1,525 posts, read 3,995,492 times
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Default Consider Mountain Lakes too

It looks to me like you've already done your research and have found that you really like Chatham and possibly Summit. Both are fine towns, but I prefer Chatham over Summit since 1) I'd rather be in Morris County and 2) IMO, Summit is a bit more like your concerns about Millburn.

I'd have to agree with LeavingNJ's post regarding Cranford -- Cranford, Garwood, Westfield, and other towns along the train line -- possibly Mountainside too. Schools are good, prices are within or below your range, taxes are reasonable (for NJ standards), and outdoor activity is readily available with a lot of nice parks in that part of Union County. Garwood is an underpriced gem, but it may be a bit too blue-collar for you.

A bit further north, (though it may be a push price-wise and tax-wise,) you should surely look at Mountain Lakes. A young professional couple looking to start a family could do very well there in today's real estate market. Currently listed, there are a half dozen four bedroom homes in your price range.
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Old 12-29-2008, 02:33 PM
 
505 posts, read 1,665,681 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zing View Post
This weekend we drove through some neighborhoods and here are were our initial impressions:
- Montclair - Possible, like commute, but taxes too high
- Morristown - love town, feel, but commute to NYC too much
- Millburn - too ostentacious, not comfortable
- Summit - possible, express train to NYC, will look at more
- Chatham - our favorite so far, felt good, nice streets close to town
- Madison - also nice, would look into more
- New Providence - didn't find any streets we liked, had expected more
- Fanwood - friend lives there, houses too close together

Please let us know if you have any advice or suggestions on towns we might consider, or input on the towns we've seen. We're now in learning mode, so the more comments the better! Thanks in advance.
Since we are somewhat similar in where we are in our lives and what we are looking for in a community, I will comment on the areas that you listed that we looked at.

Montclair- Great downtown, great access to the city. Not so great schools. I would recommend Glen Ridge but the taxes would kill you. Verona might be another place worth looking into.

Morristown- almost the same as Montclair, although it is a little farther out, taxes are less. Little more urban downtown (some highrises, lacks some charm) but again, the schools might be a bit of a drawback.

Summit/Chatham- we looked in Chatham and really liked it, although in the end it was a little to East for us (we commute West). The houses are close together in town, but in the Twp there is a little more space. VERY nice area with great schools and charming downtown.

Madison- We also really like Madison as well because it resembles Chatham in a lot of ways, but its just a little farther west. GREAT downtown with lots of restaurants, grocery stores, train access, etc. Plus you had kind of a cool vibe with the colleges near by- I'm sure there's a lot to do there and it seems to be active without being obnoxious.


The only drawback I will say about these three is that if you want your parents to live in something nearby, it might not be too inexpensive. The above three are all in a row and do command a premium.


Someone recommended Mountain Lakes and it is a great location for some of the things you are looking for. In your price range you could get a lot there now as mentioned above. It is quite a bit farther west and north from Chatham, but it has two train stations close to it (Denville and Mtn Lks) and the train runs on the same line as Madison and Montclair, albeit farther West. Mtn Lks prides itself on its shade trees and the town, while small, has TONS of trails, the Tourne (large state park) is right next to it, and it has a paved trail along the main road (Boulevard). You also have two public beaches on two separate lakes as well as the Mountain Lakes club which offers tennis, a pool and other opportunities. I wouldn't categorize Mtn Lks as "glitzy" although there is a lot of money there.

Watch for taxes though, they could be a deal breaker for you.

Doesn't really have a downtown per se, but it does have downtowns nearby in Denville and Boonton, but they are not on the same level as a Madison or Chatham.

Schools are #3 in the state, but the schools in Chatham, Madison are no slouch either.

I'm sure your parents would be able to find something reasonable in the areas surrounding Mtn Lks. Boonton, Denville and Parsippany are all good options for them and would be literally minutes away from you.


Whew! Hope I helped out a little. Best of luck!
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Old 12-29-2008, 02:57 PM
 
11,340 posts, read 9,893,731 times
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Hi Zing,

Normally I would suggest a whole host of towns and possibilities. However, given where you work, what you like, and what you do not like, the Chatham and Madison markets seem fairly ideal. I think you should investigate those two boroughs more intensely. You will get what you want and you will be able to keep the taxes well below $12,000. Plus short commutes and good proximity to trains and Manhattan.

Summit is a more expensive market, with median home prices near $800,000 compared with $610,000 for Chatham Borough and $625,000 for Madison Brough over the past year. You will get less house for your money than Chatham/Madison and the taxes will probably be higher. Summit is a much larger and more developed area than Chatham. Very upscale, but without a nice small-town feel in my opinion. I would personally rather live in Chatham and drive to Summit if I feel the need to do "downtown" stuff. It's a very short drive.

Good luck with your home search! In the end I think you will be a happy resident of Chatham or Madison by the time it's all said and done.

-Marc
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Old 12-29-2008, 10:41 PM
 
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Thanks everyone. Very useful info. Will take a look at Cranford, Garwood, Westfield, and Mountainside. I've driven through Mountain Lakes before, and it's beautiful. However I think the commute from there is a bit rough to NYC though. We really liked Boonton too.

One other consideration we had was around Ridgewood and Ho-ho-kus, and case anyone has views on that area. That's next on our list to check out.

Thanks again for the advice. This is a great forum.
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Old 12-30-2008, 09:13 AM
 
7 posts, read 34,985 times
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Summit. You can buy my house in April. Love it here but we need something a bit bigger. Seriously, though, you will have a lot more inventory March, April, May. Take your time. Summit has Sage which is great for seniors. We also have senior connections bus which takes them places around town. Also, Overlook and Summit Medical Group. You will be busy and will want your parents to be somewhat independent. For young couples, there is also a lot available. Great restaurants, movie theaters, newcomers club, junior women's club, etc. Summit will appeal to you on all levels. Good luck.
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Old 12-30-2008, 02:22 PM
 
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Hi Zing,

One other thing. Always check the parking situation for the train in the town you want to consider. Some towns have multi-year waiting lists for train station parking spots. Especially the towns along Route 78.

-Marc
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Old 12-30-2008, 06:02 PM
 
505 posts, read 1,665,681 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Paolella View Post
Hi Zing,

One other thing. Always check the parking situation for the train in the town you want to consider. Some towns have multi-year waiting lists for train station parking spots. Especially the towns along Route 78.

-Marc
GREAT point
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