Submitted by nbny90 t3_116851j in newjersey


My family and I live in NYC and are thinking of buying our first home in Jersey. We like a few small towns in Northern NJ so far and we’ve driven around a few towns quickly to get a feel, but I’m curious to hear from others how they went about buying and getting familiar with an area they didn’t know before buying.

The biggest priorities for my wife and I are

  • a good school district
  • diversity
  • commute via public transportation into Manhattan Port Authority or Penn Station of no more than an hour.
  • Our max budget would be somewhere between $550-600k.

Did you go to specific places in the town? How’d you know where you ended up buying was the right place for you? Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!!




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PracticableSolution t1_j95ix2x wrote

In NJ, most schools are pretty good and well documented.

NJ is a funny place with diversity; there are places with excellent cultural diversity and places with excellent economic diversity; there are almost none with both.

Your mode of transportation matters when considering where you work in the city. If you’re uptown, find a bus terminal since the vast majority of commuter routes take you to the PA bus terminal. If you’re downtown, look for a train line that takes you to Hoboken where you can hop a PATH train or Ferry. If you’re midtown, look for a train that gets you to Penn Station. Few actually works around Penn Station, so while popular, it’s mostly a way station to other points.

Your price range is decent, but probably won’t get you walking distance to a train station in one of the bigger towns. I recommend you look at towns along major commuter bus lines if you’re uptown. Passaic county highlands and surrounding area is a fave since it has an express bus terminal in town, the schools are good, and you can get that classic Americana style housing there. A lot of NY expats either love it or can’t handle it. Their brains tend to melt at mountain forest communities with lakes bears and bald eagles everywhere.


MotorboatingSofaB t1_j95jdb5 wrote

Check out fair lawn. 600k won’t get you a mcmansion there but should you get a decent starter home and the schools are very good with a diverse population. Best, the radburn train runs express in the morning and will put you into penn within 45-50 minutes. Worst part is the transfer in Secaucus


kittyglitther t1_j95kgqe wrote

Search the sub. You'll see that almost EVERY "I'm moving to NJ" post comes with "we want good schools and a short commute."

Also: maybe rent for a year before buying.


International-Yak119 t1_j95knpn wrote

I miss the good ol days when New Yorkers moved outta the city and into Connecticut.


housespecialdelight t1_j95lp7e wrote

I second Fair Lawn. There are two train stations, close to shopping and restaurants. Clifton is also a good option but I hear the high school isn't so great.


Top_Ad5385 t1_j95qb6i wrote

Definitely check out Springfield, Roselle Park


helloimwes t1_j95slpu wrote

Reddit is probably the place for “I’m thinking about [Town] because [reasons]. What can anyone tell me?”

This type of wide net casting question never gets you closer to something meaningful. Getting out to places and physically experiencing it is a good start.


headykruger t1_j95vc72 wrote

You aren’t going to get all that with that commute on that budget


Sinsid t1_j95wuhu wrote

Well, when you say home, I’m not sure if that means you are looking at condos or not. I would say take a look at Clifton, NJ. Near the delawanna train station.

There is a big condo complex there, and the single family homes match your budget. All walkable to the delawanna train station.

The commute is 1 hour to NYC.

The elementary schools are ok. The high school has a terrible reputation though. But there are county high schools. Magnet/charter or whatever. If your kids are good students they can probably get into one of those.


Sinsid t1_j95xduc wrote

I suggested Clifton too. The elementary schools are good/decent. But every grading I’ve ever seen for the high school is that it is garbage.

If your kid is actually a good student you can always look at sending your kid to a charter/county high school instead. I recently moved out of Clifton, and had some neighbors in public high school that wasn’t Clifton High school.


TomOmon t1_j95yey5 wrote

East rutherford / carlstadt. You can find a house with a view of the city skyline that meets your requirements. Low taxes.


Icy-Formal975 t1_j95ypn5 wrote

Personally I think nj is getting to expensive because of all the New Yorkers moving in. In a state like Connecticut you could get more for your value. Although if you insist on moving to nj I would recommend Montclair. They have a huge downtown with plenty of dining and shopping options that almost feels like the city. They are half an hour to city by train. It is very diverse. The houses are also close together and has friendly people. I know some friends from the city that are considering moving there to. You’ll meet a lot of people like minded to ideology’s that people have in the city. I would definitely considering looking into Montclair. If you do I can put you intouch with friends of mine that live there.


rando1219 t1_j960rlg wrote

You can get a small older house in Metuchen for around that. Good schools and a 45 minute train ride to the city.


raguwatanabe t1_j9629q5 wrote

More new yorkers in jersey. At this point i think NY should just annex NJ, they love moving here but still wanna be close to NYC.


folgaluna t1_j96445j wrote

Don't they are a bunch of assholes.


lost_in_life_34 t1_j964qfw wrote

Most towns will have homes that go from your budget or less to $2 million or more depending on the house

It’s not like every town has a specific price range


bakerfaceman t1_j969eh9 wrote

It really depends on where in the city you work. You have a LOT more options for a sub 1 hr commute.if you work in midtown for instance. If you work in FIDI, the ferry and path suburbs are best. If you work in Harlem or further north, bridge suburbs are great if you're gonna drive or take the jitneys.

East Rutherford has been great for my family. Homes are affordable, there's a walkable downtown, and a huge ass mall when we want it. The schools are good and improving, we have a brand new middle school that's amazing. It's very diverse and class sizes are small. There's always little town events and concerts and fairs. There's also tons of buses running to port authority all day and night. The Rutherford train station is also walking distance. Having both bus and train available is awesome. Hoboken is only two train stops away when I want that vibe too. IMO, this town is pretty perfect and I'm glad I'm raising my kids here. We also have the lowest property tax rate in Bergen county, that is important.


bakerfaceman t1_j969umx wrote

The property taxes are HIGH though. $600k houses have $19k property taxes. In East Rutherford, a $600k house has $9.3k property taxes and is closer to the city. Montclair rules for sure, but living there can be tough.


EverythingZen167 t1_j96adww wrote

Our family of 5 moved from NYC to West Orange in early 2019. We really like it so far. The elementary and middle schools have been great, with a lot of support for advanced learners. The town itself is very diverse. My commute to Penn is: 7 minute drive to Orange station, 5 minute wait, ~ 25 minute train ride to Penn. We got lucky purchasing before the pandemic, and the family we bought from were in a hurry to leave. So our 4 bedroom / 2 bathroom was in the low $400k’s, is almost $150k more now (according to Zillow) - would have been out of our budget. Taxes are high - $14k - but we’re all happy with the schools.

We had a great realtor who helped us look at places. But honestly, the good schools x budget x commute to NYC, back in late 2018, had basically ~ 20 houses on the market in total. So scouting all the houses took three weekends in total.


IThinkUrAWampa t1_j96ae6q wrote

Stay in NYC please. It's hard enough for actual New Jerseyans to buy a home these days because New Yorkers are pricing them all out.


ArachnidImportant430 t1_j96ezr3 wrote

Went to Somerville for the first time in forever. Being developed/revitalized. Lots of dining options. Train to the city. I know nothing about the school system however .


Gloomy-Hall8648 t1_j96qh7a wrote

Hi, check out Nutley, NJ. We moved here from the city a year ago and found it by asking around and talking with our realtor. 35 min commute into Penn on the train. Decent diversity for NJ. Great schools, and you should be able to get a decent bed for that price. We would make a weekend out of looking at houses, rent a car in the morning, visit houses, have lunch in a new spot, take our kid to the playground and talk to other parents. So far so good.


iJayZen t1_j972ier wrote

Tough price point. Do you have to travel to NYC every workday?


AshySmoothie t1_j978k9s wrote

You most certainly can ... granted they are retiring, i have family that just closed in Rahway. 30-45 mins from penn... 650K can DEFINITELY get you all of that especially if they rent/look for 12 months


Rude-Bison-2050 t1_j9793fs wrote

your best bet at that price point will likely be rutherford or nutley. No more than an hour is really limiting, even for places physically close to NYC. You underestimate how much that commute in will blow.


Icy-Town-5355 t1_j97ldes wrote

Lived in Montclair (13 miles from NYC on the Montclair Boonton Line) , worked in Union Sq for 12 years. Was a 12-15 minute walk to the train. NJT train was invariably late. Would leave my house at 7:10 and walk to the station, for a 7:26 train. Arrive 5 to 10 minutes early. Chill, get on the train and arrive close to 8:30 on any given day. Walk or sub it to Union Sq. Arrive at my desk anywhere between 8:45 and 9:00am. Train traffic into Penn is always unpredictable and congested.


murphydcat t1_j97pf3j wrote

Welcome to NJ, now keep right except to pass on our highways. Please don’t be like New Yorkers and ignore this law.


AnNJgal t1_j97t2z6 wrote

OK. So, check out Bloomfield. The schools are good (getting better) and your proximity to the city is under an hour.


mookybelltolls t1_j97tu77 wrote

Every town in Northern New Jersey has the top school district in the State.


IThinkUrAWampa t1_j981xnn wrote

Originally from Bloomfield and left due to over crowding because of the NYC crowd coming in droves. Rents are now 2-3k for a two bedroom. If OP loves sitting in a car for 20 minutes to drive 2 miles, Bloomfield is for them 👍


Slowlookleanroll t1_j98i5fp wrote

Check out Fair Lawn. Excellent schools, bus and train to NYC in about an hour and you might find a nice cape in that price range.


BackInNJAgain t1_j9aja84 wrote

I'm in Morris County and there are definitely homes in your price range. They're going to be a bit older. Newer homes are all $1 million plus BUT a lot of them are built like shit. My brother bought one and in fewer than 10 years things are already breaking--drywall coming off, leaks in the roof, boards coming up on the porch, etc. Our house, by comparison, was built in the 30s and is still going strong with minimal upkeep other than painting and power washing. Morris isn't as diverse, though, with the exception of Morristown itself and Madison somewhat.


KayakHank t1_j9bt2ps wrote

Look in Morris county for slightly lower taxes.

Madison, Chatman, morristown.