Moving to New Jersey

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Possibly moving to Maplewood, NJ

Jan 2009

We are seriously considering moving to the NYC area because of a job opportunity. We have a 1 year old son and hope to have more (plural) in the next few years. I am a native Californian and my husband grew up in Northern NJ (his family no longer lives there) in Montclair. We are considering Maplewood, NJ but open to other options. We would like to buy a 4 bedroom house for under 600K in a diverse neighborhood with good public schools, big old trees, a nice public pool, a library with a story hour, a place to buy organic food, not too far from the city by train, near a progressive jewish temple with a good pre- school, a walkable place with moms' group where people garden, ride bikes, and it would not be weird to breastfeed past 1 year. We would love to be near a cafe or some good ethnic restaurants. I am laughing after reading this, we basically want a cheaper Berkeley with better schools. Is this even in the realm of possible? Is there a BPN in No Jersey? Thanks in advance.

May soon be a Jersey momma

Moved from Maplewood to Berkeley about 3 years ago. Check Maplewood Online re: similar board to BPN.

Maplewood is pretty much all the things you described. A certain element is a little snottier than I like -- but with the implosion of Wall Street that may not be the case so much. We didn't have kids in schools and felt a little isolated, but once you start at the public school, all sorts of social connections open up (true anywhere, though).

Be wary of NJ property taxes -- our taxes on our $500k home started at $13k per year in 2003 and are now, according to a former neighbor, over $20k. No Prop 13 in NJ, and it's a property tax dependent state, and exceedingly corrupt.

No flouride in NJ water, so the dentists prescribe flouride pills. You can email me if you like,  peter

I grew up in Maplewood, NJ but it has changed a LOT since then. My parents were forced to sell their home several years ago because the could no longer afford to pay their property taxes. (The taxes were in the realm of $20K a year for a $500K house!!!) They now live in Springfield, right next to Millburn. I still visit the area and pass through Maplewood a few times a year. My impression is that the community is really changing. It has to be... who can afford to live there? It is not nearly as diverse or liberal as Berkeley. Yes, you can get some organic produce at Kings or Whole Foods, but not that much. The public schools have declined, especially the high school (which was amazing when I went there). Breastfeeding past 1 year, I think you'd get looks/comments. Few people ride bikes. There are many temples in the area, so I'm sure you'd find something to your liking. The public pool requires a membership (not cheap) and there's a long waitlist. All in all, I doubt Maplewood is your place. I wish I could tell you someplace that is, but Berkeley is a pretty remarkable place. That's why we live here... and not near my family in Jersey. I'd suggest you go spend some time there and talk to people to get a feel for the different towns. Millburn is a place I would consider, alhough it's not diverse. I am always amazed at how polite the high school students are there. When I stroll down the street with my little one, they actually move out of the way and say friendly things. -former maplewoodian

Here’s a reply from a Maplewood mom, NJ native, but resident of Oakland for 4 years in the ‘80’s (grad school). My SIL in Berkeley forwarded your query to me. The short answer is, yes, I think you can find what you’re looking for here. More specifically: • 4 BRDM house less than 600K – now’s the time, lots of good deals on the market • Diverse neighborhood – yes, racial diversity in most all neighborhoods, economic diversity more on the east side of town • Good public schools – yes! Check out: • Big old trees – yes! • Nice public pool – yes! • Library with story hour – yes, two in town, one more in South Orange • Place to buy organic food – there’s a HUGE Whole Foods just over our border in Union (Vauxhall section) and an Eden Gourmet in South Orange - not the Berkeley Bowl, but not bad either… • Half an hour into Penn Station via mid-town direct NJ transit trains • Progressive synagogues: Sharey Tefilo Israel and Oheb Shalom, both in South Orange – google them, they both have good pre-schools and helpful websites (plenty of others to choose from including a thriving Reconstructionist Synagogue about 15 minutes away) • Lots of walkers, moms groups, gardeners, nursing moms and bike riders (could use more places to ride bikes.) • A few cafes, and some ethnic restaurants, but not nearly the choices you’re used to (a café very popular with the stroller set recently closed – tough economy!)

Other great things you didn’t mention include real neighborliness on most blocks (block parties, shoveling each others’ sidewalks, kids walking to school together, etc.) and a serious arts community – many Broadway creative types, great musicians, lots of local bands – MaplewoodStock, a full weekend of local bands, in the park each summer. Also distinctive and great is the number of gay and lesbian families – my older son who’s a high school freshman has always had kids in his public school classes who have two moms or two dads, and when my younger son made his First Communion in our Catholic church last year, the family of the boy sitting in the row in front of us had two dads. It’s as normal for my kids as is knowing classmates whose parents have emigrated here from Nigeria – what’s not to like?

Here’s the big downside – property taxes! They are obscene – ours have doubled in the 11 years we’ve lived here, but the value of our house tripled in that time as well – and we all know the last decade in the housing market has been wacky. Still, property taxes will remain absurd until NJ figures out how to pay for schools some other way – I’m not holding my breath on this.

And while there’s noting quite like BPN, there is a thriving community message board: that you should definitely check out – and feel free to post questions on.

Good luck! Brenda in Berkeley

Moving to the area around Montville

Oct 2007

Hi, We're considering a move to NJ for my husbands job- in the area around Montville. Does anyone have any advice on where would be good places to move to? We are a young family with kids aged 5 and 7 years looking for good schools, places to eat like in CA, diverse, open-minded community that would welcome all manners of minorities.(We are ethnically Indian, culturally and by religion Hindu and generally liberal.) What would be important things to remember that a newcomer might not know? I would look for a job after we were settled, so relative proximity to companies with software project management jobs would be a nice to have too.

Thanks! Nervous and excited...

I have some desi friends who love living in Jersey City. I was just there this summer and I thought it was great. It's a short train ride into Manhattan and there are so many Indian shops and restaurants. Email me if you want me to put you in touch with this one friend of mine who lives there -- she is crazy about JC and can give you lots of advice. Lisa T

I grew up in Northern New Jersey and left after high school. I later returned to NJ for one year during my graduate studies after living in Berkeley for years. I found Montclair to be the closest thing to what I knew in the Bay Area. It is quite diverse, has some great restaurants, an independent movie theater, and a liberal vibe. I'm not sure of the actual mileage from Montclair to Montville for commuting purposes but guess that it's about 30 minutes give or take (depending on traffic conditions). I'm also not certain about the school system there. I know that Upper Montclair is known for having a great school system but it is much more expensive, homogeneous, etc. Hope this is helpful. Former Jersey Girl

Moving to Morris county or Bergen county

Oct 2007

We are considering moving to NJ for my husbands job and are currently looking at Morris county and Bergen county to buy a house in because we think they meet our requirements in terms of: 1. Excellent schools 2. environment that is multi-culturally friendly and has activities for young families.

Are we correct in our assumptions? What cities should we target? Are there any places that are laidback and diverse that we should look at? It has to be commutable to Essex county though...Is it true that the people in NJ are generally more insular? What are the dos and donts I should remember while making friends there?

Thanks a lot for any advice! Am nervous about moving across the country... Anxious

Go to Maplewood Online and read, read, read: I lived in Maplewood for almost 3 years. After 15 years on the East Coast, I just had to uproot my family to return to the Bay Area.

As for NJ, the two things you MUST consider are property taxes and heating. In Maplewood, where we lived for 3 years, our taxes went from $13,500 to $17,000 on a house we bought for about $500K. Count on your prop taxes to be 3-4% of the purchase price and to go up every single , perhaps $500-$1000 annually. NJ is almost totally dependent on property taxes to fund state and local government -- all of which are insanely corrupt (really!). (In the Maplewood South Orange school district, school employees pay no part of their health care premium and no deductible or co-pay of any sort. Not corrupt, but an absurdly generous benefit paid for by local property owners. Meanwhile, the library closes 1/2 the week due to budget constraints.) No Prop. 13 freezing of your taxes upon purchase. In our 75 year old, 3500 sq. ft. house, we ended up paying an average of $1,000 PER MONTH for heating and a/c over the course of a year.

But, if you still want to go, consider Maplewood in Essex County -- diverse, beautiful, direct train to NYC, good schools, serene, family oriented (but somewhat insular as you suggested). Oh, and since most of the towns are old and established, all of the grocery stores are the size of 7-11s out here. And the produce sucks, except for NJ strawberries and tomatoes. NJ No Way

I was raised in NJ (Monmouth County) and moved to CA when I was 12 years old in 1982. I LOVED being a kid in NJ. I still have friends from there and my parents have kept almost all of their friends. I can't give advice where to live because I was just a kid there. I just remember my parents, relatives, and friends who are there now, say the schools are great! The people are great too. I find people from NJ and NY to be very down to earth. They don't play games. They tell it like it is. They are TRUE friends. They will bend over backwards for you and be friends for life! I don't have any experience with the people being insular. I love CA, especially the weather, and will probably never move back to NJ, but I loved living there when I was a kid! Hope this helps. Former Jersey Girl

If you're moving to NJ and need to be near Essex County, look no farther than Montclair, which is in Essex. It's the suburb of choice for folks who want diversity/culture/community/proximity to NYC. We are currently house hunting there ourselves. Good luck! Amy

There are many small towns in Bergen County with a safe, liberal, intellectual vibe. I grew up in a town like this in Bergen County called Leonia. The property taxes are high there but the public schools in Leonia were/are excellent (they teach Latin and German in the high school/have a tennis team, etc.). Many professors from Columbia University and arts professionals live there since it is a short commute over the George Washington Bridge to Harlem, Columbia University and Manhattan. I found that people in Bergen County respect privacy but are very friendly once you get to know them. Other nice towns are Hoboken, Englewood, Tenafly, Teaneck, Ridgewood and Morristown. Morristown has some really gorgeous giant Victorian mansions. I own a house in Bergen County and I have never had a problem finding tenants since the area is so desirable for Manhattan professionals looking for a safe area with a rural feel and great schools. I would be happy to answer any other questions you have about Bergen County since I know a lot about it. We plan to move back there when my children are ready for kindergarten. Rebecca

Moving to Princeton

Nov 2005

We are considering a move to New Jersey for professional reasons. Someplace between Princeton and Hanover. Does anyone have advice to areas to move? Maybe most comparable to Piedmont? What is it like? I am native midwest, but my husband is from the west. Is leaving this gorgeous area worth moving to NJ?

Princeton is a beautiful college town. I lived in NJ for 19 years before moving to California. While Jersey is a nice place to live, I have fallen in love with the weather in the Bay Area. It's a tough call, but Princeton is really nice. David

The area between Princeton and Hanover is huge, so there's probably lots of suitable places to move to there. I lived near the north of your search area for a little while, so I can recommend Madison, Florham, Chatham, Morristown and Westfield as all nice areas, somewhat similar to Piedmont. Morristown and Westfield are both more crowded than the other places I mentioned, but that comes along with more shops, restaurants and other amenities. Really, all of the communities along Route 24 between 287 and 78 are very nice. Avoid anything around the I-95 corridor north of New Brunswick. There are nice patches there, but it's quite a bit more urban, and I don't think that's what you're looking for.

As for whether or not it's worth the move, it depends on what you're looking to gain from it. People who live on the East Coast have a different general personality, and things are much more fast-paced. I found living there (Philadelphia area mostly) to be more stressful than California has so far been, but people mind their own business a lot more too. Be an agressive driver or you'll never get where you're going. If the professional reason is compelling enough, the move will be worth it. New Jersey is actually very pretty and has quite a lot of outdoor opportunities, if you're into that.

Good luck! Sorry I can't be of assistance on the areas in the southern half of your search, but I'm really not very familiar with Princeton and environs. Jessica

Hi, I am from NYC myself and have never actually lived in NJ but have camped there and such. It's quite pretty in spots and the proximity to NYC could give you a dose of ''culture'' if you needed it. I have to be honest though and tell you that it would have to be a very good reason for me and my husband to move back to the East Coast. A very fulfilling career choice but not just a better salary. I really don't think I could be paid enough to literally settle there indefinately. Once you move out of CA,it's economically tricky to get back.It does snow in NJ so driving in it is something you'll be doing and it does get very cold. I'm not sure about now (laws have probably changed, I hope) but in the 70's the air quality in NJ was not the best and they were known for having lots of industry and thus lots of factories and plants and pollution. I remember seeing the plants, etc. belching out smoke from the highway going to my Grandma's house as a kid.I know some folks out there from NJ are probably thinking of all the nice things they know of NJ but I figured since you asked the question is it worth leaving CA to go there, I would have to say ''not for me or my husband''.

Princeton is beautiful and bucolic- there are probably many neighborhoods there and surrounding that are fairly like Piedmont. I grew up in northern NJ near the Hudson River but visited friends in Princeton occasionally. They have a great high speed train I think it's just an hour to NYC (not by driving but by train) and generally you'll find public transportaion actually better than here. I don't know the specific public schools but several are as good as Piedmont (I think local property taxes are quite a bit higher there, contributing to good schools- they were a lot higher where I lived in NJ 15 years ago than my current property tax bill for a much less expensive house there.) Of course, the weather is your call on whether it's worth it, and there may be more overt snobbery than in the bay area. (my mother's friends there include a renowned NASA scientist who finds it intellectually and otherwise a bit snobby.) Certainly not exactly a laid-back sort of place, but the university brings vibrancy, well- educated folks, etc. Also, the person who wrote in referring to air pollution was probably not actually referring to the Princeton area. So, of course it's not the Bay Area, but.... NJ's kinda nice

Oct 2003

We're considering moving to Princeton, NJ with our elementary- aged children. We'd appreciate input from people who are familiar with Princeton and the surrounding communities. Where do you go for art, theater, good restaurants, and shopping in the area? How are the elementary schools in Princeton? What are the private school options? Any likes or dislikes about living in the Princeton area? anon

As a NJ native, I can honestly tell you that Princeton is one of the only places I would consider moving to, if I were to go back to NJ to live. Princeton is a beautiful little town with great restaurants, shopping, and greenery. Many shows on their way to broadway, the NY Opera and symphony use Princeton as a testing ground, so you get to see wonderful shows with first- class directors, actors, dancers, musicians, etc. at a fraction of the NY price (and before it goes to NY).

The school systems in Princeton are fantastic, because the parents (who are mostly Princeton grads or professors) demand it. Of course, you also have Princeton University as an asset in town and you are only an hour from NY City and less than 45 minutes from Philadelphia. Former Jerseyite

I have a brother who lives in Princeton and has a 4 and 1 y.o. so he may be able to provide lots of answers to your questions. If you would like to send me your email address I will put you in touch with him. eld

We just moved here from the Princeton area. I grew up there and decided to go back after grad. school. It's a wonderful place to live and we miss it. There's really too much to post so here are some highlights. If you want more info, please get in touch with me. I'd be happy to tell you all I know.


Princeton public schools are highly rated. If you end up not living in Princeton proper, some surrounding communities with excellent schools include: Montgomery, Hopewell (including Pennington) and South Brunswick. There are also outstanding private schools althought they don't all have elementary programs. There is Princeton Waldorf, which my friends love (their kids are little ones -- I don't recall what ages the school accepts) and a Montessori school. I've heard good things about Chapin school and about Stuart (all girls). But since the schools in the area are strong, the elementary private options may be limited. There are also a number of charter schools.

Arts: Princeton is home to McCarter Theater, a Tony winning venue. They have original theater, world music, dance, etc. You are also driving distance to New Brunswick, NJ, home of the State Theater and Crossroads Theater Co. And, of course, you are an hour by train (or by car) to NYC.

Food: Princeton's restaurants are surprisingly mediocre, overall. But there are a few jewels:

- Small World coffee (Witherspoon St.)- the best coffee i've ever had
- Sushi: There's an outstanding little place on Chambers Street (I can't remember the name but it starts with an 'A'. The owner is a former Nobu chef)
- Ferry House (Witherspoon St.) - New American (and BYOB)
- Mexican Village (Leigh St.) - inexpensive, casual and yummy
- Masala grill (Chambers St.) - good food with fresh ingredients

good places for provisions:
- Corkscrew wine store (Hulfish St.)
- Halo pub (hulfish) - good icecream
- Thomas Sweets (Nassau St.) - more good ice cream
- Whole Earth (Nassau St, past Harrison)- a wonderful health food store with a great deli in the back and excellent baked goods. all produce is organic so you never have to wonder, the people a re friendly and the prices are decent. there is a wild oats store nearby but i find the store dirty, the staff unknowledgeable and the produce of poor quality.
- Bon Appetit (Harrison St. shopping center_ - gourmet foods

There are also great places in Lambertville (a picturesque river town), New Brunswick and Trenton. Way too many to list but I would be happy to tell you in another e-mail or phone call.


groceries: Whole Earth, Pennington Market, McCaffery's (harrison st. center). There's a Wegmans 5 miles outside of town, in this huge shopping center that also houses walmart, home depot and target. there is a whole foods opening up on rt. 1 as well. but for smaller venues with good quality, stick with the above.

clothing, household items -- the town of princeton has mediuem and high end stores, Lambertville is an antiques mecca, NYC is always an option.

contact me, i can give you more info about drs., dentists, hair salons, gyms/health clubs, yoga, pilates, etc. shari

Moving to Hoboken, NJ

July 2003

Hi, We're moving soon to New York City suburb (Hoboken, NJ) and we have 16 mo old son. I would like to jump start my effort to find resources for my son. I used the internet to search, I'm not that impressed with what I found; for example, the closest Gymboree is 10 mi away (the one in NYC is only 4 mi away, but I have to cross the river, not a convenient option).

OK here are my questions: 1. Is there a similar internet-based parents network like this one (What I really mean here is the exact web site address to register)

2. What is the equivalent term for ''Mother's Club'' in East Coast? And if it's also a common thing that mothers do. When I apartment-hunting, none of the agents seemed to understand me. The term ''playgroup'' was also not well- understood. Preschool in West Coast, Nursery School in East Coast is the example of different terminology.

3. I live in Martinez now and I registered my son to all these wonderful resources (affordable and quite good parenting classes, play-and-learn classes, etc) in the adult community centers or recreational centers. I have search in the internet, but I can not find something comparable. I either did not put the correct search term or it simply does not exist (which I seriously doubt).

If any of you have lived in the NJ suburb of NYC (or have friends/relatives who do) and can give me a head start on this matter, I can not thank you more!

4. Lastly, any other advice for me that you think necessary to make an easier adjustment, would me more than welcome. Maybe any Indonesian community out there? Thank you all in advance. Laura

I did a couple of Google searches on Hoboken, found a site that looks really promising...including an email address for people new to town to get information, by age of child! --- Here's the link, and good luck:


I lived in Hoboken for almost 5 years about 10 years ago. So Imay not be completely up to date, but it hasn't been that long since I visited (2 years) and I don't imagine it's changed much. I loved living there b/c it was so close to the city and yet not the city. That said, you should know that Hoboken is not a suburb. Far from it, and my feeling is that it gets more gentrified every passing day. Hoboken, when I lived there, was not a fashionable place to live but for $1100 (ten years ago) I lived in a lovely 1 br apt (a brownstone remodeled) when $1100 in NYC got you a closet. It is now much more desirable to live there for the same reason, and wonderful shops, delis, clubs and restaurants abound. Did I mention that it's not a suburb? That is not to say that children don't live there, they do of course, but this is not what I'd call a family friendly town....I knew one couple who had a baby and they moved within a year of his birth. Mostly b/c of the space. The buildings are all right next to each other...which is a benefit if you are the neighborly type. The other great thing about Hoboken is that it is like Albany, about 1 square mile in size (though much larger population) and so you can walk anywhere! It was wonderful. And the city is truly only 10-15 minutes away. Just hop on the PATH train (the train systems are awesome out there) or the Red Apple bus! You don't need a car if you live in Hoboken. I think you'd be surprised how really convenient the city is to Hoboken. Try to remember that on the East coast, time isn't at all treated the same way as it is here. Everyone crosses a river (be it the Hudson or the East) to get to NYC.

Living there is truly the antithesis of living here, but it can be wonderful. I miss it like crazy! But I have to say, out of all the towns in NJ, Hoboken is not where I'd choose to raise a child, and it doesn't surprise me that the terms you use, like ''mom's group'' isn't one they are familiar with. Hoboken is mostly young career people and older italian families. Are you set on this city? There are lots of others that are close to the city that have more of a suburban feel and probably have what you are looking for. Email me if you have any other questions or concerns. Otherwise, good luck. am

Although a bit hard to find, it looks as if these might be some resources of use for the move to Hoboken, or at least a start. I have never lived there, but have moved to the East coast and back to CA and know how the differences in local terminology, local culture, and variability of website maintenance can make this type of info hard to get to from the other side of the country. Best of luck.

Moving to Morris County

Dec 2003

There's a possibility that due to a job transfer my family and I may be moving to New Jersey. Does anyone know about living in Morris County? I believe some of the cities include Morristown, Morris Planes, Maddison. Any suggestions on how to find good pediatricians? Playgroups? Activities? Thanks

My sister-in-law lives in that part of NJ, and has two children, ages 1 and 6. I asked her advice, and she sent the following:

There are a number of publications that have a lot of valuable information about the area: NJ Monthly does annual rankings of towns & schools: Parent Guide lists a lot of happenings, as well as schools/camps/activities/associations:

The main thing I would warn anyone thinking of moving to this area would be, to not judge commute by the miles. Get some advice from those that live & work around here - to know the commute you are getting into. But I guess that is no different than from your area.

Good luck to them! R.K.