Victoria Carter: 4 Things to Consider When Moving from New York City to the New Jersey Suburbs

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From Victoria Carter

If you’re thinking about moving out of New York City, you’re not alone. According to a recent article in The New York Times, some New Yorkers began to leave the city when the coronavirus hit around March of this year. Based on the number of mail-forwarding requests to the post office, many people left New York City for summer homes, and a huge wave landed in the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area. 

The potential suburbs for Manhattan commuters are dotted with vibrant, family-friendly communities. Not surprisingly, with plenty of parks, nationally-ranked schools, recreation options, and a plethora of fun activities, northern New Jersey has seen an influx of interested homebuyers. Its rich history and cultural diversity make NJ a wonderful place to live, and the Midtown Direct train has service to New York Penn Station from New Jersey too. 

If you live in the city and are thinking of making a change, here are 4 things to consider when moving from New York City to the New Jersey suburbs: 

1. Identify the Right Size House

It can be difficult to estimate the space you need when you move from an apartment to a home. It’s a serious consideration, however, as houses require regular maintenance, repairs, and landscaping. When deciding what you can afford, be sure to budget for upkeep. According to the 1% rule, your annual home maintenance costs equate to approximately 1% of the home’s value. There are also quarterly property taxes and mortgage payments if the home is financed.   

You also need to think about what types of interior spaces are important and the ages of the people in your household. Different size families have varying room requirements and some of these needs will evolve with time. If you have a family with young children, for example, you might consider a home with several multi-use spaces and lots of bedrooms. Working adults and retirees, on the other hand, need smaller, functional rooms like galley-style kitchens, en suite bathrooms, and home offices.

2. Locate the Best Neighborhood

Homebuyers often identify the best schools in the suburbs first and then find a house in a neighborhood that will allow their children to attend the school of choice. As it turns out, New Jersey has some of the best schools in the country. recently compiled a list of the top 300 NJ public and private schools, which includes schools at every level—elementary, middle, and high school. Each school on the list received an “Overall Grade” of A+ or A from Within the survey, NJ schools excel in different areas including academics, college preparation, diversity, health and safety, and teaching. 

Prospective homeowners also look for neighborhoods with certain characteristics. For example, some people desire a town with quiet streets steeped in history such as some areas of South Orange, New Jersey, which still have gas lamp streetlights. Other homeowners may want a vibrant restaurant and club scene like Montclair’s or a strollable downtown like Summit. Young families may look for communities with houses of worship, libraries, recreational facilities, and a variety of grocery stores. If a family has children active in sports, easy access to major highways and recreational fields make accommodating busy schedules a little easier. 

3. Consider the commute to New York City

For families that choose to leave New York City, parents may still need to commute into the city from the suburbs. Northern New Jersey has evolved into a major commuter hub. NJ Transit runs the Midtown Direct train line, a rail service that allows commuters to get to New York Penn Station in less than an hour from towns like Summit, Maplewood, South Orange, and Millburn. Residents also have the option to take a PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) train, reserve a spot on a direct bus line or hop the ferry over to Manhattan. 

With so much traffic going towards the city, municipalities in northern New Jersey are well-accustomed to accommodating commuters. Often there are designated commuter parking lots or jitney bus services that get commuters to the train station during peak commuting hours. 

4. Think about lifestyle

New Jersey is full of family-friendly activities. For those who prefer open space and the outdoors, there are numerous local parks and recreational areas. Essex County Parks, the first county park system in the country, boasts 24 parks, 5 reservations, and several other natural landscapes where families can hike, picnic, and play. 

There are also museums, theaters, and eateries. Residents frequent local favorites like the Summit Playhouse, New Jersey’s oldest running community theatre, unique historical and contemporary museums like the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts, and an array of dining experiences that range from family-friendly diners to award-winning restaurants. From entertainment and outdoor venues to historical and educational sites, each town has something different for everyone.

If you’re thinking of leaving New York City and are interested in learning more about living in northern New Jersey, I would love to assist you and show you around. Contact Victoria Carter at (973) 220-3050 or email


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