Where's a good, inexpensive place to live in North Jersey?
September 18, 2010 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Well, my fiancee and I are looking to move to Jersey. She has a job in NYC (specifically Rockefeller Ctr). I am a student at Temple in Philadelphia. I'll be commuting back and forth to Philly once or twice a week (staying in Philly 3-4 nights and Jersey 3-4 nights).

We're looking for a place with the following requirements: Large studio or 1-bedroom. Dog (medium) friendly. $1600 or under (and ideally well under, in the $1200 range). No more than 1 hr from Rockefeller center for a normal commute. Public transportation to NYC must be within a 10-min walk. Amenities (grocery, coffeeshop, a decent bar/restaurant or two) within walking distance. Easy parking. And obviously since I'll be commuting to Philly, we want a place that's no further from Philly than New York City is!

This is asking a lot, I know! Any advice is much appreciated.
posted by Gaz Errant to Home & Garden (21 answers total)
New Brunswick.
posted by amro at 12:31 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

To add more, there's a NJ Transit station and a ton of bars and restaurants within walking distance of lots of reasonably priced apartments. Parking isn't easy but it's doable. About an hour and 20 minute drive to Philly and about the same (or less) time via train to Penn Station.
posted by amro at 12:33 PM on September 18, 2010

Response by poster: Unfortunately, amro, the commute from New Brunswick to Rockefeller Center is over an hour and a half (at least according to the train schedules). Trying to keep my fiancee's commute under or at most at an hour.
posted by Gaz Errant at 12:39 PM on September 18, 2010

I don't think you're looking at the right train schedule. It should take an hour and ten minutes max to Penn Station from New Brunswick. Check it out. Then you're a mile from Rockefeller Center.
posted by amro at 12:45 PM on September 18, 2010

Hmm, the link went wonky. Anyway, check train schedules from New Brunswick to NY Penn Station on www.njtransit.com
posted by amro at 12:47 PM on September 18, 2010

Response by poster: You're right, it's more like 75-80 minutes to Rock Center. I might be able to convince my fiancee if New Brunswick is nice enough, but it's still honestly further than I'd like from NYC. I think that the NJ Transit (to Penn Station) part of the journey should be under 45 minutes.
posted by Gaz Errant at 1:01 PM on September 18, 2010

Well, hopefully someone else will chime in, but if you want a 45 minute train ride then I don't think you're going to be able to find a place that's no further from NY than Philly.
posted by amro at 1:03 PM on September 18, 2010

New Brunswick really is the sweet spot. You move to Newark and you'll have a much longer commute going to Philly.

New Brunswick is a nicer place anyway for college and recent graduates.

And is it further than you'd like or further than he'd like?
posted by inturnaround at 1:07 PM on September 18, 2010

Response by poster: Sorry, I don't think I was clear - I'm not looking for something equidistant from NY and Philly. I just don't want to be further away from Philly than NYC already is. In other words, the Jersey towns north of NYC would be out. As long as I can get to Philly in under two hours, I'm happy.

I'm not worried about my commute, as I'm only going to be doing it once or twice a week. My fiancee will be commuting into NYC every weekday. Hope this is a bit clearer.
posted by Gaz Errant at 1:12 PM on September 18, 2010

Sorry, I don't think I was clear - I'm not looking for something equidistant from NY and Philly

Yeah, you did say: And obviously since I'll be commuting to Philly, we want a place that's no further from Philly than New York City is!
posted by amro at 1:22 PM on September 18, 2010

You might look at Maplewood or Millburn. Both are on the same train line, which at express is less than an hour. Several of my friends have moved out there and have told me that the towns are reasonably lively. We're looking at moving to Summit, which is a few stops further, which I know has a very nice downtown area, though the train is closer to an hour at that point.

Keep in mind too that Hamilton, NJ is 1 hr almost exactly from NY Penn via train, and is much closer to Philly.
posted by miscbuff at 1:33 PM on September 18, 2010

I am posting way too much in this thread, a symptom of avoiding other work... But one last thing and then I'm done: Hamilton is a lot more than an hour from Penn Station (it's two stops farther from NY than NB), and I don't think there's anywhere near there to live that's walkable from the station.
posted by amro at 1:45 PM on September 18, 2010

I'd vote for Perth Amboy over New Brunswick. It's an hour trip to Penn Station. There are things to do (drink) and places to go (bars) there, but it's not exactly hip, if you know what I mean. There are a few decent restaurants. I heard Sciortino's is moving back from South Amboy, but you can't eat pizza every night. Probably not as close to Philly as you'd like. The place does have character though, especially in the older part of town down by the water.

P.S.: Back in the day Perth Amboy had 87 churches and over 200 taverns. That pretty well sums her up.

P.P.S.: I'm not kidding, Perth Amboy has her charms.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:16 PM on September 18, 2010

There are express trains to Hamilton, NJ. Travel time is 1:03.
posted by miscbuff at 2:19 PM on September 18, 2010

Take a look at the NJ Transit North East Corridor line. That's the line that runs from Trenton (where you can change to the SEPTA train to Philly) to NYC. Schedule PDF.
posted by fings at 3:21 PM on September 18, 2010

metuchen, maybe?
posted by pyro979 at 3:26 PM on September 18, 2010

Yes, check the NJ Transit timetables carefully--the weekday morning (and I think evening) commuter trains from New Brunswick (or Princeton Junction, for that matter) are much quicker than the weekend or weekday daytime trains.

Investing in a folding bike might be a useful idea for your fiancee: that would put Rockefeller Center a few minutes away from Penn Station, a lot quicker than wandering through Penn's hateful depths to the subway, going a stop or two north, and then still being a few minutes' walk away from Rockefeller Center.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 3:31 PM on September 18, 2010

Nthing New Brunswick. Even if the commute is 70 minutes, it is easy and relatively affordable. Excellent town.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:49 PM on September 18, 2010

If you want a realistic hour commute from Jersey to NYC you probably want to be in Essex County. I know the train from Montclair area is like 30+ minutes. From Millburn it's like 40. Plus the time to get the train, plus the 2 miles from Penn Station to Rockefeller. If you are in New Brunswick you are looking minimum 70 minutes on the train plus an extra 15 minutes on each side, depending on how close you are to the train at home.

So I'd recommend Bloomfield, Montclair, Millburn, Maplewood as good choices.
posted by tehdiplomat at 6:01 PM on September 18, 2010

So, are you going to be driving to Philly, or also taking public transportation?

If you don't need public transportation too, Montclair is a nice choice. And I used to take the Decamp bus into the city - takes about 40-50 minutes to get to Port Authority.

Although I commuted from New Brunswick to NYC (near Grand Central) for work this summer, and it wasn't that bad. There are express trains during rush hour that only take about 50 minutes to get to Penn Station. And New Brunswick would be much friendlier to a Philly commute.
posted by lullaby at 8:11 PM on September 18, 2010

Response by poster: Man, I really should have edited my OP more before posting! Here's the simplified version:

I have a car - I will drive to Philly one or two times a week. I'd like my drive to Philly to be under 1 hr 45 mins.

My fiancee has no car - she needs to be within walking distance (ideally under 10 mins walk) of transportation to NYC. Using said transportation she should take an hour or less to get from our apartment to Rockefeller Center.

Hope this is clearer. Thanks for all the help so far!
posted by Gaz Errant at 5:49 AM on September 19, 2010

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