Tell me about Jersey City
April 24, 2005 7:42 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I live in Manhattan, in Yorkville. We don't like it: lots of screaming-brat offspring and loud frat-type partying. Finding this $1500 one-bedroom was very hard, and I now see, looking at Craig's List, that you can't find even a Mahattan studio for $1500. So we're thinking of Jersey City, since he works way downtown in the financial district. Neither of us knows anything about Jersey City. Is it lovable? We'd like easy access to PATH train, restaurants, a minimum of shrieking children, and to pay $1500 or less. Is this possible?
posted by Lizzle to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, what you describe is really the entire point of Jersey City. I think finding a one-bedroom for $1500 is still going to be difficult.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:46 AM on April 24, 2005

I have friends that live in JC, and my band used to have a practice space near the Pavonia/Newport stop on the PATH, so I have been there many times. My impression is that you're pretty much going to find the same things in JC that you're trying to flee from in Yorkville (a neighborhood I also know pretty well, as I lived at 87th and 1st for a couple years). Lots of young families and young professionals right out of school that like to shout "woot!" after just a couple of drinks. If you're looking for decent rents, access to culture and the financial district, and a minimum of the kind of distractions you mention, you might do well to look in Brooklyn (Red Hook, Park Slope, Dumbo, Wmsburg, etc.). You'll probably be paying a bit more than 1500 for a one-br, but those places are generally preferable to JC and Yorkville.
posted by psmealey at 7:49 AM on April 24, 2005

I second the Brooklyn suggestion. I know this doesn't reallly answer your Jersey City question, but Fort Greene / Clinton Hill sound like what you might be looking for, and have the added advantage of being MUCH closer to the financial district than you are right now.
posted by dersins at 8:00 AM on April 24, 2005

There are only 2 nice areas of JC, Paulus Hook and Hamilton Park. Paulus Hook is out of your price range, and Hamilton Park is surrounded by ghetto. People have been talking about the JC revolution for years, but I just don't think it's going to happen.

I live in Hoboken, which is much much nicer than JC and most parts of the metro NY area (think West Village). It's a bit pricey and homogenous (white, affluent, under 30), and more of a 'pub' town than the lounge feel of NYC, but the rents are in your price-range, restaurants plentiful, PATH trains to WTC every 6 minutes. Come by for a stroll, and you will be sold.
posted by remlapm at 8:20 AM on April 24, 2005

I think Hoboken too, altho you might want to look at LIC/Astoria.
posted by amberglow at 8:30 AM on April 24, 2005

JC is great. It is super convenient to the financial district now that all the PATH stops are up and running again.
The key to JC is to live near the Grove Street PATH station. Pavonia/Newport's too close to the mall/hotel district.
There are some lovely apartments near Van Vorst Park (if bcwinters shows up, he can tell you more) and near Hamilton Park (which is hardly "surrounded by ghetto"; you'll find that Hoboken dwellers can't be trusted to know, well, anything about JC).
There are good restaurants (don't miss Ibby's falafel), a few bars, and even a real supermarket (it's over by the mall, but totally walkable).
I've lived in Queens, Brooklyn and JC, and JC was my favorite of the 3 (though Brooklyn was a close second).

Some caveats:
Newark Ave is the main thoroughfare. It's noisy; you'll want to avoid places that are on Newark.
You will very quickly grow seriously tired of people (most of whom, you'll find have never been there) using Jersey in general and JC in particular as a punchline.
posted by willpie at 8:44 AM on April 24, 2005

I have friends who've lived in JC for a number of years now, and I've visited often. They're on Manila Ave., which I guess is on the edge of the Hamilton Park area, and about a 15 minute walk to the Pavonia PATH stop.

They've had a couple of 2+ bedroom apartments in the area, both large, sunny, and generally nice. Each was close to your $1500/month target. Plenty big enough for a (small) guest bedroom and a (small) recording studio.

The neighborhood seems fine to me, though they tell me there has been an increase in the crime rate recently. They've never had any significant problems, as far as I know, but keep that in mind. The only loud noise I've experienced was the Friday night dances at a local school, and sirens from ambulances headed to the nearby hospital. Nothing you won't hear pretty much anywhere else.

My friends seem to find good places to eat and shop, so it's not a total dead zone by any stretch. Yes, it's not as fun as Hoboken. But if your main goal is value for your money and convenience to lower Manhattan, JC is a good option.
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:13 AM on April 24, 2005

Hello! I'm here!

I've never minded people using Jersey City as a punchline. It keeps the rent down for the rest of us. There are gorgeous apartments around Van Vorst Park & Hamilton Park. Paulus Hook has unfortunately had a handful of enormous condo projects dumped into the middle of it, throwing off the parking & density, but it still has great buildings, too. Until last fall, I had a 1BR parlor apartment on Paulmier Place for eleven hundred; finding something for under fifteen should be easy.

Take the PATH to Grove Street and walk over to Mercer Street. Have dinner at Marco & Pepe (closed on Mondays) and ask the bartender what she thinks of the area. Walk around Mercer Street & take a look at Van Vorst Park. I think you'll find it to your liking. The realtor I used last was at Armagno Agency on Jersey Avenue, in case you want to see what they're offering. They're big advocates for the Hamilton Park neighborhood. You can be less worried about using a realtor in JC as they generally charge much less of a commission than in Manhattan.

(Anyone who says Hamilton Park is still "surrounded by ghetto" hasn't been downtown recently--small buildings six or seven blocks away from the park are currently selling for over a million bucks. Yeah, you wouldn't want to live on Newark Avenue [the equivalent of Manhattan's 14th Street] but almost everything else has gotten polished up really nicely.)
posted by bcwinters at 9:14 AM on April 24, 2005

Anywhere along the 2/3 line in Brooklyn will afford you easy access to downtown Manhattan, and as long as you get past Brooklyn Heights - like Park Slope or Boerum Hill - you'll be able to find a 1 bedroom for 1500$.
posted by skwm at 9:25 AM on April 24, 2005

I second (or third) the Paulus Hook area of Jersey City. I lived there for a couple years 1999/2000, and it was incredibly convenient to Lower Manhattan where I work. The "Exchange Place" stop on the PATH train was five minutes from my Apt., and from there it was a direct line (no stops) to the World Trade Center stop in Lower Manhattan. The area had a nice historical feel to it, was very quiet, and had some nice green spaces (Liberty Park?) that were a only a short walk away. It also had ferry access to Manhattan though I did not use much. Finally, yes, there were a couple of good local restaurants in the Exchange Place area and the Grove Street area, both a short walk from Paulus Hook.

Regarding your budget, I can't say, as it has been some time since I was there, but I think it is possible - and hey, if you factor in Jersey's lower sales tax, maybe you can afford a little more!

Best of Luck!
posted by extrabox at 9:47 AM on April 24, 2005

God, I love MeFi! Thank you for all the info/perspectives.
posted by Lizzle at 9:59 AM on April 24, 2005

Oh, and please keep the info/perspectives coming!
posted by Lizzle at 10:12 AM on April 24, 2005

Now that our $1,800 1BR garment district apartment lease is over, my girlfriend and I just got a new Manhattan 1BR for $995 per month... in Inwood (top of Manhattan). Some areas up there are rough, but others are nice (west of Broadway is good). Half hour to midtown on the A-train. All the 1BR apartments we considered up there were about $1,100.
posted by edlundart at 10:31 AM on April 24, 2005

I guess a commute to financial district could suck though...
posted by edlundart at 10:32 AM on April 24, 2005

If you're not worried about being close to stuff, there's also the St. George area of Staten Island (right across the ferry from the financial district).

We just got a 1400-square-foot two-story four-bedroom apartment in a beautiful old house, 10 mins from the ferry, view of the water, and are paying 1200/month. Which I think is unusual even for Staten Island, but you can get beautiful 1-bedrooms for 1200 without much trouble.

There are lots of crappy areas in northern Staten Island, and we're close to some of them, but there is a small core of St. George that's really nice. And if you don't mind the punchline thing, you can get lots of space for hardly anything. Downside: if you want restaurants, I think you're out of luck.
posted by Polonius at 11:31 AM on April 24, 2005

Definitely visit Hoboken, you might be able to find a place there for the price you're looking for, and the PATH is there to take you to Manhattan (downtown or midtown).
posted by clevershark at 11:33 AM on April 24, 2005

I worked in JC for a year or so; if you don't mind the PATH train (which is a pleasant ride when not overcrowded), it's a nice place -- and they have (or had, a few years ago) great restaurants.
posted by languagehat at 11:53 AM on April 24, 2005

I used to live in Hoboken and now I live in Jersey City, near the Grove Street station. My apartment is double the size of the place I had in Hoboken, for about the same money. My commute to the West Village takes about half the time it used to.

If you have a car, Hoboken is a parking nightmare - it's worse than Manhattan. I live in the heart of downtown, but I never have problems finding parking. Everything is close by, and the neighborhood is really diverse, whereas Hoboken is just frat-boy city.

So you couldn't pay me to move back to Hoboken. [Send an email to me if you would like to stop by and check the place out. We can do the grand tour.]
posted by lilboo at 2:35 PM on April 24, 2005

(Oh, BTW, lots of screaming kids in Hoboken as well. If you want to get away from all of that Hoboken would be about the worst choice you could make, unfortunately.)
posted by lilboo at 2:39 PM on April 24, 2005

Like always, I'll suggest Astoria. Quick commute to the same building lilboo commutes to, distinct lack of fratboys/hipsters/squalling yuppie larva, plenty of good restaurants and bars. And we're paying $1200 for a two-bedroom with a huge back porch with a view of the Empire State Building.
posted by jonmc at 6:24 PM on April 24, 2005

Brooklyn. Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Carrol Gardens, Cobble Hill, Fort Green, and Park Slope are all very nice. Rents are generally high but if you have patience and put some work in you can find a good size place for under $1500. I used to live on Sydney Place in Brooklyn Heights. I had the whole top floor of a brownstone for around $1200 (I say "around" because the place was rent stabilized which meant that the rent was always some weird number calculated to the penny).
You may want to stay away from Red Hook. Things may have improved since I was in Brooklyn but my one walk through Red Hook looking for a carpet store was one of the only times I felt scared in New York.
posted by mexican at 12:22 AM on April 25, 2005

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