What areas within 5 hrs of New Jersey have cheaper real estate?
August 22, 2014 3:38 PM   Subscribe

My fiance and I live in NJ and work at a major pharmaceutical company as scientists making decent money. What cities/towns within a 5 hr drive of north Jersey have cheap real estate where it's realistic to buy a house for < $250k yet still have major pharma/chemical/related employers?

Those are the major requirements. Currently, we can afford an okay house here, but would have to cut down on our vacation budget and would have to hope that neither one of us gets laid off during the frequent layoffs that happen in our industry. Ideally though, we would continue working for a major company (meaning we keep the same pay) in another state not too far from our families where we would be able to buy a nice house for < $250k, and not have to pay over $500/month in property taxes (!).

Additionally it would be awesome if the town had the following:
1. Walkable downtown with restaurants/cafes/a good library/outdoor concerts/all that good stuff.
2. Good schools.
3. Near a major airport.
4. Mountains or a beach within a 2 hr drive.
5. Some diversity.
6. A climbing gym.

Seriously, we were shocked to find out that people can buy a WHOLE HOUSE WITH A BACKYARD in good condition for the price of a 2 bedroom condo in our area. These people that we know are in Fredericksburg, VA, and Springfield, MA. But we haven't seen many relevant job postings in either of those towns.

We would rather not move to another suburb in NJ for slightly cheaper property taxes in exchange for a much longer commute, but if you know of a place in NJ that has drastically cheaper real estate (and is still a good town), then feel free to suggest it to us.

We are currently in scientific jobs but both looking to move into more of coordinator/project planner roles, and the companies don't have to be pharmaceutical companies specifically. I'm leaving the jobs vague on purpose because we are open to anything. But there need to be companies that generally pay well because we're only moving if at least one of us finds a good job.

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you expand that to like... 8 hours driving? Because I'd look at the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding suburbs).

Also, though, major companies (almost) all vary their pay depending on location, so your "meaning we keep the same pay" aside is probably unrealistic if you're moving somewhere cheaper. Though if you stay at the same company/in the same role they probably won't cut your current pay, but presumably your question would be more focused if you were looking at that option.
posted by brainmouse at 3:49 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Across the river from Princeton, Nj is Levittown/yardley pa is ok. Small downtown, but a few decent restaurants but very close to Princeton with Abbott, Novartis, Novo Nordisk - plus about an hour drive to Philly with GSK, J&J, and a few other smaller pharmas. Also - yardley is about an hour from north jersey with the pharma up there.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 7:48 PM on August 22, 2014

In further reading - there are A BUNCH of small med device/bio pharma/software as a service for regulated industry companies on that area. This is what I do for a living (software configuration/testing for FDA/EMEA regulated companies) you will have no problem finding jobs in these fields in the greater Philly area.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 7:52 PM on August 22, 2014

Why is 5 hours important?
posted by Borborygmus at 9:03 AM on August 23, 2014

Yeah, I was going to suggest Raleigh, NC as well, but it's a little outside your driving range.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:11 PM on August 23, 2014

Pittsburgh has Bayer and probably other scientific employers, and is a bit over 5 hours from NJ. It's quite cheap, and has all the cultural offerings that a major city offers.

Note, however, that 'good schools' and 'property taxes a lot under $500/mo.' don't often go hand-in-hand, unless there's another school funding mechanism— my parents' house in Wisconsin is worth something like $250k and they still pay property taxes of around $500/mo, since teachers have to get paid somehow.
posted by akgerber at 9:16 PM on August 24, 2014

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