Apartment in North Jersey
August 26, 2004 2:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to find an apartment in North Jersey (Belleville, Bloomfield, Rutherford, Clifton, Montclair), but brokers and realtors have saturated the online classified ads and Google results and I'd like to avoid unnecessary fees. Any advice? I've checked Craig's List and the Village Voice and I have a few local papers, but I'd like to know of a decent way to skirt the middle man.
posted by alphanerd to Home & Garden (15 answers total)
I've always found it best to just go to the neighborhoods, drive around, and look for the office of an apartment spot that appeals to you. Often, they have the phone number right on the door or something if you have to go after hours and they are closed.

That, or the Star Ledger (go to nj.com, then classifieds).
posted by adampsyche at 2:42 PM on August 26, 2004

alphanerd, not to sway your decision, but out of the curated cities, I’d recommend Montclair. I agree with adampsyche, and tell you that the classifieds of nj.com will yield the best results. I've used them before and had good results. Also a good drive-around-town is recommended, because most places have signs, and most apartment buildings in NJ (I've noticed lately) are full of vacancies. I don't think you'll have a hard time at all finding space. It is entirely viable to nix the broker and go straight to the source.

Also, local township papers like 'The Item' and the 'Independent' have numerous listings in Montclair, Bloomfield, and Bellville, which are not online. To get these, go to the local 7-11 or newspaper store and peruse the local papers. I think there's also 'The Bergen Record'...
posted by naxosaxur at 3:08 PM on August 26, 2004

but brokers and realtors have saturated the online classified ads and Google results and I'd like to avoid unnecessary fees.

Keep in mind the realtor fee typically comes out of the LANDLORD's pocket, not yours.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 3:32 PM on August 26, 2004

I recommend giving Summit a try too, it's a junction for 2 NJ transit lines and there are lots of apts in the downtown area for all the doctors and nurses at Overlook hospital, although I admit the Montclair is pretty as well, and has a movie theatre, which is a plus. Adampsyche is right about the Star Ledger, good listings.
posted by milovoo at 4:03 PM on August 26, 2004

Ignore b1tr0t; there's no reason to live in Hoboken unless you like overpaying for everything while dodging vomiting meatheads. If you're gonna live that close to NYC, Jersey City is the place to be. Near Van Vorst Park or Hamilton Park. It's cheaper, it's just as fast on the PATH, and you'll encounter far fewer white baseball caps.

On the subject of the towns you actually asked about, seriously, go the extra mile to live in Montclair. It is so worth it. Eat at Leone's and Satish Palace (South Park ain't bad, either). Get a vanilla chai (trust me) at Cafe Eclectic. Go to good movies most people have to travel to NYC to see at the Clairidge. Just enjoy the old-whistle-stop-town walkability of Montclair. Take the bus to the light rail to Newark Penn Station when you need to take an NJ Transit train on the weekend, or to go to the Ironbound District for some paella.

Fees are going to be tough to avoid; iirc, thesublet.com was pretty cheap, and you can browse the listings before you pay. Actually, go to Montclair, walk on Bloomfield Ave until you get to Cafe Eclectic, and look at one of the buildings near there (I think it's light blue and just one or two buildings to your right as you face Cafe Eclectic); there were always flyers for apartments in the window on one of those buildings. If you don't find anything there, cross the street at the intersection with the Fleet bank (Glenridge Ave, if memory serves), and go into the little liquor store that's like 3 doors down from Montclair Book Center and ask the guy slingin' booze there; one of those guys is the super of that building.

Okay, that's all I got. I <3 Montclair, though.
posted by willpie at 4:20 PM on August 26, 2004 [1 favorite]

Have you thought about the Pequannock, Pompton, Bloomingdale, Butler area? We're not far from where you're looking, slightly cheaper, and you'll find a lot of places that are rent through owner.
posted by FunkyHelix at 4:22 PM on August 26, 2004

Summit's nice. I thought it did have a movie theater again. (It had one when I was a kid, which vanished, and I have a vague memory of a new one going up ten or so years ago). The train line there goes to Manhattan now (you used to have to go to Hoboken and take the path, now they alternate Hoboken and Newark Penn).
posted by Karmakaze at 4:34 PM on August 26, 2004

Summit's ok, I lived there a year and a half, but I found it to be just a bit too snooty for me. Oh, it's nice, but I just couldn't get around the whole everybody-here-is-filthy-rich-and-knows-it thing. Being a young parent with tats and all didn't help. I go to Overlook Hospital and use the Summit Medical Group, can't say enough good about them (saved my dad's life, cancer diagnosis when other docs told him it was nothing).

Montclair is great, and I just moved into Maplewood last year, and love every minute of it. It's considered one of the top ten NYC suburbs (so is Montclair), has a fantastic community culture (yoga lessons at the community center, great Indian food, real sense of community), and we have an annual rubber duckie race.

My wife commutes to NYC from there, and she does pretty well on time (about 15 minutes or so shorter than Summit, where we used to live).
posted by adampsyche at 5:28 PM on August 26, 2004

And, can I just take this moment to publcly shame all you NJersians who ignored our meetup call? :)
posted by adampsyche at 5:32 PM on August 26, 2004

I'm in a Montclair apartment myself, and I agree that it's a really great town. If you're commuting into NYC there are an amazing five train stations in town as well as various places to catch a bus. Montclair has a lot of [good] character, good restaurants, shops, libraries, schools, and even an art museum. This is not to say there aren't many other wonderful towns in northern New Jersey, but Montclair is my favorite of the few I know well. I wonder how many of you are my neighbors. Enter your zip codes, people!

My wife and I found our place through a realtor who specializes in apartments. We had to pay the fee (a full month's rent) but in hindsight it was well worth it. She showed us much better things than we were finding, or than anyone else was showing us, and we've stayed in the apartment for years. Buying a house in Montclair can be prohibitively expensive, and places are reportedly going for more than the asking price these days.

By the way, adampsyche, I overlooked the meetup call, but if I can make it next time I definitely will!
posted by Songdog at 5:59 PM on August 26, 2004

Buying a house in Montclair can be prohibitively expensive, and places are reportedly going for more than the asking price these days.

That's why I moved to Maplewood. I could afford to rent in Summit, Montclair, etc., but not buy. Maplewood is up there in housing costs, but not prohibitively so.
posted by adampsyche at 6:05 PM on August 26, 2004

I'm with adampsyche: FOR SHAME! (btw, adampsych, i take the midtown direct everyday, like your wife, and pass through maplewood. I hope your wife manages to get next week off, as the midtown direct line is docking at hoboken - with requisite police sweeps at Newark/Broad - and then nyc is only accessible via path, completely restricted from penn station.) Anyway...

alphanerd: Motclair is the nicest/priciest of the towns you listed, while it gets progressively cheaper/dingier towards Bloomfield, Belleville, and Clifton. Keep in mind too that in Bloomfield and Belleville, your apartment might border Newark, which gets a little scary and far-flung. You could also try Little Falls, Passaic Park, or Glen Ridge, which are all neighbors of that area that you haven't mentioned. Also, 'The Item' is published every Thursday, and literally has 30+ Montclair/Upper Montclair/Bloomfield listings.
posted by naxosaxur at 6:10 PM on August 26, 2004

A couple of places in Summit I know are for rent. Close to the train to NYC.
posted by brent at 6:22 PM on August 26, 2004

FWIW, the Union County area (southwest of Newark) is fairly nice, at least the town I live in (Roselle Park; it's near Westfield, Union, Elizabeth, and Cranford). Certainly not too rich, outside of Westfield, and while there's not a _ton_ to do, they're only a few train stops from Newark Penn and thence to NYC via PATH or NJT.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 10:46 AM on August 27, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions, people. I enjoy spending time in Montclair and have been to Cafe Eclectic quite a few times, but I'm not really in a position financially to pay to live there. (I'm starting out as a teacher and my salary is going to be from 38k to 40k a year after the union finishes negotiations). I've got some contacts in Belleville and know the town kind of well, so I think I'm probably going to go for something in there and drive a little if I want to catch a movie or a latte. P.S... The bars I've been to in Clifton (Dingo's, The Loop) beat the poo out of what I've seen in Montclair, and they stay open til 3:00.
posted by alphanerd at 3:46 PM on August 27, 2004

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