Need info on Central New Jersey

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by MenacingTourist, Feb 26, 2006.

  1. MenacingTourist

    MenacingTourist Member

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    There is a good possibility that I will be faced with some heavy decisions soon and would like to hear the good and bad about living in Central NJ. Specifically New Brunswick. Since this isn't really photo related feel free to contact me offline.

    Thanks,

    Alan.
     
  2. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    I usually like to get the bad over with first so that the last things considered are generally good.

    Central Jersey:

    The landscape is generally unimpressive. Its fairly flat (a few rolling hills) and the rivers have a tendency to run over their banks (mostly the Bound Brook Manville areas).

    Trucks, trucks, trucks and more trucks. Highways, cars, did I mention trucks? I always get the feeling of industry and congestion, whenever I'm in Middlesex County. The biggest baddest highways of the state cut through this vicinity.

    Its in the middle (I know, duh!) so there's an easy drive to just about any other part of the state; beaches, state parks, rivers, etc. It's kinda halfway between NYC and Philly. I have an acquaintance that is a huge Eagles/Flyers fan, but works in NYC; guess where he chose to live?

    Less than an hour to the beach and less than an hour to what we call mountains (Carolinians, New Yorkers and anyone from out west can stop laughing now!).

    Its home to the largest university in the state; Rutgers. The college and Johnson & Johnson have been and are pumping an ton of money into New Brunswick in the hopes of making it a real jewel. The Raritan River runs alongside the town. This can be a very picturesque river at times.

    Public transportation is fairly good; better than some other parts of the state. NJ is notoriously behind in transportation conveniences. Mostly because (IMHO) there are so damn many highways crisscrossing everywhere.

    Healthcare is pretty top notch. Teaching hospital, trauma center, cancer, heart all the specialties and the research to go with them. Robert Wood Johnson competes with some of the large hospitals in the more urban areas for specialty patients.

    The last I heard, the area's economy was pretty healthy. Expansion seems to be still taking place in many local industries. Pharmaceuticals is where its at in NJ and especially in Middlesex County. I don't think you can sneeze in Middlesex without someone asking you to be part of their test study...

    I'm sure the other NJ APUGers will chime in with other tidbits. I live in the NW portion of the state, so I'm a little swayed to our neck o the woods. But New Brunswick is poised to become special in the near future. You could do far worse....need I mention Camden???
     
  3. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    I just noticed that your from Utah...forget it, we don't have mountains. What we have are nice, tree covered and green most of the year, but you would not call them mountains.

    BTW....Whatever your decision is, please consider yourself always welcome in the Garden State.

    Joe
     
  4. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    Having spent most of my life in central NJ, I can give you some insight.
    Why new brunswick? If you have a job there, forgetaboutit. Everybody commutes one way or another. New brunswick is not a particularily nice area to live in. East brunswick which is fairly close is much nicer.
    There are a bunch of decent areas within a 30-40min commute, but it all depends on how much money you have. PM me if you want and I can give you an idea of where you can go, but don't expect to touch anything for less than 400k.

    Horses for courses but I certainly don't regret leaving there.
     
  5. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    I live on the Raritan Bay (in Monmouth County) portion of central New Jersey. I'm in Middletown, in a section between Keansburg and Port Monmouth, about a block or so off a stretch of sand called Ideal Beach.

    Monmouth and Middlesex counties (New Brunswick is in Middlesex) are rather congested. Cost of living is high, especially housing. Property taxes are very high. I have a 1200 sq ft (including attached garage) 3 bedroom ranch style house (no basement) on a 50X100 foot lot and my property taxes are a little over $4000 a year. At the time of my last refinance 3 years ago, my house appraised at $257,000 and prices have gone up considerably since then. Now, the median home price is $525,000 in Monmouth County, $441,658 in Middlesex County. The state median home price is $379,733 (these are 3rd quarter 2005 figures from the NJ Builders Association).

    If you plan on renting, most one bedroom apartments run about $1200 or so a month, depending on where you are located. In bigger towns like New Brunswick, there will be a larger swing between the high and low prices.

    Car insurance... We have the highest rates in the country. I don't know how much you have to pay in Utah, but here, full coverage on a late model car will run about $1000 a year - IF you have a good driving record.

    So much for the downside. On the plus side of the ledger, central NJ is one of the best places to live if you like convenience. If it is or has been made, you can find it here. Just about everything retail is open 7 days a week, we don't roll up the sidewalks at 5PM (most major retail is open to 9:30 or 10:00 PM). 24 hour grocery stores are common. Contrary to popular belief, NJ isn't just oil refineries. Monmouth Country has a park system that is better than many State Park systems. Public transportation is generally good. NJ Transit runs train and bus service into NYC. Speaking of NYC, central NJ is becoming more and more popular with people who are moving OUT of NY. The commute to NYC (Penn Station or Port Authority Bus Station) is generally less than an hour. I live about a mile from the Belford NY Waterways ferry terminal. The boat trip is also about an hour (but kinda expen$ive, so I usually take the train).

    I'm not originally from this area, I was transplanted here in 1982 by the Army. I liked it here so much that when I got out of the green suit in 1986, I decided to stay. No regrets...

    If you need more info, feel free to give me a shout.
     
  6. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    After giving it a little thought, without knowing your situation it is hard to know how to recommend NJ. If you are thinking of going to graduate school at Rutgers, I would give it a big thumbs up. You would be just a quick 15$ train ride from Philly and NYC, which is an experience like no other.

    If you have kids and family and you find yourself doing mostly outdoor activities in Utah, I would have reservations about recommending it. There would be exceptions to this too, like if you have teenage kids and they are very involved with music, theatre or the arts.
     
  7. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Alan, I concur with nearly everything the other NJ residents have written.

    You'll certainly find housing prices here a great shock, and that's true nearly state-wide. The problem is that to find low housing prices you have to go to a place that's losing population, e.g., the Pittsburgh, PA, area, and places that are losing population do so because of lack of jobs.

    I live in Cherry Hill, work in Piscataway, usually drive to work through Princeton and down the Millstone river valley (it does flood fairly often, as stated). I find the drive very pleasant; nice scenery, the occasional flock of wild turkeys, and too damn many deer.

    I grew up in western PA, regard flat places as contrary to nature. Some parts of the state are hilly enough not to seem completely unnatural. But as flat places go, the Pine Barrens have their charms and have been growing on me for years.

    Good luck, and remember that choosing the wrong job or moving to the wrong area isn't permanent,

    Dan
     
  8. Karl K

    Karl K Subscriber

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    You've got to see NJ to make up our own mind.

    I've lived here most of my life and attended Rutgers in the early '60s. Diversity is the keyword. Diversity in terrain, people, attitudes, income, lifestyles, etc. You can live in a semi-rural area or in the heart of the 'hood. Jersey has it all! It's quite expensive, as was mentioned before, so plan on spending about $400-$700K for a good house in a decent neighborhood with a pretty good public school system. If you have school-age children and can't afford/don't want private school, you can forget about living in the main cities, such as Newark or New Brunswick because the inner city public schools are not exemplary. I would recommend a lengthy visit before you plant your feet.
     
  9. MenacingTourist

    MenacingTourist Member

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    Thanks everybody for all the information. Let me explain a little of what I'm faced with...

    I'm at a point in my career (Graphic Design) where I need to make the "next step" and in a lovely turn of events I got laid off a couple of weeks ago. Two days after this happened I got a call from a headhunter about a prospect in New Brunswick. It is the "next step" and then some and I'm very excited about this prospect. I have a wife and two young kids who are ready for an adventure and we are a very adaptable family with open minds.

    Right now I'm in the final stages of interviewing with the last phone interview tomorrow and probably a trip to NJ after that.
    I've spent a lot of time in Jersey City but haven't really gone south of Newark.

    Thanks again for all the advice and info. It's great to have this resource and I really appreciate it.

    Alan.
     
  10. Sanjay Sen

    Sanjay Sen Member

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    Hi Alan,

    Sorry to hear that you got laid off, and I wish you good luck with the upcoming interviews.

    I agree with everything the other folks from Jersey have written. New Brunswick is an interesting town and it is undergoing quite a bit of development in the downtown areas, so hopefully good things are coming. The presence of Rutgers University makes it a very diversely populated area. It also lies on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor Line that connects Boston & DC (and beyond). So, traveling to NYC or Philadelphia is a breeze. There are NJ Transit busses running within New Brunswick and around the area that connect to the train station. Major highways are nearby. The Raritan River adds an extra charm to the place.

    I live in Plainsboro, which is about 15 minutes by train to New Brunswick. This area is still very nice - it used to be nicer when I moved here three years ago. The main influx here are NYC transplants who have suddenly discovered this place. Proximity to Princeton also does not hurt. Plainsboro has a very good school district as well. The influx has resulted in property prices going up and developments taking place on every bit of open land available. To give you an idea, I pay about $900 for a 675 sq. ft. single-bedroom apartment, utilities (electric + water) are extra. Someone mentioned East Brunswick - that is also a nice town to live in. I do not own property (and do not plan to in the near future) so I will not be able to give you any ideas about property prices.

    As others have mentioned, auto insurance premiums are pretty high in NJ. And you also have to remember that this is the most congested state in the nation! Driving in NJ can be something of an experience, especially for out-of-state drivers.

    New Jersey also has nice things about it - lovely beaches, the Pine Barrens, and the Highlands are some of the things that come to mind.

    Hope this helps you in your search for information. If you need anything specific, please feel free to PM me, or drop me an email.

    Good luck!:smile:
     
  11. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    You pay a premium for realty and property taxes, but in some ways NJ is really cheap. There is no sales tax on clothes, gas is very inexpensive as well as food. The thing about car insurance is a bit of an exaggeration, I have lived in 4 different states and car insurance is maybe 10-20% more than anywhere else.
    For durable goods you always get a discount from list, which you often get stuck paying elsewhere.

    The train that runs from philly-newark-new brunswick-new york is very fast, I would definitly consider commuting somewhere in the corridor. I have a cousin living just north of Trenton, very charming area on the delaware with old slate-roof houses (affordable no less). You may want to consider renting and getting a lay of the land before you buy anything.
     
  12. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    Never been south of Newark? You've missed the best parts! (except for the northwest corner of the state, that's real pretty too).
     
  13. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Don't buy it Bob. I think that Jim is sending Alan out to keep a watch on all those lenses you have been purchasing.

    Alan--sorry to hear about the layoff. I'll be thinking lots of good thoughts for you and your interview. I have only been to NJ a couple of times--an area not too far from Princeton. I was very pleasantly surprised since the image that is projected out here seems to be mostly Newark.

    Keep in mind, too, to us out here in the west, east coast states are more like large counties. Except for living with my grandmother in Wyoming as an infant, I didn't leave the state of California until I was past 10 years old. This doesn't mean that I didn't travel thousands of miles!

    Matt
     
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  15. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    Too late Matt, I Paypal'd Jim for the 12" Orbit this morning...

    :smile:
     
  16. MenacingTourist

    MenacingTourist Member

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    I really do appreciate everyone's opinions good and bad, especially the official welcome from Joey49 :smile:. IF (a decent sized IF) it happens this will be a big move for us. We're in a fairly stressful period and I hope something gets resolved soon. If I do end up moving I will look forward to meeting some of you east coast apuggers.

    I'll know more after tomorrow, so keep you fingers crossed. Or not if you're Aggie!

    Alan.
     
  17. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    I wish you the best Alan, it just means a plane flight.
     
  18. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    If you do go for an interview make sure you get some pizza. The stuff out here is hardly palatable.
     
  19. George Losse

    George Losse Member

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    Alan,

    Jersey has one big advantage for a graphic designer. It's in the shadow of NYC. There are many agencies in the North Jersey area and at least ten times as many just a short commute into NYC.

    I've been working as a graphic designer/photographer/web designer in the southern part of the state, more of a suburb of Philadelphia, for the last 20+ years. Nice thing has been, as one door has closed others have opened in the area.

    Like others have mentioned, don't think about living in New Brunswick. It's a great place to commute into. And there are much beter places to raise a family in NJ.

    Best of luck with the interview,
     
  20. photobum

    photobum Member

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    If you have been to Jersey City and Newark I can tell you that it can only get better. As a lifelong Jerseyite it sure was fun reading this thread. Yes, there are some very nice places. The downside is the homicidal attitude you must maintain in order to commute. Other drivers, reading the Times, drinking a coffee, doing their hair and talking on the cell phone, all while driving 80 MPH on Route 80 during rush hour. That's if your lucky. You might be parked on the Parkway.

    Those beaches another poster wrote about? Ask him about getting home after a day at the beach. Oh, and 4 G's a year in property tax is a steal.
     
  21. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    It might be a steal in NJ, but compared to the rest of the country... My sister in Florida has a house a little bigger than mine on a quarter acre, her taxes are $800 per year!

    Speaking of commuting... My wife has a 27 mile commute. We live about 4 miles from where she gets on the Garden State Parkway at exit 117. She gets off at exit 135 and has a short run to her job through Clark and Westfield. Those 27 miles take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours! My "easy" 13 mile commute takes about a half an hour (but that includes stopping for coffee and a buttered roll).

    Oh yes... for those who don't live here... If you ever visit NJ, make sure you stop at a deli for a porkroll, egg, and cheese sandwich for breakfast! Your arteries will harden, but they are soooooo good! :smile:
     
  22. SteveH

    SteveH Member

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    I lived in the people's republik of NJ for 17 years. Upon leaving the iron curtain, I moved to Delaware. Granted, it is small, and nothing really in itself....BUT, no sales tax on ANYTHING (including vehicles), property tax is less than 1/2 what one would pay in NJ, and there is room to breathe abit. I won't even comment on the vehicular insurance in NJ........
    Also, I live 20mins outside of Philly, and 45mins from Baltamore. The Acella and regualar AMTRAK station in Wilnmington serves every train on the NEC, and it is a 12min train ride to 30th St. Station where you can pick up any train east of the Mississippi.
     
  23. manjo

    manjo Member

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    If you wander around in the pine barrans you might be able to see the Jersey Devil!! If you catch him on film, you will be a millionaire! retire and move back to utah. Just kidding... Good luck with your move to NJ. I have been there only once, dint like it much and I always wonder why is it called the garden city.
     
  24. photobum

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    Manjo, That's Garden State. It comes from all the backyard gardens in Hudson and Essex countys. All the locals fertilize their tomato plants with ex-mobsters.

    Ya know, it's amazing what you can learn here. We have lots of very nice Apug'ers too.
     
  25. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    I thought it was the Garbage State. Hmmm... and I've been here since 1982? Gee, I guess I should've paid more attention! :smile:

    The "Garden" part (as it relates to farms) is rapidly going away in Momnouth county. Developers buy up the farms and build huge tracts of starter castles and McMansions - with not a tree in sight. <sigh>
     
  26. Sanjay Sen

    Sanjay Sen Member

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    There are some farms around where I live that are designated as "Preserved Farmland", which I assume means that these tracts of land cannot be build upon. In the four years that I've lived in this area, open space has been disappearing at an alarming rate, replaced mostly by sub-divisions.