Author Topic: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....  (Read 3119 times)

diplomatchick10

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Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« on: June 06, 2018, 05:16:59 AM »
My husband accepted a job in central New Jersey. I don't know the area well except that we have friends that live in west orange. I think we may buy, seeing as the rental market is tight. I plan on finding a job, but right now we are just going with his salary when it comes to home ownership. I'm dealing with a realtor currently (through a friend) who's has been sending me some listings. We are looking for homes $350,000 or below. My top choices are Middlesex (seems to be a lot of families and small homes in our price range), Freehold, East Brunswick, Old Bridge and perhaps Annadale/Clinton. I'm looking for safe areas that are pretty kid-friendly, and maybe a place where there are a lot of young families. Any advice would be wonderful. Thanks!

(P.S. I'm open to buying a townhouse, but my husband is not fond of the idea).
« Last Edit: June 06, 2018, 11:42:54 AM by diplomatchick10 »

MishMash

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2018, 05:58:13 AM »
As someone that grew up right in the area that you are looking at (Freehold) and whose family still lives there.  Don't do it. Run. Far. Find another job in another state, or at least rent until you are SURE you want to buy and incur the 12k a year plus in property taxes.  If his job is with the state, be aware that any pension promises they make are pretty much guaranteed to not come true due to the extreme mismanagement in the state.

Also, be prepared for HUGE toll bills if he's commuting, and if you ever plan on going to the beach, all the main beaches are for pay only,  usually 10 per person per day.  Some places sell season passes, others reserve that for township members only.

Transitioning from the military, if you are like us (military as well), be sure to read up on the personal gun laws in the state. 

diplomatchick10

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2018, 06:45:22 AM »
Well, he already accepted the job, the company is a smaller one that has been expanding and he chose it because he can move up within the company (it was between this and a large manufacturer where he would work 2nd shift). I think you are right though about finding a rental first for a year. Property taxes do seem extreme though. What are your thoughts on Clinton/Annadale?
« Last Edit: June 06, 2018, 11:43:22 AM by diplomatchick10 »

Silrossi46

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2018, 08:08:00 AM »
I have Lived in East Brunswick  Middlesex County my Whole life.    (48 years)   I understand the comments about property taxes and buying and the expensive HCOL here that has been mentioned above.   I will definitely echo those.   You will however benefit from an area that has best in class services and is within close proximity to pretty much anything you are looking for.  IE city , beaches, ect.     It is a great place to live and the school systems and health care systems are top notch in most municipalities.   I am an East Brunswick High School graduate and went on to become an engineer and am now the CIO for a local government agency.   You should be able to find a home in the 350 range that may need updating to make your own.    Rent is steep and in most cases if your credit is good you may be better off buying than renting.   It will be cheaper.   I bought my home in east brunswick 20 years ago and it has appreciated nicely and held its value even through the rougher patches.     Just food for thought.........

Dave1442397

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2018, 08:16:49 AM »
Definitely check the property taxes on any listing you see. Some towns are much higher than others, but NJ in general has high taxes. If you look at houses on Zillow you can see the annual taxes.

Whatever you do will be a compromise. You really need to check commuting time to your husband's job. NJ has a lot of traffic at the best of times, but Friday evenings in the summer will see lots of people heading to the Jersey Shore, so basically all roads heading East and South get jammed up. Tolls can add up, too.

The Edison school district may be ok - I don't know anything about the schools in the area, but it ranked pretty well in this list - https://patch.com/new-jersey/morristown/new-ranking-best-new-jersey-school-districts-2017

I don't know how far your husband's job will be from the train station, but when I worked in Woodbridge I took the train from Princeton Junction to Metropark, and I got a subsidized ticket through work that made it a cheap commute. If he's within walking distance of the train, it's a great way to beat the traffic. It's also handy if you want to travel to NYC.


goatmom

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2018, 08:21:02 AM »
Most NJ beaches are free for military families.  Also I think the family can ride on NJ transit for half price.  We were stationed there for a few years and loved it.  So close to the beach - so close to the city - yet also can be near farms, etc.  We lived on post so I don't have much knowledge of the buy/rent/taxes situation.

diplomatchick10

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2018, 09:11:09 AM »
Thank you everyone for the advice. I do kind of want to keep commute time fairly low because my husband will definitely need a car for his job (but he will also be able to work from home a couple days a week). I'll have to take everything into consideration. Right now I'm kind of looking at Old Bridge and definitely still have East Brunswick in mind. Any further thoughts/advice is welcomed and appreciated.

MishMash

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2018, 09:20:52 AM »
Most NJ beaches are free for military families.  Also I think the family can ride on NJ transit for half price.  We were stationed there for a few years and loved it.  So close to the beach - so close to the city - yet also can be near farms, etc.  We lived on post so I don't have much knowledge of the buy/rent/taxes situation.

A lot of the beaches have interpreted that to mean active duty only and it's really up to the municipalities.  For example Monmouth beach offers zero free access active or veteran.  It sounds like they are getting out so that may not be the case.

Dad worked for DEP for 25 years, his specialty was hazardous materials cleanup.  NJ leads the nation in superfund and toxic waste sites.  Many of those farms you talk about are highly polluted, a couple of the local chemical companies used to rent out the "back 40" from local farmers to deposit their waste back in the day.  They also used to dump unused pesticides directly onto the ground.

And at 35 I still remember the syringes and medical waste that used to wash up on those beaches when I was in high school. The area around Edison used to be highly industrial (and still is in some areas), which means a lot of pollution.  If you do buy a house, and it's on well, GET THE WATER TESTED before buying.  Hell, if you rent the house, get the water tested.  I worked with a law firm up there and you would. not. believe. what came through the doors, cancer clusters, buried barrels of waste the new landowner was liable for removal for, literal covered up cesspools etc and my personal favorite, 80 barrels of unused medical pills found buried directly above a county water supply.  It's no surprise it has one of the highest cancer rates in the nation. But the access to NY hospitals is a plus because it has a high survivability.

Clinton was a historic town, I haven't been up there in probably 8 years, so it may have changed.  Just research the proximity to toxic waste sites or industrial sites if you do buy.  They've done a lot of building up in recent years and houses, in some areas, are literally a fence away from a toxic zone.  It's just like buying any house, do your due diligence, but add in concern for hazardous materials to the list.  And if it's an older house, get a check done for an in ground oil tank.  A lot of houses used to heat with oil, when they went to electric or natural gas, the tanks stayed in the ground.  If you buy a house and discover one, it's considered toxic waste, and you have to remove the soil, and the tank..it runs about 20k in most areas.

diplomatchick10

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2018, 09:27:53 AM »
@MishMash thank you so much for this!  We are used to living in more of a "country" area but that was my concern as well. We currently live in a area where well water is frequently tested. Even though the thought of moving further out seems nice, I saw that one of the schools had tested positive (above standard EPA levels) for lead. I think we will be fine living in a more condensed area, it's all what you make of it. I'm nervous about moving to NJ, but I figure life is an adventure and that as long as my husband is happy with his job, we'll make things work.

P.S. We have lived near the ocean for years now, so not living right near by is not a big deal for us. As long as there are a couple parks near by and trees, I'll be fine.

MishMash

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2018, 09:28:42 AM »
and no this isn't meant to scare you, I've just seen the side of the state that no one really talks about, and heck, there are so many transplants, no one really knows about.  Just do your due diligence and go in with your eyes wide open

diplomatchick10

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2018, 09:30:36 AM »
I'd rather go in knowing where to be cautious, so it's appreciated. I'm in healthcare management, so finding a job for me is not ever really an issue. As long as there are some hospitals nearby, I'll hopefully find a job quickly.

MishMash

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2018, 09:37:39 AM »
@MishMash thank you so much for this!  We are used to living in more of a "country" area but that was my concern as well. We currently live in a area where well water is frequently tested. Even though the thought of moving further out seems nice, I saw that one of the schools had tested positive (above standard EPA levels) for lead. I think we will be fine living in a more condensed area, it's all what you make of it. I'm nervous about moving to NJ, but I figure life is an adventure and that as long as my husband is happy with his job, we'll make things work.

P.S. We have lived near the ocean for years now, so not living right near by is not a big deal for us. As long as there are a couple parks near by and trees, I'll be fine.

A lot of schools will test positive for lead unless they are newer, my elementary school used to paint over the lead pipe warnings, no joke.  If you are looking at Old Bridge you may want to research Raritan Bay Slag.  They were finally forced to start cleanup after Sandy exposed lead batteries etc in the creek.  They cleaned up the portion that they got funding for, but supposedly (per the friends still in dep) it's not the entire site.

There are also a few other superfund sites in Old Bridge, like an old solid waste landfill that used to dump VOCs.  I'd really look more to the west than the east for living purposes.

inline five

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2018, 10:15:30 AM »
Yeah I can definitely see the draw of living up there...high property taxes plus high state income taxes plus super expensive real estate plus awesome winter weather plus contaminated drinking water and schools...yeah sounds pretty sweet...no wonder all my neighbors are former NY/NJ residents down here in the south.

(I lived in NJ briefly in 2003)

Vibrissae

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2018, 10:53:52 AM »

I live in New Jersey, have lived here all my life, and I love it. Yeah, it has its issues (what place doesn't?), and it can be hella expensive, but it has a lot going for it too--proximity to both NYC and Philly, lots of cultural diversity (depending on where in the state you live), some lovely rural areas, especially up north and west, and yes, even the notorious beaches. :) 

I would not advise living in the Clinton area if your husband is working in Edison because he'd be commuting along Rt 78, and that gets backed up fairly frequently from accidents. 287 gets busy too. Google maps says a 41-minute commute right now; rush hour will be worse.

Don't live too near the Millstone River; it floods. Often.

I used to live in north-central Jersey, so I'm not super familiar with the area around Edison/New Brunswick, but you might look at Franklin Township, and maybe around Kendall Park. This is not based on any kind of facts but solely on native New Jerseyan gut impression, but I would agree with MishMash to tend westward instead of east. In any case, absolutely test drive the commute at rush hour (or whatever time your husband plans on driving to work, if he doesn't do 9-5) before buying/renting! And if you do decide to think about a train commute, check the station parking situation--I know at least one station that has a couple of years wait for permits.

For what it's worth, last year I bought a (small) 3BR house about half an hour (nonrush hour) from Edison for $375K with property taxes of $6K-ish, so 5-digit property taxes aren't a given, but they definitely do exist. (My previous house was just over $10K. Discovering Mustachianism is the reason I sold it!)

...did I mention pay careful attention to the commute?


inline five

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2018, 10:55:09 AM »
It's not necessarily my cup of tea, but you gotta do what you gotta do right? I told my husband that we can keep more job options open (since he won't start until August). But that raises another question...once you accept a job offer can you rescind it?

Can you rescind it? What? Umm...of course you can...they would cut him loose at the drop of a hat at the first sign of trouble. Personally I wouldn't consider a job offer two months off to be anything for real anyway.

I have turned down several jobs I accepted because I found something better.

diplomatchick10

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2018, 11:34:37 AM »
As nervous as I am about moving there, I know he'll really like this job. Hopefully we'll find some decent place to live and my kid will be happy.

MishMash

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2018, 01:34:26 PM »
NJ is the best damned state in the entire country! Don't let anyone try to tell you otherwise.

If anyone doesn't like it in NJ it's simply a disgraceful sign of their own personal weakness, and reflects nothing on the state.  These people are free to leave and live with the shame of not being able to cut it in NJ.

Has anyone mentioned yet mentioned yet that we have excellent pizza and bagels?  If you haven't had them from here, don't be fooled, you've only ever experienced pizza-shaped-objects and bagel-shaped-objects.  Also based on where you're living you'll also have to pick a side in the war: Is it taylor ham or pork roll? (Answer: It's taylor ham).

As for where to live, I'd suggest working with a realtor to help you find a rental.  Geography in the state is tough to gauge since most people are more aquatinted with the towns along their thoroughfare (I-78, I-287, I80, I95, parkway) than of a few neighboring towns over.  Hell, 5 years ago I moved back to and ended up buying in a nice town is 15 minutes from where I grew up.  Never heard of the place before I bought though...  Definitely try to lived near where you work.  Commutes can be hell, but luckily for you most people in NJ know how to drive properly and keep traffic flowing -- which is more than can be said for most other parts of the country (I'm looking at you D.C. Metro region).

BS, it's pork roll! lol.  I actually did a survey on the old Taylor Provisions building back in the 90's, it was pretty cool.

Pizza is good, but having lived all over the US I've found comparable pizza in each state, usually some guy that ships a brick oven in from Italy.  AND you can buy pork roll online, and Wegmans on the eastern seaboard sell it, I've gotten it in DC (and yes the drivers are horrible here but there's a LOT less road rage), and Georgia.

I will say I miss baileys...but then I learned to make them so problem solved.


JLee

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #17 on: June 06, 2018, 01:45:35 PM »
Be prepared to spend a lot of money.

Realtor fees for rentals are a thing here...first time I've seen such a thing.  1.5 month security deposit, first month's rent, and a month's worth of rent as a fee for the privilege of renting a property here.  Those can be avoided if you get lucky, but many listings have fees.  $7k up front to move into a $2k/mo unit, $2k of which is a fee that you will never see again.

Tolls are everywhere and traffic is horrific if anything goes wrong (one wreck on Rt 3 will fuck the commute for hours - I expect central NJ to be the same as northern in that respect).  Gas is expensive now (Costco being the exception). On the bright side, you have easy access to NYC and (in many places) FIOS internet ($80/mo for gigabit up/down).  Jobs here can also pay quite well.

nkt0

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2018, 01:52:32 PM »
I lived for almost a semester in New Brunswick. Then i fled NJ because if i'm going to get burgled, i might as well live somewhere i want to live.

But if i had to live in central Jersey, I would probably live in Metuchen.

GetItRight

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2018, 07:01:17 PM »
I do not advise moving to NJ. It is the most expensive and oppressive state in the union. Lots of crime as well, in large a product of the welfare state. When looking at real estate don't worry so much about the price of the house. Highest property taxes in the country, look at property taxes and figure what you're willing to tolerate for that. Price of the property is secondary. Find areas with low crime and taxes you can swallow, then find a properties you like in those areas. If you plan to stay there for long stick to lower property tax areas, it's worth it even for a much higher purchase price.

Vibrissae

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #20 on: June 06, 2018, 07:49:33 PM »

Just wanted to add: if you haven't already, check out the city-data forum for more detailed moving-to-NJ info: http://www.city-data.com/forum/new-jersey/.

And haters are free to hate, of course, but I just want to reassure you that it's entirely possible to live happily in New Jersey. Don't despair. ^_^


JLee

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2018, 07:29:21 AM »
I do not advise moving to NJ. It is the most expensive and oppressive state in the union. Lots of crime as well, in large a product of the welfare state. When looking at real estate don't worry so much about the price of the house. Highest property taxes in the country, look at property taxes and figure what you're willing to tolerate for that. Price of the property is secondary. Find areas with low crime and taxes you can swallow, then find a properties you like in those areas. If you plan to stay there for long stick to lower property tax areas, it's worth it even for a much higher purchase price.

NJ rates #4 for public safety, only behind Maine, VT, and NH. Source: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/rankings/crime-and-corrections/public-safety

NJ rates #5 for most expensive, behind Hawaii, DC, New York, and Alaska. Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/09/13/cheat-sheet-most-expensive-states/15455129/

NJ rates #5 for highest taxes, behind California, Oregon, Minnesota, and Iowa. Source: https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/fun-facts/states-with-the-highest-and-lowest-taxes/L6HPAVqSF

There are plenty of things I dislike about NJ, but the claims you are making are simply incorrect.

Mustache ride

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2018, 09:05:22 AM »
People love to hate on NJ, but it's not as bad as people think. In my line of work, there are tons of well paying jobs there that offset the HCOL.

OurTown

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #23 on: June 07, 2018, 09:39:24 AM »
My second ex-wife was from NJ, which probably accounts for my negative attitude.  I haven't been there in years, do they let you pump your own gas now?

Asalted_Nut

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2018, 11:02:04 AM »
My second ex-wife was from NJ, which probably accounts for my negative attitude.  I haven't been there in years, do they let you pump your own gas now?

You still cannot pump your own gas.

I grew up in New Jersey, and like a toad in a pot of gradually heated water didn't realize any of the more... unique aspects because I was accustomed to that environment, and didn't have to pay for housing or property taxes. But to add on to what others have said, a few things to note that aren't New Jersey-specific, but also might help to paint a picture of living there:

I have found people are usually much more to-the-point in New Jersey. A small example would be if you were to walk into a business, let's say a Starbucks (which aren't plentiful, instead you have Dunkin' Donuts), instead of a "Hi, How are you?" You may be greeted with a more "What do you want/what can I get you?"

When driving you have to be MUCH more aggressive, so if you/your husband aren't experienced drivers that will be an adjustment. Two examples (once again, not specific to NJ, but may be helpful):
- If you do not start moving the split second the light turns green, you will be honked at.
- If you need to change lanes, be sure to put your blinker on AS you are making the lane change. If you put it on beforehand, whoever is in the next lane over will speed up to pass you.

Depending on your local area, NJ is not super walk-able or bike-able. We lived in a few nice area, and I biked as a teen, but after having lived somewhere else for a while now when I go back I am always amazed at how necessary a car is to get around compared to where I live now.

One last thing: I don't know where you are moving from, but OH MY GOD THE HUMIDITY IN THE SUMMER! Once again, that is just compared to where I am now, so that might not be a big deal for you.

This was a taste of my experience for Jersey (closer to Philly than NYC) tempered with comparison now that I have moved away. But one last thing I will say, and this may be simple nostalgia talking, but I do recall that were I lived was a pretty great place in regards to raising a family. Lots of other families and kids around to play with, roving groups of kids when it came time to trick or treat, neighborhood parks were great, schools seemed ok, water ice & swim clubs in the summer.. hope all that is still the same!

nkt0

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #25 on: June 07, 2018, 11:17:06 AM »
Who wants to pump their own gas? Thats just dumb....

I guess i'm dumb because i always want to pump my own gas. I don't want strangers penetrating my car with fluids.

Asalted_Nut

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #26 on: June 07, 2018, 11:20:28 AM »
My second ex-wife was from NJ, which probably accounts for my negative attitude.  I haven't been there in years, do they let you pump your own gas now?

Who wants to pump their own gas? Thats just dumb....

Its winter, its in the teens outside, there is slush on the ground and the car and everything is covered in salt, and you're dressed for work,  or for an evening function and the buy-gas-now-light on your dash comes on.  Do you really want to get out of the car and pump it yourself? Okay, even if you could save like $0.05-0.10/per gallon.  Thats like $1-2 on a 20 gallon tank?

You make a good point, but here is another:

You are coming back from a long trip, and/or are very tired, or perhaps you are in a hurry, or perhaps it is summer so the heat and humidity make you want to NOT be in your car for long periods while it is turned off, or maybe you are just impatient and don't like a lot of waiting for something you should be able to do immediately.

But at any rate, you now have to sit at the pump, and wait while an attendant comes over to take your money and start pumping your gas. Then you have to wait (because they don't just stand there and wait for it to finish) for them to realize that it's done and to come over and put the pump back. Sometimes they wash your windows, sometimes not.

Not a big deal right? But now imagine there is one or two pump attendants who are servicing several cars and will get to you eventually. I have sat there for up to 20 minutes! And remember, you are tired, or in a hurry, or it's hot and humid but you can't have the A/C going because the gas is flowin'.

So...pros and cons, I guess!

Asalted_Nut

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Re: Moving to New Jersey and need advice....
« Reply #27 on: June 07, 2018, 11:26:55 AM »
Sorry to pile on. Just to clarify one thing for those who have never been to New Jersey (or Oregon):

I have nothing against gas station attendants or there being someone there to pump your gas for you, but what we are talking about is that it is actually ILLEGAL for you to get out of your car to do it yourself.

You don't get the option of choosing self serve or having someone do it for you.