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Moving to New York City Area

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Housing, Neighborhoods, & Moving > Moving to New York City Area


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Commutable city to NYC

July 2008

Hi there, any ideas about nice places to live around NYC? We MAY be moving there and I want to look around at nice communities... places like Albany/North Berk ...? Good school districts? Not a bad commute for a daily trip to NYC? Anyone? Thanks so much... looking east


Brooklyn. -East Coast Gal
Moved to Oakland from Hastings-On-Hudson, NY (easy 35 min. rail commute to NYC) in '06 after raising family in NY. Also Dobbs Ferry, Tarrytown Hartsdale (inland: not on river) and Westchester co. in general. Do a Wiki search on these communities to start, for basic info. Hastings has good schools, wonderful history, cool artists, writers, smart folks, etc. River towns have great summer programs, and what's not to like about the cultural & culinary offerings of NYC...? :-) --Missing NY a little bit!
There are all the the other boroughs (Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island), but you could try towns in Westchester on the Metro North train line too. You need a little more money up there, but it's definitely commutable. Or for the real suburban experience try Long Island, also on a train line-the LIRR. Have fun! ex-NYer

Moving to New York--New Jersey vs. Westchester

Oct 2006

We may be moving to New York so that my husband can take a promotion. His office would be in Midtown Manhattan. I know nothing about the New York suburbs. Can anyone recommend livable places within an hour or so commute of Midtown in either Northern New Jersey or Westchester County. We're looking for the usual, good schools, relatively affordable housing (somewhere you can buy a three-bedroom house for less than $600,000 or so), where the people are generally friendly. Also, does anyone know of an resources like BPN for the New York City area? Any suggestions would be much appreciated Anon


A good place to consider is Teaneck, New Jersey. It has the feel of an old town, not just a suburb, and is about 10-15 minutes away from the GW Bridge. That means that it takes no time to get to the city. There are convenient buses that depart ridiculously often during rush hour (like, every 10-15 minutes). It's very lush, lots of old trees. pv
We are also considering a move to the New York area. My husband may open a branch of his architectural firm in Manhattan. We've spent quite a bit of time researching various areas. In New Jersey, Westfield and Summit are incredibly attractive little towns with terrific schools, tree-lined streets and nice Main Streets. I've seen homes for under 600k on internet real estate sites -- probably more in the Westfield area. Prices seem to range from 400k to over a million. Both towns are on the train line and friends there tell us it is about an hour to Penn Station. Neighboring towns called Scotch Plains and Cranford are also nice and perhaps a little bit more affordable. In New York, Larchmont is a very nice community much like Summit and Westfield -- but I think 600k will buy you less there. Hope this helps. We are still actively learning about these areas ourselves.
I grew up in Bergen County, northern NJ in a small town called Englewood Cliffs that's about 15 minutes away from midtown Manhattan (without traffic). It was a wonderful place to grow up: safe enough to ride bikes around town yet easily accessible by public transit to NYC for school trips or quick errands. At the same time, folks in NJ don't depend on going to NYC for everything; every town has a small downtown area that has all that you need--you don't *have* to cross the GW Bridge to get the best pizza or bagels or clothes. NJ has all of that; I can't say much about Westchester since I never lived there, but my guess is that Westchester has all of that, too, but is more expensive, less culturally diverse, & somewhat more private (or isolated). I'm not sure where you could find houses for $600K & under for a 3 BD, though. Like here, the towns with the best schools, lowest taxes, & quickest access to NYC are more expensive--$700K-$850K+ for 3 bdrm. I'm not sure how much the schools have changed in the past 10 years, but when I was in that area, towns with the better schools & w/in an hour commute of NYC include: parts of Tenafly, Teaneck, Cresskill, Norwood, Demarest, Closter, Old Tappan (Northern Valley), Westwood, Ridgewood. You could also try Fort Lee, Cliffside Park & Edgewater; their elementary schools might be okay Love the Garden State
We moved to Oakland from Westchester last Dec. I raised my 2 kids in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. and LOVED it. NYC's a quick commute (30-35min. on the MetroNorth, the commuter rail; plus, there are express buslines, and once you get into the city limits, the subways are the way to go) the drive into the city is quick & easy (no traffic: 25-45 min, dep. on where you're going; during rush hrs: add 45-75 min. to that) the schools are GOOD, many are GREAT, (they provide school buses there!) The ''Rivertowns'': Hastings, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Tarrytown, are beautiful (check this site to answer many of your questions: http://www.westchestergov.com/ ...and our old village: http://village.hastings.ny.us/ ...or this, with other links: http://www.design-site.net/rivertowns/rivrelo.htm Plus lots of towns ''inland'', not on the river,(Ardsley, Hartsdale, Scarsdale, Chappaqua, Millbrook) and all the towns on the L.I. Sound, like New Rochelle, Mamaroneck, Larchmont, Pelham) to check. Many, if not all, have websites to explore. Jersey has beautiful places, too, but you're separated from NYC by the Hudson River, and then must therefor deal with either bridges (Tappan Zee, or Geo. Wash.) or tunnels (Lincoln or Holland). Not fun, but people do it. The diversity is wonderful, and of course the arts/cultural opportunities boggle the mind. We lived in NYC until the kids were 8 & 4, then moved out, for a slower pace, school, green things. Best of both worlds, everything's accessible; did trips to Old Sturbridge Village, skiing in VT, Boston wkends, the Catskills, Adirondacs, - I miss it, but am appreciating ''the Left Coast'' more each day, and am loving the diversity of Oakland. E-me if you'd like my collection of local maps, or want more info. :-) Carol
I lived for 19 years in New Jersey, the last 9 in Monmouth County which is at the northern end of the Jersey Shore. Despite the snide humor, New Jersey is a really nice place to live, and I would guess that the cost of living is more reasonable than Westchester would be. (I lived in Eatontown; the public schools were good). Look for a community that is convient to the trains into NYC. I don't think your husband would want to drive and park daily in Midtown
I saw some of the responses you got and wanted to make a couple of other suggestions. We moved from Maplewood New Jersey to Oakland last December. We loved Maplewood. Its a lovely older town (i.e. not ugly tract housing) and its one of the most diverse suburbs in the country. When we moved from New York City to the suburbs that was something that was really important to us so if that is something you are looking for you should check out Maplewood and its neighbor South Orange (they share a school district). The diversity means the test scores may not be as good as a place like Summit (which is much richer and whiter) but our experience with the schools (K and 1st grade) was great. Another similar community in NJ is Montclair. All have direct trains to Penn Station. You can find info at www.maplewoodonline.com. East coaster

Living in NYC with kids

Feb 2004

We have vague thoughts about relocating to New York City (for professional reasons) and we are wondering about life there with young children. Aside from the obvious issue of housing, what is it like to live there (in particular, the area near Columbia U.)? I know it's a great place to visit with kids (parks, museums, etc.) but I'm wondering about day to day life in NYC. What are the public schools like? What about noise pollution? Does schlepping to school/daycare/work in the snow become old? Obviously, millions of families live there happily but I'm wondering how a long time Berkelelyan would handle it. I've checked the archives but was hoping to hear from someone with recent experience living there who can compare it to life in the East Bay.


I just relocated to Berkeley from NYC due to the more friendly environment here. The Columbia U. vicinity is not a bad area to live. The schools are much better than schools in other areas. However, these have changed drastically since I have left, ridding the Board of Education. I would definitely try an online search on that school district to inquire about their ratings. I know Hunter Elementary is a good school, and most in the area are. You might have a problem obtaining afterschool child-care and might need someone to pick them up, but there are lots of nannies in that vicinity. I attended Hunter College and might be able to give a local phone # to a friend that lives in the area if anyone would like that. Good luck. Fatima
I was born in and grew up in NYC. I also went to Columbia, and lived in that area. What seemed to me to be a totally normal childhood, I have learned was really quite unique and special.

THE PROS

* You and your children will have unbelievable experiences, both positive and negative. You will live in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-income, chaotic, electric environment. You will interact with people from all over the world and from every walk of life. And you do it all in one place. There is a lot of good that comes with that and there is some bad. I almost always experienced good. But I did one night find a neighbor in the street unconscious after being mugged.

* You and your children will have access to the best museums, theatre, music, culture, shopping, food and minds in the whole wide world. By the time I was 12, I had seen every play on Broadway. Every one. My mom would get standing room tickets, and we saw them all for $10 or $15. We went to the opera, the symphony, and the Met. These field trips were just wonderful and I am glad I had those experiences to this day.

* Your children will be quite saavy. It's something about that environment. They will know everything.

THE CONS

* It is very crowded and dirty and loud and relatively unfriendly in both human demeanor and in services (You have not lived until you have carried your child and the stroller and your bags up and down subway stairs OR sanitiation goes on strike).

* It is expensive. My husband and I have estimated that if we were to move back and maintained the same standard of living, we would have to spend $750-$1,000,000 on housing. Cabs are expensive. Food is expensive and the quality of the produce will severely disappoint you. Restaurants are expensive.

*Schools - there are some very good public schools. Bronx Science, Stuyvesant, High School of Performing Arts - EXCELLENT.....But your kid may have to travel long distanes to go to school. And, if your kid does not get in.....you may be forced to look at a private school, and all of those stories you hear about cut throat social climbing competition is real. Not to mention tuition.

* Housing- will be very small and expensive compared to what you have now.

* It is HOT and HUMID in the summmer and COLD and WINDY in the winter. I never minded it until I move away....and now I know how good I have it. If you live up by Columbia (which I recommend) you will be just wind whipped in the winter by the wind coming off the river.

I would move back for a set period of time to give my son some of my experiences, but I would not move back permanently. It made me who I am, and I am so very glad I had that experience. But, you can enjoy a much nicer standard of living in other parts of the USA. New York, to me, has always been about sacrifice. You will sacrifice your comfort (unless you are a multi-millionaire) for experience. Leslie


I was born and raised in NYC and can't think of a more amazing place to raise children. I grew up on the upper west side and ended up going to Columbia and living near the campus around 113th Street. I moved to the Bay Area about 5 years ago and it's been a huge culture and way of life shock. If you are from here all I can suggest is that you really ''go with the flow'' in NYC and embrace how much there is to do and see. I think the positives WAY outway the negatives. In my experience, children raised in NYC are more open to diversity, more ready to try new things and accept challenges and are open to more possibilities in their lives. The culture and multiculturalism are unparalleled. In your case, you might need to think of it like moving to a foreign country - it's a great experience for all, but might never feel like home to you. Good luck! Abby
My dear friend Erica, who lived in the Bay Area for years, now lives in NYC. She wrote this to you:

Our son attends preschool in the neighborhood you are considering relocating to and we live about 30 blocks south (the West 80s).

The weather is going to be a huge adjustment for you. Transportation is another issue. Although some people have cars and use them on a daily basis, because parking is such a challenge--there are only metered spots on the street--most parents with small children don't drive (except to escape the city on weekends) and instead walk or take the public bus. Accordingly, it's best to pick a day care center or preschool that's close to a bus route or within easy walking distance of your apartment or office so you're not spending a lot of time getting to and from school/work/day care (or dragging your kid onto crowded, rush-hour subway trains whose stations don't have good stroller access).

There are good public elementary schools on the Upper West Side, just not near Columbia. Good ones include PS 87 and PS 199 (general education), and the gift and talented programs at PS 9, PS 163, and PS 166. Unless you are in the school's ''catchment zone'' (in which case, you can just register right before school starts), you must apply a year in advance for a waiver to attend the school even though you are in the district (the UWS) but not in the zone. To qualify for the g & t program, your child needs to take an intelligence test the year before and they must score at or above a certain percentile rank (usually 90-93 or above).

Noise pollution is a non-issue on the Upper West Side. It's a residential neighborhood. The loudest noise you'll deal with is the sound of trash trucks picking up garbage. If you are very sensitive to noise, avoid living on the large commercial boulevards (Broadway, West End, Amsterdam) and choose a place on a high floor on a side street.

The snow is what it is. It's fun to play in but does make the logistics of everyday living a bit more of a challenge.

Good luck in your decision. Erica


Moving to NYC with an 18-month-old

November 2002

As much as I love living in Berkeley, my family situation is calling me back to NY city. I was wondering if someone on this list has a place to rent in NY (or knows of someone who does). It could be temporary until I find something more permanent. Well, any advice would be very helpful. My daughter is 18 months old and I am not sure if NYC will be as welcoming for us as Berkeley has been. I wonder if there is a similar list for NYC parents! Thanks. Maya


Well, I can't recommend a place to rent, but I think you will have a great time in NYC with your toddler! We lived there until my daughter was 18 months old and I was sad to leave. There are so many resources in the city for both parents and kids and so many wonderful parks (nothing here comes close to the Central Park playgrounds). And everything is accessible by stroller -- it is so nice not to have to get into the car for every little thing and so stimulating for little kids to see the city unfold on the sidewalks right in front of their eyes! For things to do in the city, check out gocitykids.com. Good luck with your move! Stephanie
I don't have a specific apartment recommendation, but having just moved from NY last year, I do have a location recommendation. We spent two years in Manhattan and then four years in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Our oldest was born and spent his first year in Park Slope. It's a great area, and definitely very child friendly. Plus, Prospect Park is right there, with lots of playgrounds, a lake and lots of nice spots to take kids. Park Slope is a haven for couples with young kids, so you'll find pleny of child-oriented activities and family friendly restaurants. As you can tell, I can't recommend it enough! Good luck. As long as you can live through the winters, NY definitely has a lot to offer to families with young kids. rliebler
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