Perhaps you’ve recently settled down, found out you’re expecting, or maybe you’ve simply grown tired of collecting quarters to use at the laundromat. For whatever reason, you find yourself dreaming of joining the upwardly mobile masses leaving their apartments in Hoboken, Jersey City, New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens for the peace and quiet of New Jersey’s suburbs.
Suburbia is not the land of Jello molds that popular culture would have you believe. NJ towns, like Cedar Grove, Glen Ridge, Montclair, South Orange, Verona, Llewellyn Park West Orange, and Bloomfield, are home to people just like you and they’ve brought the best aspects of city life with them. Presenting five things city slickers can find in NJ’s suburbs.
5 Things City Slickers Can Find in New Jersey’s Suburbs
Grade A School Districts
If you’re looking to move to accommodate your growing family, look no further than Essex County, NJ. It boasts some of the country’s best rated school districts.
City slicker hubs, Maplewood and South Orange, are sister towns with a shared school system to boot. The MaSo, or SoMa school district (depending on which town you live in) serves 6,800 students in nine schools: six elementary, two middle and one high school. Those with children enrolled appreciate the district’s commitment to “maximizing community expertise and resources”. The South Orange-Maplewood school system has secured a 7/10 rating on ranking website, GreatSchools.org.
With an equal satisfaction rating, Montclair’s school district is another grade A option. The magnet school system features specialty schools, including a high school for the performing arts.(More on Montclair’s artistic sensibilities later!)
A smaller student body and a 9/10 score on GreatSchools.org push the Glen Ridge school district to the top of the heap. Glen Ridge students’ SAT scores are consistently higher than the state average. One year saw 576 in reading, 579 in math and 562 in writing, compared with state averages of 496, 518 and 494. While you’re looking at Essex County homes, you may want to prioritize ones with large backyards. We see graduation parties in your future!
Quick Commute to NYC-You’re not that far just because you’re in the Suburbs!
Though your heart may no longer be in NYC, your job probably is. While Manhattan is accessible from virtually any part of northern NJ, the commute from select Essex County neighborhoods is especially short.
NJ Transit’s Montclair-Boonton line runs through both Montclair and Glen Ridge. South Orange is serviced by the Morristown line. Each starting point will have you at Penn Station in 30-40 minutes. In Glen Ridge, Montclair, and South Orange, it is easy to travel for business as well as for pleasure. Feel like a weekend stroll along the Hoboken waterfront? A trip to the Mile Square City takes just a few minutes by train.
Arts and Entertainment are not just in the City, they’re also in the Suburbs
If your idea of weekend fun is a cultural experience, you’ll be pleased to know that Montclair provides plenty.
Founded in 1914, the Montclair Art Museum (MAM) offers a carousel of exhibits that showcase American and Native American art. From galas to pottery camp, the museum’s calendar is chock full of events and classes for art enthusiasts of all ages.
Perhaps you prefer performance to portraits.Take in live entertainment at Montclair’s historic Wellmont Theater. Everyone from burlesque star, Dita Von Teese, to alt rock band, MGMT, have graced the Wellmont’s stage. The intimate and beautiful venue is just a stone’s throw away from some of NJ’s best restaurants. Hire a sitter, enjoy dinner and a show at the Wellmont and make it home in time to kiss the kids goodnight.
The show is at the Wellmont, but where is dinner? If you like Cuban food, Montclair’s Cuban Pete’s is a lot of fun. Featuring both new wave and traditional dishes like churrasco, Cuban Pete’s menu can’t be beat. Cuban Pete’s is especially cool in the summer. BYOB, the restaurant offers an array of fruity sangrias that waiters are happy to mix with whichever wine you’d like. As if that weren’t reason enough to head to Cuban Pete’s, the restaurant’s outdoor area boasts a waterfall and a walkway fit for a FOMO inducing photo op.
Raymond’s is another popular Montclair destination. The bistro cooks up classic American fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Think pancakes, macaroni and cheese and warm apple pie. Just like Mom used to make (only better!).
Montclair is not the only NJ suburb with exciting dining options. Glen Ridge hotspot, Fitzgerald’s 1928, serves up a retro atmosphere, old school cocktails and juicy steaks all week long.
The food scene in South Orange reflects the village’s diversity. Located a few blocks from the South Orange train station, Walia Ethiopian Restaurant is a great place to unwind after a long day at the office.
In the mood for Mexican? Also in South Orange, Tito’s Burritos & Wings offers its namesake dishes and so much more, including gluten free and vegetarian options. Tito’s extensive menu, friendly atmosphere and fair prices make it an ideal spot for socializing. This only a sampler of Essex County’s amazing food scene!
If you’re considering a future in one of the aforementioned NJ suburbs, you may be interested in learning about their past.
Upon entering South Orange, you are greeted by a sign that reads, “Welcome to the Village of South Orange, Settled in 1680”. The village is one of the United States’ first and goes to great lengths to preserve its quaint charm. Even longtime residents can’t help but marvel at the spired firehouse and gaslight lined streets.
Montclair is filled with grand, colonial-style homes that evoke a bygone era, but the beauty of its history goes beyond architecture. At the dawn of the 20th century, Irish, Germans, Italians, Scandinavians and other European immigrants settled in Montclair, where they were welcomed by a cohort of Caucasians from New England as well as recent African American arrivals from the South. Montclair’s legacy of inclusion attracts a progressive crowd. Civil rights leader, Benjamin Chavis Jr., moved to Montclair from Harlem in the 1970s.
Boasting stellar school districts, rich histories and a variety of cultural and culinary attractions, Glen Ridge, Montclair and South Orange are three NJ suburbs that help city dwellers like yourself ease into the next chapter of their lives. If you still miss Manhattan, it’s only a few minutes away!
Sam Joseph, the number one realtor in Glen Ridge, Montclair and the Essex County area has brought the American dream into reality for countless NJ families. Contact or call Sam at 917 359 8990 and see what he can do for you!