Best areas to live near Morristown, NJ

(12 Posts)
ParisianRain Wed 05-Jun-13 16:24:49

We may be relocating here due to DH's work and I am looking for advice on Morristown itself or other towns nearby which are suitable for a family. My DC's are 6 and 5. If anyone can advise I will be most grateful as it's so hard researching everything with no knowledge of the area other than what I can gleam through Internet searches. We would be happy to look at state or private schooling. Many thanks.

OP’s posts: |
Sasso Thu 06-Jun-13 15:24:07

Will your DH be working in Morristown or commuting to NY? What kind of town/community are you looking for? Morristown, Summit, Millburn and Chatham are quite conservative and upper middle class, Montclair and Maplewood more diverse, arty and liberal. These towns are NJ commuter towns, but there are other more rural towns like Basking Ridge if your DH won't be taking the train.

They're all lovely towns with plenty of cute Victorian houses and pretty downtown shops and restaurants. IMO the schools in these places are regarded as excellent. I can fill you in a bit more if you can tell me more about the lifestyle you're after, particulary the commute.

For schools look at greatschools.net
coldwellbankermoves.com for real estate

ParisianRain Thu 06-Jun-13 15:58:44

Thanks so much for the info - I will look at both the websites you mention.
DH would be working in Morristown itself although I do like the idea of having a train station close by. Chatham/Maplewood were on my radar as I had been looking at Chatham Day School?? Not sure it's worth the expense if the public schools are excellent....it's just so daunting when you don't know the area or the education system. I would love a pretty, vibrant downtown with family/good community feel :-) and parks, coffee shops, restaurants in abundance if possible where I don't have to rely on the car all the time. Is this possible or am I going to be relying heavily on the car??

OP’s posts: |
Sasso Thu 06-Jun-13 16:39:29

personally, I wouldn't bother with private school at the elementary (primary school) stage, not in those towns anyway. Where you live gives you automatic entry into certain schools (whether they're full or not, they have to find you a space). Bear that in mind when looking at real estate.

Maplewood has a charming downtown with a nice selection of bars and shops, a cinema, park etc. It feels more bustling, urban and diverse than the other towns on the list (though Morristown is bigger). You will find a family/community feel in spades in any of these places.

There's no way around it, you'll spend half your life in the car, especially if the kids do after school sports and activities, but it helps it you're within striking distance of the town and school.

Feel free to PM me too.

ParisianRain Thu 06-Jun-13 19:52:11

Thank you Sasso - gives me a good idea of where to start.

OP’s posts: |
FlipFantasia Thu 06-Jun-13 20:09:17

Sasso gives great advice.

Morristown is lovely, quite a bustling downtown and some good museums/historical sites. But the town is pretty suburban, in that you drive pretty much everywhere. I have cousins that live there (were born & raised there) and love it but we decided it was too spread out for us - I have an aversion to suburban sprawl (DH is from South Jersey so I knew what I wanted to avoid in terms of living here!). We moved from London last year and DH works in the city so the length of the train commute was also a factor.

We currently live in Maplewood and are in the process of buying in South Orange (town right next door - they share a school system and are v much sister towns) and love it. It's walkable, super friendly, liberal and diverse. The public/state schools are excellent. There are plenty of Brits/Europeans (I'm Irish & didn't want my kids to be the only ones with a "foreign" parent!).

For info check our any local websites, eg Maplewoodonline - this is a tremendous resource - people are v helpful, eg if you asked questions about living in Maplewood/Millburn and working in Morristown in terms of commute you'd get some useful info. It also covers Millburn, South Orange, West Orange and there are plenty of people on there who live in Chatham & Summit too.

For property, check out GSMLS - this is particularly good for if you're looking to buy. There is WAY more info than if you were looking at rightmove or the like!

Also check out Walkscore - it's not perfect but it gives a good insight into the walkability of potential addresses (this was a big factor for us - as I'm home with the kids and didn't want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere! - so was a column in the spreadsheet when we were looking at rental properties last Sept).

For schools, also check out Schooldigger.

And ask the relocation company for any info they have too.

Good luck with it all! NJ is a lovely state and we're very happy with the move.

FlipFantasia Thu 06-Jun-13 20:09:59

PS Sasso let me know if you're around Maplewood - nice to know there's another MNetter nearby!

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Sasso Thu 06-Jun-13 20:47:26

Sadly nearby no more, Flip! We moved last year but I'm glad you can back me up as I'm trying not to be too biased toward Maplewood. Many Brits relocating are delighted with Summit, Berkley Heights or the like, and they're perfectly idyllic towns probably comparable to living in the home counties. But I'm a Londoner and although we lived in another town on the Maplewood borders and loved our time there, ultimatly we found it just a little too suburban. We would have been better off in Maplewood proper.
PRain, maplewoodonline is a great forum, you could also look at the local newsblog patch.com to follow what's happening in each individual town.

Want2bSupermum Mon 10-Jun-13 21:07:29

I'm in South Orange. All the good towns have been mentioned already. There is also Florham Park, Livingston, Parsippany, Madison and Mendham if walkability isn't a huge factor. For walkability to a decent downtown I like Millburn and Summit the most.

I wouldn't bother with private schools. Out of the towns listed I would think Maplewood has the lowest ranking school district but I don't know for sure. If you think your child has special needs (ie you suspect dyslexia) call the schools ahead of time to find out what facilities are put in place to assist your child. There is no real catchment area issues as each house is allocated to an elementary, middle and high school. Each town has their own school system which is why property taxes are so high.

Bear in mind that while the distance to Morristown doesn't look far the commute on 24 is horrendous. Your DH will be taking back roads to get to Morristown.

If you are looking to buy do make sure you are aware of the property taxes. $25-30k a year is common for $750k house and plan on them increasing by 5% a year. If you rent the owner is liable for the property taxes. With rental contracts it is common that you pay the first portion of repairs. That first portion can be as little as $100 a year but I have seen it as high as $2500. Common cost to the agent for a rental is one months rent. To find rentals take a look at craigslist but I would be using an agent. The good landlords with good houses tend to use agents.

Kazzaragi Sun 13-Oct-13 21:28:23

Did you already move? I just saw this!

We live in Maplewood too! It's a very friendly place, people are down-to-earth.

We moved here in 2003 with a job in Whippany. The best commute to Morristown from here is along route 510. 20-25 mins. Route 24 is totally backed up in the mornings so avoid that.

We wanted to be close to the city and the airport which is why we looked at Maplewood. The school experience and teachers have been good. My kids love school and have really nice friends from some great interesting families.

PM me for more info! I run the British expat group in Maplewood.

Good luck with the move.

Want2bSupermum Mon 14-Oct-13 01:46:27

Hi Kazz - there is a British group in Maplewood?!? Please post the details!

Kazzaragi Mon 14-Oct-13 20:30:29

Yes Want2bSupermum! There are plenty of us here! It's a group of Brits and a few NZ/Aus/Canadian families based in Maplewood and South Orange! Some have been here 10 days, others 10 years. All nice, fun and very supportive. I'll PM you the info.

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