Tue Apr 15 2008
Houses in the Heights start in the low $300,000s for a three-bedroom and go as high as the $500,000s, based on size and the individual block. Three-bedrooms in Journal Square start in the high $200,000s for houses that need work, are in less-attractive areas or are inconvenient to the PATH. In the Lincoln Park neighborhood on the West Side, grand seven-bedroom Victorians can fetch in the high $700,000s. Downtown, some lofts or two-bedroom condos in luxury units come with perks like a concierge, ten-foot ceilings and heated floors; these may be priced as high as a million dollars, but the baseline for a one-bedroom is about $250,000.
Lower Manhattan is 10 to 15 minutes away from the Grove Street or Exchange Place PATH stations; the commute from the Heights to midtown is at best 30 minutes by bus. Car owners should be forewarned that parking in Jersey City isn’t always easy. “At least it’s better than in Hoboken, where it was horrible,” says Moschella. “Here, it’s just annoying.”
A more pressing local concern is the educational system. Neighborhood advocacy groups such as JC Families for Better Schools maintain pressure to improve the public schools, which continue to struggle with the overcrowding and underfunding that prompted a state takeover in 1989. Last summer, schools were deemed sufficiently revamped to regain control over some of their fiscal and administrative operations.
Outside the classroom, there’s plenty to keep the young ones occupied, including the world-class Liberty Science Center (222 Jersey City Blvd near the NJ Turnpike). Yoga Shunya (275 Grove St at Montgomery St) offers prenatal and Mom & Baby yoga classes, and Music Play Studios (musicplaystudios.com) teaches kids under six years old at two downtown locations. Homestyle eateries like the Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory (426 Jersey Ave at Grand St), near Van Vorst Park, are popular with families and local politicians angling for their next baby-kissing photo op, while tonier restaurants include the Light Horse Tavern (199 Washington St at Morris St), in a contiguous pair of renovated 1850s brownstones in the Paulus Hook district.
The neighborly vibe is striking in areas like the Heights. “It’s a nice alternative for people who aren’t ready to make the leap to suburbia. There’s urban energy, but also tree-lined streets and room to breathe,” says Migdal. That in-between quality holds a real appeal for a lot of families. “People introduce themselves and say hello when you see them on the street,” Moschella says. “They’ll even watch over your house while you’re away.”
Bottom line: NYC-style amenities and value for your money can make a move across the Hudson that much easier to bear.