Best New Jersey Suburbs for New York City Commuters

NYC is a hub of commerce, culture, and opportunity, which is why so many people flock to its boroughs. However, a growing number of families and professionals have seen the light and want more than the concrete jungle can offer in terms of space, affordability, and community. 

For these people, New Jersey suburbs provide the perfect bridge between their professional and private lives — sometimes quite literally. If you’re looking for a New Jersey suburb with a great commute to NYC, then you’re in luck. Here are some of the top New Jersey towns for New York City commuters.

Fanwood

Fanwood is a small town that’s home to only around 7,700 individuals. Despite its small population, Fanwood is a particularly attractive option for families headed by professionals who work in NYC. In the last ten years, Fanwood has undergone significant redevelopment focused on improving transit opportunities with ready train access. 

Fanwood is not particularly racially diverse with less than 20% of the population being made up of minorities. That said, the new improvements in Fanwood are sure to bring in new homeowners that may improve diversity, particularly those who are attracted to Fanwood’s family-friendly atmosphere, high performing schools, and many activities.

  • Commute Time: 55 minutes via direct train to Manhattan
  • School Rating: Above Average NJ Test Scores
  • Quality of Living: High
  • Diversity: Low

Westfield

Westfield offers a small-town feel without the isolation effect, as it’s got a sizable population for a small town at 30,000 residents. The downtown area of Westfield features a significant shopping center with small businesses interspersed with national chains. The town also provides many opportunities for art lovers with a theater, orchestra, and hosts many summer music events. 

Westfield is a great location for families and boasts a high-performing public school district with two private school options for those who are inclined to take that educational route. Recreational activities include a memorial pool, a community library, and nine parks to choose from. With regard to diversity, Westfield remains well-behind the state averages with less than 20% of the population recorded as minorities. 

    • Commute Time: 49 minutes by train to Penn Station
    • School Rating: High
    • Quality of Living: Average

 

  • Diversity: Low

 

Upper Montclair

If you’re looking for a small neighborhood in New Jersey to make your home, then look no further than Upper Montclair. This neighborhood isn’t necessarily a town, but it’s a census-designated place (CDP) with a distinct culture that sets it apart from Montclair, NJ. The homes in Upper Montclair typically sit on larger lots and are more expensive than the homes in the rest of the town. 

That said, Upper Montclair which rests north of the railroad tracks that separate Montclair, is a lovely area with a large public pool, many parks, a large library, and a booming business district. With regard to education, Montclair is home to part of Montclair State University’s campus, a well-performing school district, and many well-known private schools. The population of Upper Montclair is typical of New Jersey suburbs, with fewer than 20% of the population identifying as a minority. 

    • Commute Time: Less than an hour via train
    • School Rating: High
    • Quality of Living: High

 

  • Diversity: Low

 

Morristown

With a population of just under 20,000 residents, Morristown is a bit of a diamond in the rough located in the middle of New Jersey. The Morris School District performs higher than the state average on SATs across the board and offers eight different elementary schools to choose from, including one middle school, and a single high school. In short, you can anticipate becoming connected with another family with school-aged children quite quickly. 

Not to mention, there are a plethora of recreational opportunities available to you and your family in Morristown, including a community swimming pool, horseback riding, ice skating, and several restaurants. With regard to diversity, Morristown is much more diverse than other suburban towns located in the state, with about 46% of residents reported as minorities. Morristown is a little slice of New Jersey that has a lot to offer for any homeowner.

    • Commute Time: Over an hour (~70 minutes) to Manhattan
    • School Rating: High
    • Quality of Living: High

 

  • Diversity: High

 

Madison

Madison, New Jersey is an idyllic town that provides a charming location for any homeowner looking for the perfect commute to and from the city. The small town boasts less than 18,000 residents, though the population has grown in the last ten years. This growth can be attributed to its status as a college town, as it is home to many students and staff of three different universities throughout the year. 

Additionally, many residents are drawn to charming Main Street, which is adorned with several mom-and-pop shops with a few larger businesses scattered throughout. Recreational activities include a community pool, movie theater, a variety of restaurants, and shopping.

Like many suburbs, Madison schools perform above the state average. Additionally, if you’re raising a future college student, there are plenty of options that are close to home. Regarding the commute, most Madison residents walk or bike to the train station, which generally takes less than an hour to get to Penn Station. 

    • Commute Time: ~60 minutes
    • School Rating: High
    • Quality of Living: Average

 

  • Diversity: Low

 

River Edge

Truly a suburban hub, River Edge doesn’t offer a traditional downtown space.  Within the small town confines, 11,700 residents enjoy the benefits of a suburban town that hasn’t been urbanized, just yet. Most residents looking for traditional shopping malls or other forms of urban entertainment head over to nearby towns and cities. In town, residents enjoy local restaurants and a few shops for recreation. 

The town features a single elementary school, and once students progress beyond the school they typically attend nearby district schools that perform above the state’s average on SATs. River Edge is not very diverse, though it is home to a significant Asian population with nearly 22% of residents reported as Asian. 

 

    • Commute Time: 43 minutes by bus
    • School Rating: High
    • Quality of Living: Good

 

  • Diversity: Average

 

Fort Lee

As one of the more densely populated areas on this list, Fort Lee is the perfect meld between urban and suburban. Its 38,500 residents can enjoy a variety of ethnic cuisines from one of the many restaurants in town. Additionally, recreational activities include nearby parks, a bustling community center, and an expansive library. 

For families with school-age children, Fort Lee has performed well against New Jersey state averages. Homebuyers can enjoy a number of options ranging from distinctly urban studio apartments, condos, and a variety of single-family homes. 

    • Commute Time: ~ 50 minutes to Manhattan via bus and train
    • School Rating: Good
    • Quality of Living: High

 

  • Diversity: High

 

Glen Rock

This town, named for the 570-ton boulder that sits at a major intersection, is a great choice for NYC commuters looking for a distinct small-town vibe with urban undertones. With just under 12,000 residents, Glen Rock isn’t exactly a bustling city metropolis, but it still has a lot to offer. The housing situation is ideal for buyers who aren’t sure what they want as there is a lot of variety in terms of style and price. 

Recreational activities include a large municipal pool, a massive 11-acre arboretum, and a downtown center with many retail stores and restaurants. Glen Rock’s schools are some of the best in the state and routinely score well on SATs, well above the state’s averages. There are a variety of schooling options, including a school for teenaged special needs students and private schools.

    • Commute Time: ~55 minutes via train
    • School Rating: High
    • Quality of Living: High

 

  • Diversity: Low

 

Berkeley Heights

Berkeley Heights is home to around 13,300 residents who enjoy the benefits of a small town without the outdated looks. The town features a variety of homes, including new builds that have been erected within the last ten years, condos, and single-family homes with new additions. Berkeley Heights is a town with a very rural feel, which is rare to find so close to New York City. 

That said, it’s the perfect settlement for those who are more outdoorsy and enjoy physical recreational activities. Berkeley Heights offers the nearby Watchung Reservation among other large parks that are great for hiking, biking, horseriding, and fishing. Berkeley Heights schools perform exceedingly well and have even recorded 100% graduation rates in the past. 

    • Commute Time: ~55 minutes via direct train
    • School Rating: High
    • Quality of Living: Average

 

  • Diversity: Low

 

Millburn

Millburn is consistently rated as one of the top school districts in the state and routinely churns out high school graduates who go on to study at some of the top universities in the country. In short, it’s a huge draw for families with children. 

Pair high-quality education with family-friendly recreation and you’ve got the perfect set up for NYC commuters with a family. Millburn boasts a community pool, 36-acre Gero Park which features popular outdoor activities, including basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball fields, a golf course, and a clubhouse.

    • Commute Time: ~45 minutes by train
    • School Rating: Advanced
    • Quality of Living: High

 

  • Diversity: High

 

Final Thoughts

For both New Yorkers and New Jerseyans, commuting is one of the core aspects of everyday life. That said, there’s no reason to avoid the benefits of the suburbs because you might lose out on a short commute. From Berkeley Heights to Upper Montclair, New Jersey suburbs features the best assets that both New York and New Jersey have to offer.

Before making a final decision, be sure to discuss your options with your real estate agent! They’ll give you pertinent advice to help you make an informed choice. Happy house hunting!

 

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