Could you ever really live in New Jersey?

As a life-long New Yorker who grew up in Manhattan, I absorbed contempt for New Jersey with my mother’s milk. The thought that I would ever live there someday was something I never seriously considered, yet after having our first child, we made several visits to various suburban options and ended up moving to the Garden State.

And 7 years later, I’m happy to say that we love living here. Here’s a short list of the things we love:

Leafy and charming towns and villages: While most New Yorkers are only familiar with the ugly eyesore of the state that lives along I-95 between the GWB and Newark Airport, if you travel just a bit further west, you come across a slew of lovely and charming suburban towns with quaint villages, eclectic populations, and varied turn-of-the-century architecture. Towns like Montclair, Glen Ridge, Maplewood, South Orange, Summit, Millburn, Chatham, and many others are welcoming and beautiful communities.

The beaches: While much of the country bases their knowledge of the Jersey shore on The Jersey Shore, the truth is that the coastline of our state has numerous attractive beaches, and towns that run the gamut of personalities. From the artsy and quirky Asbury Beach to the upscale Deal and Spring Lake, to the family-oriented Ocean Grove, most of the towns in Monmouth County can be reached by towns in north Jersey within about an hour of driving – so it’s a simple day trip. I often wake up early and go surfing in the morning before heading into NYC for work later in the day.

Hiking and mountains: If you drive west instead of South, you can reach the Delaware Water Gap, and another 15 minutes or so takes you to skiing in the Poconos. There are also numerous hiking trails and nature preserves closer in, from South Mountain Reservation near Millburn and Maplewood to Watchung Reservation near Summit to Eagle Rock Reservation near Montclair.

The commute (kind of?): Of course, nobody loves commuting. But commuting from NJ has several strong advantages over my former subway commute. First of all, I almost always get a seat, which are padded and comfortable. And my fellow commuters are generally a quiet bunch – so it’s an easy time to catch up on reading, get some work done, or even take a nap.

And, perhaps best of all, whenever I drive I get awesome reception of WFMU – a contender for the best radio station in the country, playing a strange and endearing mix of songs in a free-form format in which the DJs still have total control. And don’t forget easy access to New Jersey Devils games at the Prudential Center!

Want to know more about living in New Jersey, and which NJ towns might be best for you? Check out PicketFencer’s free concierge service that offers expert advice from locals who have already made the move. Click here to learn more.