a taste of the ‘burbs


Last weekend, we went to New Jersey to HOUSE-HUNT! Bah!

Don’t mind me. It’s just that we’ve been doing everything we can to stay in New York, but once you look at a place in New Jersey and you realize that you can have ALL THE SPACE (+ a washer & dryer inside the actual home, which is my dream!) for almost half the price, it’s like, well this is a horse of a different color!


Did I ever tell you I lived in central New Jersey for a few years? Well, I did. I moved to Old Bridge some time after I started college. I rode into New York every day for school and to tell you the truth, the commute wasn’t bad at all. Sure, it’s no Astoria where you can be in midtown in about 20 minutes, but 45 minutes on a comfortable bus isn’t terrible either.

I’ve actually come around to the idea that we’ll likely move to Jersey. I was hesitant at first, but I didn’t want to be one of those people that would rather pay top dollar to live in a shoebox just to be in New York. That works when you’re 21. Not so much when you’re nearing 30 and thinking about your future.


On the other hand, I’d always imagined that if I had kids I would love to raise them in the city. I was raised here and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. I loved having access to different foods, neighborhoods and being exposed to people of different races and cultures. I started riding the subway on my own when I was twelve. I started lugging my dirty clothes to the laundromat and doing my own laundry when I was fourteen. My friends and I would hop on a train or bus into the city any time we got bored in Brooklyn.  When I’d walk home later at night, I’d make sure to have my keys wedged in between my fingers in case I needed to stab someone for trying to mess with me (not so much an experience I’d want for a kid, but to have that anything-can-happen awareness is something). My point is, it’s easy to be self-sufficient and street-smart when you’re raised in New York. You have no other choice.

But living in the suburbs has its benefits too. The first time I went into a supermarket in Jersey, I thought, This place is massive! There was so much space down the aisles and no rushing or crowds of people.

On Saturday, we borrowed Bob’s mother’s car and decided that since we were already there, we’d do our groceries in Jersey. When Bob tried to unload the groceries by the exit, I stopped him and said, “What are you doing? You don’t have to unload here, you can actually bring the cart to the car”. He was shocked! “Really? I’m not used to stores trusting us like this!”. It was pretty funny but very telling of the differences between where we grew up and where we may end up.


Bulk-shopping! I love it. ↑

After this long post about moving to New Jersey, I’ll laugh if it turns out we end up staying in Queens. And that’s the funny thing about it. We don’t know where this path will take us.

But seriously, if I could afford the $900,000 single family home that’s available across the street from us, then I’d be more than willing to stay. Anyone got a cool mil they’d be willing to part with? Anyone? Hello?

13 responses to “a taste of the ‘burbs”

  1. Well, I can certainly relate to this post!!! Almost all of my friends grew up in Queens, and it makes them all very sad to think that they are getting priced out of buying property in their hometown. My husband is a die-hard Queens guy too, and I don’t think he’ll be too flexible about leaving. Which means we’ll be the ones paying the crazy money for the shoebox:).

    • Jillian says:

      YES. I have conversations like this all the time with my friends. It makes us sad/mad that we can’t afford our own neighborhoods anymore. Bob and I could probably stay in Astoria for another year or two, but I don’t think I can get behind paying $1500+ for a one-bedroom. No matter how much I love this place, that rent price makes me crazy. Jenn, I know you guys are looking for a place too and I wish you luck. To be honest, I’ll probably still be very jealous of this shoebox you decide to live in, haha.

  2. rooth says:

    I was actually in Jersey on Monday night (my friend lives in Fort Lee) and was amazed at how close it was but also how different – it doesn’t get enough credit at all

  3. lena says:

    Three cheers for NJ!

  4. Laura says:

    Yayyy! I totally get the conundrum – you want to live in the city and be close to everything, and also have your kids experience that lifestyle, but really there is SO much to offer in the suburbs and you get so much more for your money. We had the same issue when we bought our house. Downtown Raleigh was just absolutely not an option for us and once we accepted that we were opened up to so many other options that had WAY more square footage and perks (hey 2-car garage!). Sometimes I get sad when we drive downtown and I see all the cute houses… then I just look them up on Zillow and remind myself that there’s absolutely no way we could ever afford even that 1000 sq. ft. house with 1 bathroom, and I feel like we made the right choice :) I can’t wait to see what you guys eventually end up with! I’m sure it will feel right when you find it.

    • Jillian says:

      Your comment seriously made my day. It feels so comforting to know that you went through the same thing. It’s so true though. It’s like,once you venture out a little farther, there’s all this space for so much less! And it really isn’t far from the city (that is, if you’re living in north or central Jersey anyway). How can you argue with that? I kinda’ feel like I’ll have that longing for the city once I do move (like you), especially when I see a bright and shiny new condo, but I’m sure I’ll get over that quickly when I realize they’re trying to sell a 700 sq. ft space for $300,000 or more. That might be worth it to some people, but not to me. Thanks so much Laura!

  5. Melissa says:

    That’s funny about the groceries! So…how do New Yorkers grocery shop? I imagine that since you can only buy what you can carry from the store to your home do you do frequent small trips?

    That’d be a good post! :)

    • Jillian says:

      Well, there’s usually this bar/gate that doesn’t allow you to bring carts past a certain point. So you have to carry them to your car or walk all the way home with them. We do the latter. The good thing is that Bob is really good with carrying multiple heavy grocery bags so we don’t normally have to shop throughout the week (I hate doing that!).

  6. magda says:

    There are a lot of towns in NJ with great downtowns with restaurants, concerts, parks, etc., and very near to NYC. Look at Rutherford, Montclair, Weehawken, etc. From some areas you can get to Manhattan in less than 20 min. Happy house hunting. :)

    • Jillian says:

      Montclair is beautiful! I loved it there, but we had ruled it out because the transportation wasn’t what we needed it to be (e.g. the train didn’t work at odd hours). We had also looked into Hoboken and Weehawken, but unfortunately the costs were a little too high. Rutherford is somewhere I haven’t looked into yet, so thank you!

  7. ashley says:

    Well honestly, you won’t be far from the city at all. 45 min on bus sounds like a good deal to me! Knowing you, you’ll teach the kids that key trick no matter where you live 😉

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