msv5010 wrote:Rutgers1L, do you mind sharing a little about your living situation? Are you happy with it?
Well I'm a non-trad student. So I'm not coming right out of undergrad and I haven't lived in a dorm since, well, most of you were probably in kindergarten. So that wasn't an option. I also had a lot more funds at my disposal for living expenses. That said, I originally was going to do Hoboken, but I thought it was just way to expensive. I could have stayed in NYC for those prices. I stay in downtown JC it's fine. No real complaints. If you get a roommate Hoboken is within the school's cost of living budget. I think the cost of living is set at ~$20-22,000. I have to agree with the assessment that Washington St. in Hoboken is not a good place to live (although people do). Although most apartments are not actually on Washington St. proper, they are on the cross streets or one or two streets off Washington, which makes for lots of loud nights, lots of distraction.
Jersey City is a good spot if you don't have a car. There's lots of places to live if you do have a car also. Downton JC/Exchange Place/Pavonia as it's known for PATH riders is the Jersey equivalent of NYC's downtown/WTC/Financial District. It's a very safe area, lots of bars, lots of hotels, lots of high rises. It can be very expensive, but it can also be pretty affordable if you are flexible. There's a lot of new construction, and also a lot of loft spaces (jclofts.com). The historic downtown/Grove st is a really nice area. It's very trendy, lots of food, night spots, bars, and whatever else you need. The area has some really great new construction and some older buildings (Liberty Harbor/Zenith Lofts, Gulls Cove,The Gotham, Grove Pointe). Those are all full service luxury spots and are on the high end. But there are also lots of brownstones (it's like a small version of Brooklyn) and those can be VERY affordable (mostly the Van Vorst Park area). If you have a roommate you can probably get a really good deal on a spot and get a lot more space than you would in other parts of JC. Also the Grove Path station is there and makes the commute pretty quick to Newark. Also in that area is a small area call "Paulus Hook", there have been some good deals on really nice apartments there . Again, it's a really safe neighborhood and it's easy to search craigslist and such for listings. Journal square in JC is not as nice as Grove or Downtown but is off a PATH line. It's probably one of those places you want to visit and pick an area first. It's more up and coming and there are some really good spots, but also some less desirable spots.
Close to Jersey City is Union, Weehawken, Jersey City Heights and those are all fine if you have a car. The commute from those areas I think may involve a bus to the PATH/NJ Transit, but they have affordable spots. Union is a largely spanish-speaking residents. That area offers a lot of Latino restaurants, stores, and things that I think makes it a popular spot. It's also close to a lot of stores, and main services.
As far as living around Newark I think Kearny and Harrison are decent spots. They are really close to the school, just right over the bridge. The one caveat is that although they're close you're not quite close enough to walk, and you may be too far from the PATH station to make that an option so you may live really close but still need a car. There is no PATH in Kearny and only one in Harrison.
Society Hill is very nice. I know a few people that live there. It's a popular spot for Rutgers, NJIT, Essex CCC and UMDNJ students as it's very close to all. It's about a mile walk from the school. But there is a light rail station about a block from Soc Hill that will take you about a block from the law school.
If you're a true suburbanite, and you don't want to deal with the city then look at West Orange, Bloomfield or Montclair. South Orange is a nice place, and mostly a college town (home of the parent Seton Hall University). West Orange/Montclair which border each other and are northwest of Newark just of I-280 and a quick 10 -15 min drive are very nice. You can probably rent a house and get a roommate and have a great space for really cheap. There are aslo NJ transit stops in those towns that will take you to Newark Penn Station and you can walk or take the light rail to the school from there. Bloomfield is easily accessible via light rail, but you may need a car to drive yourself to the closest lightrail and then just do the "park-n-ride" to Newark. But those are really nice suburbs close to school that are quiet, offer pretty much everything you need.
Other nice suburbs are Livingston/Maplewood. Maplewood I think is a little bit closer than Livingston, but there is a NJ train stop in those towns that goes to Newark Penn stat.
Newark--in my opinion is really expensive. At least in any part of Newark where you want to live. There are people that live in Newark obviously. There are a few high rises right in downtown Newark that I know of but have never seen up close (colleoni, eleven80rentals), and then of course there's lots of small single-family residences for rent, and lots of apartment being rented privately. Newark is just so unpredictable that it's hard to say for sure. I will say the close to the school the better, the further you venture the more likely you are to end up in a bad spot. And you will probably need a car if you live in Newark because there's not a lot near by in terms of stores and services.
There's lots of brokers that you can enlist to do your apartment search. Many apartments may have broker fees which can break the bank. So try and find a "no-fee" apartment, for those of you unfamiliar with how the rental search works in the NY/NJ area.
Although, I can't personally recommend any one company specifically, check these out to help with your search:
Like I said, the more flexible you are the better your chances of getting a good spot in a good area will be. If you plan to move into a studio or 1bd there's lots of affordable options. If you need a bigger place, or more amenities you'll have to pay more.