Living in New Jersey during Biglaw Forum

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Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 05, 2022 12:34 pm

Hi all,

I'm going to be a first year associate at a firm in New York next year (Hudson Yards). Basically, I want to pay off my student loan ASAP, and the lower NJ taxes and rent would make that possible. Does anyone have any experience commuting from NJ to NYC? Also, some people I've been talking to say that I will be missing out on the "experience" of NYC, but will I really even have time for "experience" as a first year?

Thanks.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 05, 2022 12:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jun 05, 2022 12:34 pm
Hi all,

I'm going to be a first year associate at a firm in New York next year (Hudson Yards). Basically, I want to pay off my student loan ASAP, and the lower NJ taxes and rent would make that possible. Does anyone have any experience commuting from NJ to NYC? Also, some people I've been talking to say that I will be missing out on the "experience" of NYC, but will I really even have time for "experience" as a first year?

Thanks.
What's the remote work policy of the firm? Before COVID, living in New Jersey could be a big pain for associates because the time spent commuting added hours to an already insane work-day. There also used to be situations where you'd have to be available in the office outside of normal work hours so that some task could be accomplished (for example, on a weeknight waiting until a partner finishes reviewing something before you can then coordinate the final steps of a filing that that has to be done by midnight, etc.) and people who lived nearby could just go home and come back whenever that needed to be addressed, but people with long commutes had to stick around the office. But firms are much more remote-friendly now.

Biglaw is a really intense job and unless you really make an effort to "experience" NYC, you will likely just be entirely consumed by your work.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 05, 2022 1:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jun 05, 2022 12:50 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jun 05, 2022 12:34 pm
Hi all,

I'm going to be a first year associate at a firm in New York next year (Hudson Yards). Basically, I want to pay off my student loan ASAP, and the lower NJ taxes and rent would make that possible. Does anyone have any experience commuting from NJ to NYC? Also, some people I've been talking to say that I will be missing out on the "experience" of NYC, but will I really even have time for "experience" as a first year?

Thanks.
What's the remote work policy of the firm? Before COVID, living in New Jersey could be a big pain for associates because the time spent commuting added hours to an already insane work-day. There also used to be situations where you'd have to be available in the office outside of normal work hours so that some task could be accomplished (for example, on a weeknight waiting until a partner finishes reviewing something before you can then coordinate the final steps of a filing that that has to be done by midnight, etc.) and people who lived nearby could just go home and come back whenever that needed to be addressed, but people with long commutes had to stick around the office. But firms are much more remote-friendly now.

Biglaw is a really intense job and unless you really make an effort to "experience" NYC, you will likely just be entirely consumed by your work.
Ah ok. It looks possible on google maps, but I was definitely wondering whether it would work in reality.

Edit: remote policy is "back to normal" unfortunately. :|

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by jotarokujo » Sun Jun 05, 2022 2:25 pm

you'll likely have time to experience nyc, but the question is do you want to? if no then living in NYC is a mistake imo

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 05, 2022 2:32 pm

jotarokujo wrote:
Sun Jun 05, 2022 2:25 pm
you'll likely have time to experience nyc, but the question is do you want to? if no then living in NYC is a mistake imo
Unfortunately it's a bit too late to change course, at least for a year or two. *shrug*

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1styearlateral

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by 1styearlateral » Mon Jun 06, 2022 12:21 am

Plenty of lawyers live in NJ and work in the city. Take the train, path, bus, or a combination of the three.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 06, 2022 12:52 am

I’ve lived in Jersey City since I was a mid-level but lived in Queens/Brooklyn before that. I would say that NJ is tougher early career when you have less control over your schedule. Since salary is lower at that point, the tax savings are not going to be worth the trade off. Also, it may not work for you if you enjoy having company or are dating as most people do not want to go over the river (great if you don’t enjoy hosting, though). On the balance, if you really have to go in every day I think you’d have an easier time living in NYC, for logistics. If it’s more like 2-3 days, it’s a closer call - if you have a very active social life (i.e. getting drinks or dinner with others 4-5 nights a week) then NYC still makes more sense.

FWIW, it’s been worthwhile having moved later on - tax savings are more significant and better housing for the money. Coming in only 2-3 days a week and having enough control over hours to leave before trains get more spaced out after 9:45 made it much easier to decide to stay. It’s actually really nice in JC, if you don’t mind the stigma.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 06, 2022 8:51 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jun 05, 2022 12:50 pm
What's the remote work policy of the firm? Before COVID, living in New Jersey could be a big pain for associates because the time spent commuting added hours to an already insane work-day. There also used to be situations where you'd have to be available in the office outside of normal work hours so that some task could be accomplished (for example, on a weeknight waiting until a partner finishes reviewing something before you can then coordinate the final steps of a filing that that has to be done by midnight, etc.) and people who lived nearby could just go home and come back whenever that needed to be addressed, but people with long commutes had to stick around the office. But firms are much more remote-friendly now.

Biglaw is a really intense job and unless you really make an effort to "experience" NYC, you will likely just be entirely consumed by your work.
I don't live in NYC, but know a few who have lived in Jersey while in NYC biglaw. It's doable.

If you're in one of the above above situations, the firm will pay for a cab home. Sure, a 5 minute walk home is going to be better, but lots of people live further away. With a cab, the commute from Hudson yards to Hoboken could be quicker than the commute to somewhere else like the upper east side. Plus, there are plenty of ferries from Jersey to Hudson yards. If you live from within walking distance of one of those the daily commute doesn't look to be that bad.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 06, 2022 8:55 am

If hudson yards, you can take the path from hoboken/jersey city, or the ferry from weehawken. You can take the bus from anywhere along the river (west new york, guttenberg, edgewater, etc), but the walk might be longer. Definitely doable, and saves you city tax and rent, and arguably the cost of living is slightly cheaper, although once you are outside of hoboken/jc you really need a car which adds up the cost.

And like one of the posters mentioned above, when you work late you take the cab home (which unfortunately happens a lot) so it’s not a big deal.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 06, 2022 11:25 am

Associate who lives in NJ and works at Hudson Yards checking in. Very possible, there are real trade-offs ($$$ vs. social stuff) but yes, you'd be fine.

Some things you don't address: where in NJ? If you're in Hoboken or downtown Jersey City (or a few other places along the Hudson) this is very easy. NY Waterway Ferry will take you to 39th street terminal, which is a 10 minute walk to HY. I commute this way and it's very pleasant. Last ferries leave around 7ish, but if you're working after that you'll take a car home on the firm any way. There are good restaurants and some nightlife in both cities, but obviously will pale compared to the city.

If you're not by the river (Journal Square part of JC, Harrison, etc.) you can in theory take the PATH, but it'll be annoying to get to Hudson Yards. Closest PATH stop is 33rd st and 6th ave, and then you're looking at a 20+ minute walk, or a decent length busride. That plus the long train ride is too much in my mind but YMMV.

If you're further out than that you're looking at NJ Transit. That takes you into Penn Station, which is a much better walk to Hudson Yards than the PATH station (~10 min and you can cut through Moynihan so it is indoors to 9th Ave if it happens to be raining). At this point you're full-on living the suburbs life. Not what I'd want as a first year but if you have kids or something maybe that is what you're looking for.


Trade-offs are what you mentioned: it's cheaper and city tax is real money (3.8%) on a biglaw salary. I spent my first couple of years in the city, and moving across the river meant doubling my space for the same effective cost (netting out increased rent for the bigger space against the tax savings). But there is definitely less nightlife. Going out for drinks with coworkers is a pain in the butt because you'll always be plotting how to get home. Same for firm events. Less to do on weekends. Forget about doing anything in Brooklyn unless you want a very expensive uber ride or a long and switch-filled public transit ride. And if you're single dating will be harder: people will not want to head to NJ to hang out with you. Depending on where you live (anywhere other than close to the river) you might need a car, which will eat up some of your tax savings.

Up to you if the tradeoffs are worth it. But it is very doable.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by nealric » Tue Jun 07, 2022 11:58 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 06, 2022 8:51 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jun 05, 2022 12:50 pm
What's the remote work policy of the firm? Before COVID, living in New Jersey could be a big pain for associates because the time spent commuting added hours to an already insane work-day. There also used to be situations where you'd have to be available in the office outside of normal work hours so that some task could be accomplished (for example, on a weeknight waiting until a partner finishes reviewing something before you can then coordinate the final steps of a filing that that has to be done by midnight, etc.) and people who lived nearby could just go home and come back whenever that needed to be addressed, but people with long commutes had to stick around the office. But firms are much more remote-friendly now.

Biglaw is a really intense job and unless you really make an effort to "experience" NYC, you will likely just be entirely consumed by your work.
I don't live in NYC, but know a few who have lived in Jersey while in NYC biglaw. It's doable.

If you're in one of the above above situations, the firm will pay for a cab home. Sure, a 5 minute walk home is going to be better, but lots of people live further away. With a cab, the commute from Hudson yards to Hoboken could be quicker than the commute to somewhere else like the upper east side. Plus, there are plenty of ferries from Jersey to Hudson yards. If you live from within walking distance of one of those the daily commute doesn't look to be that bad.
YMMV, but my old firm did car service within NYC (ex Staten Island), but would not pay for a cab to NJ. The NJ commute isn't too bad during regular commuting hours, but could be a pain if you are stuck working very late. Wouldn't be worth the small tax savings to me personally. I'd only do it if you have some specific reason (like you are from New Jersey and have lots of friends there).

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by ConfusedNYer » Tue Jun 07, 2022 2:36 pm

I'm going to second a lot of the feedback above. I know plenty of associates who live in Jersey but they tend to be midlevels/seniors who are a little more settled, have (or are starting familes) and want a more space, etc.

I personally think that making the effort to maintain social networks and enjoy the city as a junior can really help you maintain your sanity, and going into this job with an attitude of "this will consume my life" ends up as a self-fulfilling prophecy. I also strongly ascribe to the view that paying additional costs up front (rent, taxes, socializing) pays off long term if it means you can survive big law even one or two extra years, both in terms of banking some $$ and opening up doors to better exit options.

That being said:
1) The benefits are at the margin. If you're kind of miserable then access to friends and fun can help you survive that extra year or two, but if you're crushed day one or despise the work then it probably won't help much. Unfortunately predicting what situation you're going to end up in beforehand is pretty difficult/impossible.
2) The things that make biglaw manageable can be very personal. If you're someone who wants access to getting out of the hustle of the city on weekends more easily, already has a family that will take up more space, or benefits mentally from a significant geographic barrier between work and home then NJ might actually help you survive longer.
3) If you already plan to leave NY after a short time (e.g., Lateral to a different market after two years or something) then the increased savings might be worth it since "surviving" will be less important.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by jsnow212 » Tue Jun 07, 2022 3:08 pm

The NJ v. NY taxes won't make a huge difference early career, imo.

Rent will.Is it possible to seek out housing in an outerboro near a subway stop and/or get involved in a roommate situation to save money? That is perhaps a more enticing alternative if money is the key consideration for you.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jun 07, 2022 3:26 pm

jsnow212 wrote:
Tue Jun 07, 2022 3:08 pm
The NJ v. NY taxes won't make a huge difference early career, imo.

Rent will.Is it possible to seek out housing in an outerboro near a subway stop and/or get involved in a roommate situation to save money? That is perhaps a more enticing alternative if money is the key consideration for you.
You're right that rent is a huge factor, but wrong that NY taxes won't make a huge difference early career for three reasons. First, the difference for a first year comes out to about $10k. That's less important for a senior, but far more important for a junior with a lower salary and probably bigger loan balances to pay down. That $10k can save you a lot in interest. Second, saving early is key to financial security. An extra $10k each year for your first 2-3 years can have a noticeable impact on savings for a house/retirement. And third, if all else fails, you can use that extra $ to buy a Rolex like any good north Jersey resident would do with winning scratch-off and make all your fellow first years jealous.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by jsnow212 » Wed Jun 08, 2022 10:46 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jun 07, 2022 3:26 pm
jsnow212 wrote:
Tue Jun 07, 2022 3:08 pm
The NJ v. NY taxes won't make a huge difference early career, imo.

Rent will.Is it possible to seek out housing in an outerboro near a subway stop and/or get involved in a roommate situation to save money? That is perhaps a more enticing alternative if money is the key consideration for you.
You're right that rent is a huge factor, but wrong that NY taxes won't make a huge difference early career for three reasons. First, the difference for a first year comes out to about $10k. That's less important for a senior, but far more important for a junior with a lower salary and probably bigger loan balances to pay down. That $10k can save you a lot in interest. Second, saving early is key to financial security. An extra $10k each year for your first 2-3 years can have a noticeable impact on savings for a house/retirement. And third, if all else fails, you can use that extra $ to buy a Rolex like any good north Jersey resident would do with winning scratch-off and make all your fellow first years jealous.
Math isn't your strong suit, g.

1. No. 10k amortizing loan at 7% interest paid back early will save you less than 4000 in interest over 10 freaking years. You're accepting an hour long commute, while working 60-80 hour weeks, to save...checks notes....$33/month or...checks notes...to save $1/day. This is like saying not going to Starbucks will make you rich.

2. No it won't. You'll have 30k-40k more by the end of you 3rd year. In no world for purposes of someone who is in biglaw is that the difference between financial security and no financial security.

3. This is probably your most reasonable argument. But, it's pretty stupid to accept 1hr+ commute to have more money to buy an entry-level Rolex.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jun 08, 2022 11:25 am

jsnow212 wrote:
Wed Jun 08, 2022 10:46 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jun 07, 2022 3:26 pm
jsnow212 wrote:
Tue Jun 07, 2022 3:08 pm
The NJ v. NY taxes won't make a huge difference early career, imo.

Rent will.Is it possible to seek out housing in an outerboro near a subway stop and/or get involved in a roommate situation to save money? That is perhaps a more enticing alternative if money is the key consideration for you.
You're right that rent is a huge factor, but wrong that NY taxes won't make a huge difference early career for three reasons. First, the difference for a first year comes out to about $10k. That's less important for a senior, but far more important for a junior with a lower salary and probably bigger loan balances to pay down. That $10k can save you a lot in interest. Second, saving early is key to financial security. An extra $10k each year for your first 2-3 years can have a noticeable impact on savings for a house/retirement. And third, if all else fails, you can use that extra $ to buy a Rolex like any good north Jersey resident would do with winning scratch-off and make all your fellow first years jealous.
Math isn't your strong suit, g.

1. No. 10k amortizing loan at 7% interest paid back early will save you less than 4000 in interest over 10 freaking years. You're accepting an hour long commute, while working 60-80 hour weeks, to save...checks notes....$33/month or...checks notes...to save $1/day. This is like saying not going to Starbucks will make you rich.

2. No it won't. You'll have 30k-40k more by the end of you 3rd year. In no world for purposes of someone who is in biglaw is that the difference between financial security and no financial security.

3. This is probably your most reasonable argument. But, it's pretty stupid to accept 1hr+ commute to have more money to buy an entry-level Rolex.
You're coming at this from the perspective of someone who is presumably going to continue making good money, as opposed to OP who seems like they might want a quicker exit. It's also laughable to think that 30k-40k isn't a big amount of money. Take that with market growth until you're 65 (remember, saving $$$ early gives you more time in the market) and you are talking about a big difference. But maybe your math skills don't include the time value of money.

TL;DR: you might think this is small potatoes, but you're wrong to think that's the only answer.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jun 08, 2022 12:53 pm

Ferry from Hoboken/Weehawken to Hudson Yards is under 30 mins all in. Very workable.

I did Jersey City to FiDi for a couple of years and it was 25 minutes from my home office to my office.

Use the tax savings to go on a couple of nice vacations a year.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jun 08, 2022 3:10 pm

I’ll be a first year. Going to be commuting from a Jersey burb to Midtown this fall. Main reasons I’m doing it are because of proximity to my wife’s job and much cheaper rent. How bad will the commute be? The town I’m living in has a direct NJ transit train to NY Penn, and the place I’m living is a two minute walk to the train station. Train ride will be 35-40 minutes.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jun 08, 2022 7:25 pm

On a similar note, what are thoughts on living in LIC if office is located in midtown east?

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by kaiser » Thu Jun 09, 2022 12:54 pm

I used to live in Weehawken, NJ during the last 2 years of my tenure in biglaw and it was super convenient. It was 1 bus stop to Port Authority, where I could either walk or catch the subway to my firm. The whole commute took around 35 minutes each way. I previously lived in Hoboken, which was the same route, but just further along the bus route. So it was more like 45 minutes each way.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 09, 2022 3:09 pm

kaiser wrote:
Thu Jun 09, 2022 12:54 pm
I used to live in Weehawken, NJ during the last 2 years of my tenure in biglaw and it was super convenient. It was 1 bus stop to Port Authority, where I could either walk or catch the subway to my firm. The whole commute took around 35 minutes each way. I previously lived in Hoboken, which was the same route, but just further along the bus route. So it was more like 45 minutes each way.
Seconding the Weehawken recommendation in terms of a quick/easy commute. Currently a biglaw senior associate in midtown and my commute takes just about 30 min. door to door (one stop on bus to Port Authority, as mentioned). Ferry is another option from Weehawken waterfront. I also lived in Jersey City previously, which was about 40 min to midtown via PATH and subway, but if your office was in FiDi or right near the 33rd St. PATH line, likely even shorter for the commute. JC/Hoboken definitely have a ton more going on in terms of bars/restaurants, but it's also like a 10 min. drive down to Hoboken from Weehawken, so definitely doable Uber-wise on weekends. Was originally commuting from Brooklyn during my first few years to the same location in midtown and while I loved the neighborhood, the commute on the F train, was honestly much worse and less predictable than either NJ commute.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by Dahl » Fri Jun 10, 2022 11:15 am

I loved living in Jersey City. The only downside was the Path could be difficult on weekends, but I assume firms are fine with people working from home on weekends these days. You also get some sort of renters credit tax refund, or at least I did when I lived there.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jun 10, 2022 11:36 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jun 08, 2022 7:25 pm
On a similar note, what are thoughts on living in LIC if office is located in midtown east?
my firm is in midtown east and there are quite a few associates who live in LIC. not the most lively part of town but it is convenient.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jun 11, 2022 10:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 06, 2022 12:52 am
(i.e. getting drinks or dinner with others 4-5 nights a week)
I am beginning to understand why so many BL lawyers are not good at saving.

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Re: Living in New Jersey during Biglaw

Post by LBJ's Hair » Sun Jun 12, 2022 2:28 pm

the problem with living in New Jersey is...you're living in New Jersey /s

more serious answer - I would think the biggest issue isn't really daily commute in (you can get it under 30 min), but more inability to do spontaneous evening social stuff in the city?

like it's gonna be a pain in the ass getting home at 9 or 10pm after a dinner etc.

also if you are single, dating in Manhattan/Brooklyn>>>>>>NJ. I don't think that's really debatable

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