When last year’s New Jersey's Best Towns for Families list came out, we were inundated by flabbergasted, outraged Hoboken parents upset that their family-friendly hometown appeared at the very bottom of the list. How could Hoboken possibly rank lower than cities with safety issues like Camden or Newark, you asked? Especially when the one-square-mile town is jam-packed with a stroller brigade that rivals Manhattan’s Upper West Side?
Here’s how: Our New Jersey's Best Towns for Families list is based on the quality of important basic amenities—things like good schools, a low crime rate and a decent cost of living. Although amazing in many other ways, Hoboken does not fare well when evaluated through that lens: Average home prices are pretty steep, the crime rate is high (it’s a city, after all) and unfortunately, the public school ratings are dismal.
Combine all of those things, and you understand why Hoboken ended up at the very bottom of our list… again.
But these realities don’t mean you should necessarily cross Hoboken off your list, especially if you can afford to make up for some of the city’s shortcomings yourself.
Mom-of-two Colleen Zehnder was looking for a home with an urban feel when they moved to Hoboken more than a year ago from Arlington, VA. (They needed a spot in NJ that would work for her husband’s Newark-based job.) And she hasn’t once regretted her decision—citing great play areas, a loving community filled with supportive parents and a slew of activities and preschools to keep her toddlers busy. It feels like a much smaller town than it is, says Zehnder. “I’ve been here just over a year and I feel like I know so many people,” she says. “Our building has a courtyard where they have kids’ events every week in the summer. It’s like that all over the city.”
Hoboken’s walkability is also a big plus, something you don’t get in many of the further-out ‘burbs: “I go to the grocery store literally across the street,” she says. “My stroller is my car. I can walk to playgrounds and music classes with my kids. Everything is within stroller distance.” Hoboken is also ideal for parents who work in the city and don’t want a long commute (it’s 14 minutes on the PATH into 33rd Street in Manhattan, or 10 minutes on the PATH to the World Trade Center stop) and for stay-at-home-parents who want to get out during the day without fighting for a parking spot.
While the quality of public schools is certainly on her mind, Zehnder is encouraged by the fact that Hoboken is now offering full-day preschool for ages three and up. And the perks of living so close to NYC outweigh the negatives, so she sees herself staying put for the foreseeable future. “I’ve run into so many people who say, ‘We were supposed to move five years ago and we’re still here.’ It’s a hard place to leave.”
More of New Jersey's Best Towns for Families 2016
2016 Winner: New Jersey's Best Towns for Families
The Full 2016 List: New Jersey's Best Towns for Families
Best NYC Commuter Towns for Families in NJ
Most Diverse Towns for Families in NJ
Most Affordable Towns for Families in NJ
Safest Towns for Families in NJ
Towns With the Best School Districts in NJ
Best Somerset County Town: Montgomery Twp
Best Morris County Town: Boonton
Best Union County Town: New Providence
Best Essex County Town: Essex Fells
Best Large Towns in NJ
Best Mid-Size Towns in NJ
Best Small Towns in NJ
Methodology for New Jersey's Best Towns for Families