There is a lot of NJ that is right next to Manhattan, and has some solid lifestyle benefits. But choosing where to live can be disorienting if everyone you know lives in NYC. Neighborhoods in NJ don’t necessarily have the fame of say the West Village or Lower East Side. So I’m going to narrow down your choices to train stops that are less than 12 minutes to Manhattan.
What train is this, do you ask…
The PATH Train – Getting in and out of Jersey
It’s possible you’ve lived in NYC for some time and not heard of the PATH train. Compared to the subway, or NJ transit, it covers a considerably tiny patch of New Jersey, adjacent to lower Manhattan. There are essentially two lines; one going to Hoboken, and one going to Newark or Journal Square. Then there are two destinations in Manhattan, 33rd Street, making stops up 6th Avenue, and the World Trade Center (WTC). Admittedly not all NJ stations to all Manhattan stations are less than 12 minutes, but all stops besides Newark and Harrison can get to somewhere in Manhattan in less than 12 minutes.
Whether the PATH train is right for you is therefore dependent on this somewhere in lower Manhattan being the somewhere you want to go. If you work downtown, or within walking distance of 6th Avenue below 33rd Street, the PATH is perfect. Your commute is $2.75 each way, just like the subway. However if you need to commute beyond lower Manhattan, you will need to factor in additional subway fares, as the PATH isn’t included in an unlimited subway card. But with the rise of permanent telecommuting, maybe you’re not even buying your previously regular monthly unlimited card.
That sounds great, but how often does the PATH train run?
The PATH trains come as frequently as the subway between about 6am and 10.30pm on weekdays. Between 10.30pm and 6am on all days, trains run about every 40 minutes. On weekend days, things get more complicated. Trains come about every 20 minutes, except from Hoboken, where they still come about every 10 minutes. Trains from Journal Square to 33rd Street also go via Hoboken, which adds about 5 minutes to the journey. Weekend trips take a little extra planning, but this is really the biggest “con” to living on the PATH.
So let’s get to know the neighborhoods around these PATH train stations…
Moving to Hoboken
In Hoboken, Sinatra Drive runs along the Hudson River and has an amazing view of the whole Manhattan skyline. There are also several parks along the waterfront with some pretty excellent playgrounds (Pier C is especially fun for the ankle bitters!)
On leaving Hoboken station there are hip restaurants and bars in every direction, with Washington Street having the most numerous offerings. The vibe of Hoboken noticeably skews toward the recently graduated / twenty-somethings. Sports bars, beer pong and DJ’s are plentiful, with enough bars for a complete bar-hopping night in Hoboken alone. However it’s also just generally a cute, large downtown area, with a lot of retail options for everyone.
Rent in Hoboken is less than many areas of Manhattan but not cheap, with the average rent being $2175 for a 1 bedroom and $2750 for a 2 bedroom apartment.
Living around Newport / Exchange Place
The stunning Hudson River waterfront continues down to Newport and Exchange Place. These are both geographically small areas, right next to the water, featuring high-rise apartment and office buildings, and manicured gardens. Newport also has a large suburban feeling mall, as incongruous as that may seem.
The average rent in “The Waterfront, Jersey City”, which includes both areas is $2585 for a 1 bedroom and $3498 for a 2 bedroom, but it does cater to the luxury market.
Moving to Grove Street
The Grove Street station is in the heart of Historic Downtown Jersey City. Grove Street has a large pedestrian mall filled with a range of restaurants and bars, which continue in the surrounding area. The vibe skews older than Hoboken, and behind Grove Street you can find streets of brownstones with a family feel, that could make you think you are in Brooklyn.
Just south of downtown is Liberty State Park, an enormous park with views of downtown Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. There’s a large BBQ area, and the waterfront walk continues all the way to the bird sanctuary of Caven Point. Walking along the raised footpath in Caven Point feels so far away from anything urban, it’s just you and the birds.
Average rent in Historic Downtown JC is $1975 for a 1 bedroom and $2500 for a 2 bedroom.
Living in Journal Square
From the Journal Square station, multiple different neighborhoods are within walking distance. To the North-West is India Square, filled with Asian Indian restaurants and stores. To the east is “Little Manila” which is less geographically defined than India Square, beginning with Jollibee Chicken in the PATH station itself, and with several Philippine bakeries, restaurants and stores along Newark Avenue.
Around the PATH station are several high rise luxury buildings, but just a little further from the station are a lot of reasonably priced options. The area also has some unique places to visit including Loew’s Theatre, a movie palace from 1929, in which a volunteer organization continues to screen films, and the Mana Contemporary, a home for many working artists and impressive contemporary art exhibitions.
Average rent in Journal Square is $1,495 for a 1 bedroom and $1,695 for a 2 bedroom, which is a pretty great deal.
Is it worth the move to New Jersey?
Living in New Jersey comes with some stigma (I’ve heard of people using their work address for dating profiles!) and when your Aussie friends and family come over, you won’t be surrounded by New York clichés for them. However living anywhere on the PATH means you are near Newark airport, so they can fly in to you easily, and being so close to an airport is super convenient generally (when we all start flying again!)
These neighborhood descriptions are brief, there’s so much more to each than listed here. But it gives you an idea of where to start looking for a short commute to the city, and what you are looking for in your immediate neighborhood.