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10 Things to Know Before Moving to Montclair, NJ

10 Things to Know Before Moving to Montclair, NJ Written by Leigh Cooper

The French words meaning “clear mountain” inspired the name of Montclair, New Jersey, which is located just 13 miles from New York City. This is a highly walkable suburb that has been called “where the city meets the suburbs,” as well as “one of the coolest suburbs in America,” thanks to its excellent public schools, thriving arts and music scenes, tasty dining options, expansive parks (including the first countywide park system in the United States), and seemingly endless entertainment options. This suburb is also home to some of the nation’s most prestigious public institutions.

If you happen to be a resident of Montclair, you won’t have to go too far to experience the excitement of a new and exciting destination. For a town of its size (just under 40,000) and density of social relationships, Montclair certainly stands out from the crowd thanks to its access to urban conveniences.

Here are ten things to know before moving to Montclair, NJ!

1. John Speer’s house and the Morris Canal are significant parts of the city’s history

Montclair has a long and illustrious history, as evidenced by the town’s six historic districts, each containing a collection of impressive mansions with a wide range of architectural styles.

The Lenape people were the original inhabitants of the area. The house that John Speer constructed on the outskirts of town in the 1700s is still standing. In what would later become known as Speertown, further people established farms. Upon the 1831 completion of the Morris Canal, the town expanded rapidly and underwent a period of significant economic growth

New housing for train workers and passengers was in high demand once its construction began in 1856. In 1868, Montclair was officially recognized as a township, and the area around it continued to develop.

2. Montclair has a diverse and thriving job market

Whether you’re interested in a job in finance, the arts, education, or entrepreneurship, Montclair’s proximity to New York City and dynamic economy provide you with countless alternatives.

Companies including Google, New York University, Apple, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, American Express, Montclair State University, Johnson & Johnson, Goldman Sachs, Reuters, and NBC Universal all have offices in or around Montclair, NJ, and employ many locals.

3. A great magnet public school system

Montclair’s award-winning magnet public school system provides its pupils access to some of the best schools in the region. Parents should not worry that their children’s education, from kindergarten up through college, will be stunted by the small size of the town or the limited scope of the curriculum. The quality and prestige of Montclair’s educational resources are unmatched.

Some popular schools in the area include Hillside Elementary School, Charles H. Bullock Primary School, Nishuane Elementary School, Renaissance Middle School, and Montclair High School. 

Just to the north of Upper Montclair is Montclair State University, an excellent choice for high school grads interested in continuing their education. This is a fantastic opportunity for students who choose to live at home while attending college or for anybody thinking about making Montclair their new home. Whatever field of study you’re interested in — be it accounting, speech therapy, or the visual arts — Montclair State University has a program to help you get there.

4. Various restaurants that cater to unique tastes

There are several fantastic eateries in Montclair, many of which are independently owned and operated by chefs and businesspeople from the area. Whether farm-to-table, international, or traditional American fare, residents have plenty of options.

Raymond’s is a favorite for families because it is BYOB, has both indoor and outdoor seating, and serves delicious brunch. SLA is a trendy restaurant in the city’s upper west side that serves traditional Thai food from the north. In a chic indoor-outdoor setting, Faubourg, a contemporary French brasserie in the center of Montclair, serves French-inspired meals alongside rare wines, handcrafted cocktails, and local beers. De Novo is a family-friendly restaurant and bar in Montclair whose decor and menu are inspired by European taverns.

5. It’s easy to get around the city

Though many smaller communities lack an extensive public transportation network, Montclair is not one of them. It’s convenient for folks who drive, use public transportation, or enjoy long walks to get around Montclair. 

Those who live in Montclair and need to travel to New York City will appreciate the well-developed and easy-to-use public transportation system. The commute from any of the town’s six train stations to New York City’s Penn Station takes roughly 35 minutes. You can get to Port Authority in New York City via fast bus, and there are also park-and-ride lots on the outskirts of the city.

6. A thriving indigenous arts community

If you’re interested in the arts, Montclair is a great spot to explore. There are several places to see live performances of art in Montclair, including the Montclair Art Museum, the Kasser Theater at Montclair State University, the Montclair Operetta Company, the Wellmont Theatre, The Studio Playhouse, and the theater in Life Hall at Montclair State University.

Over 15,000 works of art from Indigenous peoples and American artists are displayed at the Montclair Art Museum, which also features a rotating schedule of special exhibitions and the Yard School of Art. Professional musicians, semi-professional musicians, and students from renowned academies make up the Montclair Orchestra, which often performs at the Wellmont Theatre.

7. Visit parks like the Edgemont Memorial

More than 20 public parks and over 175 acres of open space can be found throughout Montclair. Edgemont Memorial Park is a popular destination due to its enormous web-like playground with slides of many sizes and forms and its proximity to the world-famous World War I memorial designed by Charles Keck in 1924. 

Eagle Rock Reservation’s nature trails and pathways give breathtaking views of the New York City skyline, and Brookdale Park Dog Park provides a relaxing getaway for locals and their four-legged pals.

8. It’s really expensive to live in Montclair

Montclair’s cost of living index is a whopping 172.4, 72% higher than the national average. While utilities, transportation, and groceries all cost more than the national average, health services cost slightly less, at 99. 

However, the high cost of living is due in large part to the housing costs. The city’s median home price is $980,841, double the national average. Anyone considering moving to this area must prepare adequately for the high living costs.

9. The weather is great

Montclair has pleasant weather, with cold winters and mild, humid summers. With an average high of 74 degrees Fahrenheit in the warmest month of July and a low of 30 degrees Fahrenheit in the coldest month of January, the climate is quite temperate overall.

The spring season, which begins in March and continues through May, is a mild time of year. The hot weather runs from June through August, the summer season. From September to November, the temperature drops significantly, and from December to February, it is at its coldest.

10. Tax burdens are high

Montclair, and New Jersey, as a whole, are notorious for their high tax burdens. There is a sales tax of 6.6% and an income tax rate of between 1.4% and 8.97%.

When compared to other states, New Jersey’s tax burden is among the highest in the country, ranking in the top 5. The high tax rate can be attributed in part to the high expense of running the government.

Final Thoughts

Montclair has a lot going on for it; a diverse economy, a vibrant school system, many great restaurants, and a thriving arts community. On the other hand, it also has a high cost of living and high tax burdens.

Learn More About Living in Montclair, NJ

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