Monday, February 13, 2012

Affordable New York?

Hudi, on the "Times Change--do we?" posting asked a question about which were the affordable communities in the NYC area. Keep in mind that that is affordable relatively speaking to other areas in the City that are more expensive.

I'll throw this one out to my readers. Which community/communities would you suggest? Keep in mind the following when making your suggestions: 1)rental costs/costs to buy housing, 2)real estate taxes, 3)cost of commuting and type of transportation available, 3)cost of tuition in local elementary schools, 4)type of elementary schools available (coed, male, female), 5)high schools, if available, 6)if a high school is not available locally is there organized transport to such a high school(s), 7)types of shuls in community and full and complete charges for a year for a shul, 8)is there a kosher mikvah in the community, 9)is there a kosher butcher/bakery in the community or an alternative such as kosher departments in supermarkets in the community, 9)does the community play keeping up with the Joneses, so that community members may feel pressured to spend more than they really have in order to be "accepted,", 10)is the community "mixed" as to types of religious groups present or is one type dominant or the only type represented, 11)is the community a fairly new one, just establishing itself, is it fully established and thriving, is it older and needing a new influx of people to keep going.

If you think of anything else that should be included in the affordability factor, please say so. So let's hear it--what are the affordable communities in the NYC area.


leahle said...

Affordable and NY in one sentence is kind of funny. But isn't your area of SI one of those affordable places? How come no mention of it?

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, NJ. It has aesthetic drawbacks, but as a community there are many advantages, including a strong network of shuls and schools (with lower tuition than most areas), a short commute to NYC, and affordability.

Anonymous said...

I second the Elizabeth/Hillside community. Cheap apartments for young couples. Affordable housing for those who wish to stay with lower taxes. Community skews yeshivish but is welcoming of everyone. Schools are much cheaper than comparable yeshivas. Trains and buses to the city.

The tradeoff? Not the nicest city, but there are nice enclaves where the community lives.

Anonymous said...

I live in Stamford, CT. Taxes are lower (including income tax). There's a broad range of housing, including apts, townhouses, starter homes, mature homes, and luxury estates. Prices span the range accordingly. There's a brand new mikvah, kosher meat at Fairway and other grocer, and two kosher restaurants (Indian place and a nice meat sit-down), but no casual kosher dining in town. Commuting costs do seem a bit higher than from places about the same distance away (eg 5 Towns), but the commute itself is very convenient, with many trains express to Grand Central. The ride is about 45 minutes.

The community is definitely modern, with no real single-sex school options in the neighborhood. There's also no high school, but there's transportation to Westchester Day, SAR, and others. Schools are not especially inexpensive, and some are quite pricey.

There is no keeping up with the joneses, Simchas are significantly less expensive, as are wardrobes and cars. Overall, it's a live-and-let-live kind of community that is very warm, and doesn't feel like a NY-area community. I wouldn't say it's a cheap place to live, but it is a bit more affordable and with a high quality of life.

efrex said...

Way too vague a question ("affordability" is much too relative a term), but I'll throw out a bone for my beloved Washington Heights, especially outside the "shtetl corridor" marked by Bennett Avenue, Ft. Washington Ave, and 181st Street. Housing costs are lower than many other NYC locations (although still far from any rational definition of affordable), with large 2- and 3-bedroom apartments that can be creatively organized to house families (my parents raised 3 kids in a 2-bedroom apartment for 20 years; we're doing the same right now with our brood). Excellent mass transit means you don't need a car to get to work in the city. Education options include Breuer's (perhaps a bit too right-wing for some, but in my opinion just fine at the pre-school and elementary school levels), and with MTA and YU right up the block, you can have a walking commute to school from pre-school through college, if that appeals. Large number of minyanim, mikvah, and eruv. Diverse community, with a mixture of old-timers and a large influx of young singles/couples/families. Large kosher food selection at local supermarkets and a local kosher bakery. Religious diversity: from black-hat yeshivish to left-wing academic MO and egalitarian Conservative.

Family membership at Mt. Sinai (the most popular MO shul) is $720/year, and $350/year at the Washington Heights Congregation (aka the "Bridge Shul").

Generally laid-back community, with little "keeping up with the Schwartzes" between the haves and have-nots.

Downsides: if you're insistent on a house with a backyard, there's not much here for you (one of the few single and double-family houses in the neighborhood goes on the market about once a decade and at ludicrous prices), the young community is still in transition mode, with many people staying for only a few years before moving on to one of the Holy Lands (Jerusalem or Teaneck, depending on your outlook), and there is a some tension (most of it more perceived than real) between the old-time Breuer's kehilla and the modern crowd. Also, if you must have a car, parking costs (in time and money) can be a significant factor.

ProfK said...

Yes, Efrex, you are correct that affordability is somewhat vague and depends on many factors, some of which I mentioned in asking you all to come up with affordable communities. I should also have added that where you work in our area can affect the affordability of where you live.

Leahle, yes, Willowbrook and other of the Staten Island communities are affordable relative to many of the other large communities in the City. Rental prices and home buying are cheaper here than in most of the rest of the area, plus you are getting more for your money since lot sizes are bigger. Our elementary school costs for tuition are definitely cheaper and more "affordable." We have a couple of boys high schools in the area but the girls all commute for high school, some with bus service from various high schools and some by public transportation.

Transportation is a different matter. The reality is that you have to have a car if you live here. And you might need to take that car to get to public transportation. And by public transportation we are talking about local busses--plural--to get to the ferry or express busses to the City, which are way more costly than the subway is. And then there are the various bridge tolls. Of course, these higher costs are offset and then some by the lower tuition costs and by the lower cost of living in general.

The community has a diverse population frumkeit wise and everyone is welcome and gets along with each other.

So yes, Willowbrook is an affordable community depending on what your needs are.

Mark said...

* Far Rockaway, not sure how affordable anymore, but still must be quite a bit less than the nearby 5-Towns.

* Aberdeen, NJ, a tiny community, but within commuting distance to NYC and several schools.

* Staten Island, still affordable, has an affordable elementary school, low NYC property tax, within commuting distance to the city.

* Areas around Monsey, some of them are likely still somewhat affordable, especially if you are willing to live more than a 10 minute walk to shul.

Chavah said...

Long Beach is a great place to live. It has a direct LIRR line into NYC, variety of housing, including some very affordable rentals if you don't want to live right at the beach, houses in a variety of price ranges including 2- family homes, an eruv, mikvah, kosher bakery and newly kosher bagel place ( and also restaurants in 5towns 15 minutes away), the local groceries carry kosher products, and several shuls plus a mesivta and HALB. The orthodox community is diverse, ranging from old-school modern through yeshivahish. It is a wonderful, friendly place to live. Come Visit and see!