Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Moving Out

With apologies to Billy Joel:

Avraham works in the firm's top floor
Savin his pennies for YNJ
Ima Liora left a note on the door
She said "Avrumy move out of Bergen County"
Ah but working too hard can be a
A pain in the neck, eck, eck, eck, eck, eck
You ought-a know by now
Who needs a house out in Teaneck?
Is that all you get for your money?

And it seems such a waste of time
If that's what it's all about
Ima if that's movin up then I'm movin out...

In the comments of the previous post,  PayingParent noted he is moving out of Bergen County:
"We are actually making the choice to move to Long Island after witnessing the exorbitant costs of living in Bergen county. Comparing yeshiva bills for our 2 children, we'll be spending about $10,000 less per year by switching to HALB. That is in addition to the savings on transportation which is pretty much a necessity for 2 full time working parents. While I understand that transportation is free in Teaneck, the taxes are higher."

Anonymous then chipped in he was considering moving as well because:
"1) real estate taxes are lower in 5 towns than BC; 2) access to low cost college in NY State; 3) free bussing; 4) stronger and more orthodoxly diverse jewish community"

From my perspective, saving a few grand on real estate taxes isn't enough to warrant moving.  I just don't think it makes that much of a dent in the bottom line.  On the other hand, saving significant money every year on tuition may be a good reason to move - I'm just not sure if $10,000 a year is enough.  As ProfK pointed out, JFS is significantly cheaper.  Going from Bergen County schools to JFS for 4 kids can save around $20K-$30K per year.

For my wife and I who recently purchased a house and don't yet have kids, I would think selling the house and moving would be down near the bottom of the list of options.  So, for those considering moving how do you weigh the pros and cons?  Are factors other than just tuition/finances involved?

I'm also curious about what towns do or do not offer free busing to students as part of your taxes.


PayingParent said...

I don't think that moving is such a plausible option for those who already have a house in the BC community. With the housing market in its state, selling their home is not an option for most people. My husband and I are both young working professionals who have not bought a home yet (we've been renting in various locations for 5 years) and can therefore make the change with few repercussions. There are many of us in the "not yet 30" club in BC with children in the beginning stages of the yeshiva systems. When I've asked how people my age plan to afford to live here, they responded that they have either made the decision that "Daddy will pay for it" or "everyone else is on scholarship, so I can be too" or they teach. That attitude is not how I want to raise my family, so we opted to not raise them here (in BC). Being from NY, I had always thought of Teaneck as a more down to earth version of the 5 towns. I was seriously mistaken. So now we return to NY. It is certainly not perfect, but they seem to have made more strides in recognizing the problem and actually addressing it. For example, HANC has worked out a deal where they will allow new families from Oceanside a discount of $2,500/ yr PER CHILD for the first 3 years a family is associated with teh school. This helps Oceanside grow their young population and helps the young families afford tuitions when they are still undeveloped in their careers. Even though Oceanside itself does not have many of the Jewish community ammenties of the 5 towns, it is a 15 minute drive to the 5 towns kosher grocers. The funny thing is that from Teaneck you have a longer drive than that for affordable kosher groceries. The taxes start at around $8000 for a decently sized home. Transportation starting in kindergarten is FREE from the district- that is whether you send to HALB, HANC, Shulamis, etc. And on a personal note, there truly seems to be a lot less of "Keeping up with the Joneses".

Anonymous said...

We moved within the tri-state area with 5 kids, not for financial reasons but because we wanted a different type of community. One of the advantages of the new community was not just slightly lower tuition, but less economic competition in general. So it's not just tuition that's costing us less - it's camp, it's less peer pressure for gadgets, it's everything.

Re moving, it's true that real estate values are down in Bergen County, but they're down everywhere. If you're selling and buying, you can look at moving as an equal trade (excluding transaction costs, which I'll admit are substantial).

Honestly Frum said...

Paying Parent, I have lived in both BC and the 5 Towns and I think the keeping up in the 5 Towns is much worse than it is in BC, live there for a while and I think you will come to the same conclusion. RE taxes are generaly the same depending on town and size of house. As for tuition, they yeshivos get certai benefits from NYS that BC does not get, and at least in Bergenfield there is no bussing. You do have an advantage in the 5 Towns of having a great selection of Kosher grocery stores.

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

There is so much talk about the BC Jersey area. What about the Edison/Highland Park, West Orange, or Elizabeth areas? From Highland Park or Elizabeth, you'd be closer to JFS and RPRY (which I think is cheaper than most BC schools but not positive). I hear West Orange and Edison are modern communities that are pretty down to earth and diverse. What are your thoughts on those communities and costs/lifestyle?

Anonymous said...

Anon, I'll give you all the Bergen County arguments against these places. (Disclaimer: I'm not from Bergen County):

Edison/HP - "long commute to the city"
West Orange - "too modern"
Elizabeth - "too ugly" (this goes for Passaic too)

Tuition Talk said...


I chose Bergen County in the post simply because that's what previous commenters had mentioned. I don't live in Bergen County actually.

As for the areas you mentioned, I'll write what I know or have heard from reliable sources.

Edison and Highland Park are deemed too far from the city (note that I know least about these towns). Even with the express train you're talking about 45-50 minutes just for the train ride. I don't know if house prices or taxes are cheaper.

West Orange is definitely more modern and not as "frum" (in a pejorative sense, the way Teaneck seems to understand "frum"). On the other hand, it's a lot less judgmental and "keeping up." Big issue is property taxes though you do get more property for those taxes than a typical Bergen County house.

Elizabeth/Hillside - Most younger couples seem to be moving to the North Elizabeth/Hillside part of town as opposed to the older JEC side. I believe the main attraction for younger couples is the very cheap apartments (much cheaper than Teaneck from what I hear). Downsides are it's not a great neighborhood and crime is an issue. Not judgmental and definitely not a "keeping up" town, but very much to the right religiously.

Anonymous said...

TT, from what I know, Elizabeth/Hillside is not that right wing and the Jewish community is quite diverse, both religiously and socioeconomically.

Tuition Talk said...


I would say Elizabeth/Hillside is at least led by more RW rabbis. The people are not all like this, though there is more of a Yeshivish leaning. That said, it's a very tolerant community from what I hear - you won't be an outcast if your hashkafa or level of practice is different. As for finances, maybe it's just hard to tell because so many people there (at least on the northern side of town) are just starting out in their careers. I was always told the town skewed toward being less affluent at least as compared to Teaneck, etc.

Regardless, I believe this clustering only a select few communities hurts us. Especially when the reasons for doing so are largely imaginary. I mean we're talking about differences and distinctions on the order of a hair's breadth here.

Tuition Talk said...

Am I to understand from above that Teaneck offers free busing but Bergenfield does not? How much does busing cost? Is this cost made up by Bergenfield having lower property taxes?

$200k Chump said...

"Am I to understand from above that Teaneck offers free busing but Bergenfield does not? How much does busing cost? Is this cost made up by Bergenfield having lower property taxes?"

Yes. Teaneck offers bussing but Bergenfield does not. And yes, all else being equal, taxes are substantially lower in the frum areas of Bergenfield vs the frum areas of Teaneck (especially after Bergenfield's recently completed reevaluation).

Anonymous said...

If you don't think saving $10,000 per year is a lot, then you are quite fortunate.

As for issues about commuting time into the city, that is a real issue. Commutes can really wear on you, particularly as you get older. However, if you have a good train where you can get a seat and are good at using that time, it's not so bad. However, there are plenty of jobs to be had outside of the city if you are not a wall street lawyer or banker.

Anonymous said...

Just to update what PayingParent said in the beginning of this comment thread about HANC- the $2500 per year for three years deal is available to ALL new HANC families- not just those families from Oceanside...if you are new to HANC you are eligible for the deduction as far as I know...Also, HANC sent out a notice a few weeks ago saying they are freezing tuition rates for next year.

Anonymous said...

That $2500 deduction is also per child...Might I just say, with all the talk about the Five Towns- HANC's home base, West Hempstead, is just a 20 minute drive from 5T and about as down to earth of a community as they come...

Anonymous said...

HF - I think the keeping up in the 5 Towns is much worse than it is in BC

I had a close relative living in 5T a few years ago, and from what I saw and heard, I agree, 5T is worse than BC. In 5T, you have to keep up with the Cohens both in material goods and in frumkeit. At least in BC you only have to keep up with them in material goods!


Honestly Frum said...

Mark, years ago I chose to live in BC and drive to LI everyday b/c I refuse to raise my fam in LI.

Regararding taxes in Bergenfield, depends where you are. even after the re-eval much of Bergenfield is still as high as many places in Teaneck and we don't get busing.

Anonymous said...

HF - you have been away from LI for a while - Cedarhust re taxes are about 30% less than Teaneck - when i first moved to BC - the 5T were more expensive and much more stuck up - Now BC is more expensive and there really in zero difference between the snobbery one finds in the 5T and what is found is found in BC

however in NY you benefit from generous government help to schools, free bussing, $4,000 CUNY tuitions, lower re taxes and a more balanced and diverse frum environment - you can also make a wedding for less than $30,000 in the chasidish wedding halls and yeshiva tuition is less at certain places such as YCQ, JFS, all brooklyn yeshivas, HANC $2,500 discount. HALB on the other hand seems to have prices similar to YNJ.

Anonymous said...

To 11:34 pm

See Tuition Talk's previous post. HALB is significantly less than YNJ. Everything in Nassau County less than YNJ, except possibly HAFTR.

You might also note that I believe that the presence of a wide variety of schools in Nassau County (such as modern, centrist, yeshivish) I believe have the effect of keeping tuition moderately in check. If you're living in Nassau COunty and on the fence between a Modern & Centrist school, and one school has noticeably lower tuition, you might be inclined to go to that school even if it wasn't your first choice. Unfortunately, in Bergen County, you don't really have schools across the spectrum which has the effect of each one being more expensive than the next.

Also, if I had to guess looking forward, property taxes will remain lower in Nassau County than in Bergen County. In Nassau, there's a stronger & larger frum voting block to participate in the local school board elections and keep taxes as low as possible. In fact, the majority of the Lawrence school board is frum.

Anonymous said...

" In fact, the majority of the Lawrence school board is frum."

The can be a nightmare waiting to happen. (See what has happened in Monsey since the Frum took over the school board. One HUGE Chillul HaShem.)

Anonymous said...

to 7:17 am.

Your comment is akin to saying that it's the Jews fault that there is anti-semitism. Take away the Jews and there won't be any anti-semitism.

Of course it's possible that frum people can screw things up and make a chilul hashem. But that's an indictment of those individuals, NOT that frum people shouldn't participate in the political process. Quite the contrary, frum people should participate in the process to have the frum community's interests represented.

Honestly Frum said...

and a more balanced and diverse frum environment

Who says this is a plus? One of the reasons I like BC is because of the lack of charedi influence, unlike the 5 Towns where you can't get away from it.

Anonymous said...

To Honestly Frum:

You're 9:38 comment does not exactly reek of Ahavas Yisroel, which I believe is a modern orthodox value.

Believe in what you like, send your kids to the schools you like, but your comment is out of line.

Tuition Talk said...

"You might also note that I believe that the presence of a wide variety of schools in Nassau County (such as modern, centrist, yeshivish) I believe have the effect of keeping tuition moderately in check. If you're living in Nassau COunty and on the fence between a Modern & Centrist school, and one school has noticeably lower tuition, you might be inclined to go to that school even if it wasn't your first choice. Unfortunately, in Bergen County, you don't really have schools across the spectrum which has the effect of each one being more expensive than the next."

I don't understand this.

I would think (and I'm no economist) that if you have School A and School B and both have relatively the same hashkafa that the school that is cheaper will attract more students as opposed to School A and School B having different hashkafas where parents care about hashkafa, then the schools can charge as much as they want until the parents finally decide cost is more important than hashkafic differences.

Tuition Talk said...

"If you don't think saving $10,000 per year is a lot, then you are quite fortunate."

My point was more based on $10K, while a lot of money, is not enough for most people to decide that push has come to shove and relocate. If it was, you'd see a lot more people moving. People value their community, friends, kids' friends, restaurants, commuting times, and a myriad of other things more than the $10K.

My point is simply based on observations of others as well as my personal feeling that $10K wouldn't necessarily be enough for me to relocate (especially since I recently bought a house).

PayingParent said...

I am actually from the 5 Towns originally and I agree with Anonymous 11:34 PM. The 5 Towns has changed alot. Yes, there are still the JAPS, but frankly, they are no Jappier than many (not all)of the Teaneck folks that I've met. Cedarhurst has SIGNIFICANTLY lower taxes and you have many more schools to choose from that have lower prices. I think that part of BC's problem is that they have a high and mighty "Well, we're not the 5 Towns" attitude that absolves them of solving their very serious economic problems. I think that the 5 Towns has and is doing alot more to address the Yeshiva crisis as well as material matters. The first step to solving a problem is REALLY admitting you have one- not just playing a blame game. The 5 Towns has a lot of faults but has also come to grips with the fact that they need to do something about Yeshiva. HANC is giving he new family discount, There are 2 BUSES of kids going from the 5 Towns to YCQ with its $7,000 tuition. Rabbis are speaking more consistantly from the pulpit about donating to the yeshivas instead of to out of town kollels, spending more on charity than your pesach vacation, etc.
And as a side point- West Hempstead and Oceanside were the communities I was thinking of when I said that there was a lot less "Keeping up with the Joneses". All the conveniences of the 5 Towns, without the hooplah.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone from the five towns give a brief pros/cons of living in the five towns vs. Queens (KGH, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates)?

I guess my biggest concern about five towns is traveling to work in lower Westchester, and I know the Van Wyck can be really bad. I wouldn't feel comfortable moving to Westchester or Teaneck.


Lion of Zion said...

another 5T benefit is that you can go to YCQ.

regarding 5T vs. BC, all my BC friends are relatively happy with the schools (tuition is the biggest gripe). none of my 5T friends are happy with HALB. (i also haven't heard anything good about HANC.)

you do get what you pay for in life. it's just a matter of whether or not you really need it.

Anonymous said...

I guess it all depends on who you're friends are- I have friends that love both HALB and HANC. But let's be honest- every school has its detractors.

Anonymous said...

HF - if you moved to BC to get away from the chareidim - I have a news flash for you - MO in general and MO in BC in particular has no future


1) $17,000 a year elementary tuitions and $30,000 per year high school tuitions (compare to chareidim $1,000 to $6,000)

2) resulting in 0-2 children per family (compare to chareidim 6-12)

3) atleast 25% going off the derech in college - this is documented and i see it here in BC (despite headlines about chareidi dropouts - the numbers are much lower than MO and in any event the net frum kids from chareidi are much higher than MO)

I say this as a BC parent of children in MO schools who believes that the both MO and CHareidi have good and bad points

Lion of Zion said...

"atleast 25% going off the derech in college"

documented where?

Anonymous said...

The study is available at:

The study says 25% of those who self-identified as Orthodox "changed their denominational identity while in college".

Anonymous said...

i grew up modern orthodox and will never send my kids to yeshiva CHA CHING. i dont want my kids to end up like those modern orthodox people. didnt care for Oceanside - same story as 5 towns - wont give me 15 minutes of their time.