Living In Maplewood

From Brooklyn to Maplewood with Jersey

Rebecca works in a Brooklyn-based consulting firm and Dave is a freelance musician. They were living in an apartment in the Kensington section of Brooklyn with their dog, Jersey, for 7 years. In February 2019, they moved to Maplewood and into their first house. 

Why Maplewood? 

After years of renting, Dave and I decided we needed more space. We looked at towns that were on the train line, relatively close and affordable, which ruled out most New York suburbs. I grew up in Edison, NJ and, in my mind, all New Jersey towns were like that – kind of bland suburbia. I know it seems crazy, but I didn’t even know New Jersey had cute, fun towns like Maplewood.  

What’s your favorite thing about living here?

I love walking Jersey around town, with all the trees and greenery. (Coincidentally, we named our dog Jersey long before we ever moved here.) I now work from home four days a week, and there’s a coffee shop that I can walk to from my house, which I love. We both love Maplewood’s downtown, and it’s been easy to become a part of the community. I joined the planning committee for our block party, which was a great experience. We didn’t have anything like that where we lived in Brooklyn.

Any challenges you care to share?

As first-time buyers, we knew very little about the process of buying a house. When you have no clue what you’re doing, it can feel like you’re constantly jumping through hoops. Lina was this extremely knowledgeable presence, guiding us every step of the way. She kept us on our deadlines. She knew what to do when, who to hire for what. She is frank and direct and completely no BS, which we both really appreciated. If not for her, we would have thrown up our hands. 

What’s turned out better than you expected? 

I didn’t realize how great it would be to have jitney service to the train. We could walk, but it’s a long walk, especially if it’s raining. Dave is super psyched to have a driveway where he can now easily load all his equipment for a gig. I think the biggest surprise, though, was how easy the transition was. It felt like no adjustment at all. We moved in, and we were like, ok, we’re home. 

A Look At Maplewood

When I left New York City, I headed straight for Montclair because my then-husband grew up here. Coming from the city, this town was just right for me. But some of my New York friends wanted a smaller town feel. They headed straight for Maplewood.

The first time I visited Maplewood, I thought, this is what Montclair would feel like if it were a village. Vibe-wise, the two towns are nearly identical. 

I love the walkability of Maplewood – how, wherever you live, you’re never too far from downtown and the direct-to-Manhattan train. And also how peaceful it is to stroll through neighborhoods – walking the dog or pushing the stroller.

One of the things that was important to me when I left the city was to live somewhere that felt vibrant and creative. And Maplewood is that!

Words, one of my favorite New Jersey bookstores, attracts crowd-pleasing authors like Mark Bittman as well as up-and-coming local talent. There’s plenty of local music, including the annual Maplewoodstock – an all-weekend, family-oriented, art and music extravaganza that’s been taking place in Memorial Park since 2004. And the South Orange/Maplewood Adult School offers classes in everything from pottery to pickleball.

If you love the outdoors, nearby South Mountain Reservation is a force to be reckoned with. Spanning over 2,000 acres, this massive nature reserve includes miles of hiking trails, great sledding hills, and a magical waterfall. 

I love that you can hop on the train and catch dinner and a show in Manhattan. But I also love that you can have dinner and a show right in your own backyard. Downtown South Orange is close by and has a wonderful performing arts center, which has won the Discover Jersey Arts People’s Choice Award for “Favorite Small Performing Arts Center” for four consecutive years. Neighboring Milburn offers great theater at the renowned Papermill Playhouse. And Montclair’s Wellmont Theater is great for rock and roll or comedy, and is a quick half hour drive. 

As walkable towns go, Maplewood gets high marks. If you think it might be a good fit for you, I’d love to take you around!