May 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

West Orange, Fair Lawn Named Among NJ’s Best Places to Live

According to a report by the Movoto Real Estate website, West Orange and Fair Lawn are considered among the ten best towns to live in New Jersey. The study looked at seven criteria: total amenities (pizza places, bagel stores, and diners), amenities per person, cost of living, crime, education (high school degree attainment rate compared to state average), median income, and home value. In addition to their high scores in these categories, both towns also boast thriving–and growing–Jewish communities.

Rose Scharlat, a West Orange resident and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices realtor, says the town has a lot to offer young Jewish families looking for their first homes. “For many people, their friends have moved here, and they come to spend a Shabbos and can see themselves living here,” says Scharlat, who has worked in real estate for over 30 years. There are five synagogues from which to choose, and the community has an outstanding preschool and summer camp program at Congregation Ahawas Achim B’Nai Jacob & David, as well as learning opportunities for both men and women.

She says people are drawn to the town because it offers an easy commute to New York and has homes in a variety of price ranges. “You get the most for your money in West Orange homes,” says Scharlat. She says that people in their first homes often trade up to bigger houses as they become available, while people who have been in the community for a long time often downsize to one of the town’s condominium complexes. “I think that says something about the community,” she says, adding with a laugh, “The only reason people leave is to move to Israel.”

With a number of historic sites, a crime rate 60% lower than the state’s average, and plenty of amenities, Fair Lawn was also included on the Movoto list. If there is someone who would know about all that the town has to offer, it is Amy DeBellis. DeBellis’s grandparents founded Nat Sprechman Real Estate over 70 years ago, eventually passing the business on to her parents, with whom she worked until the business closed in 1999. Now the General Manager of Abbott & Caserta Realtors, DeBellis says that Fair Lawn’s landscape has been shaped over the years by everything from the influx of Jews from Israel and the former Soviet Union to the growth of several Orthodox shuls in the area. “The town is having a resurgence,” says DeBellis, whose father and grandfather both served as mayor of the town. “Fair Lawn has seen its ups and downs, but it is getting stronger and we are bringing in newer, younger residents.”

DeBellis cites a number of factors that make Fair Lawn an attractive place to live, including a short commute to New York City, good schools, and affordable homes. In addition to being just minutes away from the area’s major shopping malls, Fair Lawn also boast two centers of town–Radburn and the River Road District. “There’s something for everybody in this town,” says DeBellis. “We have become a very interesting melting pot. As long as your values are that you want to live in a good town, you take care of your house and your neighborhood, and you care about the people that you live with, there is a place for you here.”

By Rachel Jager

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