I am a Jersey boy. I was born in Philly, but my parents moved to the NJ suburbs before I started kindergarten (I’ll give you one guess why). I had a great education at one of the best districts in the region. I had a pretty good experience and I have good memories of the place. In fact, I drove by my old house last month for pure nostalgia. Still, when I was engaging in my school search, and I considered moving to the suburbs, NJ never really made it onto my radar. Miriam Hill, on her Inquirer blog, had the same lament earlier this month. Sure, Lower Merion is considered one of the top districts in the country, but some of the nearby Jersey districts are just as good, and relatively free of spying scandals and allegations of systemic racism. So why not NJ? It wasn’t the commute–that wasn’t going to be any different for my family in deciding between the NJ and PA ‘burbs. I think personally it had to do with my perception (founded or unfounded) of the relative urbanity of the near-PA suburbs. Families who want to stay in the city are doing so because they appreciate what the city has to offer to their lifestyle and their kids social and cultural environment. If they are reluctantly moving to the suburbs, PA simply is simply more palatable than NJ, where the Cherry Hill Mall is a center of life and sprawl is the norm. In PA there is of course the KOP Mall, but the KOP Mall is simply a destination, not a hub. PA burbs have several highly respected colleges and universities, the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, the Keswick Theater, and Milkboy; NJ has little higher education (save for Rutgers Camden), the Cherry Hill Mall, the Moorestown Mall, and Ponzios Diner. Need I say more for any urbanite parent?
What do you think? Are you considering a move to NJ? Why or why not?