Where Are All the Families? Hint: Not the Suburbs

From 2000 to 2010, Hoboken, NJ saw an increase of 175% in children ages 0-5. Child modeling agencies constantly scout Hoboken – the majority of baby modeling jobs are in lower Manhattan or northern New Jersey. Child-related businesses are springing up everywhere – national retailers Baby Gap and Anthropologie are opening locations this spring in downtown Hoboken.

Hoboken is neither fish nor fowl. Located in New Jersey on the banks of the Hudson River directly across from Manhattan, Hoboken trends mirror New York City rather than New Jersey. Thanks to the Light Rail, ferry and 24-hour PATH, Hoboken residents literally have a foot in both worlds – parents are equally likely to take the ferry to Chelsea Piers or drive to the Meadowlands for kid gymnastics programs. During the summer, Hobokenites head to the Jersey shore – retailers reduce staff schedules in a virtual ghost town. The few families that stay in the mile-square city enjoy nonstop outdoor community celebrations including festivals, concerts and movie screenings – the unofficial start to the season is the OLG Funfest in early June.

While everyone complains about Hoboken parking, indoor garages are far more plentiful than in NYC – former parking director Ian Sacs wrote that Hoboken “motor vehicle ownership portion surpasses 100% when stacked over walk/transit journey-to-work data may be attributed to recreational use where the vehicle sits unused the majority of the time, a phenomenon I call “Storage.”” All those people you see streaming to the PATH station on weekdays? Also own cars that are parked at home and get driven a few thousand miles each year to the grocery store and short weekend outings.

Living between two states has its benefits. Many Hoboken parents save for college using New York 529 accounts. If you earn New York income, you pay state taxes, so you qualify for the 529 deduction that is not available with New Jersey plans. Other parents venture farther afield – one parent told me he invests in the American Fund 529 plan for Virginia because it has the best performance.

Families are choosing to stay longer in NYC and Hoboken. With 71% of mothers working outside the home, short commutes have become increasingly valuable.

With all these families staying in the city, what is happening to the suburbs? The number of children under age five has fallen as much as 40% in northern New Jersey. Preschool and kindergarten programs are reducing classes and consolidating students among a few schools. Strollers have become a rare sight at school pickup.

The suburbs are in no danger of going out of style. As children grow older and urban families become squeezed for space and good public schools, they are leaving Park Slope and Hoboken and heading to Glen Ridge and Montclair, bringing gentrification and gluten-free red velvet cupcakes with them.

Want to know which suburb to choose? Look for the highest density of eco-friendly dry cleaners.


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Kathy Zucker

Author: Kathy Zucker

Mom of 3. Accidental entrepreneur. Fencer. New York Life Shorty Award #KeepGoodGoing winner & judge. Helping parents & kids get to work since 2010 as Metro Moms Network CEO.

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  1. Get Kids Driving By Moving to the City - Kathy Zucker | Mom Condo Living | Kathy Zucker | Mom Condo Living - [...] shock, was everybody in Hoboken drives. Or at least, everyone owns a car. Sure, the cars may be the…

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