Manhattan, New Jersey or…LA: This NYC Family is Weighing All of Their Options

Apr 24, 2020

They sold their apartment days before COVID-19 shut down the city. Now the Ellis family is deciding what comes next…

When Stephanie Ellis and her husband found their Bleecker Street apartment, they knew it was the perfect spot to call home. In the heart of a thriving, family-friendly neighborhood, when the couple welcomed their now 17-month-old son, they continued to indulge in all the community had to offer, from kids activities to amazing restaurants to parks and events.

“We love the apartment, we love the area,” Stephanie says, “but we were outgrowing the space.” In November, they listed their apartment with an eye on renting in the city until they figured out their next steps. “We got an offer a few weeks ago…then two days later fled the city,” heading to Stephanie’s parents’ house in Marlboro, New Jersey as COVID-19 started shutting down Manhattan.

“We thought we’d stay with my parents for a little while, come back to the city and rent for a year or two, then consider our next move,” she says. “We wanted to enjoy the time in the city with our son, at least for now. Maybe with a second child, we kept saying, we’d consider a possible move to the suburbs.”

But given how up-in-the-air things are now, Stephanie said, she decided to start exploring her options. A friend pointed her to Suburban Jungle and to Strategist Allison Levine.

Considering the city or the suburbs—and two coasts

Now, though, Stephanie isn’t 100% sold on any one path to suburbia. Depending on when the city “reopens,” they could head back and rent—or they could make a leap to a suburb somewhere. In addition to exploring the New Jersey towns with Allison, they’ve also connected with Suburban Jungle’s LA Strategist Stacy Katz.

“In my fantasy world, we live in LA,” Stephanie says. “Maybe we try it for a year and see how things go. I feel like, now more than ever, it’s good to explore every option and really keep our opportunities open.”

“Ultimately though,” Stephanie says, “I see us ending up in New Jersey for the long-run. So we’ve been talking to Allison a lot and really refining our list.”

Stephanie and her family have been able to explore towns with agent-led “ride-behind tours” over the last few weekends. During these tours, Suburban Jungle agents drive through a community with a client following in their own car. As they drive, they chat and point out the highlights including downtown areas, schools, parks and recreation centers, answering questions along the way. Agents navigate through neighborhoods, sharing local insights to help clients understand the landscape of each area.

So far, Stephanie and her husband have explored Montclair, Livingston, Westfield and Scotch Plains.

“Agent-led driving tours are a great way to get a feel for a town when you can’t get out and walk around,” says Allison. “Our agents can answer real-time questions, customize their tours based on the family and really help you explore and start narrowing down your list.”

What (and where) comes next

For now, Stephanie and her family are continuing to cast a wide net, keeping their eyes—and their minds—open to what could be their right path and their right ‘burb.

“We definitely want something with an easy commute—my husband works by Penn Station,” she says. “We want good schools. Right now, we’re thinking more of a city vibe with some real culture and a sense of community.”

At the same time, though, they’re torn between looking for a community like the ones they grew up in—Stephanie in Marlboro and her husband in Roslyn, on Long Island—or searching for areas with a completely different vibe. “Do we want to raise our family in what we’re used to, or do we want to try something totally new and different? We’re not sure. We’re definitely still in that exploration phase.”

And, again, it all depends on timelines and how big of a lifestyle change the family decides to make. If the city opens on the sooner side, Stephanie said they’ll likely head back, rent, then revisit the suburbs in a few months. If they wind up hunkering down at her parents’ house for a more extended period, it likely makes more sense to make the leap to suburbia—on the east or west coast.

“I’ve gone to LA every year for the last decade,” Stephanie says, “and we just love it there. We spent three weeks this past December in Southern California, and that really made me consider it all over again. Maybe we rent there for a year and come back to New Jersey—or maybe not. Who knows?”

For now, though, Stephanie and her family are still exploring and still weighing their very diverse options. “We’re enjoying our stay in New Jersey,” she says. “Our son has a big basement and a big backyard and he’s really happy. We’ll see what happens next!”

No matter what happens next, Suburban Jungle has your back. Get in touch now and schedule your Suburbs Strategy session and start honing in on what makes sense for your family right now.

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