Lots of people like the idea of buying a home in a college town. There are lots of small, cool cafes, restaurants, and bars to enjoy. The community also has a chill vibe, and is a great mix of small town feel with big city sophistication. If you work in Manhattan, but want to buy a town home in a college town, you should look towards New Jersey. There are some college towns in Upstate New York, but they are a bit far for people who are making the daily commute into Manhattan. So, to help you get started on your search, here are two places to check out.
Princeton is a gorgeous and quiet college town. It's home to Princeton University, which has been in existence since 1746. Unlike some college towns, Princeton doesn't have a wild party scene, so you don't have to worry about raucous bars and thousands of drunken students on the street. The area is also home to quite a few historical museums and monuments and is the destination of visitors who are interested in early American history.
The university is the major feature of the community. The main street in the area is Nassau street. This is where you will find cafes, gourmet grocers, bars, restaurants, and tons of designer stores. There is also a beautiful park (the Princeton Battle Monument Park) which is in commemoration of George Washington's battle against the British troops led by General Cornwallis.
You should focus on the areas north of Nassau street. Most of the property south of Nassau is University grounds, and the immediate area of Nassau is very commercial, so head towards Jefferson Road, Franklin Terrace, and Moore street, and begin your search.
The commute into Manhattan is very easy. There is a shuttle train (called the dinky) which takes you from Princeton to the main New Jersey Railroad stop in Princeton Junction. Then you catch the train right into Penn Station. It's super simple.
Another awesome college town in New Jersey is Madison. It's also on the calm side due to the fact that its home to three smaller private schools (Drew, Fairleigh Dickinson, and St. Elizabeth's) so you don't have the huge parties that you find in places like Ithaca and Syracuse. The town is very nice, and home to many professionals who work in Manhattan and commute daily. The town even had a center "green" with little restaurants and shops surrounding it. Also, you won't find many large apartment buildings. It's mainly single family homes, town homes, and a few small condo developments.
It's also a fast commute to Manhattan. There is a stop for the New Jersey Transit train right in town, and you don't have to make any connections to head right into Penn Station. It's so quick a trip that you will see lots of residents lined up waiting for the train to head in to watch the Knicks at MSG or the Yankees, instead of driving in with their cars. The town is also super safe, so if you are planning on raising a family, then this is a perfect choice.
Searching for a home a hundred miles away from where I was previously living was hard. There was no way for us to take a trip up to see every single house that we found online to see first-hand the condition that it was in and how big it truly was. I had to find a real estate agent that I could trust to help us find several houses to make a trip up to see in a single day. I created this blog after going through the buying process and making the move. It is my hope that if you are buying a new home far from your current one, that the tips here will help to make it an easy transaction for you.