One Fewer NYC Newcomer to SOMA

She almost moved to Maplewood like all of her friends :

https://nypost.com/2020/12/05/i-tried-leaving-nyc-for-the-suburbs-but-the-uws-prevailed/

Loved this description cheese :

"Because we had friends there, we chose Maplewood/South Orange (which I soon learned is called SOMA), populated by artists and hipsters and other non-typical “suburbia” types, who are seeking more space at a semi-affordable price." 


I read "Turns out half of Park Slope and the Upper West Side had the same destination in mind — and they were outbidding us by 20 percent, often waiving inspection fees or offering all-cash deals." 

Then I decided to peek at our house Zestimate on Zillow. Nearly fell out of my chair.  Granted, we've been here 20 years (and we're not planning on going anywhere else soon), so my sense of home pricing may be wayyy off, but it seems things must really be crazy out there.


Yeah, I'm right next door in West Orange. We've been renting since we moved out of the city several years ago, and this was finally the year when we'd scraped together enough for a down payment...

Of course, it's important to keep all of this in perspective. I'm working. I'm safe. I'm looking at delaying home buying, not it being perpetually out of reach. When I consider how many people are "essential workers" -- meaning they get minimum wage and have to go to physically put themselves at risk -- and even apart from this pandemic what it means that I'm even living in suburban Essex county in the first place -- well, there's something deeply messed up with a society producing such levels of inequality. I'm very lucky, and very privileged, and I suppose it's a reflection on how deeply, deeply unequal we've gotten as a society that as incredibly privileged as I am, I still can't quite get a house.

Anyway, this isn't the politics thread, so I'll just leave it as an observation that yes, in fact it's a ridiculous market for trying to buy right now.


I mean this sincerely -- good for them.  They found an affordable 3 bedroom in the city with a garden.  They hit the housing jackpot.


Jasmo said:

Loved this description
:

"Because we had friends there, we chose Maplewood/South Orange (which I soon learned is called SOMA), populated by artists and hipsters and other non-typical “suburbia” types, who are seeking more space at a semi-affordable price.”

I didn’t love that description.  We tried to be friendly with the people moving in.  When I’d say I stay at home with the kids the assumption was I stayed home and also worked from home.  My husband and I are liberals, but when meeting other families when they’d find out that I stayed at home without being a freelancer and that my husband works a job where his name is stitched on his uniform, they’d act like we were trump supporters or worse.

We weren’t artists or hipsters or other “non-typical suburbia types.”  We were typical suburbia types, and it’s obvious from the description that it is something to be looked down on.  She might have been the one to put it in writing, but the attitude is painfully obvious from many who moved to Maplewood.


Yes, Spontaneous, I don't think it's accurate, which was the reason for my amused "wink" at the stereotype. But I could see how you would feel put off by being treated poorly by such attitudes. 

spontaneous said:

I didn’t love that description.  We tried to be friendly with the people moving in.  When I’d say I stay at home with the kids the assumption was I stayed home and also worked from home.  My husband and I are liberals, but when meeting other families when they’d find out that I stayed at home without being a freelancer and that my husband works a job where his name is stitched on his uniform, they’d act like we were trump supporters or worse.

We weren’t artists or hipsters or other “non-typical suburbia types.”  We were typical suburbia types, and it’s obvious from the description that it is something to be looked down on.  She might have been the one to put it in writing, but the attitude is painfully obvious from many who moved to Maplewood.

 


PVW said:

Yeah, I'm right next door in West Orange. We've been renting since we moved out of the city several years ago, and this was finally the year when we'd scraped together enough for a down payment...

Of course, it's important to keep all of this in perspective. I'm working. I'm safe. I'm looking at delaying home buying, not it being perpetually out of reach. When I consider how many people are "essential workers" -- meaning they get minimum wage and have to go to physically put themselves at risk -- and even apart from this pandemic what it means that I'm even living in suburban Essex county in the first place -- well, there's something deeply messed up with a society producing such levels of inequality. I'm very lucky, and very privileged, and I suppose it's a reflection on how deeply, deeply unequal we've gotten as a society that as incredibly privileged as I am, I still can't quite get a house.

Anyway, this isn't the politics thread, so I'll just leave it as an observation that yes, in fact it's a ridiculous market for trying to buy right now.

Frustrating, and your perspective is probably more positive than mine would be, and I agree with the inequity of it all.

Was reading the economist Robert Frank's book  "Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work." One chapter is about expenditure cascades, and mentions that housing bidding wars makes it rational for individual families to continue bidding higher on houses, but the overall economic result is financial losses for those who purchase homes. This makes bidding wars a negative from a more communal economic perspective.

Anyway, I do hope local home pricing does reduce/stabilize. Financial losses by the middle class doesn't help a struggling economy. 


spontaneous said:


We weren’t artists or hipsters or other “non-typical suburbia types.”  We were typical suburbia types, and it’s obvious from the description that it is something to be looked down on.  She might have been the one to put it in writing, but the attitude is painfully obvious from many who moved to Maplewood.

 Let me first say that I don't know either you or your husband IRL and that I agree with your assessment of the bigotry inherent in the statement.

Having said that and having followed your posts for many years, I have to say that you are about as far from my conception of "typical suburbia" as would be possible within the confines of NJ.  And I mean that in an entirely good way.


We moved to Maplewood from Hoboken 12 years ago. The day we we moved in was a hot summer one. A neighbor approached with a paper plate full of fresh fruit. I remember thinking oh how very sweet. Then she opened up her mouth. She literally said “Hi I’m X from #XX. What do you do?”  And then couldn’t wait to let us know both her husband and her jobs and degrees. She definitely turned her nose up when I told her our occupations. We are both college grads who work in offices. To this day I barely acknowledge her existence and shake my head when she speeds in her car up and down our street which is full of kids under age 10. I also regret not replying my husband was a pimp and I was his bottom biatch. One of the few snobs I’ve encountered in town. Too bad we live so close. 


Gosh, it's always been my goal to live in a "semi-affordable" place.


Klinker said:

spontaneous said:


We weren’t artists or hipsters or other “non-typical suburbia types.”  We were typical suburbia types, and it’s obvious from the description that it is something to be looked down on.  She might have been the one to put it in writing, but the attitude is painfully obvious from many who moved to Maplewood.

 Let me first say that I don't know either you or your husband IRL and that I agree with your assessment of the bigotry inherent in the statement.

Having said that and having followed your posts for many years, I have to say that you are about as far from my conception of "typical suburbia" as would be possible within the confines of NJ.  And I mean that in an entirely good way.

 Today, sure.  We’ve got chickens, fruit trees, and keep trying to plant a small field but haven’t managed to grow anything except for pumpkins.

But before we left Maplewood we had regular suburban pets, a minivan, and a stereotypical suburban life.  Except we had a working class suburban life, not upper middle class like many people in Maplewood now have.


spontaneous said:

But before we left Maplewood we had regular suburban pets, a minivan, and a stereotypical suburban life.  Except we had a working class suburban life, not upper middle class like many people in Maplewood now have.

It's definitely become more common for the newcomers to be upper-middle due to the increasing housing prices, but there are still some working class families here. I am friends with four moms who are/were at home (after the kids got older two started working), so I didn't think it was that rare. But I assume I'm also at least a decade older than you.


Wow, spontaneous and HudsonBlue bring back memories of stumbling over local mores when we first moved to Mpl 30 years ago.  Takeaways: 1) the working mom/at-home mom thing was stunning, radioactive, just don't bring it up.  2) Yeah, it turned out to seem rude to ask people about their occupation, which had been a perfectly normal conversation opener where i came from (southern California via western Mass and mid-state NY). 

Live and learn, hopefully not from unpleasant people....


My experience was very different when I moved here about 40 years ago.  All of the Moms I met through Newcomers and Pre-school were stay at home Moms.  I was the only Mom I knew who commuted to the City for work every day.


What I initially got a kick out of was the description of the town populated by "artists and hipsters." In my limited contacts with MOLers, very few were artists, even fewer were hipsters.  Frankly, I don't think most people in either of these groups could begin to afford current housing costs or actually live in SOMA.


When I moved to NJ 24 years ago, I was anxious about encountering stay-at-home Moms who looked sideways at me for working. How tables have turned. Yes there are people with low self esteem who look for someone to feel better than, but others may not be looking down as much as feeling anxious about having nothing in common and feeling alone. 


nancib, very kindly put : )


Try being a stay at home dad. Everyone gives you crap.  I will never forget the MOL poster who said she would never let her kid go on a play date at a house with a stay at home Dad. I literally fealt like crying at that point, thinking my life choices were ruining my kids lives (my youngest was 6 months then so I wasn’t getting much sleep). 


I’ve never given anyone side eye for being a working parent.  My original plan was to be a working parent.  But the job I had when I had my first child paid $29k a year (I was one of those overpaid public employees people complain about  oh oh ) and couldn’t afford child care for an infant on my take home pay, not that traditional child care would have been an option anyway.  I was on overnights, 7p to 6a, rotating 4/4 schedule, and I had actually managed to arranged child care with a relative when suddenly three weeks before I was due to return to work I was moved to the swing shift (12p to 11a) because someone with seniority decided he wanted my shift.  The swing shift could be rescheduled to days or overnights with as little as six hours notice.  Between the low pay and the unpredictable shift putting in my resignation became my best option.



Klinker said:

Try being a stay at home dad. Everyone gives you crap.  I will never forget the MOL poster who said she would never let her kid go on a play date at a house with a stay at home Dad. I literally fealt like crying at that point, thinking my life choices were ruining my kids lives (my youngest was 6 months then so I wasn’t getting much sleep). 

 Absolutely.  A father who stays at home is assumed to be unemployed or in between jobs.  What little legitimacy mothers have when they make this choice today, fathers don’t even get that.  

FWIW I try to not use the term “stay at home mom” anymore and have made a conscious attempt to use “stay at home parent” because of this issue.  I’ve met a few fathers over the years who have experienced the same prejudice over their parenting choices.  It’s only a few words, but I don’t want continue to contribute to the misperception of fathers who stay home vs mothers who stay home.


spontaneous said:

  My original plan was to be a working parent.  But the job I had when I had my first child paid $29k a year (I was one of those overpaid public employees people complain about ) and couldn’t afford child care for an infant on my take home pay

This was me as well.  I actually worked in the "arts".  We moved  to MAPSO from a southern state where good daycare was cheap enough that it made sense for my wife and I to both work.  When we got to MAPSO and discovered that conventional daycare was almost non existent it didn't take any sense for me to get a job that might barely cover  a nanny who had no particular qualifications other than being female and from some island in the Caribbean. I observed the nannies at the park and eliminated that option without much thought.


When I moved to maplewood in 1990, my friends in Brooklyn thought I was nuts. But I had a 4 year old kid that I wanted to be able to grow up in a “softer” environment, other than the concrete parks in bay ridge. This sleepy little town was perfect, and we had two more who are now in different states. But they always come back around the holidays to meet up with their friends who always come home. 
I had never encountered people being surprised by my wife and I both working in nyc and living in maplewood. I think it all changed after the midtown direct came to be. That train changed maplewood and south orange. Houses have tripled in value. 
I had a friend who lived on oak view who worked from home and took care of his kid, while his wife commuted. He had some of the experiences I am reading about here. He was depressed. Being European, and not being able to connect with the mothers of his son’s school mates, he felt left out. 


To be fair, I should say that there are many highly qualified nannies who receive pay that is commensurate with their experience and education.  Its just the ones in our price range that were without qualifications.


Jaytee said: 
I had a friend who lived on oak view who worked from home and took care of his kid, while his wife commuted. He had some of the experiences I am reading about here. He was depressed. Being European, and not being able to connect with the mothers of his son’s school mates, he felt left out. 

 I think this is a phenomenon that is at least partially the result of Northeastern gender norms.  As I said, we lived in a Southern state before we moved here.  I found it much easier to make friends with the mother's of my daughters friends there, in that red state than I ever did in NJ.  Just a different culture, I guess.


Choosing to live in Harlem instead of Maplewood!

My mother who was born in Harlem in 1912 and raised there is spinning in her grave.  oh oh


Klinker said:

Jaytee said: 
I had a friend who lived on oak view who worked from home and took care of his kid, while his wife commuted. He had some of the experiences I am reading about here. He was depressed. Being European, and not being able to connect with the mothers of his son’s school mates, he felt left out. 

 I think this is a phenomenon that is at least partially the result of Northeastern gender norms.  As I said, we lived in a Southern state before we moved here.  I found it much easier to make friends with the mother's of my daughters friends there, in that red state than I ever did in NJ.  Just a different culture, I guess.

My Northeast experience was much like your Southern one.


DaveSchmidt said:

My Northeast experience was much like your Southern one.

You are a stay at home dad?


Klinker said:

DaveSchmidt said:

My Northeast experience was much like your Southern one.

You are a stay at home dad?

Our son is in college now, but I worked night shifts, so I handled a lot of the care during the day — enough “to make friends with the mothers” in parks and playgrounds, on play dates, at preschool programs, at school dropoffs and pickups, etc. (You might surmise that my off-hours not-at-home job made a difference in my reception, but I don’t think it did. Also, I didn’t say exactly like.)


DaveSchmidt said:

Our son is in college now, but I worked night shifts, so I handled a lot of the care during the day — enough “to make friends with the mothers” in parks and playgrounds, on play dates, at preschool programs, at school dropoffs and pickups, etc. (You might surmise that my off-hours not-at-home job made a difference in my reception, but I don’t think it did. Also, I didn’t say exactly like.)

 My kids are quite a bit younger than your son. I wonder whether there has been a cultural shift in the meantime. Or maybe it’s just that you are outstandingly charismatic. That has always been my impression. cheese


sprout said:

Then I decided to peek at our house Zestimate on Zillow. Nearly fell out of my chair.  Granted, we've been here 20 years (and we're not planning on going anywhere else soon), so my sense of home pricing may be wayyy off, but it seems things must really be crazy out there.

 I did the same thing after reading your post.  I got to a section where it said that there was missing info and did I want to claim it as MY house in order to fill in the data.  But I'm hesitant to do that.  Any upside or downside?  (We have no plans to sell anytime soon, but we are renovating and no doubt looking at a non-trivial increase in our assessment as a result.  Wondering if putting the info out there might make that worse?)



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