In the past several years, the community has seen a growing trend of young families leaving city life in Brooklyn and moving to the Jersey Shore. In 2020, we have seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of families departing from the city. The double punch of the COVID-19 pandemic and the volatile political climate with the accompanying violence caused droves of families to pack up their homes in Brooklyn and Manhattan and move into their summer homes for a year or even permanently. Families relocating is not at all exclusive to our community. Large numbers of individuals and families in large cities across the country have pulled up roots over in the past nine or so months. We interviewed a few community members who made the move. Here is what they had to say.
Jamie P. Cohen
We moved into our summer home in Deal temporarily due to COVID-19, and then we had a death in the family. We came to Deal for quarantine and stayed through the summer. With fall approaching we decided it was still too soon after the passing to leave my family, so we switched our children’s schools and began preparing to stay the year in New Jersey.
So far, I’m really enjoying Jersey living. Everything seems more real, like real conversations, real relationships. Looking back, Brooklyn life felt like a rat race, with no free time, just rushing from one place to the next and searching for parking in between. In Jersey I’m doing things for myself that I haven’t done in years – connecting with friends, playing tennis, and I even took up piano again. It’s possible now because I’m able to get all my errands done so quickly here and then have time left over to invest in myself before the kids get home. I’m always signing my kids up for fun programs and now I get to do fun things that I’m interested in, too. All this me-time is making me a better mom.
Thus far, I have no downsides to report. My family is still in Brooklyn; however, I made the conscious decision to travel back for any type of family gathering, large or small. Regularly, I go into Brooklyn for a couple of hours to have lunch with my mom and sisters and then I drive right back to Deal.
The Advantages for the Kids
I see a big difference in my kids as well. They are all around freer. They play outdoors, both in school and at home, on Shabbat, and during the week, too. I’ve been loving DSN and so have the kids. Everything is organized so well, the kids go straight from school on the bus to their programs at DSN; it’s really so nice.
Another big plus is being in one home. We used to go back and forth not only for the summer, but during the year as well. We would travel to Deal for weekends or when the weather was nice. Now we never miss a beautiful day and we cut the schlepping right out of our lives.
As far as education, I feel as though my kids are learning much more in Jersey than they did in Brooklyn. Every Friday night the kids teach us a whole two-hour parasha lesson. They love to share what they learned. Hillel has been amazing. We’re only three months in at this point and I already got two calls from the principal, just checking in to make sure we’re happy with everything.
I would definitely recommend this move, especially for families with children.
We did not plan this move before the pandemic. We moved into my grandparents’ summer home around April to quarantine and shortly after that things started falling into place. My husband is a dentist, and he found a practice. We also found a great place to live and it just made so much sense. The houses here are more affordable, and you get more bang for your buck.
We are love, love, loving it! This town is far less congested and stressful than Brooklyn. The community here is so welcoming to newcomers and at the same time is very tight knit. Everyone helps each other out. It’s really incredible. My son loves his new school and he’s enjoying being able to play outside on a sunny day. I would definitely recommend the move to young couples with children. The life here is far more seamless and overall enjoyable.
We moved to Jersey in May from Manhattan. Between COVID-19 and the riots taking a toll on the city, it was clear it was time for us to make a change. We didn’t originally plan to stay in Jersey. We just thought we would give up our Manhattan lease because it was getting far too chaotic there, we’d stay by my parents in Jersey for the summer, and then see where life takes us. Unless you grew up in Deal, you don’t generally imagine getting married and living there. I personally always thought I’d live in Manhattan for a few years and then settle down in Brooklyn.
There were many factors that contributed to the decision to move. A major one for us was apartment versus house, buy versus rent. If we moved to Brooklyn after Manhattan, as we had always imagined previously, we would be settling for renting an apartment. Brooklyn homes are very expensive and rarely have sufficient parking, and large backyard space is typically non-existent. In Jersey we found a home and closed right away. This new home has space for my child to run around, a large driveway, and the price was much more realistic than a house in Brooklyn.
I am enjoying Jersey life. Going to the supermarket, or actually going anywhere, really is not a whole production. There’s never traffic along the way and there is always an ample amount of parking outside any place I go to run an errand. It’s an easier life here. I see how nice it is to bring up a family here, and on top of all that, it’s very pretty!
But there are downsides for me, too. Things here are different than back in New York. I do have family here and I’m fortunate some additional family members moved at the same time as we did. However, there are things I miss. I miss my friends and the family still in New York. I miss the convenience and ease of walking down the block to my local bodega and getting the odds and ends that I need. I miss stepping outside my home and seeing lots and lots of people. In Jersey you’re less likely to run into people you know. So, you can’t just be spontaneous; you have to make an effort to make plans to get together and do things.
And the commute my husband does from NJ to Manhattan every day is tough for the both of us. For him it’s threes hour round trip. For me it means being without him all that time. It’s unsettling to know that if anything happens he’s an hour and a half away. I will say it is not as bad as we anticipated. When we thought it over, we realized the alternative isn’t much better. The subway ride from Brooklyn to Manhattan is roughly a two hour round trip and driving isn’t much better. The current situation is also not so bad because Fridays my husband works from home. I’d tell someone who is thinking about making the move to put the time and stress of commuting into the equation.
We moved to Deal towards the end of March. We came because our kids’ schools shut down due to Covid and Brooklyn was all shut down. So we thought at least here we’ll have outdoor space in Jersey to feel free. At the time we did not expect to be staying, although previously we have discussed making the move permanently.
There were many, many contributing factors that lead to this move. Some of the major ones were the Black Lives Matter movement overtaking cities with riots and the defunding of the police movement., these were major things to consider. We have young children and began to feel less safe with the idea of going back to Brooklyn. Also, we always found the quieter lifestyle of New Jersey very appealing. It felt very safe, especially since it’s a suburb with a strong police force.
So far we are loving the lifestyle here in Jersey. It’s peaceful, I do what I have to do calmly without any traffic or aggravation. Errands are always in and out, quick and simple. We’ve found plenty of places to go out at night, with or without kids, there is an ample amount of entertainment and restaurant options.
We are enjoying it, although there are a few downsides. My family isn’t here, neither are my in-laws. The friends that we do have here are not within walking distance, even though they’re only a short drive away.. Also, a funny thing I found is that in Brooklyn, the community has certain doctors and shops etc. that are tried and true. I knew where to go, and if not I would ask around and get clear or similar answers. Here, everyone uses a different doctor, pediatrician, different place to cut hair, different pharmacies, etc. I haven’t yet found my groove. I’m a little lost, but I understand that’s temporary.
I send my kids to Hillel and we’re very happy. The kids are learning a lot, the curriculum is solid. In their Brooklyn school they weren’t taught Hebrew before Kindergarten. Here they do, and again I’m very pleased with the curriculum thus far.
I would highly recommend making the move. In fact, I encourage it! Because I predict that when more people are here year-round, that even more restaurants will open up and will stay open all year round. We do have a nice amount of restaurants, but we would definitely be happier if there were even more!