The Hudson County suburb of Secaucus, NJ, anchors the New Jersey Meadowlands, some 30 square miles of wetland, veined with estuaries and dotted with more than a dozen cities. There was a time when people fishing in those waters told stories of bringing in a broken statue from old Penn Station or finding a body buried under the beach grass.
But no more: Today the swamps are intertwined with hiking trails and nature reserves. And many retail chains have joined the Secaucus factory outlets, which attracted bargain hunters in the early 1970s.
For many young families, however, it’s the suburban atmosphere that has its major draw – along with the short commute to the city.
“What makes Secaucus extremely attractive to buyers in the first place is its proximity to New York City, along with spacious bus stops and free shuttle services from most apartment complexes to the train station,” said Michael Gonnelli, a real estate agent who represents the Gonnelli Group. at Re/Max Infinity, in Secaucus, and is the son of the city’s mayor (aka Michael Gonnelli).
That was true for Ling Dao and Jane Wang, who owned a home in Edison, NJ, and wanted easier access to the city along with more activities for their two young children. “Edison also felt very busy, with limited parks and playgrounds for the kids,” said Mr. Dao, 33, an information manager for a pharmaceutical company.
He and Ms. Wang, 35, a stay-at-home mom, looked in Jersey City, Hoboken and Queens before purchasing a three-bedroom home near downtown Secaucus for $765,000 earlier this year.
“In the end we fell in love with Secaucus because it is very close to town, but quieter and more kid-friendly,” said Mr. dao. “We use the numerous playgrounds. We also regularly visit the town’s leisure center to make use of the pool and track. In the summer we visit free concerts and movies in Buchmuller Park.”
Bledar and Zlatina Brahimi moved to Secaucus from nearby Edgewater last summer because “in Edgewater,” said 30-year-old Brahimi, who works in finance, “were great views of the city, but everything was co-ops and condo.” They searched New York City, but found it too expensive.
The couple hopes to start a family, Brahimi said, and “what helped narrow our choice was the school system and tax rates.”
In Secaucus, he and Mrs. Brahimi, 28, who works in accounting, were able to find a five-bedroom, three-bathroom house with an in-ground pool and “a nice big backyard” for $700,000.
What you will find
Secaucus, a city with a median household income of $125,142 and a population of approximately 22,200, covers 6.5 square miles (about 10 percent of which is water) in Hudson County, according to the 2020 census data. It is bordered by the Hackensack River to the north, east, and south, and Union City and Jersey City to the east.
The housing inventory includes single and two-family homes in a variety of styles, including ranches, Capes, Colonial homes, mansions, and luxury condominiums. Harmon Cove, a gated community of approximately 1,400 units, including townhouses and high-rise apartments, is located on the Hackensack River, in the western part of the city.
Rental options include the Harper at Harmon Meadow Apartments, on the eastern edge of the city, and Xchange, a complex of some 2,000 units for younger renters who want an easy commute to Manhattan, to the south. (Secaucus Junction, the train station, is opposite the complex.)
Several chain restaurants can be found in the Plaza at Harmon Meadow, a shopping center in northeast Secaucus that houses a Panera Bread, an Olive Garden, and a Bonefish Grill. Shopping options there include necklaces and large boxes — Walmart, Sam’s Club, HomeGoods, TJ Maxx. Construction is expected to begin soon on a new Hometown Market grocery story in the center of town.
Secaucus is also home to Meadowlands Exposition Center, a Kerasotes multiplex movie theater and Sheraton, Marriott, Aloft and Hilton hotels.
What do you pay?
At $6,646, the average property tax in Secaucus is the lowest in Hudson County, according to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. In contrast, Weehawken residents pay an average of $12,138.
The “real estate taxes are some of the most affordable in all of northern New Jersey,” said Mr. Gonnelli, the real estate agent.
According to the New Jersey Multiple Listing Service, 52 single-family homes in Secaucus sold at a median price of $580,000 during the 12-month period ending Feb. 28. In the same period a year earlier, 30 single-family homes were sold at a median of $527,500.
During the 12-month period ending February 28, 107 condos and townhouses were sold at an average price of $387,000, slightly lower than the average price of $390,000 on 94 sales the previous year.
In early April, the New Jersey Multiple Listing Service listed 41 homes for sale, from a two-bedroom condominium in Harmon Cove Tower priced at $235,000 to a four-bedroom two-family home for $990,000.
Secaucus can seem like a jumble of highways. The eastern spur of the New Jersey Turnpike hugs the southern and eastern boundaries of the city, while Route 3 cuts off the main Paterson Plank Road from the rest of the city, with an overpass connecting the two parts.
Downtown, however, is in stark contrast to the malls, chain stores, and highways. It is home to the public library, the municipal government center, a senior center, and small businesses such as Filomena’s deli, Lucky Nails, and Marra’s Drug Store, which have been around for nearly a century. Other downtown attractions include the ice rink, the city museum and Buchmuller Park, which hosts outdoor concerts, and the Secaucus Little League.
Another community that directs visitors looking for a conservation area to Bob’s Discount Furniture is hard to find. But just behind the store is Mill Creek Marsh, where visitors can see turtles, shorebirds, and other wildlife.
The town’s parks include Schmidts Woods Park, Trolley Park (overlooking the American Dream Ferris wheel in East Rutherford) and Laurel Hill County Park, which has a canoe launch, kayak rentals, bike and walking trails and ball courts, including a cricket field.
The Secaucus Public School District serves approximately 2,265 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. During the 2019-20 school year, 33 percent were identified as white, 32.1 percent as Hispanic, 29.3 percent as Asian, and 3.9 percent as black.
The district operates five schools: Milridge (for Kindergarten), Clarendon (Kindergarten through fifth grade), Huber Street (Kindergarten through fifth grade), Secaucus Middle (sixth through eighth grade), and Secaucus High School. High Tech High School, a magnet school in Hudson County, serves students from ninth to twelfth grade. On 2019-20 SAT tests, students scored an average of 531 in literacy, compared to 536 statewide; their average score in math was 544, compared to 536 statewide. The pass rate in 2020 was 96.7 percent, compared to a national average of 91 percent.
New Jersey Transit trains leave Secaucus Junction station to Manhattan’s Penn Station, Newark Liberty International Airport, and other destinations including Atlantic City, Monmouth Park, and Philadelphia. The drive to Manhattan usually takes about 12 minutes. A one-way ticket costs $4.25 and a monthly pass is $126.
Traveling by bus can take about 15 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic. The return bus fare from Secaucus Junction to Port Authority is $7; a monthly pass is $107.
In 1658, Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch governor of the colony of New Netherland, negotiated a treaty between European settlers and the Lenni-Lenape people that referred to what is now Secaucus as “Islandt Siskakes” – the first known mention of the area. At the time, it was an island surrounded by swamps and creeks, according to “History of Secaucus,” a 1950 book that devotes an entire section to “Jersey mosquitoes.”
Secaucus was not incorporated as a town until 1917, when it was an agricultural community known for its pig farms. In the 1950s, with the construction of the New Jersey Turnpike, it gradually became the commuter town it is today.
For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on twitter: DailyExpertNews†