I remember the moment when I first considered moving to Hoboken. My husband was complaining about a slacker co-worker who paid almost no commuter tax because he was a New Jersey resident working in New York City. That was the first time I heard about the huge income tax difference (New York City residents pay about 21 percent more income tax). As much as I hated the idea of leaving New York, I hated the idea of paying 40 percent of our income in taxes even more.
The second time I thought about moving to Hoboken was when a colleague was pumping me for information about Brooklyn Heights and told me in all seriousness that the only building he would consider living in was 180 Montague. He wound up renting in the Hudson Tea Building, where he later ended up buying a three-bedroom with his wife and three kids.
We were in the process of searching for a larger apartment when I got invited to a birthday party at Madison Bar and Grill. That was the day I was sold on Hoboken. I took the PATH train in, which was fast and easy and much nicer than the New York subway. My husband and I loved Washington Street and how walkable the whole town was. It was like a much younger, bigger, and more fun version of Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights.
We also found renting an apartment in the Mile Square to be much easier than renting in New York City. I walked into an Applied Properties management office, was shown floorplans of available units, toured them, put down a $100 deposit and moved in a week later. Try doing that across the river.
We became addicted to our comfortable lifestyle in Hoboken. We loved having two bathrooms and a private washer/dryer, not to mention having our car available 24/7 even if we only drove it 4,000 miles each year.
As time went on, we became increasingly spoiled. Our list of real estate requirements grew longer and longer; we needed outdoor space, a large interior, central air conditioning, a train station and shopping area within a few blocks, walkable schools and kid activities. Properties like that are rare in Brooklyn because most of the buildings are co-ops built more than 20 years ago. New construction commands a premium in Brooklyn because of its scarcity, whereas three year old condos are commonplace in Hoboken. We were also leery of owning a co-op again because of the restrictive rental policies and the rigorous, highly unpredictable buyer approval process. And, although taxes and cost of living are high here, it's still undeniable that Hoboken is cheaper.