Part two in our “Why I Picked My Town” series showcases another fave mom blogger of ours, Mom a la Mode Creator & Editorial Director Lisa Pisano!
With an eye on all things “food, fashion, fun & everything fabulous,” this “mom in the mode” was looking for the perfect place to call “home” for her burgeoning brood when she re-located within the burbs, from Englewood, NJ to Ho-Ho-Kus. Here’s her insider take on life in the ‘burbs and how she decided on her perfect town match.
Why did you choose New Jersey and your specific suburb, Ho-Ho-Kus—how did you find it and was it your first choice? Did you contemplate any other towns?
My husband and I both grew up in Bergen County, New Jersey and knew that this was where we’d want to build a life with our family one day. We liked North Jersey especially for its proximity to malls, the city and best of all, our families. When we were house hunting, we looked all around Bergen County—in towns solely that had easy access to NYC for our jobs via bus or train transit—and ultimately selected Ho-Ho-Kus. It’s a small town with a strong community feel, great restaurants and on a bus/train line. And we couldn’t be happier here.
What was the most difficult part of adjusting to life in the suburbs?
My husband would tell you that it’s all of the upkeep and maintenance that comes with being a “homeowner.” If it’s not the hot water heater that’s malfunctioning, it’s a pesky woodpecker drilling holes into your cedar shingles. And because we live near a school, whenever it snows, we have to be diligent about clearing the sidewalk in front of our house. But you talk to your neighbors, and they’re all in the same boat—a flooded basement, a fallen tree that needs removal—it just comes with the territory of living in the burbs.
For me, the adjustment was a bit different. When we moved to our house I was still working in the city at the time. The adjustment for me came once I stopped working when my son was 6 months old. It took me a little while to get used to the slower pace, the quiet, not to mention having to drive everywhere to get where I needed. Although, truth be told—we live in walking distance to center of town, so when the weather is nice, many errands are done by foot (and stroller).
How often do you come into the city, how far is your commute, and how do you feel about it?
I’m a blogger and a marketing consultant, so I’m in the city a few times a month for events, client meetings and the occasional dinner/outing. I’m hands-down a “bus girl” and have been for years. However, the bus commute from Ho-Ho-Kus can be a little bit long and a wee bit expensive. So I often take the North Bergen Park and Ride (the best kept secret amongst North Jersey commuters). For just under $10, you get a roundtrip bus ticket and parking. Done and done. But if I’m on a very tight schedule (meaning, I have to get home to relieve a sitter!) I’ll drive into the city during non-peak hours and use my Best Parking app to help me find the cheapest city parking.
My husband, however, loves the train and his commute connects him to Secaucus Junction and then transfers to a Midtown Direct to Penn.
What makes your town special and unique?
Ho-Ho-Kus is incredibly special. It is a small town with only 1 school—my son will be in the same school from K-8! And it’s a town with an amazing community that is very family-friendly: there are town-wide events throughout the year like the “Taste of Ho-Ho-Kus,” a Movie Night on the Town Green, parades for Halloween, Easter, and Memorial Day. I’ve seen firsthand how warm and welcoming neighbors and friends can be When we first moved in, people who we didn’t even know brought us brownies and gifts for our newborn son. It’s not surprising that Ho-Ho-Kus was ranked #1 town to live in by New Jersey Monthly magazine back in 2011.
What’s unique? The name!
What is your favorite activity destination with the kids around town?
When the weather cooperates, we head to the playgrounds in neighboring towns: Waldwick Borough Park, Ridgewood Duck Pond, Ramsey and Glen Rock are our favorites. For indoor fun, my son loves the “rides” and play space at Paramus Park Mall and we’ve also been to The Big Playhouse in Westwood many times this winter. And nothing beats lunch out—my son loves Raymond’s and Pizza Fusion in Ridgewood and the Iron Horse in Westwood, especially.
Where do you head for the nightlife whether it’s a girls’ night out or date night?We are blessed to have many amazing restaurants around us. Some that are even in walking-distance to our house! And many that are BYOB. For a girls night we like Memoire, Park West Tavern(both in Ridgewood) and date night—with the hubs or other couples—we like Grange in Westwood, Restaurant L in Allendale, Latour in Ridgewood and Kevin’s Thyme in Ho-Ho-Kus. And of course, we find ourselves in the city, too!