So you’re moving to New Jersey and want a Christian education… well, this blog post is for you!
As you can imagine, in considering this move, you’re not alone. Families moving to New Jersey typically do so around a business transfer or job opportunity. This is not surprising. If metropolitan New York City were a country, our economy would be the 9th largest in the world, so it stands to reason that people regularly move to this area from around the world.
I’ve personally done this. I’ve made the move. In the summer of 2014, my family moved from the suburbs of Chicago to Northern New Jersey to join the team at EC. As we made the move and adjusted to live in NJ, there were some things that were as advertised. There were also some things that were completely unexpected. Some of that “unexpected” is amazing. Some is unique. In my role at Eastern Christian School, I speak with many families from around the country (and even the world!) considering the move to this area. For Christian families, the priority is to find a school, a church, and a home that allows them to continue to raise their child in a Christian community.
So, I thought that I’d put together a list of helpful things for families moving or considering moving to New Jersey. I’m not pretending that this is a comprehensive or authoritative list… just a collection of thoughts that are hopefully helpful to some as they consider the move:
Moving to New Jersey: Random NJ Cultural guide
- In New Jersey, we pump fists, not gas. New Jersey is now the only state in the union (Fun fact: Oregon was the other, but stopped the practice in 2017) where you are not legally allowed to pump your own gas for your vehicle. Don’t try to pump your own gas. It’s a weird thing, but in the winter months, you’ll definitely appreciate being able to stay inside your toasty-warm car while someone else fills it up for you.
- Taylor Ham & Bagels. Taylor ham is delicious and uniquely NJ (so I’ve been told… ham isn’t my thing. Because ham isn’t my thing, I’ve gotten many a weird look when I turn down this local delicacy). But the bagels… Oh the bagels. They’re great and they’re all over. This is a culture that has fully embraced the bagel shop. My personal stop is the New York Bagle cafe in North Haledon. My order is a bacon egg and cheese on a rye bagel with ketchup, salt, and pepper. The hilarious thing about these details is that I know there are several NJ families reading this right now that vigorously disagree with this choice of restaurant and food, because “MY bagel place and MY bagel order is way better than that,” but that’s kinda the point… We’re passionate about our bagels here.
- Pizza = “Pie” Going to get a pie doesn’t mean you’re about to buy an apple pie.
- Carbonated beverage = “Soda.” America is divided in many ways, but one of the most prominent is the words we use for carbonated beverages. Here, it’s soda. It’s not “pop” like in certain areas of the Midwest (guilty as charged for me). It’s not “Coke” like in the south. It’s soda.
- Blue Laws. Bergen County, New Jersey is one of the last areas of the country to still enforce “Blue Laws.” Basically, a lot of stores aren’t allowed to be open on Sundays. As far as I can tell, this began as a “piety rule” linked to the Christian faith, but has remained to this day because it cuts down on traffic and we New Jersians like as few cars on the roads as possible.
- Diversity One of the really cool things about living in Metro NYC is the diversity that you get to experience. Because New York truly is a global city, this area is a truly global area. You get a diversity of everything. People, cultures, food, music, entertainment- everything.
- Beefsteaks. There’s something called a Beefsteak. It’s a food. And an event. It’s gloriously weird and beautifully NJ. And it’s almost exclusively in Bergen County, NJ. Here’s EC’s version. Stacking bread is a thing.
- Navigating the area. GPS is your friend. I repeat GPS is your friend. Since this is one of the first areas to be settled in America, many of the roads date back to horse and buggy or even old Native American trails or deer paths. Couple that with rapid urban sprawl and a mountainous terrain, and you’ve got a confusing pile of roads to navigate. Figuring out how to get from point A to point B is incredibly difficult for a first-timer without your good friend GPS. Sometimes my GPS map looks like someone took spaghetti noodles and threw them at the display! But the GPS knows.
- Everything is within an hour. No matter what you’re into, it’s within an hour. If you’re a city person, NYC is right there. Broadway shows, shopping, tourist attractions, sporting events, concerts, etc. If you’re a beach person, we have an amazing shoreline with great beaches. (BTW, we don’t go to the beach. We go “Down the Shore.”) If you’re an outdoors person, we have amazing mountains, nature preserves, waterfalls (I personally highly recommend the Delaware Water gap!), hunting and fishing opportunities. It may take you and your GPS a while to figure out how to get to these areas, but it’s all within an hour of Eastern Christian School!
Finding a School
Straight away, I’m going to cop to being totally biased here: You should strongly consider Eastern Christian School. We are New Jersey’s premier Christian School. We’re the oldest and the largest Christian school in the state. We’re a national district of character and a top 50 Christian High School in America. We’ve got the resources to be able to provide an amazing education and the 125 year long commitment to keeping Jesus Christ as pre-eminent in everything that we do. You can Have It All at Eastern Christian School. We have a renowned Variable Tuition program that makes an excellent education at EC accessible to all Christian families!
Want to learn more? Our friendly admissions team is ready to show you our amazing campuses anytime. We have a Preschool and Elementary School campus in Midland Park, NJ, a Preschool and Middle School in Wyckoff, NJ, and a High School in North Haledon, NJ. For families moving to the area, campus visits frequently means unique hours of availability to check out EC. Many times, families have limited time in the area and are trying to figure out home and school within only a day or so. We are very happy to accommodate with flexible scheduling for campus tours. We’ve done this at night, on weekends, and even on holidays. We can’t wait to show you our school! Additionally, whether you’re considering EC or not, I’d encourage you to check out our “Start Smart” guide. It’s helpful to walk through the decision-making process as you consider private education for your child.
Finding a Church
At Eastern Christian School, we have 150+ churches that send students to our school. We have almost every denomination within the whole of the Christian faith. We have every worship style you can think of- from traditional to contemporary. We have every type of church building you can think of- from literal cathedrals to converted office complexes. I am very happy to help you find a list of churches in the area to explore. If you can tell me a little bit about your church preferences, I can connect you with a variety of churches to check out for yourself. We help new families with this all the time.
Finding a Home
Location, location location. In 2012, the New York metropolitan area was home to seven of the 25 wealthiest counties in the United States by median household income, according to the American Community Survey. So housing ain’t cheap! Frequently sticker shock and the new area make navigating the housing market difficult. I typically encourage families to connect with a realtor from with the EC community since I know them to be very trustworthy. Again, if you’d like a reference, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Because of potential sticker shock, many new families wonder how they can move to an area close enough to EC. EC’s bus service to rescue! Bus service can bridge the gap for you. Here’s a link to our transportation info. You’ll find this helpful to find out where EC families come from and where we bus to. That page has a town-by-town breakdown on how many students come from the various towns. It’ll be a very helpful guide for you as you consider home/location options. Obviously, the closer you move to one of our three campuses, the easier it will be for your family routine/morning commute, but the bus system allows you to consider a huge geographic area and still gives you access to EC. As you weigh options, please contact us- we’re happy to help!
Logistics: How to fill in the gaps:
We’re very family friendly. We offer before care, after Care (until 6:00 PM). We have inter-campus shuttles in case you have children at multiple campuses and want to drop off multiple children at one spot.
- Aide in Lieu. New Jersey law requires local school districts to transport children to school. This is true of both public and private schools. This means that, depending on the school district you move to, your district will either provide busing or financial “aide in lieu” of busing. In other words, your family will either receive local busing to EC through your district (pretty rare) or, if you sign some forms, you’re legally obligated to received $1,000 per child to help with transportation costs.
- As the mall capital of America, there’s no sales tax on shoes or clothing. Time for a shopping spree!
Interested in learning more about EC? Some great next steps:
Our friendly admissions team is ready to help welcome you to the area and help check the school portion of your move off your list! Moving to New Jersey? Please contact us at any time- we’re excited to introduce you to the Garden State and to Eastern Christian School!