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Guest Fraya_Tormenta

Princeton, NJ

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Guest Fraya_Tormenta

Any thoughts on what it's like to live there?

The comparison is between Princeton, New Haven, and Boston. I've always been a city boy so I don't know how I'd feel about a small town.

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Guest duffman1024

I grew up in a suburb of Princeton and travel back to the area frequently to visit family, so I can offer some help regarding what it's like to live there.

There's no meaningful way to compare Princeton, a small college town, to Boston, one of the world's major metropolitan areas. Living in Boston gives you access to urban, college town and rural environments at the drop of a subway token. In a nutshell, the city of Boston has everything that the township of Princeton has times 10. By making this statement I am not trying to paint a negative picture of Princeton. On the contrary, I think Princeton is a very cool area. However, if you're looking for city style life you won't find it in Princeton.

What you will find in Princeton is a nice, quiet little college town with access to larger cities. Without question, Princeton University has one of the most amazing campuses in the country. Having never been a student at the university, there's not much I can say about the campus other than it's awesome to walk around and the architecture is amazing. "Across" from campus is the Palmer square/Nassau street area which is more or less the town. In this area you'll find some pretty good local restaurants, stores, bars, and some of the best ice cream in the world (I kid you not). As a warning, Princeton is an expensive area so you will have to open your wallet any time you eat out or shop in the local area. There's not a huge bar scene that I know of, but there are 4 or 5 spread out in town. I think there are a few "Princeton University student only" establishments on campus as well (pretentious bast--- ... just kidding). There's a small movie theatre in town that usually shows two of the mainstream movies that are playing. There's also McCarter Theatre where you can see Opera and Plays. One thing that you will not find in Princeton is dance clubs (if that's your thing). You'll have to head over to New Bruswick, Trenton, Philadelphia, or NYC for any of that stuff.

Speaking of nearby cities, you'll have access to them via NJ Transit. You can get on the "Dinky" (shuttle train) which will take you to Princeton Jct. station where you connect to the NE Corridor line that has service to Philadelphia and NYC (New Brunswick and Trenton are on the same line as well). As a warning, trains don't run between 1AM and 4AM so you have to plan trips accordingly.

It's useful to have a car, but you don't need absolutely need one unless you really enjoy going to Malls and/or huge movie multiplexes frequently. Housing is VERY expensive in the area. Personally, I don't know of any housing in the area that I would consider "affordable" for a graduate student (unless you feel like blowing your stipend on your apartment).

I hope that some of this information helps. If you have specific questions about the town, ask away.

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Guest Fray_Tormenta

How is Princeton as a biking town? That is, is it pretty easy to get around on a bike? Also, are there many good hiking areas around Princeton?

Is it easy to get to New Brunswick?

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Guest duffman1024

A bike is useful to get around campus. The town area (palmer square/nassau street) is small enough that a bike is not necessary to get around, but it will probably be useful to get from graduate housing to town. A bike will also make it easier to get to Princeton Shopping Center (a local open air mall where they have a grocery store, restaurants, shops, barber, etc.) and to some of the places at the "end" of Nassau street.

There are a number of walking/biking trails in the area most of which run along the canal. I don't know if any of these would be classified as "hiking" trails, so you may have to go out of the area to find one of those (Poconos?). There may be some at Mercer County Park which is close by (but you'd need a car to get there).

Getting to New Brunswick is easy by car. It's pretty much a straight shot down Route 27 or Route 1. It's a 30-40 min drive because of traffic/lights. You could also get there using the NJ transit connections stated in my previous post, but it's probably not worth the ticket fare (i.e. it'd be better to find someone with a car and throw a buck or two towards his/her gas. That way you'll also have a car to get around New Brunswick).

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How is Princeton as a biking town? That is, is it pretty easy to get around on a bike? Also, are there many good hiking areas around Princeton?

Is it easy to get to New Brunswick?

Lots of people bike, particularly around campus. Campus isn't big but sometimes biking is convenient, especially since graduate housing can be a bit far away. One warning, campus has a slope so you'll get used to pedaling uphill if you aren't already.

I know nothing about hiking except that the Outdoor Action preorientation program uses lots of hiking trails in nearby states. You could proabbly email them and ask if you wanted to get a good sense of what hiking trails were available.

As far as New Brunswick, depending on where you're goin in NB, you might be better off taking NJ Transit. It's only a 15 min train ride (4-5 min on the Dinky and 10 on the NE Corridor line) away.

If you've got more questions, be sure to ask.

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Guest Fray_Tormenta

Maybe I already know the answer to this one, but are there any young people in Princeton that are not associated with the university? More specifically, is there anything resembling a dating scene in Princeton? My guess is no. Maybe I would have to go to New Brunswick for that.

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I was wondering how far the Princeton stipend would stretch if the town is so expensive... Can you live on 19k and still go and have some tea once in a while (Sue me I do not drink coffee, i live in the UK).

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I think that you could. Small World is great and there are several cafes on campus (one in East Pyne and Cafe Vivian in Frist).

It's hard to judge since I lived there as an undergrad. The real key is being willing to ride the bus or drive a car to Route 1 to go shopping. ShopRite is great and affordable; Wegman's is nicer but more expensive. Shopping only at the Wild Oats that's walking distance from campus will really eat into your stipend.

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I am seriously considering accepting an offer from Princeton University but I want to find out whether I can live somewhere besides Princeton. My girlfriend, who is saintly enough to move with me, works in publishing, and would likely be working in NYC. In fairness to her, I want to find out if there are places that we could live to make her commute easier without making my life a study of public transportation. We would like to get rid of our cars if possible (or least sell one of them) and primarily use trains/ buses. Maybe something just across the river from Manhattan(Jersey City)? New Brunswick?

Any thoughts are appreciated. I'm in the woods here.

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There is an NJ Transit line that goes from NYC to to Trenton and stops at Princeton Junction. The ride is comfortable and not that long. I would recommend finding a place somewhere between New Brunswick and NYC that's on that NJ Transit line, and that way neither of your commutes will be too long. Even if you live in Princeton, her commute won't be that bad, especially since there are express lines that stop at Princeton. I took that train every day the summer before last, and it was a pretty comfortable and dependable ride.

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That's really helpful. Do you know about how much the train costs, whether you can get monthly/weekly passes, how late it runs? It would also be good to know whether there are actually places that you can live that are affordable and more than just a bedroom in a bedroom community. Ideally (and I realize that this is a lofty goal) we would move to some place that is easy to get to by train from NYC and Princeton, has some character of its own, and doesn't have an insanely high cost of living. Since we will be splitting expenses we can afford a little more than if I were by myself, living on a humanities stipend.

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They have monthly, weekly and I believe yearly passes. The train itself runs until about 2 am I believe and starts up again at 4 am, but I'm not sure about when the transportation from Princeton Junction to the campus ends. I would probably suggest New Brunswick as a good midway point because it's a fun town to live in, the express train to New York runs through it and rent isn't bad at all (also they have these fat sandwiches that are unreal). Also, checkout njtransit.com for more info.

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I am seriously considering accepting an offer from Princeton University but I want to find out whether I can live somewhere besides Princeton. My girlfriend, who is saintly enough to move with me, works in publishing, and would likely be working in NYC. In fairness to her, I want to find out if there are places that we could live to make her commute easier without making my life a study of public transportation. We would like to get rid of our cars if possible (or least sell one of them) and primarily use trains/ buses. Maybe something just across the river from Manhattan(Jersey City)? New Brunswick?

Any thoughts are appreciated. I'm in the woods here.

I know someone who does the commute from the Columbia area of NYC to Princeton every day. His monthly NJ Transit is $366. He says it's cheaper to buy individual tickets if he takes any vacation days: " if i need to take 17 or more trips in a month, or 5 or more trips in a week, then it makes sense to buy a monthly or weekly". Weekly is $111.50.

Jersey City would not be an easy commute to Princeton. The best would be somewhere on the Northeast Corridor line, as has already been mentioned. Metuchen, Edison, Elizabeth, Rahway... those wouldn't be too terrible, I'd think. No idea what rents run in these areas. Obviously living in Manhattan or anywhere closer to NYC is expensive, which is another thing to consider.

As for train times, the last Dinky leaves campus around 2am, if memory serves. Given that the main library (Firestone) closes around midnight (or at least used to, this may've changed), you shouldn't have too much trouble making the last train.

More from my friend: "yeah, a jersey city commute is likely to be longer than mine. path takes forever. granted, it goes pretty far."

"new brunswick makes a lot more sense. sorry, but the grad student should have the short commute, not the one with the job. anything north of new brunswick is too far north. and if they can live in princeton it's really probably better, at least for a first-year. though who knows, if this person's a PhD candidate they'll probably see the Dinky cut back another quarter of a mile before they're done."

The Dinky move is to the other side of a parking lot to accommodate the construction of an arts neighborhood on that end of campus.

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I do know of graduate students and postdocs at Princeton who live in New York or Philly and commute. It's not fun, but it's certainly doable. The town itself has many investment banker-types who commute Monday-Friday.

There is no bar scene. You will drink at the D-Bar (liquor subsidized by the university!) and in the first few years, might go the eating clubs which often have free live music and decent parties. However watching 18 year-olds puke themselves gets tiresome after awhile. But I think grad students do make their own life and there are always parties and various goings on.

There's no hiking per se, but a bike is an excellent idea. There's a lake and you can rent canoes. There is also a tow path that goes from Trenton, through Princeton, all the way somewhere else and which you can run or bike. You can also bike through the Institute Woods. There are farms nearby that sell fresh produce. And you can party in New York City every weekend if you like. After your first year, you might also decide to get a car, which will give you more access to shopping options on Route One and make it easier to access NYC/Philly.

Princeton has the most picturesque, aristocratic campus in the nation.

It's not a bad place to live for a few years.

Get ice cream at the Bent Spoon!

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They're moving the Dinky??

Damn. Nothing stays the same!

Echoing the poster above, I also know several graduate students whose significant others commuted to jobs in New York. It really sucks for the one doing the commuting, and perhaps living somewhere inexpensive, but part way between New York and Princeton makes the most sense.

If I were to live in New Brunswick, I'd definitely get a car!

Also, there are subsidized grad student apartments. Studios with balcony for I think $675 (plus utilities). I don't know what expensive is, but that's pretty cheap compared to NYC or Cambridge!

Also, the movie theater tends to show arthouse and foreign films. There is also UFO, which is a student organization that shows $2 films on the weekend at the theater in the student center. And there are film festivals of course. Really, typical college town stuff.

Maybe I already know the answer to this one, but are there any young people in Princeton that are not associated with the university? More specifically, is there anything resembling a dating scene in Princeton? My guess is no. Maybe I would have to go to New Brunswick for that.

Nope. Mostly young families. You date other graduate students (or undergraduates, which happens on occasion, if you are a guy).

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My fiancee has an associates degree, but would like to go back to school in the fall to finish her BA. For her, it's not a matter of prestige or academic rigor, she just wants to finally complete her BA after a few years of working. Does anyone know some undergraduate options that are close to Princeton and reasonably priced? I sure want to accept an offer at Princeton, but I need to resolve this first.

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How nice is graduate housing here? It seems like the only reasonable place to live with a grad student stipend. Does it have a dorm feel or an apartment feel? Is it the option that most graduate students choose?

Is a meal plan the best way to go? I find it a really weird concept for a grad school, especially being that I haven't had a meal plan or lived on campus since I was a freshman in college. Do I need a car to reasonably do grocery shopping?

Is there much of a graduate student life, or do undergrads rule the campus?

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How nice is graduate housing here? It seems like the only reasonable place to live with a grad student stipend. Does it have a dorm feel or an apartment feel? Is it the option that most graduate students choose?

Is a meal plan the best way to go? I find it a really weird concept for a grad school, especially being that I haven't had a meal plan or lived on campus since I was a freshman in college. Do I need a car to reasonably do grocery shopping?

Is there much of a graduate student life, or do undergrads rule the campus?

I've never been in graduate housing before but it's definitely affordable compared to other things in the area. A lot depends on whether it's Butler Apts, the tower things, or the Old Grad College building... Dunno if you'd want to do meal plan unless you live in the more dorm-like one (the Old Grad College or whatever it's called that's on the golf course) but the campus food is outstanding. Yes, you need a car to do grocery shopping though the bus picks up on Nassau St and will drop you off right at either Shop-Rite or Wegman's (though obviously this is easier with a car). Undergrads rule the campus and generally think grad students are weird.

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A car makes grocery shopping easier, but if you have a bike, you can easily ride it to Wild Oats (large health food store not too far down Nassau Street). There is also a grocery store at the Princeton Shopping Center, which is also bikable. However, Wegmans is definitely the best grocery store ever, so it's nice to have a car to be able to drive there (as wel as Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Linens 'n' Things, etc.). I have ridden my bike to Wegman's before, but it probably takes a good 20-25 minutes from campus; I'm a slow biker.

I personally wouldn't get a meal plan if you like cooking. I'd try my hardest to get into apartment-style housing and then just buy as I go at the various on-campus eateries.

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My partner and I are going to Princeton next Fall!! We were thinking about grad housing, but we have a dog, and they told us that pets are allowd in Butler Apts only. Anyone can tell me something about them? Are they far from the campus? Are they like apartments? Are they safe (I do not want to leave my doggy alone if the place is isolated or unsafe...I know, I am a bit paranoic, but Gwendaline, my doggy, is more as a baby!!)?

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I'm considering Princeton too and am moving there with my boyfriend who will be working in NYC. One option I was told about is to schedule a ride with the campus shuttle... They'll pick you up from the Dinky stop (if it's stopped running) and drop you off wherever you need to be (they go until 2 AM).

Otherwise, a monthly pass is $400, but I think it also covers your port authority fee.

On a different note, are there any recommendations for the grad housing apartments? I'm leaning towards Lawrence Apartments because it's all inclusive, but I really have no idea what any of them are like... It would be for partner housing.

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