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Manhattan to New Brunswick -- Daily Commute Impossible?


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I am considering moving to New Brunswick to attend Rutgers, it sounds like a great/amazing place to study. The problem is, I want to live in New York City. NYC was my home once upon a time for a short while, and I miss it terribly. I know it's completely inconvenient to live there and travel to New Brunswick, but I wanted to know if it were at all possible.

I have heard a few different things, most recently that it is $26 from NYC Penn Station to New Brunswick on the Amtrak (that's impossible for me to afford). The other option I'm aware of is taking the PATH train to Newark station, and taking either a bus or train (not sure which, or how much the trips are) to New Brunswick station. Has anyone traveled either of these ways? Does anybody reading make this commute on a semi-regular basis? I am guessing that I will have to be at the Rutgers campus at least 4 times a week. If there's a will there's a way..........

Thx!

Edited by andromeda
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I've known of people who've done it, but not their first year. I'd say live in New Brunswick the first year, and then once you don't need to be on campus so much you could move to Manhattan. And who knows, maybe you'll find New Brunswick not so bad, and it possible to get all the NYC you need by visiting once a week. It' certainly cheaper.

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There's also a bus that runs from New Brunswick to Port Authority. I forget what the normal price is, but Rutgers students get discounts, which makes round trip tickets $15 (a lot cheaper than the train!). It is, on the other hand, a bit slower than the train, depending on the traffic. NJ Transit (train) is, as you've posted, $26 round trip.

People in my department do tend to live in NB/Highland Park during coursework, and after that many move to the city (or Jersey City). Beyond the expense, commuting several days a week is very time-consuming! Plus, the good thing about sticking around in the NB area the first year or so is that you really bond with your cohort - living farther away can make it harder to see people outside of class. For me at least, feeling connected to my cohort first year really helped to deal with the stress caused by transitioning into a PhD program!

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If it were a 9-5 I'd say do it. But a PhD program? Ever second is valuable when you are in graduate school; I personally think not living within walking distance of a campus is too far, I need to spend ALL of my time devoted to research, writing, and teaching. Especially since, why do you want to live on Manhattan? It seems like you will only be paying through the nose to live in a place you can't enjoy because you are in a PhD program in a different city.

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If it were a 9-5 I'd say do it. But a PhD program? Ever second is valuable when you are in graduate school; I personally think not living within walking distance of a campus is too far, I need to spend ALL of my time devoted to research, writing, and teaching. Especially since, why do you want to live on Manhattan? It seems like you will only be paying through the nose to live in a place you can't enjoy because you are in a PhD program in a different city.

Rents in Manhattan are ridiculous. It's probably a bit more practical to live in Jersey and take trips to Manhattan for recreation. The NJTransit trains go from New Brunswick to Penn Station for $13 though.

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Rents in Manhattan are ridiculous. It's probably a bit more practical to live in Jersey and take trips to Manhattan for recreation. The NJTransit trains go from New Brunswick to Penn Station for $13 though.

Seriously. Why pay Manhattan rent when you're looking at spending most of your time on campus or on the train? If you have that kind of financial security then just commute via private helicopter.

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That whole corridor from Manhattan down to Trenton and even over into Bucks County, PA is full of people who do that daily commute. - I've done it and my father has done it for 20 years. So it's certainly do-able, but a) it can get pricey and B) with a non-traditional schedule of a student, it may get pretty inconvenient. I'd live in New Brunswick at least for a year.

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I know rents are ridiculous, I lived there... but this time around, I might have a friend to help me out.

$13?? You mean one way, I guess.... right?

Rents in Manhattan are ridiculous. It's probably a bit more practical to live in Jersey and take trips to Manhattan for recreation. The NJTransit trains go from New Brunswick to Penn Station for $13 though.

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Would that bus be the Coach USA bus? I checked the website but that route no longer seems to exist....

There's also a bus that runs from New Brunswick to Port Authority. I forget what the normal price is, but Rutgers students get discounts, which makes round trip tickets $15 (a lot cheaper than the train!). It is, on the other hand, a bit slower than the train, depending on the traffic. NJ Transit (train) is, as you've posted, $26 round trip.

People in my department do tend to live in NB/Highland Park during coursework, and after that many move to the city (or Jersey City). Beyond the expense, commuting several days a week is very time-consuming! Plus, the good thing about sticking around in the NB area the first year or so is that you really bond with your cohort - living farther away can make it harder to see people outside of class. For me at least, feeling connected to my cohort first year really helped to deal with the stress caused by transitioning into a PhD program!

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Would that bus be the Coach USA bus? I checked the website but that route no longer seems to exist....

Yeah, it's the Coach USA bus (also seems to be called Suburban Transit). It still exists, I know people who use it to commute. Line 100 goes from NB to New York: http://www.coachusa.com/suburban/ It leaves pretty much every half hour. Hope that helps!

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You may think I'm crazy for saying what is about to come out in this post, but as someone who has spent most of my life living in both NYC and NJ, you may really like New Brunswick. This of course depends on what it is that you love so much about NYC that you would want to make the commute, and yes, I'm about to compare New Brunswick to NYC here, which I am very well aware that it is not, but what it is is a nice, vibrant city with many cheap, good food options, an active cultural arts scene and not too shabby shopping. I'm actually in the opposite position of you where I've been accepted to CUNY but was not accepted to Rutgers, where I was really hoping to go. I have a good friend who commuted to NB from east midtown for law school and it definitely took a serious toll on her. I would agree with the other feedback to try out NB for a year and use NYC as your weekend "get-away" :) Good luck and congrats on your acceptance!

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Also consider what campus your program is on. If it is not on college ave consider you have to add 20 minute min to get between the train station and the campus your program is on. Another odd thing about the Rutgers bus system is that on breaks the bus runs even less sometimes making it a 40 minute wait to get the bus off of college ave.

I would say the commute from NYC would definitely take a toll on you so as the others said considering at least spending your first year near Rutgers would be wise.

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I just wanted to jump into this conversation and say that I live in Brooklyn and had a job in Hamilton, NJ for 2 years. Hamilton is on the same train line but further than New Brunswick. If you live on the west side of Manhattan it isn't too terrible to take NJ Transit from Penn Station to New Brunswick every day. Yes, it's relatively expensive but you should look into student passes and buying a monthly pass (both will be cheaper than purchasing one way tickets). All that is to say it is doable but expensive. On the plus side you can study on the train though!

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The NJ Transit train is probably the most convenient way to do this. A student monthly pass is $271. Add that to the raised cost of paying rent in Manhattan (even with a roommate) and this plan makes absolutely no sense.

I live in Manhattan; I make that train commute about 2-3 times a month because my SO lives near Hamilton, NJ. From Penn to Hamilton it's about 1.5 hours (1 hour express); From Penn to New Brunswick it's about 1 hour. Honestly, the commute wouldn't be that bad, assuming that you lived on the west side of Manhattan on either the A/C/E line or the 1/2/3 lines (those trains go directly to Penn Station). Even if you lived on a connecting train line, it might not be so bad depending on your personal tolerance for a longer commute. The train ride is pleasant and relatively quiet; assuming that you don't have to drive to the Rutgers campus and can basically just walk off the train and to campus, it's definitely more than possible. NJ is a state full of commuters and so there are people who go a lot farther to go to work. I know people who commute longer on the subway to get to Columbia, since a lot of my cohort mates and professors live out in Brooklyn and Queens and I even have a professor who lives in Long Island.

The concern that I have is that this plan makes no sense to me. Even taking the cost of owning and maintaining a car into consideration, it's far cheaper to live in New Brunswick than it is to live in Manhattan or even Brooklyn, and it is FAR better to live close to your university than an hour away. From things as important as being able to spend late hours in the library or make appointments with professors later in the evening, to frivolous things like being able to pop home for a 30-minute nap or maybe take your lunch at home - it just makes sense to be able to live near your university if at all possible. And even taking convenience out of the equation, it just seems like such a waste of money. Not only is the rent higher in NYC, the cost of living is, too.

You have your entire life to live in NYC, if you want. I even agree that it might be okay to start out in new Brunswick and move to NYC once you've completed your coursework and exams and have moved into your dissertation stage, when you only have to be on campus maybe 2, maybe 3 days a week.

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I think people, mostly people coming from places where there isn't a large transit presence, overestimate the capabilities of a "connected" area like NJ/NY. As others have already chimed in, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to live in Manhattan (even though its, yea, Manhattan) and go to school in NJ. Culturally maybe; financially and logistically - no. If one "needs" to get into the city for culture, that's what those weekends are for. NJ to NY is pretty robust in transit options so that if you need to let off some steam and "party" you can. Mark me down as someone else advising against this for future residents.

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If money's no object...I have a friend who is commuting from Brooklyn to Rutgers. Every. Day. for his PhD in English. While I would never do it, he claims it's no bigs (he leaves the house at 8:30 and beats the rush somehow to the Holland Tunnel). He has a car, and that's why he lives in BK (for the "free" parking). If you started in Manhattan, it would probably be more doable. I'd suggest, though, looking to live on the other side of the Hudson simply because if one of those river crossings is down on a day of a huge presentation, etc., that would be awful.

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Impossible? No, not at all.

Difficult? Well....

I have a friend who does this and has been doing this for a few years now. She takes NJ transit and lives close to Penn Station (Amtrack doesn't stop in NB). Her husband works in NY and makes bank, which is why they live in NY.

She personally doesn't think it's worth it. The train ride is ~45 min alone, and there may be delays, and you also have to factor in going to/from the stations. It's like 300+ a month to ride, even as a student, I think. Living in New York (Manhattan) is expensive, too--as I said, the only reason she does is because of her husband. And like I said, he makes BANK (and has to live there because of his job).

I hate to be a downer/dream killer, but I know how exhausting it gets for her, so I wanted to share. This may make me a bit biased, but yeah. But to put a positive spin on living in the area (as opposed to the negatives of living in NY)....

Things to consider:

New Brunswick isn't that bad. It's a college town, and there's some crime, but it has a lot of bars/restaurants and a little theatre district. There a nicer areas adjacent to NB for living quietly, too.

Living in NY would definitely have its benefits. Lots of culture and character, close to LGA and JFK and EWR, etc... but NB is like halfway between NY and Philly, too. RT train fare to NY is 26, to Philly is like 30 or so?

As for driving: okay, in NY you don't need a car. However, owning a car and living elsewhere may not be so bad: 5-6 hour drive to Providence/Boston/New England, ~4 to DC, <1 to the shore, and lots of options for getting out to the mountains for outdoorsy stuff and camping.

Many universities charge a lot for parking, but at Rutgers, it's actually ridiculously cheap as a grad student. I'm talking $26 for a year, and you can park in a lot of different lots.

Gas is cheaper in NJ (and you don't have to get out of your car, since they pump for you) and there's no sales tax on clothing or groceries (NY has no sales tax on only groceries).

PM me if you'd like more personal insight.

Edited by katerific
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