Locals Spotlight: Michelle W. Living in Montclair NJ

Where did you move from? Brooklyn

What were a couple of your deciding factors for moving to the suburbs? A couple? Ha! We wanted an affordable home that gave us the space we needed + culture, walkability, diversity, good schools, and a less-than-45-min train ride to NYC. Montclair checked all the boxes somehow!

What made you choose Montclair over other nearby NJ suburbs? Everything above, but it did also feel like “where the suburbs meet the city.” We liked the fact that there were multiple town centers and walkable commercial centers (without being strip malls! #snobs), and we can be a 1-car family pretty easily. Some of the other neighboring towns were cute but felt way too small for us.

What do you like most about your home’s community? The people! A couple weeks after we moved in 3 years ago, our neighbor invited us over for a potluck BBQ, telling us we couldn’t go shopping and could only bring what was already in our home. Just our speed! Our 5 year old daughter has about a dozen friends on our block, and it’s only a matter of time when she goes outside that she’s surrounded by kids with their bikes, scooters, soccer balls – you name it! It’s really special to have a wide open weekend (even though that’s super rare) and wind up filling it with spontaneous play dates, free events around town, and delicious meals. There always seems to be something worth doing and seeing in Montclair – and if you choose to skip it and just hang with your friends or go to the playground, you’re bound to have fun.

It’s also worth mentioning that we’re a transracial family, and it’s amazing to live where we’re not an anomaly.  Montclair has felt like home in that way since day one.

What do you appreciate most about your suburban home? My office! I’ve been working for myself as The When I Grow Up Coach since 2010, and once our daughter came around in 2014 my work space in our apartment turned into her nursery. If I wasn’t at the coffee shop, I was on client video calls on my bed, trying to pretend that I wasn’t on my bed. Now, I have a beautiful space that’s just for me, and my husband – a freelance copywriter – took over our spare bedroom as his office, too! We turned our basement into the playroom, so even the kiddo has a place of her own. It feels really special, especially when the only “extra” space we had in Brooklyn consisted of one room that acted as our living room, dining room and playroom. Oh, and not having to deal with your upstairs and next door neighbors (and all their noise!) would definitely be my husband’s answer.

Pictures credited to Angie McCaffrey of https://entwinedstudio.com


Montclair staples: Everything listed below + the farmers market, Watchung Booksellers, the Donut Run, Dollymoo, Montclair Film Center, Montclair Literary Festival, Vanillamore’s dessert flight, Montclair Community Pre-K and Fleet Feet. Shout out to Montclair Improv Comedy, our resident improv group (that my husband happens to perform with)!

Restaurant: Le Salbuen on Walnut because *half* of their menu is vegan (thank yooooou!), everything is delicious and it reminds me of Paris. 

Park / Outdoor activity: Chasing after the kids on our block as they play on our swingset, ride their bikes and scooters, look at bugs, make messes in the dirt, jump on a friend’s trampoline, etc.

Workout/Exercise: Running in Brookdale Park

Children’s store: Just Kidding Around on Bloomfield

Children’s activity: Edgemont and Verona parks. Our daughter can spend hours in both places. She also loves ice skating at Clary Anderson.

Coffee shop: Java Love on Church St. I give them lots of my money.

Any advice for people considering a move from NYC to Montclair? Come try it! We spent a weekend here in an Airbnb and acted as if we lived here. Do what you normally would (go for a run, hit the brunch spots, sit in the park) and see if it clicks. We knew pretty quickly that it was the right place for us.

All comments and verbiage by Michelle Ward

Pictures credited to Angie McCaffrey of https://entwinedstudio.com

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