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Princeton, NJ

College towns are in a class by themselves - 3/17/2010
Many cities have colleges in them, but Princeton's character and quality of life are very deeply influenced by having such an outstanding school contributing to all aspects of our culture. Auto and train access to major cities is excellent, but public transportation within the town and county itself is mediocre and is getting worse in this economy. There are nearby organic food sources, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, and one moderately expensive super market within walking distance of some of the town. But downtown rents are so expensive that at one point only banks could pay the freight (now zoning limits the number of banks on the main drag so there can be some shops surviving). There is a prize-winning off-Broadway theatre in town, where some shows open before going to Broadway. The one independent hardware store in the downtown area was driven out after some 40 years by chains and big box stores not within walking distance. The public library is a triumph of architecture and services, one of the best public libraries in the nation (my family agrees). Residents get 2 hours of free garage parking next to it, a great convenience. Parking is a moderate problem, with "meter maids" in a constant hover, but there are parking lots (including the above) fairly close to where one needs to go. The public school system is quite good, with not a lot of crime or drugs. There really are some farms left in New Jersey, and some are quite close to Princeton. The general feel in public is an abundance of sweaters and jackets with leather elbow patches, but it's not annoying or exclusive. There is a good hospital serving the community, although it's so short of land it is having to move to a suburb to expand (it promises to remain accessible to all). Property taxes are high, particularly whilst the state tries not to raise income taxes. But one does get good services for that tax dollar(s). I am planning to retire elsewhere for a family member's health reasons, but otherwise we would stay. It has seasons, and enought water, and above average air quality except for a moderate pollen supply.

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