Author Topic: So seriously, should I move with my family to Jackson Heights?  (Read 3705 times)

Offline RayPriz

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So seriously, should I move with my family to Jackson Heights?
« on: December 11, 2007, 10:19:10 AM »
My wife and I have a two-year old daughter and another baby on the way.  We currently live in deep-suburban NJ but will be moving closer or into NYC soon.  (My job is in Manhattan.)  We have visited JH a number of times and enjoy the food, culture, exposure to Spanish language etc. (my wife is from Panama) but that doesn't give us much sense of what living in the neighborhood is actually like.  Reading through these posts - and I did try to read many of them before starting my own post - I see a lot of people enjoy the neighborhood, but I also see a lot of gripes.  Some of the gripes appear to be very significant, such as: no park space, and a major transexual-prostitution problem???

In my mind it breaks down roughly like this:
PROS
- Raise our kids in a multicultural setting
- Our children will be exposed to both Spanish and English (which we want)
- Great food
- Easy commute
- More for our money in terms of housing
- Good investment as the neighborhood might be the next to take off
- Strong community institutions (as evinced by this message board.)

CONS:
- Crime - maybe a problem?
- Schools - maybe a problem?
- Mediocre grocery stores etc.?  (Sorry but in NJ we're a few minutes from both a Whole Foods and a Wegmans.)
- Again, no green park space, and that transexual-prostitution situation...

But my dilemma is, I have no way to weigh these things against each other, nor do I know what I might be missing.

I would greatly enjoy your honest opinion - I recognize there are no right or wrong answers to this - of whether moving into JH with a young family is, all things considered, a wise choice.  I appreciate your feedback and enjoy reading the comments on this forum.  Thanks.

Sincerely,
Ray Prisament

Offline jennsch

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Re: So seriously, should I move with my family to Jackson Heights?
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2007, 10:47:34 AM »
Ray,

I've lived here for a bit more than three years and, honestly, I've never personally seen any evidence of the prostitution issue. I know it's here but only through news reports/what I read on boards. As for crime, I feel pretty safe here and have walked home from the subway at all hours of the night (and actually, feel much safer than I did when I lived on the Upper East Side and had to deal with all the drunk frat boys tumbling out of bars).

As for things like grocery stores -- yeah, it's challenging if you're used to one stop shops like Whole Foods where every tomato looks like they it could star on the Martha Stewart show but, if it's convenience you're after, you could always order from Fresh Direct and, if you actually enjoy food shopping and searching out new items, the neighborhood (and areas around it) can be a lot of fun. There's some really good stuff.

By the way, your two-year-old daughter will definitely love the Hello Kitty heavy shops around here -- my nieces go crazy for the stuff when they visit.

Jenna

Offline Shelby2

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Re: So seriously, should I move with my family to Jackson Heights?
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2007, 11:11:20 AM »
I've been here 2 years and I also have seen no evidence of prostitution and only know about it because of what I read online.  And I *do* go out late at night and have walked home (12 minute walk) from the subway plenty of times at 2am.  Alone, with no one bothering me, and no sense of danger.

Regarding the grocery issue, yes, I do sometimes miss my days of living in Massachusetts where I could drive to three fantastic grocery stores (Trader Joes, Whole Foods and Market Basket) and get exactly what I needed from each one, park for free and be set for the week.

But that's life in other states (or suburbs) for you.  I don't think that type of shopping is possible here in NYC.  Even in NY for people 'lucky' enough to live near the Whole Foods and Trader Joes, say, for example, in Union Square, have to put up with unbelievable lines and crowds.  The few times lately I have been to one of those stores in Manhattan I have walked out without buying anything after seeing the lines and practically fled back to JH to do my shopping in relative ease.  Plus the prices in JH are alot lower if you are willing to shop around.

Yes, parking is an issue and if you don't want to deal with parking on the street, you should factor garage parking into your budget.

I think maybe what you need to think about is how JH compares to other areas that can offer you the same amenities/commute or price.  Therefore, it doesn't really make sense to compare the grocery shopping options you have in suburban NJ with what you can get in one of the boroughs of NY.  Apples and oranges.

If you are comparing parking options, it is true that you could park much more easily on the street in, say, Ditmas Park in Brooklyn (comparable in terms of price to our neigbhorhood for real estate) than in JH.  However, the 'pros' list that you might write for Ditmas Park may pale in comparison to your 'pros' list for JH.  (It did for me -I considered Ditmas Park and it bored me to tears.)

This area is extremely popular for families with young children and you will find yourself with a very strong network right away (I believe).  There is not much info on this board for families (yet) but that may be because we are a fairly new board - only about one month old.

Offline cybgrand

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Re: So seriously, should I move with my family to Jackson Heights?
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2007, 11:33:10 AM »
I agree with the above post. I have lived here two years and am sometimes frustrated by
the lack of amenities, but the people I have met here more than make up for it. There is
a wonderful sense of community here. I never found that in Manhattan or Brooklyn.
Also, between Fresh Direct, Farm Spot (our local CSA), the farmers market, Trade Fair
and all the ethnic markets, you can get everything you need here.
And transexual prostitutes have NEVER been a problem! I heard that 37th Road used to be
a gay sex spot 10 or more years ago. It certainly isn't now.
You should also join the Jackson Heights Families list serve for more insight into the neighborhood.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jhfamilies/

Offline spaceboy

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Re: So seriously, should I move with my family to Jackson Heights?
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2007, 11:44:47 AM »
Personally, I moved to the neighborhood for the transexual prostitution and have been sorely disappointed by the lack of it...  ;)

As for the other cons - We worried about parking too, but made that a major factor in our search and chose an apartment with garage parking. And between Fresh Direct and a couple of great produce stores, this shouldn't be an issue.

It's true we are seriously lacking a nice park, but we aren't all that far from flushing corona park, which is huge and offers a lot (not to mention the Mets)

Schools, I don't know much about, so can't comment...

Offline toddg

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Re: So seriously, should I move with my family to Jackson Heights?
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2007, 12:51:39 PM »
My wife and I moved here five years ago from Berkeley, California.  We miss the fantastic access to diverse, quality produce we had there (especially the incomparable Berkeley Bowl).  But overall, we find the produce available at the markets, small greengrocers, and farmers markets in JH to be acceptable.  Far better than we had access to at some of the other places we've lived (urban or suburban).

As newcomers to NYC, we started our neighborhood search with a clean slate.  We chose Jackson Heights for its affordability, diversity, and transit access.   It seemed as good a neighborhood as any from which to acclimate to our new city, jobs, and the arrival of our first child.  We rented an apartment, fully expecting to make a more permanent and informed neighborhood choice once we settled in.  But in the time since we've arrived, we have found JH to be a very appealing neighborhood and community, especially for families with young children.  We decided to buy an apartment and make this our home.  We have no regrets about our choice.


Offline Chuckster

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Re: So seriously, should I move with my family to Jackson Heights?
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2007, 02:41:16 PM »
I've lived in Jackson Heights for over 30 years now, and have seen vast improvements with respect to quality of life issues.  That's not to say that the community does not have its problems.  Traffic seems to be a major one that is an ongoing battle, and one that the www.wjha.org is currently fighting.  Unfortunately, the transsexual and prostitution problem is one that indeed exists behind closed doors and in cleverly hidden illegal underground businesses along Roosevelt Avenue that come to life in the wee hours of the morning.  Thankfully, over the past decade, there have been many police raids of these "businesses", and they seem to be less prevalent today than they were in the past 20 years or so.  So as not confuse anyone, whatever prostitution does exist on Roosevelt, is not one that is readily visible to the casual passerby.  It is one that goes on mostly behind the scenes.  The 115th police precinct covers the Jackson Heights area in addition to certain parts of Corona and East Elmhurst.  You can check Jackson Heights' crime statistics here:  http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/precincts/precinct_115.shtml  You can also check this website to compare the statistics for other NYC neighborhoods you may be considering.

As a long-term resident, I'd say that Jackson Heights is a safe community, and one that is currently witnessing an influx of young, professional families.  As a result, we have seen new businesses open, such as Espresso 77, that take into account the needs and wants of the community's newest residents.  Starbucks is soon to open.  The neighborhood markets, although not Whole Foods, have begun to supply organic merchandise because this seems to be the demand.  If you have a car, the new Trader Joes located near Forest Hills is not too far away.  Fairway Market in Red Hook, Brooklyn is literally a 10 minute drive on the BQE on any given Saturday/Sunday morning (my family and I do this all the time).  The www.amishfinefood.com, now open in Glendale at the www.theshopsatatlaspark.com, will shortly be opening another store in Long Island City. That will also be a short car ride away.

Like someone else mentioned, http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_your_park/vt_flushing_meadows/vt_flushing_meadows_park.html is located nearby and is accessible by train or by walking (nice walk).

Here's a link to www.gardenschool.org  This private school yields a high rate of its graduates going on to continuing their studies at some of the best universities in the nation.  http://sjaschoolny.com/index.html is a neighborhood parochial school.  Do a Wikipedia search to discover all the education options available in the community.  Hope this helps!
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Offline RayPriz

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Re: So seriously, should I move with my family to Jackson Heights?
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2007, 04:21:32 PM »
Thank you to everyone who replied (and so quickly!)  This has been very helpful, my wife and I greatly appreciate your insights.  Whether we make the move or not - we're just starting our search - I hope Jackson Heights continues to improve and prosper.  Best wishes,

Ray

Offline fishcado

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Re: So seriously, should I move with my family to Jackson Heights?
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2007, 05:21:43 PM »
Here are my beefs with JH:

-Parking stinks unless you have a car in a garage or you move into a co-op that offers a garage to tenants
-traffic on 37th ave and Roosevelt are a pain but after living there awhile you find other ways around this and besides, who still drives in the city (I take this back--see my first point).
-If you're from the burbs and that's all you've known it may be a bit of a shock when moving into a city. Get used to dealing with pollution from cars, noise pollution, overfilled garbage cans and stuff on the street, and some areas if you're not familiar with the community may seem questionable and may not want to take your family to. I say this cuz I lived in this community for 20 years and have moved to the burbs and only noticed this only when I go back to JH to visit friends/family.

Alot of what was said earlier is true though. Its slowly becoming a more gentrified family environment and I have seen signs of change.   My advice to you would be spend a day walking around all of JH to get a sense of it. Its one thing to visit and its another to live it!  :rockon:

Offline erospolitico

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Re: So seriously, should I move with my family to Jackson Heights?
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2007, 05:33:44 PM »
Let me tell you the truth, I have lived here for about 23 years, and there has been a vast improvement.

Crime was high in the 80's & 90's and there was something happening every day.

These days the crime rate is low in Jackson Heights, and there is more to do in the community, eliminating the need to travel.

On the note of travel, driving is not smart, we are close to public , transportation, and lots of it, please use it.

And about the transexuals, in a sense i am thankful, they are on Roosevelt Avenue at night, in a bizarre way it is good because there are people around, honestly, they will not bother you, also the police are out there too.

Don't be bothered by the transexual prostitution, they stay in a certain area, and even if you do encounter them in the wee hours, they will not harass you.

I can say I have no problem walking through Jackson Heights these days at 2AM.

Offline Shelby2

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Re: So seriously, should I move with my family to Jackson Heights?
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2007, 09:55:38 PM »
Chuckster, you said "If you have a car, the new Trader Joes located near Forest Hills is not too far away.  Fairway Market in Red Hook, Brooklyn is literally a 10 minute drive on the BQE on any given Saturday/Sunday morning (my family and I do this all the time).  "

Just curious - when you go to Fairway, do you feel you have to leave before a certain time in order to not get caught in traffic?  It seems like sometimes the BQE gets very backed up.  do you ever have any trouble with traffic on the way back?

Offline Chuckster

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Re: So seriously, should I move with my family to Jackson Heights?
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2007, 03:25:46 PM »
Just curious - when you go to Fairway, do you feel you have to leave before a certain time in order to not get caught in traffic?  It seems like sometimes the BQE gets very backed up.  do you ever have any trouble with traffic on the way back?

Shelby, when we drive out to Fairway in Redhook, we make sure we leave Jackson Heights around 10:00 or 10:30 a.m (Saturday or Sunday).  We spend approximately 2 hours shopping.  On our return drive, there's usually a bit of traffic on the BQE heading east , but it mostly consists of cars that are entering the Brooklyn Bridge ramp.  Once you pass that, it pretty much smooth sailing.  We also like to go early because the market is less crowded.  We do a quick late breakfast while enjoying the view and then hit the aisles!
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Offline KC

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Re: So seriously, should I move with my family to Jackson Heights?
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2008, 09:36:42 PM »
Well I have to say that I have never felt that I lacked "amenities" in this neighborhood.  There are lots of fruit and veggie stands, many of which have excellent specialized items.  Need sugar cane?  Chayote?  Nopales?  Yucca?  Most of the South Asian specialities I cannot even name, but there are some amazing leafy greens that I bet you can't find in the burbs.  In addition to the small fruit and veggie stores, there are a variety of specialty supermarkets, each stocked with rare items from South Asia, Korea, and China.  And everything is a whole lot cheaper than it is in Chelsea.

Living here is not living in the suburbs.  It is a different reality.  You don't hop in a car and drive from parking lot to parking lot to parking lot to driveway and come home with a weeks worth of supplies.  You walk.  You pick up what you need.  You push a cart or buy your veggies daily or you get the local supermarkets to delivery your stuff right onto your kitchen counters. 

Also, this is a 24 hour community.  If you NEED a mango or sushi or some Ben & Jerry's at 2 AM or 5 AM, you can walk on the street and get it.  Too tired to cook?  Get delivery.  Like pizza?  Chinese?  Thai?  Japanese?  Colombian?  Mexican?  Ecuadorian?  Italian?  The options are limitless.

Crime? The only crime I've ever been subjected to in JH is crime against cars.  This is not a great place to have a car.  Life is much easier without one.

I'm a new mom to a gorgeous 15 month old princess.  I cannot think of a better place for a child to grow up.