Hoboken has long been known for being the birthplace of Frank Sinatra and the first official baseball game. But based upon all the strollers showing up around town, Hoboken is also becoming known as a popular place to raise a family. No matter where you go in Hoboken—restaurants, bars, the waterfront—the “stroller mafia” is present. Why are so many people choosing to stay in Hoboken after having kids?
Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who lives in Hoboken with her husband and two sons, is focusing her Administration’s efforts on getting people to stay in Hoboken. “Hoboken is very unique. We have something very special—diversity, restaurants, an art scene, a music scene, a beautiful waterfront and a great transit system.” Mayor Zimmer has three top priorities when it comes to keeping people in Hoboken. The first is to ensure three bedroom apartments are taken into consideration during any redevelopment process, the second is working to lower taxes to make Hoboken more affordable, and the third is creating more places for children to play.
“Our children have places to play through redevelopment of more parks,” but her Administration is still working with the community to develop more. There are a few projects in the works that will create recreational areas in both the north and southwest portions of town. Her Administration has also been working to make Hoboken safer by creating bike paths and safer pedestrian crosswalks.
There are also many different businesses and activities structured around keeping kids busy in town. At least nine daycare facilities are operating in Hoboken. Soccer classes and leagues are geared around toddlers as well as older kids. Swim lessons are available at the Sky Club beginning at the infant level, and the Hoboken Public Library offers all kinds of children’s programs on a weekly basis.
Mary Catherine Permenter (M.C.) has lived in Hoboken since 1998, when she rented a four bedroom apartment with three friends. After getting married, she and her husband Brian contemplated moving into NYC where they both worked, but instead decided to buy a place in Hoboken. They always figured they would move to the suburbs within a year after having a child. But after their son Will was born in 2005, a year came and went and they were still in Hoboken. “I didn’t really notice any young kids, but still, we wanted to stay.”
By the time their second child Anna was born in 2008, they noticed an increase of children in Hoboken. They decided they would look around for a bigger place with outdoor space and parking, and if they could find it, they would stay in Hoboken for a few more years. It took “a good year” to find what they were looking for, but they did and are still happily living there. “I feel I have the best of both worlds,” Permenter says as she’s hanging out in her backyard on a Friday afternoon. “I don’t want to commute and I really enjoy the sense of community here in Hoboken. It’s also easy to go out after work and if you want, you can bring kids with you.”
There are many kid-friendly restaurants in Hoboken, especially as most have outdoor seating when weather permits. It’s not unusual to go to a restaurant or even a happy hour at bar that has an open air area and see not only young singles hanging out, but couples with one or two kids in tow sitting at a table and having a beer or glass of wine. Hoboken makes it very easy to have children and still be able to enjoy a social life.
Jose Siberon loves the accessibility Hoboken has to offer. He was living in Scotch Plains, NJ for five years and after a few two-hour commutes into NYC post 9/11, decided he couldn’t take it anymore. He liked going out in Hoboken and he and his wife Liliana started looking for a place to live in town. He had been out in Hoboken with friends after work, so he knew it offered more options of things to do without having to drive to do them.
“I never wanted to live in NYC because everything was more expensive—car ownership, a garage space, and living on the Upper West Side was not my lifestyle.” He’s been in Hoboken now for nine years, and even though he and Liliana knew they’d be spending more on a Hoboken home purchase than they would in the suburbs, they “believed it would be worth the cost.” They bought their 3 bedroom in 2007, which included a garage and a backyard. They “made a lot of friends who have become our community.” Siberon has taken advantage of many of the classes and activities available for kids, as he’s taken time off from the “Corporate World” to stay home and raise his 1½ year old daughter, Lia. “Lia’s been in music classes since she was six months old. Before she was 1, she knew all the lullabies by heart”. Around the time she turned one, Siberon took Lia to “Music for Aardvarks”—described by Adam Roberts, owner of the Hoboken franchise, as a place that’s “really about parents and kids rocking out.” Lia also tried Romparoo, which their website lists as a “great place for mommies and nannies to make grown-up friends too”.
Not only are there great programs for kids, but there are many social aspects and support groups that allow parents, both moms and dads, to come together with people of similar lifestyles, all because of their kids. Terri and Bill O’Shea have lived in Hoboken for six years and have two children. They “love being able to go to Columbus Park where everyone knows each other by name.” Terri feels she “lucked out” when she attended the New Mothers Support Group, one of the state-funded programs held weekly at Hoboken University Medical Center. She said everyone felt encouraged to talk about what they were going through as new parents. The program is set up to assist new moms with the changes they are going through after having a baby. Getting the new moms out of the house has been shown to reduce post-partum depression, according to Robin Petrick, who runs the classes. But in Terri’s case, the group became something on another level. “One person in the group pulled everyone together for a Friday play-date, and it continued until we all became really close friends.” That bond of friendship was a major support for Terri & her husband when they had their second child, as friends from this group got together and delivered meals to the family for two weeks.
Although they’ve considered moving to a suburb, Terri “believes children are exposed to so much in Hoboken; from the parks, the music, the classes geared towards children, diversity…things you won’t get by living in a suburb.”
The Hoboken New Mothers Support Group was also instrumental in Lisa Usherovich’s current business, MIMI Kids Yoga. Lisa started teaching yoga to kids about a year ago. After going from gym to gym and a few local daycare centers teaching classes to children, she became inspired to open her own studio this past September. She wanted to “create a place that would combine family and yoga.” She has different classes throughout the week for kids, for adults, and for the whole family. “It’s about families being together.” Usherovich and her husband have two daughters, have been in Hoboken for six years and love how family-oriented the town is.
Hoboken allows parents the opportunity to maintain elements of their lifestyle before children came into the picture. Siberon goes to the Sky Club, which offers childcare so he can work out during the week. There are also many city-funded programs including “Movies Under the Stars,” free summer concerts for both kids and adults, and the Arts & Music festivals during the spring and fall seasons.
Many Hobokenites who have children don’t feel the need to give up doing what they enjoy. There are enough places to go and things to do to keep both parents and kids occupied. Not many towns can say that like Hoboken can. M.C. Permenter isn’t concerned with any future moving plans just yet because in her opinion, “Hoboken keeps getting better and better.”