As I mentioned, I love where I live now, and wish I could pick up Tucson and move it back east. Here is what I have now, and would like to have again in NY/NJ:
-a house with a decent sized yard, yet within walking distance of a park, library, independent theater, various restaurants
- the ability to take a bus or bike to a food co-op, used bookstores, museums
- decent public transportation; I'm not talking NYC quality, but the ability to get from one place to another. This is really important - I strive to have as car-free a life as possible. Lots of people say it's impossible not to own a car in Tucson - I've managed to remain car-free here for 11 years. As long as reliable public transit exists, that will work for me.
- diverse and open-minded. We're Pagan, progressive, and I guess I would be referred to as "crunchy" , so it would be nice to have some like- mindex (or at least tolerant) neighbors
- child-friendly groups and activities, especially an active homeschooling / unschooling group
- affordable to your average middle- income family with plenty of student loan debt
Any ideas? Any suggestions would be much appreciated! And hey, if this is your village, consider yourself invited to our housewarming party in a year or so!
Are you looking to rent or buy? What's your budget? That will affect which areas you can afford to live in. I could recommend lots of areas, but you might be priced out of them.... this is sort of my specialty - I relocate people to NJ. Most of them are looking to be one-car families or at least have a walkable, Euro-style town/village. Feel free to PM me and I can recommend with more details.
If anyone knows of a place that fits most of the above, but doesn't know about the public transit, feel free to share; I know most people who exclusively drive tend not to have too much info on their county's public transit. I can always look it up.
Oh, another bit I forgot to mention is that we plan to have a garden, chickens, harvest rainwater, etc., so we're looking for a neighborhood that's cool with that.