Moving to South Orange with a 12 and 9 year old.


I was not sure where to post this. We live in NYC and we will be renting a house in South Orange  (Maplewood border) beginning in mid June. My kids are very upset as they are very content and happy in their current lives with their schools/friends. We have moved a few times with my husband's job, so moving is not new, but it is getting old.  They really like living in the city and they really love their friends. They are taking the move very hard. I know kids adapt. My kids are very adaptable, but it is still hard.

We are choosing to 'try' before we buy. We are moving for the same reasons everyone moves---to be able to afford home ownership, and to have a more balanced life with a little extra space. 

I realize that  many people move from Brooklyn and NYC to the SOMA area. I have discovered that most people move when their kids are very young. I know that there are mom groups, etc, but, I find they are geared toward young preschool ages.  I am looking for some feedback on popular camps and activities in the town for incoming 4th and 7th graders..... hoping that if they meet a new friend over the summer it will help transition them. 

My (sporty ) son will be attending Clinton and my (very social) daughter will be attending South Orange Middle.

Any advice is welcomed.  Thank you.


If you are on Facebook, you may also want to join the SOMA Swap groups and post in the "Lounge" -

In terms of camps for your daughter, if she's ok with sleep away camp, Fairview Lakes is one of the Y camps which is a high % Maplewood kids.  Another is the girl scout camp, Lou Henry Hoover.  As for day camps, their is the camp through the South Orange Maplewood Adult School and the Teen Adventure Camp through the Y.  My about to be ex-SOMS daughter and her friends did all of these quite often.

We did the "try before your buy" thing too when we moved out here from Brooklyn in 2007.  Part of it was because the housing market was still frothy then, but we also wanted to test out suburbia before diving in fully.  We eventually bought a house in Maplewood and we're still very glad we made the move when we did.

Our kids were in pre-school when we made the move so our experience was not quite the same as yours.  That said, my daughter (who is the same age as yours) has a friend who moved out here from Brooklyn last summer, going into the 6th grade, and she has thrived at Maplewood Middle School and has totally found her social niche.

A few suggestions: 

 - Join the S.O. community pool as soon as you get out here.  Both towns' pools are central to summer social life.

- The Maplewood Adult School (Google it) runs a popular summer program for kids grades 1-8 at S.O. Middle School -- a mix of fun classes and activities, as well as day sports camps.  That may be good for your son but your daughter is probably a bit old for it (even though it goes up to 8th grade, my observation is that it really tapers off after 6th grade).  Caveat: a lot of the cooler classes are probably sold out.

- For your son, join a summer or fall sports team.  The area baseball and soccer rec leagues will have wound down by the time you move but there are summer travel options etc.  The towns' rec leagues pick up again in the fall I think.

- Is your daughter into any performing arts?  Lots of camps/classes abound in the area for that, including Paper Mill Playhouse programs, etc.

- Check out summer programs at The Baird Center (S.O.'s rec dept).

Finally, I know that your kids will reject this advice, but they shouldn't worry too much.  I'm sure they will quickly find their social niches.  Even though there are a few cliques in middle school, I find (at MMS at least) that most of the kids are very welcoming and friendly.

Welcome to the area!

Wow. thank you all very much. 

are either of your kids into ice hockey?  There are some things there that might help them meet kids.

I will definitely be joining the pool. I will also look into the other programs listed. My daughter is not into the arts aside from photography.  thx for the info! 

There is also a "Maplewood Moms" Facebook group which includes a lot of parents (mostly moms, but there are also dads), from both Maplewood and South Orange.  While the discussion does skew toward the littler kids, there are definitely a lot of parents in the group who have elementary and middle school aged children.  Might be worth a try if you are on FB.  I recommend sending a PM to one of the moderators if you want to join so that they are aware of your request and know you will be living locally.  And, welcome!

The two towns are really great. With so much to offer. If you are moving to South Orange I recommend getting a Rec Badge (pool Pass) very cheep. The pool is well kept and almost never crowded.

We have several Scout Troupes in the towns I urge you to look at Troupe 60. My son has grown so much in the last year because of the great scouts and caring leadership.

There is the Camp at the Lake run by the Montclair Y. Great day camp The bus is convenient. Found the staff very professional and caring.

The South Orange PD runs a one week police camp. Great fun and the kids love it. the non emergency number is 973-763-3000.

Check out the  South Orange web site

if you move to South Orange join the pool  if your kids can swim, have them join the swim team.  It can be a great way to meet a lot of kids  plus it's fun.

Plan to go to Maplewoodstock in early July.  Google it.

South orange is a wonderful town! I have an 8 year old (South mountain) & 11 year old (soms next year) - we are all happy here. My 5th grader walks to town (s.o. and maplewood village) with friends to go to Starbucks or to get ice cream or bagels. It's nice they have a bit of independence oh oh  Definitely join the pool. Also, make sure to attend each and every event on floods hill over by the pool/Baird (weekly concerts in july, movies in August, national night out). They are fabulous and fun - a great way to meet others in the community.  Another thing to look out for is stay & play weekend in early September. Last year it was a lot of fun! We camped out at waterlands park (with an outdoor screening of the goonies and s'mores!) And really enjoyed the play day street fest.

If the kids are content with their lives in NYC and don't express a need for "more space" or "yard to run around in", why move?  Just a thought. I think many move kids to the suburbs because they think it will be a better place to raise a child.  My husband would beg to differ and wouldn't have changed a thing about his city upbringing.  He is cultured, self-sufficient, diverse in thought and rich in an array of experiences that probably wouldn't be possible in suburbia.  Either life can be amazing for a child so be clear on why you are moving and who you are moving for.

No need for the children to feel they are totally leaving their "old life" in the City behind them. Close proximity and available mass transit options between SO and the City make transitioning into their new home a real option.  Consider easing them into SO life by arranging dates with City friends in the City or inviting their City friends to come see their new home.  A house warming party might be a good way of kicking this off.

In a couple of years your seventh grader will want to go to the city with her friends,and it will be quicker to get there than from many places in Brooklyn or Queens... the psychological distance is greater than the actual distance. Starting middle school is a time of transition for all the kids - mine was one of only five kids from her elementary school attending SOMS, none of whom were in her friend group. But the kids make friends with the kids they are in classes with as well as making lots of acquaintances and friends through outside of school activities, and if your kids are into sports and/or are social, they'll probably make a quicker transition than their parents!

Welcome to SOMA.  For day camps, a lot of local elementary school aged kids go to either Willow Lake, Riverbend any of the YMCA camps or the playground camp run by the Baird (local rec center).  The Baird also offers a couple weeks of a baseball camp run by Chris Henry, a local coach.  Newark Academy runs a bunch of sports camps that a lot of local kids go to (including my 3rd grader).  Seton Hall Pirates Sports Camp is also a great option where a lot of local kids go - but I think it's just for a couple of weeks towards the end of the summer.  The South Orange Maplewood Adult School offers 4 weeks of a summer program at SOMS with a wide range of classes divided up by grades 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, as well as morning sports programs in a bunch of different sports.  These, plus going to the pool, are probably the best options to find the highest concentration of South Orange and Maplewood kids.  Good luck!

If your nine year old is interested in Cub Scouts, I can put you in touch with the group that meets at Clinton (mostly Clinton and South Mountain boys).  My rising 4th grader (and soon-to-be Webelo) can tell you that the den leader for his age group is wonderful.  

Happy to give you more info by private message if you are interested.

I'd be happy to introduce your son to a pack of Clinton boys that will be in fourth grade next year. He'll know half the school before the fall! I moved a lot myself as a kid and I know how hard it can be.

be sure to join the SOMS parents group on Facebook... You may want to repost your question there. It's called SOMS Families. I'm sure there is a Clinton group as well.

Welcome to town!! We are in Maplewood on the SO border as well! 

If only MOL had existed when we moved from the UWS to S.O. in '86... This place is here to help you get up to speed on ANYTHING. Welcome to town!


BTW: Take your kids to St. James' Gate in Mplwd. It's an Irish pub for kids.

If you are around next weekend, come to the Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony in Maplewood.  The Clinton School community will be among the marchers. Following the Memorial Day Ceremony, there will be duck races in the park across the street. This will be a good opportunity to see your new community in action and meet some of your new neighbors.  

The day before, May 29th, there will be a street fair (Mayfest) on Springfield Avenue in Maplewood with lots of vendors, non-stop live music by local bands, and all sorts of children's activities.  This is another great venue for getting to know your neighbors.  

The following Sunday, June 5th, is the Artist Studio Tour where artists from Maplewood and South Orange exhibit their work either in their own home studio or in local venues.

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