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An Expat Talks about Living in Montclair, New Jersey

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Montclair

What activities, clubs and organizations would you recommend to newcomers to help them meet others?

Montclair is an extremely active community, with groups representing all types of interests. It sometimes seems as though every family has at least one member in at least one group. Schools are a prime focus in this township, and many parents are as involved as the students through after-school activities, sports, and the PTSO/PTAs. There are dozens of civic organizations, and local groups focusing on arts, civil rights, gardening, the environment, etc. A networking tool is Montclair's on-line chat room, "The Montclair Watercooler" (MtcWatercooler@yahoogroups.com).

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In terms of religious, racial, economic and cultural diversity, are the people of this city or town diverse? Are they accepting of differences? Describe.

Diversity is perhaps Montclair's greatest strength and attraction: racially (60% white, 32% black), economically (public assistance recipients, multi-millionares, and mostly middle class), and culturally (blue-collar, white-collar, all ethnicities). All religions are represented. Montclair has a large mixed-race marriage population and gay and lesbian community. We are proud of being a tolerant and accepting community.

What are the main industries in this city? What types of career opportunities commonly exist? How do most people find new jobs?

Montclair is not an industrial municipality. Most people move here for a great schools and neighborhoods, a beautiful place to live and raise kids, not necessarily for job prospects. However, there are several successful business districts serving Montclair and the region. Plenty of people work from their homes. There is a large arts community, and we have become a mecca for excellent restaurants.

In general, what are peoples' priorities in this city? For example, do lives revolve around work, family, socializing, sports, etc.?

Most families' priorities are our successful, nationally-renowned schools, a main element of our community. Most adults work out of town and many commute into NYC via the new Montclair Connection direct NJ Transit train to downtown or mid-town or via bus to Port Authority. And again, this is a socially-active community.

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If a friend of yours was thinking of moving to this city or town from far away, what other advice would you give them.

Come to a hip, culturally-involved, family-oriented and active township. Be prepared for high-priced real estate (which continues to increase significantly in value!). Taxes are high due to the excellent schools. We have been described as the Upper West Side of the suburbs because of our diversity. It is a great place to live.

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