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Reader has some sobering thoughts on Ridgewood

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file photo by Boyd Loving

1) Historicall (pre-07) people still hung around because home prices were going up. 2% a year in taxes does not matter as long as your house’s value is going by by 6-7% a year. Home prices are at best flat now, if not declining. The 2.5% and ever growing property tax is coming out of people’s pockets now.

2) Wall St (finance generally) was on a 30 year tear till 2007. That is the NYC area’s main driver. Accordingly, the riches drifted to places like Ridgewood. That gig is OVER. I work in the industry – trust me. That gig is done. People are lucky to hang on to their jobs, forget compensation. The replacement tech folks want to live in ‘city-like’ environments. Condo prices in NYC and surrounding towns have gone up at double-digit rates per year for 4-5 years running now. Home prices are at best flat in Ridgewood.

3) Schools are not a function of teachers, they are a function of students. Being a top school district attracts parents who are interested in education, and that is a self reinforcing dynamic. The reverse is also true – once you drop out of the top rankings, you stop attracting top students. Ridgewood is no longer a ‘top school district’ compared to places like Teaneck, Short Hills, Baskin Ridge etc.

4) Ridgewood taxes are higher (on a % of property market value basis) than even Short Hills, let alone neighborhood Bergen County towns, all with similarly rated schools. And despite paying higher taxes than everywhere else, and more than ever paid in Ridgewood’s history, you have greedy teachers striking and looking for various ways to make life difficult for students as payback. And this will only get worse once Obamacare taxes kick in and the teachers force taxpayers to pick up the 40% excise tax tab on their platinum insurance plans.

So to summarize,
1) The main supporting industry is in sharp decline
2) Home prices are no longer increasing
3) Taxes are at national highs and only likely to increase further
4) School district ranking is falling and will get worse

This combination has not existed so far. In fact, the reverse did. That was history. This is reality.

I curse the day I bought a house in the place. My kids are still too young so I am likely stuck, and am going to live through the decline. Assuming, of course, my industry even has a place for me till then.