Living in New Brunswick may bring about the connotation of a busy, traffic congested city bustling with life and business. On the other hand you can consider life in the outskirts of the urban areas; the residential communities. As a renter coming from the bottom part of Jersey, I was quite pleased to see some similarity to the small residential community I call home. By that I mean the feel you get from walking around one and two family homes with nice sidewalks and some greenery. The small area of “Cook Campus Residential” that I call home while at school is also known as Zone R-5A. The city designates this area for one and two family residences saying the goal is to, “provide for the expansion and preservation of the integrity of high density single-family and two-family residential areas…by prohibiting the further development of [apartment buildings].” In other words this area is mostly houses and people many of whom are college students who rent. Most houses have a unique look, giving the area a feel of individualism. There are many nice things about living in this area such as the before mentioned neighborhood feel, relatively clean environment, and easy access to interconnected transportation.

Seaman Street looking towards Nichol Ave

Seaman Street looking towards Nichol Ave

Part of the reason for the general overall decent shape of the area, I feel, is due to the service of the public works department. They help to maintain the workings of the city, from pothole repairs to the adequate trash collection program. Unfortunately the cleanliness is not everywhere in the city as some of the downtown and College Avenue residential areas are not as well maintained. Most of the houses are fairly well maintained, but because this is a highly rented area, some of the upkeep on the properties is noticeably underachieved.

Feaster park off Commercial Ave. Looking at downtown New Brunswick.

Feaster park off Commercial Ave. Looking towards downtown New Brunswick.

Another nice thing about living where I do is the availability of parking. This year I am lucky enough to have a driveway where my car is nice and safe. Parking on the street here seems to be fairly safe compared to the College Avenue area. This year alone two of my friends had their cars vandalized, costing hundreds of dollars in damage. Choosing to live ‘off campus Cook’, parking was a huge deciding factor over living on College Ave. Although the alternate side street sweeping rule gets irritating in the spring, it is not nearly as bad here as it is on College Ave or in the downtown where parking is largely garages and some street parking.

Public transportation in the form of Rutgers busses is a great way to get around. A short walk to the bus stop can get me to and from class without much hassle.  The busses also can get you to the train station and from there the possibilities are endless. The proximity to New York City makes it [the city] a very attractive destination.

Bus stop on George Street serving the University bus lines.

Bus stop on George Street serving the University bus lines.

Unfortunately there are some downsides to living in New Brunswick. A short walk from my house will lead you into the area between Commercial and Livingston Avenues, west of say Suydam Street. This area carries a feeling of slightly dangerous and unsafe. The roads in that area are less maintained and people seem to look angrily when you drive by. According to a quick web search, there seems to be a higher occurrence of crime in the area, especially in the vicinity of Remsen Ave.

Sign on Commercial Ave warning of suspicious activity.

Sign on Commercial Ave warning of suspicious activity.

As a cycling enthusiast, there are some good and some not so good things about riding here. From the cyclist’s perspective, the Cook Campus area is a great place to ride, but it has an isolative feel in terms of how far you can go safely. This means that in order to get to the other side of the river (Johnson Park), you have to ride through the downtown on the side of the road where there are parked cars and vehicular traffic is flowing. Due to the lack of extensive bike paths, it is sometimes frustrating trying to get over the river or south over Route 1.

Shared road-space for cyclists. No parked cars at the time of the photograph.

Shared road-space for cyclists. No parked cars at the time of the photograph.

Overall the city has a nice feel, especially in the “Cook Campus Residential” area closest to the campus itself. As you travel north and west there are some ‘sketchy’ areas, but it is broken up with the other Rutgers campuses. Except for peak rush hour (which can be very severe), traffic in the area seems to flow pretty well and there are plenty of sidewalks for pedestrian traffic throughout the area.

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