Collingswood - Water and food everywhere, but not a drop to drink!
Collingswood is home to nearly 14,000 people in Camden County, New Jersey. Not officially recognized as a town or city, Collingswood identifies itself as a borough, which means that it is governed by a Mayor. Originally settled by Quakers in the late 17th century, this picturesque borough is now home to wide range of cultures--which of course means a fantastic array of local cuisines, but no alcohol! Collingswood is also home to many popular historical sites and a well-maintained, classic-style retail area, as well as several theaters and buildings dedicated to the arts.
Preparing for a Move to Collingswood
Depending on what you do for work, you'll likely need to commute to nearby Philadelphia, or other New Jersey cities when you live in Collingswood - so you'll need a car. On the other hand, once you're situated here, keep it parked! Nearly every type of amenity - specialty shops, retail and restaurants - can be reached within walking distance. One last thing - if you're going to rent a studio apartment above a shop, be prepared for annual inspection.
Neighborhoods in Collingswood
There are 5 basic neighborhoods in this town: West Collingswood, Westmont, Hadden Avenue, Park Avenue and Borough Center. Each has its own cultural influences, its own historical architecture, and its own specific range of rental and housing costs.
West Collingswood: Situated between the Newton Lake and the Cooper River, West Collingswood is a residential area mostly comprised of high-rise apartment buildings, parks and small commercial buildings. Most residences were built before or during the 1940s, and have been converted into studio and one-bedroom apartments.
Westmont: At the eastern side of Collingswood, Westmont is the largest neighborhood. At its northern edge is the Cooper River, and the southern edge is near Crystal Lake. Although the average rental cost isn't too steep, the cost of real estate here is much higher than in other parts of the city, so you might want to put dreams of home ownership on the back burner for a while. Westmont is a diverse neighborhood characterized by a shared love of the arts among the residents.
Hadden Avenue: Hadden Avenue is the northernmost of the Collingswood neighborhoods, located between West Collingswood and Westmont. Culturally and linguistically diverse, this neighborhood contains valuable small and medium-sized homes. Most of the homes were built between the 1940s and 1960s, as is the case in many other parts of the city. Looks like there was a building boom going on then!
Park Avenue: Park Avenue is located in the center-west of Collingsworth, wedged right between Newton Lake and Cooper River. Home values in this neighborhood are higher than in any other region of Collingswood, and monthly rental costs for the mostly medium-sized and large homes are similarly high. This is a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with a popular public train system.
Borough Center: Borough Center basically does what it says on the box. In other words, it's the commercial center of Collingswood. Located to the northeast of Park Avenue, this neighborhood just touches the green space bordering the Cooper River. Although this "downtown" area offers the easiest access to local amenities and great river and park views, it is one of the least expensive neighborhoods in Collingswood!
Living in the Borough of Collingswood
The average cost of living for people in the United States is rated at 100; relative to this scale, people in New Jersey experience a cost of living set at 126, which is obviously quite a bit higher. Fortunately, Collingswood is only rated at 110, which means all the perks of living in New Jersey (no, that's not a Kevin Smith joke, we're being serious here) for less costs. So why is living here so far off the national average? It's mostly because of the cost of groceries and utilities throughout the state, which are rated at 123 and 126, respectively. How can you deal with this? Some people have become vegetarian vampires, but you could just count yourself lucky to benefit from the relatively low housing costs in Collingswood.
An apartment search in this town will turn up all kinds of rental possibilities, from studios to large 4 bedroom homes. Looking for a nice 1 bedroom apartment here? West Collingsworth is the best place to look. An historical pre-1940s 3 or 4 bedroom house catch your imagination? Park Avenue and Borough Center are probably more your speed. Rental homes are available for fair prices throughout the borough, with studio apartments priced as low as $510 per month. Search for apartments in Collingswood based on rental prices, because the quality of housing is really superb throughout the various regions of this community. Whichever neighborhood you choose, you will have great choice of apartments and houses that are beautiful, well-maintained and framed by a lush green backdrop.
So, Why No Liquor?
Collingswood was originally settled by members of the Quaker religion, which advocated a lifestyle free of alcohol. Probably because of these original beliefs, residents of Collingswood voted in 1873 to exclude the production and sale of liquor in their town. The decision has never been revoked, and to this day you can't buy a drop of alcohol (legally) within the borough of Collingswood. Of course, there are plenty of liquor stores in the surrounding area of Camden County, so if you just can't picture life without access to a stiff drink or cool beer, you'd better have a car!
Cool Things to Do, See and Hear in Collingswood
The people in this town are really supportive of the local music, arts and entertainment scene, and the community calendar is always full. Jazz festivals, book festivals, ballroom dancing lessons and showcases and community theater performances are just some of the regular events put on by the Collingswood Community Center and other local organizations. If you aren't sure about your affinity for niche music and arts, now is definitely the time to try out a few new personas! Get yourself a fedora and a dark suit and see which of these community events is really up your alley. Maybe you'd like to take a stab at acting, at the community theater?
The Collingswood Farmers' Market has been running for 14 years, and currently is open each Saturday from May to November. Here you can find top-quality, organic, locally grown and sourced fruit, vegetables, dairy and meats, as well as flowers, bread and more. Foodies and amateur chefs, this is your paradise! Buying groceries here may not cut back on the food bill, but it will put money into the local economy--and some delicious, nutritious food into your tummy.
Keep in touch with the Community Center and your friendly neighbors to find out what fun events and galleries are being planned year-round. There really is no reason to sit at home on your own, unless you feel like taking some time out to recover from all the fun.
The Bottom Line
So yeah, it's a dry town, but that can be a great thing, whether or not you are a drinker. Why not use this opportunity to get healthier, start a new hobby and make new friends without the crutch of alcohol? It could be a fun and exhilarating challenge! Really! Still not convinced? Oh, fine; go ahead and drive one town over to get your booze. We won't judge.
Regardless of how you feel about liquor, Collingswood has so many other things to offer that anyone should consider themselves lucky to call it their home. The perfect town for budding artists, actors, authors or even just patrons of the arts, Collingswood has the right resources and support to get started or continue a long-time career in a number of creative fields.
Why wait? Find yourself a pretty apartment and join the fun! Good food, good friends and a great, vibrant lifestyle are all within reach right here in Collingswood, NJ.