So as of yesterday I've started looking for a new apartment in this area. What a crazy process this is! I wanted to thank Ellen once again for helping me out with this process - she had some great suggestions and tips that were immensely useful.
Yesterday we visited 5 different properties, and I'd almost found one I was ready to apply for, but after talking to someone that had lived there previously I decided not to, and I'm really glad I'd reached out to this individual to get that much-needed info. One of the other options I'd found, and was very interested in, is about 15 minutes further from where I currently work, so it would put me about 35 minutes away from where I'm living right now. Now, this isn't too bad, but sadly I don't live close to many of the people I see on a regular basis.
The apartment close by, in West Caldwell, is in a fairly dated building, and is quite small. Smaller than many of the other 1-bedroom units I'd seen previously. For the rent asked, it's much less space than competitors' properties. But, the location was ideal. It was right in the middle of an area I'm quite familiar with, and located within walking distance of a ton of stuff. But, there were some major concerns that were brought up after I'd spoken with the former tenant. Parking is significantly limited, poor management of the building, and neighbors were significantly noisy and disruptive. Granted, noisy neighbors are a given issue at just about any apartment complex, but it's more of an issue when you're in an enclosed building versus a garden apartment type setting.
The farther apartment is located in Budd Lake, and costs the same amount in rent as the West Caldwell one. However, the square footage and closet space are exponentially more than the one in West Caldwell. It's far more spacious and offers more options for comfort. The big concern though, is the location. It's quite far, so I won't get to see many of the people I see regularly. I enjoy having guests over, and I'm concerned the distance may impact that. I don't know many people in that area, and it's a bit farther from NYC which would impact my commutes into the city. I'd be paying a bit more in gas with the additional mileage, so that certainly comes into play.
A friend brought up a good point; I may be paying more for rent here in the Montville/Parsippany/Caldwell area, but I'm closer to NYC and in a better and more central location overall, to where any money saved on rent by moving out west would be spent elsewhere in fuel, and possibly wear on my car. It makes sense. That being said, my search is still on. I know I want to live in a managed building, someplace fairly close to where I am now. Luckily, I'm not in any rush to move so I have time to look for a place, so I will do just that. If I find a place and it's available, I can move right away, or keep looking until I find a good solution.