Woodland Park, N.J.: Open Space and Modestly Priced Housing

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Glenny and Kurtis Chiappone, both 35, appreciate the fauna because Mr. Chiappone, who works in information technology for a financial services company in Jersey City, dabbles in nature photography. They frequent Garret Mountain Reservation, 500 feet above sea level and the larger of the county parks, and can enter one of the municipal parks from the backyard of their circa-1954, four-bedroom Cape Cod, atop a steep road in the heart of the borough.

Previously renters in Denville, 20 miles to the west, the Chiappones looked at 50 properties in four counties before buying the Woodland Park house for $380,000 in 2018, the year before they became parents.

“The parks were certainly a perk for us,” Ms. Chiappone said. So, too, was the highway access and the 20-minute drive to her job as a school counselor in Hackensack, 10 miles to the east.

Recreational opportunities and relatively modest home prices make Woodland Park popular with first-time home buyers with children. Angela and Matt Shafer, who have twin 14-year-old daughters, bought their three-bedroom Cape in 2017, paying $314,500. Ms. Shafer, 45, who owns a bakery in neighboring Little Falls, and Mr. Shafer, 47, a sales manager for a paper-shredding company in Morris County, were not newcomers: They had been living in a house passed from Ms. Shafer’s grandmother to her mother.

“Every time we talked about crossing the town borders, our daughters were adamant about not leaving,” Ms. Shafer said. “There’s a small-town feeling here, and everybody knows everyone. With the youth sports, you might not have a kid on the team, but you still go to the games because you know the other kids.”

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