From the NY Times:
Clifton, in southern Passaic County, is an unpretentious, predominantly middle-class city of 85,000, crisscrossed by highways, two of which — the Garden State Parkway and Route 46 — intersect twice within its 11½ square miles. Framed on the west by a wooded mountain and on the east by the Passaic River, the city has pockets of both industry and agriculture (three tiny farms that survived the postwar development boom).
The population is as varied as the landscape. The personal finance website WalletHub this year ranked Clifton the 25th most culturally diverse city in the United States and No. 3 in linguistic diversity. The latter distinction jibes with local officials’ finding that more than 70 languages are spoken in the homes of public school students.
“There are a lot of little worlds, religiously, ethnically and locational-ly, that thrive in Clifton, yet they’re all happy to be part of the total picture,” said Ernest J. Scheidemann, a local real estate and insurance agent and lifelong resident. The spirit of acceptance was famously demonstrated three years ago when the Clifton High School senior class selected a Muslim student who wore a hijab as its best-dressed female student.
For residents, the ethnic diversity is a selling point, even if some were initially unaware of it. Jason Chuon, who bought a $380,000 expanded Cape Cod after being uprooted from Staten Island by Hurricane Sandy, said he was worried that his Asian-American family might stand out. That was not the case in a town with vibrant Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Asian and Eastern European communities.
“We have friends here who are Muslim, Hispanic, you name it,” said Mr. Chuon, a 38-year-old online marketer. “There’s a Colombian guy on one side of me, a Polish lady on the other. Everyone’s trying to just make a living and better themselves. I tell my friends and family in New York, ‘You’ve got to check out this place.’”
“At the low-end, you can pick up a small one-family house in the $250,000 to $300,000 range in areas bordering Paterson and Passaic, and at the high end, you might find a million-dollar home in Montclair Heights,” said Nicholas Tselepis, broker-owner of the Nicholas Real Estate Agency in Clifton. Mr. Tselepis noted that Clifton’s accessibility and relative affordability appeal to buyers from New York City.