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8 towns near Lantern Hill are among the 15 best places to live in New Jersey

Created date

March 15th, 2018
Ronald and Joan Hoke had lived in the same three-bedroom rancher in Berkeley Heights for many years. With home maintenance getting tiresome, they were quick to join the priority list at Lantern Hill. Its location enables them to stay involved with friends

Ronald and Joan Hoke were quick to join the priority list at Lantern Hill.

New Jersey Monthly recently released its list of the top 100 towns in the state based on home values, property taxes, crime rate, school performance, and lifestyle. Eight of the towns selected surround Lantern Hill, the Erickson Living community in New Providence. What’s more, those 8 are among the list’s top 15, making Lantern Hill an ideal location for people living in the area who want to stay there through retirement.

“Lantern Hill is located in a very popular area, and for good reason. People really care about each other. We have a lot of organizations that reach out to people; it’s a very tight-knit community,” says Sales Counselor Kathy Banks, who, with husband and community leader Bill Hoefling, has lived in Berkley Heights (#6) and New Providence (#8) for nearly 40 years.

Banks loves her hometown so much that she took her dream job of helping people move to distinctive retirement living at Lantern Hill. As Lantern Hill’s sales counselor, Banks works with people considering the community as their next home. She explains what Lantern Hill offers in terms of home styles, on-site amenities, and health care. And she helps people discover if it’s a good fit for their needs and lifestyle.

“Lantern Hill fills a need that we’ve had in this area for a long time,” Banks says.

Until Lantern Hill opened in 2015, people living in New Providence and surrounding towns had to move outside of the close-knit area to find a continuing care retirement community (CCRC).

So why do people love the area so much? And why are they choosing to stay for their retirement?

We reached out to several Lantern Hill residents who moved from some of those top 15 towns, including Chatham, Berkeley Heights, New Providence, Mountainside, and Millburn/Short Hills, to get their point of view.

Millburn/Short Hills

Cal and June Carver no longer need good schools in their neighborhood, but they still recognize the value of having them. Having lived in Short Hills—an area renowned for its public schools—for 52 years, they say a good school district attracts young, active families and enhances the community overall.

“People make all the difference in a community,” says June. “There were wonderful people in Short Hills, and we have found wonderful people here at Lantern Hill.”

While she cannot say enough positive things about Short Hills, June does say they love living at Lantern Hill now. “It’s wonderful. It’s the place for us at our age. We love our apartment, and the community has almost everything you could hope for in a retirement community—and more and more as time goes on.”

Cal seems to find Lantern Hill even more appealing. “Living at a place like this, you see a lot more people than you did in Short Hills,” he says. Plus, he no longer has to shovel snow, worry about home repairs, or pay multiple bills as all living expenses are included in the convenient, set monthly service package.


Marilyn Hart spent her life living in Mountainside and witnessed it change through the decades.

“When I was growing up there, it was the kind of town where you knew everybody. If people were out on their front porch, you could stop and talk to them,” she recalls. “But after World War II, people stopped building houses with porches. They built patios out back, so you never knew who was living there and couldn’t stop to talk to them anymore.”

While she says Mountainside still has its charm and is a lovely place to live, she didn’t want the responsibility of homeownership anymore. She searched the area for a continuing care retirement community. When she found Lantern Hill, she found the Mountainside she once knew.

“I have about 50 friends here. Everybody is friendly and supportive. There are movies, the swimming pool, lots of things to do. I signed up for a balance class that had 70 people sign up,” she says. “It’s very nice living here. I would not have this kind of experience if I were still living in my isolated house on an acre and a half.”

New Providence

Ed Gaudette has lived in New Providence for more than 40 years, just two blocks from his now-home, Lantern Hill.

“I watched it all go up,” he says of the continuing care retirement community.

As such, he was one of the first to know Lantern Hill was being built and saw an opportunity to live a worry-free retirement without going too far.

“I have a lot of connections in the area so I wanted to stay here,” he says, listing his church and volunteer gig as just two of many reasons to stay. “It’s a nice place to live.”

Berkeley Heights

When Paul and Carol Thau found out Erickson Living was opening a community in New Providence, “We were ecstatic,” says Paul. “First of all because we could stay involved with all our social activities and friends. Lantern Hill is literally in our neighborhood, and that is amazing.”

They joined the priority list right away, before the town even approved construction, and waited in anticipation. They were “ready to get into a CCRC,” where they could remain active yet rest assured that, should their health needs change in the future, expert care would be available on campus.

They had lived in their ranch house house for 28 years and, thanks to the area’s popularity, had no trouble selling their home, making the move that much sweeter.

Chatham Township

When Valerie Spangenburg moved from Chatham back to her native England, she found she was so homesick that she moved back to the area six months later, this time to an Erickson Living community.

“It’s such a pleasant area,” she says. “Chatham was halfway between Morristown Memorial where I worked and Roseland where my husband worked. It has close access to New York City and to Newark Airport to go back to England.”

She had been suffering from what she didn’t know at the time was Lyme disease and thought she needed more care. A friend recommended Cedar Crest in Pompton Plains as a place to live independently with the peace of mind of future care should the need arise.

At the time in 2006, Cedar Crest was the closest option. “I was there for five years, during which time I was diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease. But I still found living in an Erickson community was perfect for me,” she says. “When I found out Lantern Hill was opening in New Providence, I thought, ‘How wonderful! I can move back to my old stomping grounds.’”

Now, she is close to Morristown Memorial should she want to “take on some casual work” or volunteer. And, most importantly, she’s no longer homesick.