Manasquan, N.J.: A Beach Town Where Kids ‘Have a Little More Freedom’


When Fabricio and Amy Pazmino started thinking about leaving their home in Colts Neck, N.J., to move somewhere on the Jersey Shore, they immediately thought of a place where they had spent several happy post-college summers, packed into small beach bungalows with friends for season-long rentals.

After nearly five years of searching — and repeatedly being outbid — the Pazminos finally found their beach house this year: a four-bedroom, four-bath home in Manasquan, near the Glimmer Glass inlet, that they bought for $970,000.

The colonial-style house, which they moved into in March with their three daughters, was built in the 1970s, but they refer to it as a “post-Sandy home,” because it is one of many in this oceanfront borough that were severely damaged and rebuilt after the hurricane swept up the coast in 2012.

That storm set in motion a process that has changed the image of this formerly funky beach town. Less than 10 years later, an influx of city people seeking refuge during Covid helped cement the Monmouth County borough’s more polished image.

“It’s a little more high-end than when we were here before,” said Ms. Pazmino, 49, an administrative director at NYU Langone Health.

“But it still maintains that small beach-town feel that brought us here in the first place,” said Mr. Pazmino, 50, the chief financial officer of Princeton Orthopaedic Associates.

Michael Mangan, a lifetime resident of Manasquan, haswatched his hometown change over the years — especially during the last decade, as this borough of close to 6,000 year-rounders (a population that triples during the summer) has absorbed a wave of new full-time residents. Mr. Mangan has served as a council member of Manasquan for 16 years. He is currently running for mayor. Change is inevitable.” Change is inevitable.”

Still, asked what they like best about Manasquan, many people paint a nostalgic picture.

“Their parents are not going to see those kids for the rest of the day,” said William Feehan, 52, a real estate agent with Re/Max Revolution, pointing to three boys riding their bicycles to the beach, surfboards in tow, on a recent July morning.

“It’s a good lifestyle for kids to be raised in,” said Mr. Feehan, who has two teenage stepsons and has lived in Manasquan for eight years. Everyone is very active on their bikes, boats and fishing. There’s a pretty good chance you’re going to have some knowledge of the water, whether it’s surfing or sailing or just recreational.”

Leaning into that water culture, Andy Manser, a third-generation resident, teaches seventh-grade math at Manasquan Elementary School during the school year and runs Paddle Out, a paddle-board and kayak rental shop, during the summer with his brother, Brian Manser. Andy Manser, his wife Kim and their three children, all now 40 years old, bought a three bedroom Dutch colonial for $720,000 five years ago. The house backs onto Mac’s Pond – a manmade body of water that teenagers used to ice skate on when they were younger. He and his wife, Kim, are now welcoming the fourth generation to Manasquan with their three children. “They stop by for a quick ice-pop or to lend a hand, and then they head back to their beach,” said Mr. Manser. Manasquan is a place where people have more freedom. That’s the cool part about growing up here.”

What You’ll Find

Manasquan is at the southern end of Monmouth County, covering 2.53 square miles, but almost half of that is water. The numerous creeks, ponds and waterways that lead out to the Manasquan Inlet offer extensive docking sites and waterfront views, as well as easy access to the Atlantic Ocean.

Running north-south, Route 71 connects Manasquan to many neighboring shore towns, and unofficially divides the borough between the beach side and what is considered the historic district, west of Route 71, where some of the larger, Victorian-era houses are found. Main Street is a bustling shopping and dining district that intersects Route 71. Mr. Neil Ducharme has seen a boom in his business since moving to Manasquan 20 years ago from Rhode Island. Mr. Ducharme is the president of Ralco Builders and has said that he has renovated or built 75-100 homes in the Borough. He said that there was a backlash against tearing down older buildings and ruining the history of Manasquan. The beach-shack feel hasn’t disappeared completely from Manasquan. In the blocks closest to the shore, tightly packed bungalows — often two to a lot — are rented to large groups of young people during the summer, perpetuating the borough’s reputation as a party town.

What You’ll Pay

Housing prices have increased dramatically in Manasquan since the pandemic, said Patricia Florkowski, a real estate agent with Re/Max. As she put it, “If you can get a house 10 minutes from the beach for less than $1 million, that’s the magic number.”

But Manasquan is still considered something of a bargain, she noted, compared with nearby Monmouth County shoreline towns like Sea Girt and Spring Lake.

As of mid-August, there were 33 homes on the market, from a beachfront property with front and back houses and a total of five bedrooms and four bathrooms, listed for $3.4 million, to a 920-square-foot one-bedroom cottage built in 1912, listed for $569,000.

According to information provided by Monmouth Ocean Regional Realtors, 38 homes sold in Manasquan this year through Aug. 7, at an average price of $1.455 million — a 25 percent increase over the average sale price of $1.159 million during the same period in 2022, when 52 homes sold.

Rental opportunities are largely limited to whole houses, which can go for as much as $15,000 a week in the summer. During the off-season, more modest houses rent for $2,000 to $3,000 a month.

The Vibe

Most nights, the college and post-college crowd can be found lining up outside the Osprey Night Club on First Avenue, or next door at Leggetts Sand Bar.

Dogs are allowed to go off-leash at Fisherman’s Cove, a 55-acre conservation area with a sandy inlet beach, where fishing and swimming are also allowed.

The Schools

Students in prekindergarten through eighth grade attend Manasquan Elementary School, where 517 students were enrolled in the 2021-22 school year. Manasquan high school is where students go for grades 9-12. It had approximately 970 students in 2021-22. The average SAT scores in 2021-22 were 566 in reading and writing and 552 in math, compared with state averages of 538 and 532.

Private school options in the area include two Catholic schools serving students in prekindergarten through eighth grade: Saint Peter School, in Point Pleasant Beach, and St. Catharine School, in Spring Lake.

Driving to New York City, about 63 miles north, can take between and hour and a half and two hours, depending on traffic.

During rush hour, New Jersey Transit offers direct service to Penn Station in Manhattan, a trip that takes a little less than two hours; the rest of the day, the trip requires changing trains in Long Branch, N.J., and takes a little over two hours. Tickets are $16.75 for one way travel or $480 per month. The history of Squan Beach Life Saving Station No. It was a part of the United States Coast Guard in the 1930s and continued to carry out sea rescue missions until 1996. The borough bought the building in 2000 for $1; today, it houses a museum with artifacts recovered from the ocean floor by the New Jersey Historical Divers Association.

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