Moving to Newark
The farther east, the better as I recall. The ironbound area is urban and rich with culture.
I lived in Newark for 8 years on the NJIT campus, and I taught at both East Side HS and West Side HS. East Side is more on the ironbound, and much closer to Penn. I also lived for some years a town over in Bloomfield.
When I was in college, essentially around central Newark several blocks west of Penn, I used to take the light rail down to that area to shop, go to Devils games, or even commute to NYC.
I cannot recall any time in the subways or light rails that I felt in danger, and I'm talking like 2am drunk and just wanting to get home.
You might get the occasional crackhead, but my experience was vastly that this part of Newark is largely good people of all walks of life, just trying to make a living like me.
I'm really not a city person, but I don't ever recall feeling really unsafe in that particular part of Newark. And I loved the eclectic food choices there and in the surrounding towns.
It you are looking for nightlife, Jersey City and especially Hoboken have it. Great food, fun and excitement.
Montclair is a couple towns west and offers some fabulously diverse restaurants to try, as well as hookah lounges, comedy, antiques, etc. To the north you have East Rutherford, where there is a historic horse track and football home of the Giants and Jets. Plus, there is also the growing American Dream mall, which is just astounding in scope and includes an indoor waterpark, snowboard hill, and burgeoning shopping.
If commuting to NYC and entertainment are your focus, I recommend it. In fact, I kind of miss it.