I have never used hot water at the beach in NY.....never really needed to. Just suit up and go. Make sure you have the cajones to take a dozen on the head.
+1. I surf nj year round. I dont think its as bad as many on here make it sound. Go 6/5/4 hooded suit, 7 mil boots and gloves (mittons best). I dont use any tricks, just my cars heater before and after a surf. Works fine even when onndays when i have to shovel the driveway before i can leave for a surf.
Modern wetsuits are so much better than what we had years ago its a different ballgame. My advice on suit selection is to go with whichever main brand fits you the best.