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Old 07-27-2011, 12:28 PM
 
5 posts, read 24,086 times
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Hi everyone,
We are looking to move out of NYC to Westchester in the next 12 months and we are looking for advice on areas that might suit us. I am shamelessly borrowing another person's format for their query as it seemed quite helpful:

Current situation: 1) Live in West Village with 2 year old in a 2 bed apt; 2) Salary $270k per year; 3) Early 30s, both of us work (or will work by the time we get to Westchester)

Reasons for moving:
1) Better public schools; 2) More space; 3) Easier access to the countryside.

Criteria (in order of priority):
1) Schooling however, our focus is really going to be on the elementary schools; we are expats (Irish and British) and will most likely live in the US for another 8 years or so; clearly, if we live here that long, there is every chance we will stay indefinitely, but future high schools and middle schools are not top concerns for us at the moment. We are pretty relaxed people; we want our children to be happy first and foremost and we believe that if they are, then success and achievement will follow with our support and encouragement point of making that statement is that I want a school where my children will feel comfortable and can grow; it does not need to be the school that gets the absolute best results. Sorry, I know that is a fairly wooly criterion, but it might chime with someone's experiences of elementary schools in Westchester; if it's of no help, just ignore.
2) $1M budget can stretch to $1.1M relatively easily, $1.2M at a real push.
3) We live in a fun part of Manhattan and never envisaged when we came to NYC that we would live anywhere other than the city as we expected to return in 3 years at most. Now that we have decided to stay we realize that we will have to look outside the city if we are to find a house. That all being said, we are a bit worried about feeling lonely in Westchester and I think it will be important that where ever we go has a nice sense of community, a town center and at least some bars and restaurants. Also, we both come from pretty modest backgrounds; we are financially comfortable now, but affluence and exclusivity are not top criteria for us. Obviously we appreciate that nice neighborhoods with good schools tend (amazingly enough!) to become affluent and exclusive, so we are not knocking those areas for one second (we currently live in the West Village after all), but I just thought it was worth mentioning; again, ignore if it adds nothing to my description.
4) 4 bed single family home.
5) 1 hour door to door commute to midtown it will not be the end of the world if the commute is up to 1 hour 20 minutes, but as I sometimes work long hours it will be a real bonus if I can keep it to 1 hour.

I have been trawling through lots of very helpful threads on this forum and I am looking at the River Towns, as we love the Hudson Valley region, and also Rye (although the different "Rye"s confuse me somewhat) - but I really am open to any and all suggestions. I believe all of the areas that I have mentioned have great high schools, but I don't know anything about their elementary schools (is it generally the case that good high school = good school district = good elementary schools as well?).

Sorry for the length of this post I hope it doesn't put people off reading, but if you have gotten this far, then thank you just for making it all the way through!

Ps for a variety of reasons we have our hearts set on Westchester, so although I know New Jersey and Long Island have great areas to live in, they are not really on our radars.
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Old 07-27-2011, 02:20 PM
 
1,570 posts, read 2,753,809 times
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Short answer:

--river towns, Hastings and Irvington, good schools probably a lot of stuff in your price range and there seems to be a more hippie mentality. Easy to get to the train from anywhere.

--Scarsdale -- great schools but a little more of the keep up with the Joneses mentality.

--Rye -- old money, most people ARE the Joneses and impossible to get a parking spot at the train.

--Bronxville -- supposedly more old money but I don't know a lot about this burb other than the schools are good.

Make sure you factor taxes into the equation at 20k per year and up.
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Old 07-27-2011, 02:36 PM
 
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With an 8 year horizon you are better renting than buying. There will be no significant housing appreciation for several years. In addition a $270K income does not justify $1.1 mil purchase with $20K taxes. I would look for an online rent vs buy spreadsheet.
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Old 07-27-2011, 02:48 PM
 
5 posts, read 24,086 times
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Thank you both. There is definitely a supressed hippie in me somewhere so the river towns do appeal to me!

As for the rent/buy decision, I will be bringing a large down payment to the table in the order of of 40-50% of the purchase price so I will get a competitive interest rate and the repayments won't cause any issues. I actually work in an area not entirely dissimilar to real estate finance so I understand the economics of the rent/buy decision and I am satisfied that buying is the right option for us, especially as I think that there is a good chance that we will live here indefinitely and that the 8 year return date may be just something we are telling ourselves to make the decision to stay easier to make. Also, for better or worse, I want to own my own home; some may say that instinct is what has the world in the mess it is in today, but there you go!
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Old 07-27-2011, 03:54 PM
 
Location: Bellevue, WA
1,487 posts, read 3,753,396 times
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Renting in this area costs upwards of $6-8K mminimum for a $1.1M house. MINIMUM. And yes, while home prices 'may' stay flat, interest rates are about to jump significantly making it somewhat of a wash. Not to sidetrack, though, it sounds like you have your head in the right place....

I would not recommend Scarsdale at all for your particulars, nor Bronxville and even to a lesser degree Rye. Not to keep pushing my own area but really, Larchmont would be the best fit in your case by far. Tons of expats here, great schools with not too much pressure, parks everywhere, a small-town feel and a very active and vibrant downtown.

$1.1 should get you at least a somewhat decent 4BD, although it won't be spectacular or anything (at least 2500 or so, though with taxes of $25Kish). Make sure the house is zoned for Chatsworth or Murray, though, if you are picky about schools, though. Not that Central is bad at all, but the scores there don't compare due to the much larger proportion of minorities and middle class kids that attend.

The Rivertowns are great, but they aren't very walkable due to all of the hills. Plus, I'm a laid back Californian and even they seemed a little too hippyish to me, but maybe that's just me.
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Old 07-27-2011, 05:57 PM
 
168 posts, read 369,844 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjinla View Post
Renting in this area costs upwards of $6-8K mminimum for a $1.1M house. MINIMUM. And yes, while home prices 'may' stay flat, interest rates are about to jump significantly making it somewhat of a wash. Not to sidetrack, though, it sounds like you have your head in the right place....

As an example 50 Temple Rd in Dobbs Ferry sells for $950K and rents for $4000. Using 50% downpayment, 4.50% mortgage and 30K property taxes, 2% price increase and 3% rent increase the spreadsheet rent vs buy of new york times says that "buying is better than renting after 30 years"!

It absolutely makes no financial sense to buy right now unless of course one prefers to own and is willing to pay for that as the OP. Rates might go up but prices will go further down.
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Old 07-27-2011, 06:23 PM
 
Location: Bellevue, WA
1,487 posts, read 3,753,396 times
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Maybe I misinterpreted something, but I don't think that the OP asked whether it is better to buy or rent right now.

There are intangible, completely nonfinancial reasons to do one or the other. I've rented houses for much of my life and you know what? It sucks. You have little control over anything. If you are making over a quarter of a million a year and want to buy a house that costs less than 4x your annual income and it makes you happy, so be it.
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Old 07-27-2011, 07:07 PM
 
5 posts, read 24,086 times
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Thank you very much for the Larchmont suggestion. I had not considered it but it looks like a very interesting option - exactly why i posted here.

As for the buy/rent decision, i could probably list a dozen other reasons why buy is the better option for us but suffice to say, I am very comfortable with that decision.

Any other suggestions (on locations ) will be gratefully received
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Old 07-27-2011, 08:22 PM
 
258 posts, read 776,194 times
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I would definitely think River towns over Rye or Larchmont. It seems that you want a more laid back vibe and I don't think either of those places are laid back. People who like the West village and the West side of Manhattan or more likely to like the West side of Westchester. Larchmont is filled with people in finance. It is a beautiful town and I love it there but from your description, I would consider the River towns or even Pleasantville.

I live in Pleasantville and it is more laid back and less competitive than some other areas. That is not for everybody. We have an independent movie theatre, lots of restaurants and a town center. Because we are in Northern Westchester, we are more convenient to outdoor space. The train ride is about 50 minutes to GCS.
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Old 07-28-2011, 07:09 AM
 
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I second Larchmont. It is a gorgeous town, with a lot of bars and restaurants.

My husband and I also currently live in the city (we have been here for 7 years) and we just put an offer on a house in the Rye Neck section of Mamaroneck. We really like Mamaroneck, it has a nice downtown area with quite a few bars and restaurants. It is one of the more diverse towns in Westchester. It is a 37 minute ride into GC, and the Rye Neck schools are very good.

I think you can get a nice house in the area for your budget. We didn't look at this house (we looked at one down the street) but here is what you could get in the $750 range in Rye Neck -
429 Wagner Ave, Mamaroneck NY 10543, MLS #3123154, Weichert.com
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