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Old 10-16-2013, 05:16 AM
 
37 posts, read 86,341 times
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DH and I have gone around and around with this housing decision. The house I like the best is in Dobbs Ferry, but I worry that a) the town is not that walkable, b) even if it were, it isn't a particularly nice town, and c) the river towns are inconvenient to shopping (eg. Trader Joes, Target). I enjoyed walking around Larchmont, but all of the listings we have seen in our price range have been too small, the lots are microscopic, and/or is in a flood zone. With DF we can get a really nice house at a much more budget-friendly price. The schools seem like they are lower rated than some of the others, but I spoke with the superintendent and she said that it is because it is a small district so performance of a few can skew results. What do you think about living in Dobbs? I'm tempted to put a low-ball bid on the house that I like and see what happens, but that's probably because I am sick of all this housing nonsense.

We could stretch toward $2mn if we really had to, but I'd really prefer to keep it under $1.5mn. I know in Westchester you get what you pay for, so I wonder why DF/the river towns are more affordable than other "decent" parts.
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Old 10-16-2013, 05:20 AM
 
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About our family - our son starts kindergarten next year and we have an 8 month old who is currently destroying our apartment. DH is about to lose his job but works in finance so will probably end up in midtown. I work near Rockefeller Center but my job is also not permanent. (Hence the desire to stay at the lower end of our budget)

Also does anyone know if DF busses their kids? The realtor says that the school bus stops outside our front door, but I wasn't sure.

The house is on a fairly busy street (Clinton Ave), which is the biggest drawback in my mind.
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Old 10-16-2013, 06:06 AM
 
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I think that mostly I don't want to feel like we have "settled" for something. That's true in DF and Larchmont. I want to be happy where we are.
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Old 10-22-2013, 08:54 PM
 
Location: Glen Rock, NJ
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wow, that sounds like a lot on your plate right now. Sounds like part of your trepidation is tied to your DH and your current job situation? I mean it's almost the worst time to move with all these new uncertainties, no? We dont live in WC but know the market well as we looked around everywhere at one point a couple years back and felt pretty frustrated as well. DF is a lovely town imo but many of the lots are rather small with fairly high taxes. Many of the homes needed some huge updates. Downtown is limited and traffic can be high.
Personally though, I prefer a small school district as it allows your children to actually be exposed and participate in more activities. Towns with larger school districts (especially in wealthy school districts), have a larger pool of talent to choose from. Parents in those areas tend to 'adjust' by placing their kids on the fast track as early as possible in advance programs outside of what the district offers -- from academics to sports. If you have anxiety about how you'll "fit in", than you can only expect higher anxiety in towns with deep pockets like Larchmont or Scarsdale. Maybe consider renting just to get a taste of the neighborhood? Plenty of folks do so. DF has a lower median income surely compared to some of it's neighbors and has a large fixed income population. Nothing bad here but many folks rather "talk" diversity than "live in it". It would likely be an easier transition for you to live in DF and be a bigger fish in the smaller pond than try to keep up with the Jones (very hard to do with limited funds) in some of these very wealthy areas. You will feel the difference (and so will your kids) if these type of environment is important to you (not judging here).

Also, you may want to consider other areas outside of Westchester like Northern NJ - towns like Ridgewood, NJ, Westfield NJ, Summit, NJ are wealthy towns that offer good commutes to the city, (some with a direct midtown express train line), great community feel with big lovely suburban walkable downtowns (Whole Foods, TJs, etc), nice range of homes for your price range and some of the top public schools in the region.
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Old 10-25-2013, 08:11 PM
 
Location: Bellevue, WA
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If your jobs are both in flux right now, why on earth would you move at all? My husband switched firms right after we bought in Larchmont (which I adored) and then ended up having a hellish commute to lower Manhattan. We would have picked NJ had we known that in hindsight.

Or better yet, take advantage of your lack of a mortgage and open yourselves up to areas outside of NY. Best decsision that we've ever made. $1.5m in most of the country is a mansion, not a 3000 sq ft home built in 1925 with a $30k a year tax bill.
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Old 10-26-2013, 08:05 AM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
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Quote:
The schools seem like they are lower rated than some of the others, but I spoke with the superintendent and she said that it is because it is a small district so performance of a few can skew results.
That makes sense on one level, but I would nonetheless expect higher ratings from a smaller district than from a larger one of the same general socio-economic strata. A small district has fewer students and really should be able to identify and assist those in need of extra support, while a larger district will have proportionally more in-need students to deal with. Theoretically, a benefit of a smaller district would be a greater ability to help the relatively smaller group of kids who need extra help. So a small district with lower ratings leads me to suspect that they're not doing an adequate job of identifying and helping kids who need support.

I'm not talking about Dobbs Ferry (which I know practically nothing about) but just school districts in general.
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Old 10-27-2013, 01:27 PM
 
37 posts, read 86,341 times
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Originally Posted by jjinla View Post
If your jobs are both in flux right now, why on earth would you move at all? My husband switched firms right after we bought in Larchmont (which I adored) and then ended up having a hellish commute to lower Manhattan. We would have picked NJ had we known that in hindsight.

Or better yet, take advantage of your lack of a mortgage and open yourselves up to areas outside of NY. Best decsision that we've ever made. $1.5m in most of the country is a mansion, not a 3000 sq ft home built in 1925 with a $30k a year tax bill.
Hi jjinla,

I wish we could move, honestly. We are both in finance and I have no idea how to even begin to find a job away from metro New York. Then again I don't know how to find a job for DH in metro New York either, but that's a different issue.

I went back to Larchmont today to see open houses. I do like walking around the town. It is very pleasant. I just don't see our family being happy on a .2 acre plot of land and a 2500 sqft house. Maybe I'm just unrealistic, but the more I think about it the more I fear that we just won't be able to afford Larchmont.
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Old 10-27-2013, 01:29 PM
 
37 posts, read 86,341 times
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Originally Posted by dma1250 View Post
That makes sense on one level, but I would nonetheless expect higher ratings from a smaller district than from a larger one of the same general socio-economic strata. A small district has fewer students and really should be able to identify and assist those in need of extra support, while a larger district will have proportionally more in-need students to deal with. Theoretically, a benefit of a smaller district would be a greater ability to help the relatively smaller group of kids who need extra help. So a small district with lower ratings leads me to suspect that they're not doing an adequate job of identifying and helping kids who need support.

I'm not talking about Dobbs Ferry (which I know practically nothing about) but just school districts in general.
I got an answer to this on Friday when I visited the school. 15% of DF's elementary kids get free/reduced lunches, so the demographic is poorer than some of the surrounding towns. I could definitely see it when I walked around the classrooms.

Incidentally the elementary school was amazing and I was extremely impressed by the principal and the superintendent.
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Old 10-27-2013, 08:13 PM
 
6,993 posts, read 9,544,498 times
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Originally Posted by moving42kids View Post
I went back to Larchmont today to see open houses. I do like walking around the town. It is very pleasant. I just don't see our family being happy on a .2 acre plot of land and a 2500 sqft house. Maybe I'm just unrealistic, but the more I think about it the more I fear that we just won't be able to afford Larchmont.
If what you can afford in a neighborhood is at the lower end then there's no point forcing it, else you will be unhappy. Better to buy a place that comfortably fits your budget.

I'm surprised you would zero in on DF where taxes are obscene even by Westchester standards. For $1.5M or less, I would consider Edgewood (Scarsdale SD), maybe even Mamaroneck.

You might want to investigate Ossining. Historically the SD there was not as well-regarded as other Westchester areas but it purportedly seems to be on an upward trajectory. My co-worker moved from Mamaroneck and bought a large property there near the Briarcliff border, and he told me that a good number of Manhattan professionals were also buying homes in Ossining.

But one important thing to consider especially when both parents are working FT jobs with presumably busy schedules - It would be greatly helpful to live in an area where there are lots of amenities (big retail, after school, weekend lessons, church, religious education, laundry, restaurants, full service supermarkets, school supplies, etc.) that are not just close to the house, but also close to one another. You will only have weekends to get errands done and most likely you will need to be in 4 or 5 different places on a Saturday/Sunday. It may not be the best use of your time if you need to get on a highway to go from one place to another.

Last edited by Forest_Hills_Daddy; 10-27-2013 at 08:35 PM..
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Old 10-27-2013, 10:44 PM
 
Location: Bellevue, WA
1,487 posts, read 3,751,110 times
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My husband isn't in finance so I don't know that world intimately, but there are options in other places.

As for Larchmont, you will get more for your money outside of the village and the manor (look in the Pinebrook area or near Murray, etc). And if you can get a house in the winter or if it needs some cosmetic updating you will do very well on return. I do not miss the col in NY, nor the taxes but I do miss Larchmont. Between the newcomers club, the tight community and schools, parks, manor beach and all I felt so at home there in such a short time.
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