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Old 01-28-2009, 12:07 PM
 
Location: Manhattan
4 posts, read 19,397 times
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Hi,
My husband and I are considering towns to buy a home. We live in Manhattan now, lived in downtown Boston prior, so we are used to walking a lot. The one thing I will miss most about the city is being able to walk to do errands. We are expecting our first child in June and considering Northern Westchester. Yorktown Heights seems to be a viable option, since we are seeing houses we like in our price range, which is modest for Weschester since I recently became unemployed and we will be living on one income for now.

Though I hear the downtown isn't as pretty as other towns, it has a lot of shopping to offer. Is this a walkable town? It the "center" large? Are there residential areas within walking distance to the downtown?

My husband and I plan to check out some "downtowns" in Weschester this weekend, but thinking YH might be a fit based on housing prices and commute to NYC.

Thanks!
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Old 01-28-2009, 01:31 PM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
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The short answer is yes: Yorktown Heights has a good size commercial center with lots of stores, restaurants, starbucks, etc, close together with excellent sidewalks. There are 2 parks, 2 playgrounds, a community center, playing field, and town pool all in the downtown area. All of this is an easy walk from a number of residential areas with a range of homes from vintage victorians and colonials to 60's and 70's ranches to '90's and 00's McMansions.

As you've heard, it is not the prettiest town around--the village was "redeveloped" in the '60s and lost a lot of it's original buildings. But it is very convenient and walkable and has an excellent range of amenities.

Personally, if I wanted to live in a walkable village setting, it would not be my pick (and I live in Yorktown Heights, a few miles outside of the center). But that really is a matter of personal taste. You should definitely check it out. Also look at Croton and Ossining, which have affordable options too. If schools aren't an issue, also check out Peekskill.

FYI, I was born and bred in NYC and lived there into my mid 30's. Now I live in a "rural" setting with no sidewalks and have to drive to get errands. And I love it. Driving to do errands is so much easier than shlepping bags! And being able to walk into the woods or see the horses from your house is worth a lot more than being able to walk to get milk. But again, that's totally personal.
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Old 01-28-2009, 02:04 PM
 
Location: Manhattan
4 posts, read 19,397 times
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DMA, thanks for your reply. It is helpful. Maybe we'll get used to driving to walk, though if I can prevent it - great. We'll check the town out this weekend. A Victorian within walking distance to errands and parks/pool, yet a drive away from beautiful country walking trails and preserves would be ideal for me - though I may be willing to give up walking for milk for the right town, and right home. (Maybe I will have to buy a fun 5-speed hatchback car instead to shop! (I currently don't have a car.)) I am curious - what town/s would you pick if you were looking for a walkable village?

Also, you mention Croton and Ossining - are those towns with walkable villages?

PS- we are also going to check out Peekskill this weekend, since I am very interested in what I've been hearing about it. Am a bit concerned about what I have been reading about schools & crime there, though my husband and I both value cultural diversity, and we are familiar with living in a gritty neighborhood as it develops and gentrifies around us.... we did that in Boston. We are in the UWS now on 69th and CPW, and I wish we had chosen Brooklyn when we moved here instead.

So far, Yorktown seems to be at the top of the list, then perhaps Katonah and Peekskill.

We've ruled out Bronxville and Armonk as a bit too wealthy of towns for our pocketbook - and our taste.

We are also considering Farifield, CT.

Thanks again for your help!
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Old 01-28-2009, 03:30 PM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
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Katonah is probably the prettiest town around--and the best place to find a lovely Victorian (some of which have gotten pretty affordable lately, depending on your budget). If I wanted to be smack in a quaint, charming walkable village I would pick Katonah (although the commute is a pain). If I wanted to be smack in an artsy, gritty more urban place i would pick Peekskill. Croton has definite pluses too, as does Tarrytown, Ossining Village, and Mt Kisco.

Each town in the area has definite pluses and some minuses. My advice is to check out the entire area and see what feels right for you. In the end, wherever you end up, you will regularly visit all of the towns since none of them have everything. We routinely go to a number of towns and we constantly run into friends who live in other towns when we're in Yorktown Heights. Each town is lacking something, but when you put them all together they have everything. Enjoy exploring.
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Old 01-28-2009, 04:08 PM
 
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Yorktown is a rather large area. There are some walkable portions, but other parts are definitely driving territory. It also includes the Jefferson Valley Mall, and similar big box stores where just walking through the parking lot is a hike.

Most Westchester towns have a walkable downtown portion (usually focused around the train station, if there is one). Some of those towns have more to offer than others, some are pretty minimal. Of course, it's also a matter of finding a house that is close to the walkable shopping district. Katonah, as cited, has a very charming walkable downtown area. But if you have been searching the Katonah school district, many of those homes are many miles away from the downtown area.

When I think of a walkable town in Westchester, I tend to think of Pleasantville. They consider themselves to be entirely a walking town--- The schools don't even offer busing. It has a pretty decent downtown, with some good restaurants, an arts movie theater, etc. Of course, while they consider themselves entirely a walking town-- many of the homes are still a pretty good hike from the "downtown."

Within the Croton school district, you have the Village-area of Croton, and then you have the surrounding area. The inner-Village is walkable. From the surrounding portions, you are stuck driving.

You mentioned Armonk and Bronxville. Bronxville has a nice walkable downtown, but it might be one of the least diverse towns in Westchester. Armonk is nice, with a good walkable upscale downtown area (but again, many of the residential areas are quite far from the downtown). As you noted, it is certainly expensive.

Larchmont and Mamaroneck are walkable and nice downtowns, but they can get very expensive.

As noted, most Westchester residents don't stick to one town. I reside in Chappaqua. I do my grocery shopping in Mount Kisco or Hawthorne. I just picked up dinner in Pleasantville. My kids go to daycare in Mount Kisco, and swim lessons in Brewster.

Even if you're in walking distance to a good downtown area, you will still end up driving for your errands. Walk into town for a cup of coffee, or walk to a park. But you'll likely end up driving to grocery stores, etc.
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Old 01-28-2009, 04:54 PM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
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To clarify, my comments were about the "commercial hamlet" of Yorktown Heights, a relatively small part of the much larger area of Yorktown Heights--which is a small area inside the huge (40 square miles) area of Yorktown. Yorktown has 7 hamlets and many distinct areas, most of which are not at all walkable, as Havoc points out. Large parts of Yorktown are all woods and fields and narrow lanes with no sidewalks--but the center of Yorktown Heights is walkable.

I agree with Pleasantville--very walkable. And pleasant. You should certainly check that out too.
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Old 01-28-2009, 08:49 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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One thing to note, walkable when you are in Northern Westchester is not the same standard as Lower Westchester. Bronxville, Larchmont, and Scarsdale have good degrees of walkability as there are many more housing units surrounding their downtown core. Pleasantville has this as well, as does Mount Kisco.

Katonah, while a nice hamlet, with a great downtown is not as walkable as Lower Westchester. East of the train station is part of the reservoir, so it's not developed for a good stretch, and when housing resumes again, it's generally on 1/2 acre or more until you reach Route 22. You can walk many places from the west side of the train station, but for groceries, it's the old (and I mean ancient!) A&P that's a little removed from the rest of the downtown or Mrs. Green's. Restaurants, coffee, clothing, housewares are not a problem insofar as walking distance, but the newer, larger stores, and specialty stores are going to require a vehicle as it's going to be a short trip to Mount Kisco, Bedford Village, Greenwich, or White Plains.
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Old 01-29-2009, 09:24 AM
 
Location: Peekskill, NY
95 posts, read 381,337 times
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Hifromrio:

We just recently moved to Peekskill for similar reasons to those you mentioned and before we bought our home I had questions about it too - so I though I'd add my two cents. We were looking for an older home, but something more affordable, within walking distance of a town with at least some amenities and more diversity. We are really enjoying it. We ended up with a house we love (although it needs a decent amount of work) that cost significantly less than it would have in most other parts of Westchester and the taxes are relatively reasonable. We can walk to restaurants, a great coffee house and the Paramount theatre, as well as a smaller groccery store, and the larger groccery store, Home Depot, etc. are just a short drive away. We also can, if needed, walk to the train (although the walk home is a work out) and there are almost always a lot of taxis at the train station as well. While Peekskill definitely has a bit more of an urban feel to it, we have never felt at all unsafe/had any issues with crime. (I also noted on a recent walk that the convenience store which often seemed to feature in local crime reports seems to have gone out of business). We do not have children, so I can't give you any input about the schools, but what little second hand information I have received from neighbors seems to indicate that they generally are happy with the education that their kids are getting (and, again, appreciate the diversity). Good luck with your search and feel free to contact me if there are any specific questions I can answer.
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:26 PM
 
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Taxes in Yorktown are high and you are not abe to walk anywhere. If you are considering a move to yorktown from mnahattan, be prepared for a complete change.
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Old 02-03-2009, 06:56 PM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
1,316 posts, read 4,564,118 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Olympia555 View Post
Taxes in Yorktown are high and you are not abe to walk anywhere. If you are considering a move to yorktown from mnahattan, be prepared for a complete change.
Taxes are high, but no higher than in many other towns. In the last few years taxes in Yorktown have gone up at a much smaller rate than many towns in the area. If you compare comparable houses you can find examples of houses where the taxes in Yorktown are higher than in other towns--but you can also find many examples where they are lower.

On the walking issue, that depends on where. In the "commercial hamlet" of Yorktown Heights you can easily walk anywhere from any number of residential areas. It is actually one of the more walkable towns in the area. And absolutely anywhere in Westchester will be a "complete change" form Manhattan--which is the point of moving, after all.
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