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Old 06-04-2009, 09:27 AM
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We are moving from the Fairfax County area in No. VA and are currently considering towns in Westchester.

Before moving we were living on the border of Reston and Great Falls (if that even makes sense) - great schools, nice community, nice houses and close enough to DC for cultural events and museums for our 8 year old and going out (as Great Falls is not the most fun place!).

We are looking for a similar area in the NY area and looking through all the postings is very confusing! We were told Scarsdale and Rye were the most 'sought after' towns, but not sure if these fit into our sub-million dollar budget or slightly more conservative outlook...

Other thoughts were the river towns, pleasantville, armonk (my husband works for IBM, but travels)... The Goal is to be within an hour's (without traffic) commute from NYC - so about 40-45 miles away...

Any suggestions? (apologies for the rather broad request - but we really need help!)
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Old 06-04-2009, 10:18 AM
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The river towns, at least politically, are more "liberal" than Scarsdale and Rye. Rye is fairly conservative.
Armonk is a bit like Scarsdale in attitude, but in a slightly more rural setting. (not exactly farm country, but 1-2 acre homes with lots of green space, as opposed to 1/4th acre homes). Pleasantville is a bit of a "small town," within Northern Westchester. Everyone is about 1 - 1.5 miles from a town center. No school busing (walk, carpool, drop off).

Let me address your commuting issues: Scarsdale, Rye, the River towns, are all within a mere 25 miles of NYC. Without traffic, you can get into midtown Manhattan in 35-40 minutes. (with traffic, over an hour).
Pleasantville/Armonk, are about 35 miles from midtown Manhattan, or about 45-50 minutes without traffic.

For slightly lower cost of living, good schools, nice community, and a slightly more reasonable cost of living, you can go further north and still easily be within your other parameters. If you don't need to commute via Metro North, then you don't need to pay the premium of living in a town with a train station.
Somers offers execellent value for Westchester. For example, Baldwin Place (Somer schools) offers fairly new spacious homes. Homes that would be 1.2 million with 30k in taxes in Scarsdale, you can get for 750k and 12k in taxes, in Baldwin Place. It's 50 miles from midtown Manhattan. Approximately a 1 hour drive with no traffic.
Some other towns in that general vicinity can give you similar value, such as Yorktown Heights, Granite Springs, etc.

Plus, it's a very easy drive to IBM in Armonk from those towns. For example, from Baldwin Place, to IBM in Armonk, is about 20 miles, and about a 30 minute drive.
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Old 06-04-2009, 10:39 AM
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havoc, thanks for the speedy response!

We have a couple of clients in Ardsley and they swear by it (though from other postings I read that there isnt that much to do in Ardsley). Any thoughts on Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington?

We'll be in the city for the weekend and are considering a drive through of the area (sans realtor, for now) - any guidance on doing this?
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Old 06-04-2009, 11:09 AM
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I love the river towns. Dobbs Ferry and Irvington are river towns. Ardsley is sometimes considered a river town, but not to the same degree.

Many Westchester towns are organized around a downtown village, centered around the train station. Partially because Arsdley does not have a train station, it also does not really have a major central downtown. It's true, I don't think there is "much to do" in Ardsley. But for the purpose of residency, it doesn't really matter what town you live in. You can always take a short drive to things to do in other places.
In this respect, Arsdley is very centrally located. A short drive to NYC. An even shorter drive to White Plains. Plenty of nearby shopping in White Plains, Yonkers, Central Avenue. Very close to the Hudson river. Close to numerous parks, etc.
The schools are very good in Arsdley. Yet, partially due to the lack of a train station, it is slightly cheaper than the comparable school districts (Scarsdale, Irvington).

Irvington brings all the river town benefits. Right on the river, has it's own train station. Schools are among the very best in Westchester.
Dobbs Ferry is similar, but Dobbs is slightly more diverse, and the schools are less prestigious (yet still well regarded).
In all 3 towns, homes are basically pretty close together. It's more dense than Northern Westchester.

If you do like the river town feel, but want to get a bit more value for your money, you could head north just a short bit to Croton on Hudson as well.

I suggesting looking around without a realtor, AND with a realtor. Either that, or just take the time to stop by a couple of open houses on Sunday afternoon. That will give you a real feel of the prices in the different towns.
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Old 06-04-2009, 05:08 PM
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What about communities like Tuckahoe and Elmsford?
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Old 06-04-2009, 08:13 PM
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Try Pelham. It's got good schools, 28 minute commute, nice houses for under a million. It's on the Sound, though, not the river.

Irvington and Croton might be good bets for river towns.
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Old 06-04-2009, 08:39 PM
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I live in Ardsley and agree with what Havoc posted above. Ardsley has not "town center" but it is a small community with an excellent school district. Due to the central location, we don't really need a town center to get the things we need.

Irvington has a small Main street, a nice park by the river, its own train station and an excellent school district. It is an amazing place to live and definitely something you should consider.

Another town to consider is Hastings, also on the river with a nice village and excellent schools. Of the River Towns Hastings tends to be more "liberal". Dobbs is the most economically diverse of the river towns but it is a very nice community with friendly down to earth people.

Here is a link to the Rivertowns guide if you want to check out what's happening
Welcome to RivertownsGuide.com

Of all the towns listed above, Irvington seems to fit the best with what you are looking for.

In addition to the towns above, I would also check out Larchmont and Bronxville. Good Luck!

Good Luck!
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Old 06-04-2009, 08:55 PM
Location: East Millcreek
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If your husband is the breadwinner and works in Armonk I'd think twice, and then again and then again after that, about living in southern Westchester - that is, every town mentioned in this thread thus far except Somers. Unless you prefer higher taxes, smaller lots and semi-urban congestion there's very little reason to be in S Westchester other than the commute to NYC. FWIW, I worked at a major corp in central Westchester for years and I can't recall even a single person that commuted from the south except a few reverse commuters in NYC. There's a reason for that (though I'm sure somebody here will come up with an exception - but recognize that is IS an exception). You absolutely need to expand your search north or you'll end up wasting a lot of time.

Bedford, Mt Kisco, Chappaqua, Pound Ridge, Somers, Briarcliff and a few more all meet your criterion of 40 miles to NYC AND are easy to get to Armonk. Bedford, Mt Kisco are just minutes down I-684 and Chappaqua and Pound Ridge just a few minutes farther. In fact, you could even look at Armonk, though it has its detractors on this board. Look at a local map and up and down I-684 and the Hutchinson River Parkway. Unlike practically every other major artery in the county, I-684 is remarkably uncongested. If you commute 684 a high powered German autombile will be your tool of choice.

As for your slightly conservative outlook, the river towns are well known for their liberal politics and political soulmates will likely be scarce. And "Conservative" in Rye or Scarsdale means a moderate Republican that despairs of what Rush, Newt et al are doing to the party they once recognized. In fact, all of Westchester would be pretty far left of most of the country, certainly socially if not always economically. Given that, the farther north you go the more the prevailing attitude is live and let live, regardless of your views.
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Old 06-05-2009, 09:33 PM
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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Being familiar with both loacations, I can say that Scarsdale is definitely not going to meet your expectations. People seek it because they fear that all the other school districts in Westchester are absolutely horrible, which is far from the case. In Central Westchester, Harrison and Purchase are worth considering, but the price point comes into play since there's no shortage of houses into eight figure price territory, which is the same case with Rye. There are lower priced houses in the town area of Harrison, but parts of it are not as nice as the estate area near the country clubs. Just about all of Purchase is going to be over $1M, unless you find a smaller, older house on less than an acre, but there are not many listings at that price point. Rye can be very expensive with very high taxes for a small piece of property, in places, and also has large estate properties. It, too, has a school district that is widely known, hence the reason why most people seek to be in Rye. Harrison/Purchase are comparable with Fairfax Station/Clifton if that helps to give an impression of the area.

I would agree with looking to Northern Westchester, especially Northeastern Westchester: Bedford, Katonah, Pound Ridge, Lewisboro, and Somers, which have been mentioned previously in this thread. Katonah (Town of Bedford) is the quintessential small town, but some find it to be a tad remote, but travel to the city is easy as is travel to semi-rural environments. Katonah/Bedford/South Salem are very much on the line of a Middleburg, but with the benefit of rapid rail transit to Grand Central Terminal in about an hour from Katonah or Bedford Hills stations. While houses in the area are not inexpensive, if you're in town (or some planned developments outside of it), you can find a decent house for under $1M. For houses on acreage at that price, it's either not Katonah (as the zip code covers part of Somers), or the house will need substantial renovations.

Irvington is great, but the price point comes into play, since sub-$1M in Irvington is really going to be a townhouse or a smaller house that may need work. It's very desirable, and the prices are in line with Rye and Harrison/Purchase, which are a tad higher than some other offerings in the river towns. Irvington is not as liberal as other towns along the Hudson, so that could work for you if you find a house that meets your needs.

In Lower Westchester, I agree with the suggestion for Pelham. It's not as centralized as other towns in the area in terms of a comprehensive town center downtown that you would find in Bronxville, Scarsdale, and Larchmont, but it does offer convenient shopping, and is close to many towns in Westchester. The school district is very well regarded, and there are a mixture of houses, such that in the mid to high $700s-$800s you can find a decent selection of houses. Much of Pelham is older as it's a first suburb, but the architecture can be quite varied on a given street, especially in Pelham Manor. Pelham, however, is not known for vast open tracts of land between houses, though it does border the Sound and large amounts of parkland. It is comparable, in terms of land use and housing space to North Arlington, closer to the border of McLean -- that mix of suburban, yet not a cookie cutter suburban atmosphere.

One consideration would also be to know which airport your husband would use primarily. If it's LGA or JFK, you don't want to be in a remote part of Croton as the drive to/from the airport can take quite a while, factoring traffic and the bridges. If he can use White Plains much of the time, it's an easy commute via White Plains from much of Westchester.

And, if he's not a daily city commuter and you want a bit more open space, I'd really consider Northern Westchester first, and Lower Westchester second. It's not to say that there's anything wrong with life below 287 (Cross Westchester Expy), the traditional demarkation line, but as has been pointed out, it's a tad more congested and your housing dollar does not go as far in a desired area/school district without concessions to lifestyle and/or housing preference.
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Old 06-06-2009, 12:35 AM
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Would also consider that many high-income people are fleeing NYC for Greenwich for more favorable income tax rates (CT vs NYC vs NY)...'70s redux

CT generally has weak public (and private) schools vs Scarsdale and Chappaqua but most of major hedgies live in either Greenwich or Manhattan, so a few educational/career/social reasons exist to live in Greenwich over Scarsdale/Chappaqua

We live in deflationary times; seems absurd to buy any house today vs renting and seeing how one's career progresses and how house prices migrate
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