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Old 11-17-2009, 02:00 PM
 
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Hi - I grew up in White Plains, but have been living in Brooklyn for the last 10 years. I now have a 3 year old son and am considering making the jump back to the suburbs. We're looking to spend under $600k, preferably even under $500k if possible - and I'm doing everything in my power to avoid that not-to-be-named state across the river. White Plains is ideal but it is hard if not impossible to find something in our price range there. So I thought I'd consider looking at Northern Westchester.

We took a drive around Mt. Kisco, Croton, Bedford etc to check out the towns. I really the area but was surprised that even up there, the prices are very high - some areas higher than Souther Westchester. We really like Croton, Yorktown, Bedford and Katonah - but realized that aside from nature, there seems to be almost nothing to do up there. Especially Croton. Where do people who live there go if they want to see a movie? Or go clothing shopping, etc etc. It seems the nearest movie theater is 20 minutes away, and the only malls are also 20-30 minutes away in White Plains or Jefferson Valley.

So, people who live up in Northern Westchester - what do you guys do for recreation? I feel like moving from Brooklyn where there are all kinds of activities, etc going on every single day could be a big shock for us. Thanks!

~H
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Old 11-17-2009, 02:40 PM
 
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we lived in northern westchester for 7 years & i never felt at a loss for things to do. however, i must admit that most of our everyday socializing came in the form of getting together with neighbors for bbqs, parties, watching sports, etc. especially after we had our son, who is 2. we rarely went to the movies because we had a home entertainment center, as did many of our neighbors. however, in addition to the movies at the JV Mall, there are big complexes in hawthorne and white plains about 20 minutes south as well as a few IMAX screens in white plains and palisades.

if you prefer activities "outside" the home, there are many cultural outlets, museums, library programs, restaurants, bars, nature centers, etc. if you like art there's the katonah museum as well as a couple more just over the border in ridgefield, ct. most towns have historical societies with lots of exhibits and programs and historical buildings.

muscoot farm on route 100 in somers is a beautiful county-owned farm facility that is free to county residents and features all kinds of farm animals as well as hiking trails and picnic spots and programs. our son loved going here. it's great in the spring with the newborn animals. they also have a wonderful farmer's market sundays from may to november, i think.

historic hudson valley maintains several historic properties in the area and offers some great programs for kids and adults. you can get a family membership for $140/year that entitles you to tickets to their great pumpkin blaze in cortlandt, which is awesome, and the legends activities in sleepy hollow, as well as free admission to the sites throughout the year. they have lots of special programs on weekends.

lasdon park on rt. 35 in somers also has beautiful grounds, a few war memorials and runs programs throughout the year. caramoor in katonah is an internationally known concert venue that attracts some of the best composers, performing artists, jazz musicians, etc. as well as having children's programs on some of the most beautiful real estate in the area.

if all else fails, nothing beats driving along the back roads in the fall to do a little leaf peeping, then stop at a dinner or cute local cafe.

the local paper is the journal news, lohud.com, and they have a giant calendar of things going on.

yes, ultimately, it will take a little longer to get to activities, but all that nature is the reason most people move to northern westchester in the first place. it is probably a very different experience than brooklyn, but only you can decide if it will work for you.

Last edited by somersmom; 11-17-2009 at 02:43 PM.. Reason: forgot to add
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Old 11-17-2009, 04:13 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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There are also small movie theatres in Bedford and Mount Kisco, and in addition to White Plains, Ridgefield, Stamford, and Greenwich are not that far. Mount Kisco has a good number of shops and restaurants in the downtown area, and the Route 117 (Bedford Road) corridor between Mount Kisco and Bedford Hills also has a number of stores (Target, Kohl's, A&P, Shop Rite), car dealerships, and a couple of restaurants.
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Old 11-17-2009, 05:20 PM
 
Location: Live in NY State, work in CT
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And don't forget Danbury and the mall, at least if you live in the eastern part of northern Westchester (and you might want to check out the area around Danbury too......similar housing prices but lower property taxes.....it's not "that state across the river" but "that other one").
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Old 11-17-2009, 06:45 PM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
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We moved up from Park Slope 8 years ago and have never been at a loss for things to do. I think what I most love about the area is the balance of nature and culture and the easy access to both. You may have to drive 15 minutes, but from pretty much anywhere in northern Westchester you're close to an art film center, performing arts center, museum, galleries, writing center, or coffee house with live music. There is something interesting happening pretty much every day. And there is loads of nature. There's also a tremendous number and variety of activities for kids. We moved up with a young child and have never had trouble finding fun things to do together, inside or out. We tend to eat out 3 or 4 times a week and go out to do something (see a movie, listen to music, take a hike, etc) every weekend. And I've only been to a mall once in my 8 years here (last minute Xmas shopping).
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Old 11-17-2009, 07:33 PM
 
Location: East Millcreek
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I moved to Pound Ridge from central Tokyo 19 years ago after growing up in Pelham, so I have a certain perspective on the country<-->urban question. I think you may have answered your own question: "...aside from nature...." Nature and open areas play a huge role in what people do up here. Most posters seem to be saying that there's plenty of the more urban stuff around and that it isn't a problem. This is turning the question on its head IMO. If your ideas about quality of life involve humancentric activities such as shopping, cultural events or general hustle-bustle excitement then you should absolutely not move up here.

But to answer the question specifically, people do pretty much the same stuff they'd do downcounty - socializing, kids soccer, local theater, etc etc. However, in addition to that, here's what we do personally, day in and day out:
  • throw tennis balls 150 ft for the dog in the back yard, running free, no fences
  • keep cross country skis stuck all winter in the snowbank outside the garage to hit the 40 acre preserve across the street every time it snows.
  • Cycling on wonderful loops around the reservoirs fall and spring (road bike)
  • Watch the kids play badminton in the yard while hawks circle overhead
  • Walk the dog off leash in the general neighborhood and nature preserve without any concerns about bothering anybody. We usually encounter neighbors and friends doing the same thing and remind each other how awesome it is.
  • sunbathe nude on the deck
  • Ice skating on the pond (winter :-)
  • Kids hiking, fishing and making forts Tom Sawyer style in the preserve WITHOUT SUPERVISION, cause THAT'S WHAT KIDS DO (or used to anyway, a freedom few protective city parents would ever allow their kids)
  • Watching the seasons turn
  • gardening and growing stuff
  • Watch movies with pals in media room
  • Travel to downcounty regularly for shopping or work and reacting with horror to the rudeness, incivility and general crazedness of everybody
You get the picture. If you don't actively enjoy nature and some measure of privacy and solitude it might seem pretty grim.

Something else to consider - movies, shopping etc may be farther in miles, but often don't take any longer to get to than in southern westchester. A 2 mile drive may easily take 15 minutes downcounty. Upcounty 15 minutes might take you 10 miles.

FWIW, I consider Pound Ridge to be perhaps the most evolved example of the "affluent suburban-rural" lifestyle. More details on this lifestyle are covered here: Pound Ridge info For many, simply being there seems to be enough.
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Old 11-18-2009, 08:16 AM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
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I agree that you shouldn't move to Northern Westchester unless you want to be in and around nature. But if that is all you want, you can find more nature for less money in lots of other places. What makes the area special and worth it, IMO, is that it has tremendous natural beauty and outdoor pursuits as well as plenty of "urban" amenities and cultural pursuits. Having grown up in the city, I am thrilled that my son is getting a 'country' lifestyle and a huge array of experiences with nature that I never had--but it is equally critical to me that he is growing up in an area with an active creative, artistic, and cultural life. It's the perfect balance.
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Old 11-18-2009, 08:20 AM
 
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I guess it depends on how close you really want to be to a "mall" or megaplex, etc. To me, personally, a 15-20 minute drive is still pretty close.

Mount Kisco has a fairly vibrant commercial scene. It has coffee houses, restaurants, bars, movie theater, shopping, including some big box stores like Target, Kohls (the Kohls may technically be in Bedford). So especially from Katonah, you are really only talking about a 5-10 minute drive.

Yorktown itself, practically includes the Jefferson Valley Mall, and the surrounding commercial areas.

Croton, to me, does have a slightly isolated feel. But in practicality, all the "non-nature" activities are not especially far. Yes, you can travel and north east to the Jefferson Valley area. You can also drive south on Route 9, and get to the Hawthorne multiplex in under 15 minutes. Even Croton to White Plains, is under 30 minutes.

In addition to Mount Kisco, you have other pockets of social and commercial activity. Pleasantville has some excellent restaurants and shopping, as well as the Jacob Burns movie theater, for art-movies, film festivals, etc. Katonah has a New Englandish town center, as well as having its own art museum and other attractions.

I guess it's all relative. Some people would consider driving 15 minutes to be too far, while others consider even an hour drive to be fairly close-by.
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Old 11-18-2009, 09:36 AM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
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I wouldn't worry about being too far from big box stores in Croton. The village is in Cortlandt and is really less than 10 minutes from the massive Cortlandt Town Center complex (which has a megaplex) and a huge strip of big box stores on Route 6 in Cortlandt. Further afield, but still close, there's the JV mall, plenty of big box stores further south, and the big strip of big box stores on route 117 in Mt Kisco. Croton itself has more than enough medium box stores like Dunkin Donuts and CVS.

On the distance/travel time issue, I don't think I travel much longer now to get to most things than I did in Brooklyn--I go a lot further, but it doesn't really take longer. We used to travel 15 to 20 minutes to get to good movies and restaurants in Brooklyn, and longer for a museum or performing arts center. I can't walk to get a bottle of milk now, but I can walk to an alpaca farm and into a couple hundred acres of protected woods from my backyard.
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Old 11-18-2009, 01:42 PM
 
278 posts, read 560,643 times
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Thanks everyone! I have gotten some really good perspectives from this thread. The funny thing is - I don't really like malls or big box stores. Ideally I'd rather shop at small, local stores, etc, but these days those are few and far. In Brooklyn I don't have big box stores either, but I can walk to get my milk, light bulbs, toilet paper, etc etc. I don't think I really want to move somewhere I need to drive 15-20 minutes to get those necessities, but from what I've seen, those types of things can probaby be found closeby. The idea of driving 20 minutes for a movie though is a big offputting - but like someone else said, even now I have to walk at least 10-15 minutes to get to one. I guess the main thing to get used to is driving in general. On a related note, how do people who live in Yorktown commute to NYC? Not only is it the northernmost place we were considering, but it is also not on a train line. Is this a major downside? In general, what would people recommend as the best Northwern Westchester town with good schools that is not obscenely expensive. We're looking to spend around $500-$550k for a 3BR. Is this doable?Thanks again!~H
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