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Old 11-28-2009, 04:51 PM
 
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Hello, hope everybody is doing well. My wife and I currently reside on the UWS in a great one bedroom apartment. However, we are starting a family so have been looking for a little more room, nature, small town, etc.

A little bit about myself is that I am an attorney who works in Midtown Manhattan. My wife currently does a lot of volunteering here on the UWS and hopes to continue to be able to find good volunteer opportunities wherever we move. I work a decent amount but not crazy hours. I usually am in the office from about 10 am until 7 and then if I have additional work just work at home.

What we are looking for:

Commute: I don't want a horrible commute. An hour on the train would be fine. The train ride is actually good because I should be able to work most of the time that I am on the train.

Town Style: We both really like the feel of a New England Style town. Also, are dream home would be a colonial style.

Preferred Amenities: Nature within easy distance would be good. I like to golf so a golf course also would be a plus. A nice, walkable town. Coffee shops, a couple good restaurants, etc. In short, just a cute, quaint, pretty, comfortable town. We won't have kids school age for 6 years or so but I would still prefer to live somewhere with decent schools.

Budget: A 3 or 4 bedroom or so for under $800K is what we are after. Since this is our first house we probably our looking to even keep that lower. If we could find something in the $600-700K range that would be terrific.

Towns that our currently on our list: So far we like, Madison, Nj; Montclair, NJ (and surrounding towns); Pleasantville, NY; Chappaqua, NY; Katonah, NY; Darien, Ct; and Stamford, Ct.

If anybody could recommend other towns that we should consider or comment on the above that would be terrific. Thanks in advance and I hope you have a terrific Saturday afternoon.
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Old 11-28-2009, 05:09 PM
 
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Katonah was in my mind of places you might consider. But your budget's a bit on the low side. DEFINITELY low for Chappaqua. And don't forget the real estate taxes. I have a colleague who volunteered to be relocated to Pennsylvania from Chappaqua because the real estate taxes are killing him.
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Old 11-28-2009, 05:26 PM
 
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We have been aggressively looking in the same size/$ range in Pleasantville for 6 months and keeping an eye on things for 6 months before that, and we have yet to find something that isn't hopelessly outdated or run down, or under 2000 sq ft (even with 3-4 bedrooms). As a result we have recently expanded our search to Thornwood and Chappaqua (could consider Briarcliff and Armonk but we both need the train) and I'm finding that taxes in Chappaqua are equal or lower than Pleasantville. For some reason there are more $20k taxes on homes in that range in Pleasantville, on much smaller lots. In Chappaqua generally you do get more land, still have the quaint downtown, more frequent express trains and more station parking. On the downside you have the reputation of being more snobby and high pressure - but it seems P-ville is becoming more and more unaffordable so who knows if the "laid back" vibe will change in a few years.
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Old 11-28-2009, 07:49 PM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
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Sounds like Katonah to me. There are some really nice houses on the market in Katonah now in your price range, so you shouldn't have too much trouble finding something--depending on what kind of house you want, of course. Pleasantville is nice and has a good town, but it is a lot more developed and suburban and not nearly as close to nature. Ditto Montclair and Madison.
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Old 11-28-2009, 11:30 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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If you don't mind an added commute to get to the train in Katonah, I would add in areas to the east, especially Ridgefield, CT. You will have to drive or take the HART bus to Katonah for the train, however. That would add 25 or so minutes to the trip, but if you like Ridgefield, it might be worth it to you.

HART Katonah-Ridgefield schedule

Alternatively, you could park at Goldens Bridge and take the train from there to GCT, which is one more stop from Katonah. You would still have a 20-25 minute drive back to Ridgefield, which is about 10 miles away from the station. There are daily meters at GB, though I am not sure how early they fill up, but you can get a permit as the parking is managed by a Metro-North contractor, not by the municipality. There are some metered spots in Katonah, but I think that Bedford charges more than GB.

Pleasantville can be tough at $800k, as Cali_to_NJ pointed out, and part of the reason is the land. Mid-century splits and ranches will command premiums because they are on an acre or more, and many might need extensive modernization. And, then some houses in-town are larger, and are of historic interest, so there's a premium for that as well.

Katonah could be a good place, but you need to be in Katonah, not just 10536 zip code which straddles Somers. The Town of Bedford controls parking at the stations in Katonah and Bedford Hills, hence why being a town resident is important, and there is no parking in Somers. The other reason is for the Katonah-Lewisboro school district, though Somers is not a bad district at all. And, what may seem like a bargain in Katonah zip code, in Somers, can be miles from town, so you're not going to be able to walk to town. Katonah is an area where it's possible to find a 2BR house for $700k, or even finding a house in excess of $800k that only has one bathroom, though those would tend to be some of the period properties in the downtown area. It might require a hunt, and you might not find the perfect period home, but any shortcomings are more than made up by the area, IMO. Plus, if you like the area, you can buy with an eye to add another bathroom, renovate the facade of a 1950s house, etc. as you grow into the home with a family.

Town of Bedford - Parking

Town of Bedford - fee schedule (http://www.bedfordny.info/html/pdf/finance/2009%20Fee%20Schedule.pdf - broken link)

In NJ, Madison, Summit, Chatham, are all nice areas, and offer a good commute to the city, and have good schools. You're much closer to the city than you would be in Northeastern Westchester or Fairfield, which facilitates commute, but also is a tad more congested. If you like NJ, however, they are not bad at all, but I am admittedly biased toward Westchester/Fairfield.
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~William Shakespeare
(As You Like It Act II, Scene VII)

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Old 11-29-2009, 06:43 AM
 
1,562 posts, read 2,733,953 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike4488 View Post
Budget: A 3 or 4 bedroom or so for under $800K is what we are after. Since this is our first house we probably our looking to even keep that lower. If we could find something in the $600-700K range that would be terrific.

Towns that our currently on our list: So far we like, Madison, Nj; Montclair, NJ (and surrounding towns); Pleasantville, NY; Chappaqua, NY; Katonah, NY; Darien, Ct; and Stamford, Ct.
Pleasantville, NY; Doable for that budget.
Chappaqua, NY; you're on the bubble;
Katonah, NY; no and too far anyway;
Darien, Ct; doable, nice but too far
and Stamford, Ct. schools aren't as good as the other areas.
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Old 11-29-2009, 06:46 AM
 
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The problem with NJ is that there are waiting lists that are YEARS long for parking at the train stations.
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Old 11-29-2009, 10:02 AM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
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Don't be too discouraged by those who say you can't get what you want in Katonah for your price range. Your options will be limited, but in this market you'll have options. My two personal favorites would be the smallish but lovely 1800's 3 bedroom for 665K in the center of town and the 4,000 square foot contemporary on 2 plus acres outside of town (in Katonah-Lewisboro school district) for 695K (down from over 800K). Also keep in mind that asking prices are often very negotiable--there was a lovely colonial in the heart of town that came on the market for 1 million and finally sold recently for 770K.
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Old 11-29-2009, 11:12 AM
 
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Thanks everybody for the replies. My wife and I are definitely going to be making a trip up to Northern Westchester to look at the places. Katonah is pretty intriguing to me, looks like a great place. (And dma1250 I see the homes that you are talking about and they look terrific.)

I guess I should add that we could spend more than I mentioned if we had to. Talked to the bank the other and we could purchase a home up to 1.3 Million. However, since this is our first home I just feel more comfortable finding something cheaper.

Also, we are in the really early stages of looking. This might be a long process for us. Our time frame is to ready to purchase in 3 to 6 months if something awesome came along. However, we don't "need" to move out of the city for 3 years or so.
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Old 11-29-2009, 11:56 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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If you can go to $900k-$1Mish, more opens up for you in Katonah. The $600-$700k range is very limited, and you need to be careful if the price is too low in Katonah, since there are parts of town that are hampered by geography, where you have slopes and rocks as opposed to a yard, and some that flood. In the mid-range prices, however, there are decent options between about $750k-$800k currently on the market, just not too many of them. And, some lower-priced houses have been on the market for ages, with reductions, and might not be top picks for people who have a strong local knowledge of the area. There's also a section of town that's not aesthetically pleasing, with houses on tight, hilly lots, that do generally sell for less than other more desired streets.

If that was the absolute max for your budget, and you wanted to be in Katonah, and were buying for the long term, it might not be a bad decision. However, if you are buying a first house and want to sell in a few years for another house, you need to be aware that some houses take ages to sell, even under favorable market conditions.

Do you want to walk to town, or drive to town and walk around? In Katonah, some areas that are only a mile or two from town, which would be walkable in other areas, are not because of the roads. You will not encounter sidewalks, outside of the downtown and some areas areas toward Cherry Street. Headed east, toward Route 22, the roads are generally not finished with shoulders, and can have open ditches (country-style roads), and some are even gravel/dirt. The main roads are not exactly conducive to safe walking, especially with children as they tend to be busy, so if you are off Route 22 or Route 35, for example, even with a distance that could be walkable in theory, it's not an easy/safe walk.

Good luck in your search.
__________________
All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.
~William Shakespeare
(As You Like It Act II, Scene VII)

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