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Old 06-01-2017, 11:32 AM
 
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I know this question has been asked to death, but I have read through all the relevant threads and while I have learned a lot, I am none the wiser on what to do. Hoping a thread specific to myself could help me decide.

My husband works in Times Square (49th/7th) and we are looking to move to a house in either NJ, NY or CT. I am a SAHM with a 2 year old toddler. We have looked in Fort Lee, Tenafly, Englewood Cliffs, Millburn/Short Hills, Greenwich and Pelham/New Rochelle and are thinking of including Rye. Feeling overwhelmed by all the choices and unsure of which area to commit our house search to.

Priorities
Stellar public schools
Commute up to 1 hr - 1 hr 15 min door to door
Relatively low property/school taxes (below $15k would be ideal)
Nice amenities (library, parks, green spaces)

The budget is $1 mil or so for a 4 bedroom -- willing to go up if the taxes are relatively low.

So far we have ruled out Fort Lee due to the schools. We like Tenafly but the taxes are generally very high and seem to increase very quickly. Englewood Cliffs doesn't have its own high school and we will need to pay $7,000 a year to send her to Tenafly High School, unless she gets into the magnet program Academies @ Englewood (is this correct)?

Can anyone provide any suggestions? Much appreciated!

Last edited by foxinabox1; 06-01-2017 at 11:43 AM..
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Old 06-01-2017, 11:46 AM
 
Location: New York
1,122 posts, read 639,611 times
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My initial thought is that if you want to put more money into the home price and spend less on taxes (comparatively), then you may prefer to rule out Westchester and focus on CT (Greenwich and surrounding). I can't speak for all of Westchester, but at least in the lower portion (below i-287) I can't think of many scenarios where you might find a $1M house with < $15k in taxes. The average would be closer to $25-35K (my rough, conservative estimate). Additionally, in many villages, tax burden directly correlates to school quality/rankings since a majority of your property taxes will be allocated towards the public schools in your district.

Since this is the Westchester forum, I'll recommend finding a very good agent who can walk you through all the tax nuances specific to this area - property tax assessments and school district zoning is not at all transparent here and these factors can have a huge impact on a home's resale value. There's a whole industry here which operates around grieving your annual tax assessments, so as you can imagine, the process can be convoluted for a new homeowner!
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Old 06-01-2017, 11:53 AM
 
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If you want relatively low taxes, Westchester probably is not for you. If you buy a million dollar home (which will not get you far in say Rye) you could be talking 30-40 thousand a year in taxes. CT may be a better fit for you.
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Old 06-01-2017, 12:44 PM
 
Location: NY
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Ditto the previous posters - a large 4 bedroom house is going to be 20k+ in taxes in most of Westchester.
If you're looking for *stellar* schools, New Rochelle isn't it. Pelham, Rye, Scarsdale, Eastchester, Bronxville or Scarsdale are probably the highest ranked schools in lower Westchester (with the commute you want) but a million dollar home in any one of those areas is definitely going to be way above your tax preference.
If you bought an 800K house in any of the prime school districts in Westchester you'd have one of the smaller least fancy homes around and still have taxes over 18 at best.
Definitely look more into Jersey or Connecticut. Good luck!
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Old 06-01-2017, 02:12 PM
 
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I think CT is the only one of these areas where you can have a $1M house with $15k or less in taxes. Greenwich/Darien (best commutes), New Canaan/Westport (slightly worse commutes) would be your best bets if schools are a top concern.
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Old 06-01-2017, 02:32 PM
 
Location: Westport, CT
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I'd look at CT.
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Old 06-01-2017, 08:17 PM
 
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Yeah but watch the school districts in CT. A lot of people send their kids to privates.
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Old 06-02-2017, 07:00 AM
 
Location: Westport, CT
684 posts, read 569,181 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ponytrekker View Post
Yeah but watch the school districts in CT. A lot of people send their kids to privates.
Greenwich, Westport, New Canaan, Darien, Wilton, Weston have some of the best public schools in the country. Most of the population in these towns send their kids to public schools.
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Old 06-02-2017, 12:56 PM
 
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I just moved to Westchester from NJ, and so far I would suggest that you rule out Westchester. The commute time is just as long, the prices are double, and everything costs more (electric bills, heating your home, classes/clubs for kids, etc).

In NJ, a $1m house would still have high taxes, but if your budget can support $1m with low taxes then it can easily support ~$800k with high taxes. NJ has great schools and cheaper houses, but also everything else is cheaper overall.

At one point recently I lived in Rutherford NJ while working in Times Square and had a great house for $400k (so $800k would be gorgeous), and my commute was 25 min by car if I left the office after about 6:15pm, and 17 min if more like 6:45pm or later. The ride in was annoying though, so I usually took the bus (45 mins to 1 hr) in and Uber home.

There is nowhere in Westchester where you can get a commute that short with a four bedroom costing $1m or less and schools that you wouldn't be afraid to send kids to. CT is better but you'll be going into Grand Central instead of Port Authority so you get another 10-15 mins of walking depending on where the office is.

Last edited by NYCresident2014; 06-02-2017 at 01:09 PM..
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Old 06-04-2017, 02:59 PM
 
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Lower taxes, stellar schools and moderate commute times do not go together. As you get closer to the city the prices go exponentially up, regardless of the state. "Stellar" school districts are closely tied to very high taxes. Another option are private schools, again with very high costs.
Commute to the times square area may be better from NJ (Penn station), although currently it's a nightmare. But that may be improved in the future.
Bottom list: you need to prioritize and something has got to give.
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