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Old 06-27-2008, 07:51 PM
 
12 posts, read 91,987 times
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We just moved from Washington DC and are living in corporate housing in Connecticut. We would like to buy a house for about 1.4 million in lower Westchester County because of the easy commute into the city. We really like Larchmont because of the small downtown area and we like how it is very walkable. We have two kids (4 and 5) so schools are important. I also love the houses in Pelham but it seems as though Larchmont is the more desirable place to live. Why is Pelham not so desirable and should I focus solely on Larchmont? What is wrong with Pelham or is it a nice place to live? Is Larchmont really better? We felt that Scarsdale, Bronxville and Rye seemed a bit stuffy and since my husband is European, Larchmont seems more international and laid back. Is that true?
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Old 06-27-2008, 11:24 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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When speaking of Pelham, it's important to know which Pelham in which you are considering a home. There's the Town of Pelham, Village of Pelham, and the village of Pelham Manor. Of the Pelhams, Pelham Manor is the most closely related to Larchmont in terms of demographics, and has most of the town's expensive housing stock, owing to its proximity to the golf courses and Long Island Sound. Parts of Pelham are not as posh, since it borders Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, and the Bronx. Pelham Manor is close to the Bronx, but is isolated from it with the Hutchinson Parkway such that it's a completely different world when you cross from within the village borders. Pelham Union School district has 1 high school, 1 middle school, and I believe 4 elementary schools, so it's a relatively small district.

Larchmont is in the Town of Mamaroneck, and part of the Village of Mamaroneck is within the town, with the other part of the village belonging to the Town of Rye. Focusing on the Village of Larchmont, there's a bit more going on here than in the Pelhams, in terms of shopping and culture within the village. Schools are good, and the community is removed from its more urban neighbors as Larchmont juts out into Long Island Sound and has Mamaroneck and part of New Rochelle as neighbors. Maramoneck Union School district is similar to Pelham, comprised of 1 high school, 1 middle school, and 4 elementary schools.

Both are great areas, but in your situation, I would tend to favor Larchmont since it has more of a small town character that's great for children. Larchmont offers a great downtown, access to the Sound, and an easy Manhattan or White Plains commute. Parts of Pelham are great, but then others are more closely related to an urban environment, which can be a factor at middle and high school levels. Both areas have a good mix of old and new housing, with varied styles, and redeeming architectural features, both to the individual homes and to commercial structures within each respective jurisdiction. You might get a little more house for the money in some of the Pelhams, but Larchmont might offer more in terms of community and more of a sense of place unto itself. With Pelham, it's dependent upon which of the Pelhams in which one lives in terms of community identity.

I grew up in Westchester, but Northern Westchester, where people go for horses and land. Community identities are important in terms of finding your own place in Westchester, since some towns can be stuffy, others can be highly urbanized, and some are just perfect. For a close-in commute, however, I would recommend Larchmont to anyone in a second. Also, I think that your husband, being European, would fit in very well in the village as the people are sophisticated and there's a pretty good variety of restaurants nearby.
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Old 06-28-2008, 05:41 PM
 
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Thank you for your reply it is really helpful. We are struggling because it seems as though you really don't get much house for your money in Larchmont, although the community seems really great. Plus housing prices will probably fall even more so we are going back and forth whether we should stay in corporate housing a little longer or bite the bullet and buy a house.
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Old 06-28-2008, 08:54 PM
 
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== Parts of Pelham are great, but then others are more closely related to an urban environment, which can be a factor at middle and high school levels. ==

So does Larchmont. Larchmont kids go the Mamaroneck School District and a large section of Mamaroneck is much more "urban" than the most "urban" sections of Pelham. Having said that, you can't go wrong in either school district. I would say they are comparable.

But as the previous poster said, Larchmont has a much nicer downtown and a beautiful waterfront park. Pelham's downtown (5th Avenue) is really nothing special, and there is no waterfront access. Taxes are typically higher in Pelham.

But overall, Pelham is a very nice community. So you have to decide if it's worth paying that huge Larchmont premium, a decision that only you can make.

Good luck!
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Old 06-29-2008, 12:58 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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I am sorry if I was not clear in the way I wrote my earlier reply, since I meant no offense to the Pelham schools, which are fine. My recommendation had to do with access to more urban environments, which in itself is not bad, at the middle and high school level, where parents are concerned about where their child is spending free time and with whom they associate. The schools in both jurisdictions are fine, and Larchmont is a little more isolated from the urban core of lower Westchester.

In terms of waiting in this market to see if a bottom has been reached, I would say that if I were in your shoes, I would continue to look passively, and would buy only if I saw a house that was perfect and one in which I would live for several years. If you buy and it loses some value, you can recapture that in a longer term investment, whereas if you buy now and have to move again in three years, it might not be as easy a proposition. So, keep an eye out in Larchmont or Pelham and if you find the right house at the right price, I would say to buy it, since many of the houses in those areas are older and more unique than subdivisions of only a few house types. In most areas, you can usually find another split level house that's similar to the one you passed on, but it can be a more difficult prospect to find that same English cottage, French county house, or vintage colonial in the same area. And, if you do eventually find a house in Pelham, it's not a bad prospect, since Larchmont is a convenient stone's throw away, but if you want to walk to the village, Larchmont is the best choice.
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Old 06-30-2008, 10:21 AM
 
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You may not realize it but Larchmont is extremely linked to Mamaroneck (and with it the diversity, lack of stuffiness and urban touch). A lot of people that move to Larchmont from the city and the foreigners (expats) that flock to it are looking for this, they are not running away from it. There are places in Westchester that are more stuffy, less of an urban feel and have very little diversity by design or desire such as Bronxville and the less affluent Eastchester for instance so there are other choices out there for people that prefer this.

The reality is that Larchmont shares a middle school and high school with Mamaroneck. Not to mention recreation facilities such as the town pool, sports teams such as little league, volunteer organizations, TV station, etc you name it, Larchmont Moms go to Mamaroneck playgrounds, shop in Mamaroneck and vice versa. Larchmont is so inextricably linked to Mamaroneck, that it is called Larchmont-Mamaroneck. I think anybody considering living in Larchmont should think of this. We are expats who with our budget who could really afford to live anywhere in Westchester but chose to live here, we really love the beauty and diversity of the place and are in no hurry to move.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rubygreta View Post
== Parts of Pelham are great, but then others are more closely related to an urban environment, which can be a factor at middle and high school levels. ==

So does Larchmont. Larchmont kids go the Mamaroneck School District and a large section of Mamaroneck is much more "urban" than the most "urban" sections of Pelham. Having said that, you can't go wrong in either school district. I would say they are comparable.

But as the previous poster said, Larchmont has a much nicer downtown and a beautiful waterfront park. Pelham's downtown (5th Avenue) is really nothing special, and there is no waterfront access. Taxes are typically higher in Pelham.

But overall, Pelham is a very nice community. So you have to decide if it's worth paying that huge Larchmont premium, a decision that only you can make.

Good luck!

Last edited by iloveprague; 06-30-2008 at 10:31 AM..
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Old 07-01-2008, 03:25 PM
 
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Pelham and Larchmont are both fine, Larchmont Manor is really the only part of Larchmont that is exceptional, it is really beautiful but unfortunately $1.4m will not buy you much there. Having said that, Larchmont is really the place to be for European expats not Pelham, there are also some European expats in neighboring Mamaroneck and in Scarsdale, Rye and parts of New Rochelle.

I agree with iloveprague Larchmont and Mamaroneck are intertwined, you should drive around Orienta which is the part of Mamaroneck that is next to Larchmont Manor and see what you think. It is very much on par with Larchmont and in my opinion better than other parts of Larchmont outside Larchmont Manor. You should also consider the part of Rye which is zoned for Rye Neck schools although $1.4m will not go very far there either, Rye Neck schools are also good and perhaps less stuffy than Rye School District since some Mamaroneck kids go to that school district too.
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Old 07-01-2008, 03:26 PM
 
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I meant that Orienta is very much on par with Larchmont Manor.
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Old 07-02-2008, 07:27 AM
 
Location: Bronx, NY
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I think Pelham's cheaper because it borders some bad or quasi-bad neighborhoods. Pelham itself, with its school district is really good though.
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Old 07-02-2008, 08:15 AM
 
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We moved up from DC three years ago and would have moved to Pelham Village or Manor if we could have found a decent house. We ended up in Eastchester which we like a lot but you should read the other thread on E'chester. That said, there is a large ex-pat population here and in bordering Scarsdale.
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