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Old 09-07-2008, 07:59 PM
 
53 posts, read 87,956 times
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My wife and I are yet another newly married couple looking to move out of the city. We have a combined income of 200 K, and we are looking in the 750-800K price range. Not sure where to start our search.

We would really like a 4 BR, but Location is key for us not only to enjoy our surroundings but also to give us a good chance of buying something that will hold value - so a nice 3BR in a great community is a must. By great community we mean something with a town center, good schools, etc.

Also, we both work in Manhattan - so commute and availability of good day care/nanny services are important as well. How much should we expect to spend on those services?

Any help is appreciated... thanks.
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Old 09-08-2008, 09:32 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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The key to retained value in much of the Westchester market is the school system, so you would likely want to buy the best school system possible that meets your community wants as well. And, as with most things Westchester, the better districts come at a price. How long of a commute are you seeking? Places like Bronxville, Larchmont, Scarsdale, and Pelham in Lower Westchester are close-in and have 30-35 minute commutes to GCT, but $800k does not go all that far in a single family home in these areas, and the downtown areas of Pelham are more compact and not as comprehensive as Larchmont, Scarsdale, or Bronxville. They do, however, have excellent school districts.

Nearby, check into Tuckahoe and Eastchester as they have good schools and are close to the city as well, and $800k will go further in these areas. The Village of Tuckahoe has a very nice feel to it, and there are people who will not live elsewhere in Westchester because of the community spirit, akin to a "small town USA" sort of place than a fast-paced suburb of NYC. Eastchester is more of a driving town, and has suburban shopping strips as opposed to a dedicated village center as the surrounding areas do, but they are largely clustered along White Plains Road, so it does have its conveniences as well, if not being the most walkable of areas.

On the Hudson side of Westchester, you can check into some of the river towns that have great schools as well, including Ardsley, Hastings, and Dobbs Ferry. Irvington has great schools, bit it's prices are on the higher end, unless you want a townhouse. These areas have pretty quick commutes to GCT as well. A little further out on the Hudson side, about 45-50 minutes to GCT is Croton, and the surrounding area has a good mix of houses and schools and $800k will still get a nice house in the surrounding areas of Croton and Cortlandt, but they are a little more rural in character and might not be a walking community, overall; parts are, but not all.

If you want more of a rural feel, Northern Westchester towns such as Bedford, Mount Kisco, and Lewisboro offer a great lifestyle, but the commute is about 65-70 minutes to GCT. Areas in this part of the county to consider include: Katonah, Bedford, and parts of Mount Kisco that have good town/village centers. Nearby South Salem areas, a few minutes outside of Katonah, are also worth considering, as is Pound Ridge. A little closer to the city, Chappaqua and Pleasantville are also good, but the school districts in Pleasantville need to be watched, since one performs better than the other. Chappaqua schools are well-respected, and highly competitive, and to a certain extent the town is not as relaxed as other areas, it's very much on par with Scarsdale in this regard. Yorktown in Northern Westchester is good from a value and schools perspective, but the town centers are in three principal areas and it's a drive to the train as well, so I am not sure that fits what you outlined.

Closer-in on the Sound Shore, parts of Rye fit the bill as well, though $800k is not a huge amount of money to spend in parts of this area as well. Commutes are around 40-45 minutes from this area to GCT on the New Haven Line trains. New Rochelle areas close to Scarsdale might also be worth considering, thought the schools are not the best, not the worst, but not a top district, overall, but some of the individual schools do perform well.

I hope that helps to give you some sort of overview as to what's available, since there are some communities where you can get a good house, good schools, and a reasonable commute.
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Old 09-08-2008, 06:38 PM
 
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THis was very helpful - THank you!
What do people think of Briarcliff Manor? I have heard good things, but I understand the commute is a bit far and Scarsbourough train station can be a pain...
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Old 09-08-2008, 06:54 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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Briarcliff Manor is a nice area, and the schools are good, but the commute can be a bit of a pain, not from the train perspective since express trains are around 45-50 minutes to GCT. The main problem at Scarborough is a lack of parking, and a lack of dedicated connector bus routes, so if you're a couple that's both working in the city, you'd likely need parking at the station, so you might have to drive to a neighboring station to find parking.

If I were going that route, I'd look into parking at Croton, but get on the waiting list at Scarborough, since the express is quick, and the parking is more plentiful at Croton, though you'd have a 15 minute or so drive to the station.
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Old 09-08-2008, 07:46 PM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
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Personally, rather than Briarcliff Manor, I'd look into Croton. It is actually a shorter train ride (due to it's being an express hub), has a nice village center, and good schools. The prices are much more reasonable than Briarcliff and your 800K can get you a nice older home in the village near everything or a lovely house on an acre or two outside of the village. While Croton has a shorter commute, it also is much closer to great parks and nature reserves, as well as to the art center in Peekskill.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwguydc View Post
Yorktown in Northern Westchester is good from a value and schools perspective, but the town centers are in three principal areas and it's a drive to the train as well, so I am not sure that fits what you outlined.
I'm not sure I agree with the description of Yorktown's centers. The town is 40 square miles and has 3 centers, but each is essentially self-sufficient. The center of Yorktown Heights has schools, a town pool, parks, playgrounds, a community center, restaurants, stores, banks, coffee house, etc. The only thing it is missing is a library (which is in Shrub Oak). It is definitely true that you have to drive to the train.
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Old 09-08-2008, 07:56 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dma1250 View Post
I'm not sure I agree with the description of Yorktown's centers. The town is 40 square miles and has 3 centers, but each is essentially self-sufficient. The center of Yorktown Heights has schools, a town pool, parks, playgrounds, a community center, restaurants, stores, banks, coffee house, etc. The only thing it is missing is a library (which is in Shrub Oak). It is definitely true that you have to drive to the train.
True, that's what I meant to convey in my description, not that one had to go to all three for conveniences.
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Old 09-18-2008, 02:09 PM
 
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We've been looking in the Briarcliff/Ossining area around 9A/ Morningside Dr - really nice area.
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Old 09-19-2008, 07:37 AM
 
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Hi I live in Briarcliff, the train station is fine, the express trains run every 30 min during rush hour and the ride is 42 min to GCT. The parking situation has greatly improved since they implemented valet parking for part of the station, I never have issues getting a spot. House is expensive you can get something decent for 800k but it may need some work. Community is nice and the school district is great. The town center is not very large but it has all your basics and is quaint.
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Old 09-22-2008, 02:23 PM
 
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Chappaqua is also a nice, quaint town you may want to investigate. They have a nice main street and it is actually possible to find something really swell in your price range walking distance to the train.
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Old 09-22-2008, 04:11 PM
 
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Let me address the cost of daycare. It depends on the quality of the daycare, but the top daycare centers in Westchester will cost you an arm and a leg. You can easily pay over $15,000 per year per child for very good day care.

Other people have addressed home values in various regions.

I just want to add, that you need to look at taxes as well as sales prices. Some towns have higher taxes than others.
We are looking in a similar price range as you---
We recently saw 2 houses both priced around $799,000. But for one house, the taxes were $12,000 per year, and for the other house, the taxes were $25,000 per year. We can afford the first house, but we can't afford the second house.

In that price range, you can find a *decent* house almost anywhere in Westchester. But for the more elite towns, that price range will buy you something "cozy," but if you move to the 2-nd tier of prestige, then that price range can start to buy you something very nice.
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