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Old 07-17-2009, 05:03 PM
 
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Hi everyone - new to the forum! Great resource. I currently live with my wife in a 2-bedroom we own on the Upper West Side. We are looking to move north - maybe Katonah, which is recommended by a colleague at work. Seems like it has has the "fixins" - the basics you need.

I've read generally good things about this town but I don't know too much about it and some of these threads are old. A refresher perhaps - thumbs up, thumbs down? Looking for 3 or 4-bedroom, walkable to train. 500-700K range. 1500 sq to 2000 sq feet

Another town of interest is Garrison - but maybe too far. Don't know anything about it.

I see Cold Spring is a favorite here but I don't like the idea of people always being in our business - seems like a small cute town that would foster that sort of behavior. Once we stayed at Hudson Inn and the innkeeper told us that they run people out on a rail that they don't like and that there are a lot of old timer busy body types. Maybe that's the same with all small towns?

Anything else we should be taking in?

Looking to try and be 1 hourish away from Grand Central Station.

Thanks!
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Old 07-17-2009, 05:42 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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Katonah is great, and as long as you are in the hamlet itself, and not the Katonah zip code which covers part of Somers, you get the benfit of being a resident of the Town of Bedford. This comes in handy when it comes time for a train parking permit, since it's easier and less expensive for a resident to get one in Katonah proper, where the train is loacted. You didn't mention schools, but if it's important, Katonah-Lewisboro is a very good school district, which also helps for resale since good schools sell in Westchester.

Katonah can be a tad more expensive than other neighboring areas, but at your price point you are well situated to find something in the hamlet itself, since you are not looking for a huge amount of space. A cute house with a nice yard should be toward the mid to upper end of your range, since the only thing near $550 (or below) is either a townhouse or a fixer, and there are not many of either in Katonah.

It's about an hour to Grand Central, and a side benefit of being in the hamlet itself is that you can be in walking distance to the train, though on rainy mornings and cold winter mornings, it is good to have a parking permit, just in case. The downtown has a good mix of shops and services, and neighboring areas of Bedford Hills and Mount Kisco have the chains that are not allowed in Katonah, save for a local chain like Mrs. Greens which has a store on Katonah Avenue. Overall, Katonah offers a great quality of life within easy reach of Manhattan, White Plains, and Fairfield County.
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Old 07-17-2009, 06:14 PM
 
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thanks bmwguydc - any thoughts on the other towns I called out? Yes, school may be a consideration soon
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Old 07-18-2009, 12:02 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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I think that Garrison and Cold Spring are both nice areas, depending upon what you're seeking. Cold Spring is a cute small town that people like for a host of reasons, and it seems to be removed from the same level of hustle as a traditional Westchester suburb. Garrison and Cold Spring, being exurbs, are a little more isolated and insular, though your housing dollar does go further in Putnam County. The schools are good in both areas, but Katonah-Lewisboro does have an edge in facilities and equipment.

I like Cold Spring to visit, but I don't think that I could live there because of the small size and the amenities are not on par with a place like Katonah. Don't get me wrong, however, I am not criticizing a great small town, but it's difficult to compare a Katonah with the art museum, Caramoor, John Jay Homestead (special events), Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, and the events at the library, etc. to places like Cold Spring and Garrison where one has to travel to get to the same number of amenities in the immediate area. Now, if that's not a big part of your lifestyle decision, then it might not be as difficult a comparison.

Garrison is caught between the two, not quite small town, and not quite estate country, though there are some large estates in the area. Cold Spring is a quintessential small town, whereas Katonah has the small town elements as well as the large equestrian properties that are also within easy reach of the downtown. It's a sophisticated semi-rural environment, that has a family-centric component to it, whereas Cold Spring and Garrison are much more family-oriented in a more traditional suburb/exurb sense. People I know who live in Garrison do like it very much, and they find it to be a good balance between a hyper Westchester suburb and a more rural environment, yet still offering proximity to the city and the mid-Hudson Valley. Two people I know who live there do so because of divergent commutes, one spouse goes south to the city, and the other heads north.

I don't think that one could go wrong with any of the areas you're considering, even with the few extra minutes required to commute from Cold Spring, but narrowing the choice might come down to finding the right house that meets your needs.
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Old 07-18-2009, 08:40 AM
 
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Thank you for the very thoughtful and detailed response. Do you think living in Cold Spring is more likely to have people poking around in your business more than say Katonah, which seems larger? Do you know anything about Cold Spring having a reputation for nosy types?
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Old 07-18-2009, 09:03 AM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
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Originally Posted by bmwguydc View Post
it's difficult to compare a Katonah with the art museum, Caramoor, John Jay Homestead (special events), Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, and the events at the library, etc. to places like Cold Spring and Garrison where one has to travel to get to the same number of amenities in the immediate area.
I don't think there is that big a difference between the two towns themselves in terms of amenities. Cold Spring has Boscobel (with music, art, and theater events), the Garrison Art Center, The Russel Wright Design Center, Fahnstock State Park, regular concerts and other events at the waterfront park and at the library. And the town has a lot more restaurants and interesting stores. (Check out Welcome To Cold Spring Living)

The difference between the two towns is that Katonah is 10-15 minutes from a host of other towns with an equal or greater number of amenities. No one in Katonah--or any other town in the area--stays in their town for everything. We all drive around and take advantage of the amenities throughout the Northern Westchester area. And that, to me, is what makes the area far more appealing than Cold Spring, which is relatively isolated. The town has a lot in it, but the nearest neighboring town is a trek.
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Old 07-18-2009, 09:13 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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Well, I didn't mean that nobody leaves Katonah, since it's not an island, and from my perspective, I prefer the amenities of the Katonah area though I am a tad biased. Having grown up between Katonah and Manhattan, I can say that Katonah is a wonderful area in which to raise a family.

In terms of the nosy neighbor factor, I would say that it's going to be less of an issue in Katonah, not only because it's larger, but the people have enough going on in their own lives so as not to be too terribly worried about the neighbors.

I have heard things about Cold Spring having cliques, but any town can have that, even Katonah. I do think, however, that people in Northern Westchester are less preoccupied with appearance and are more genuine than other areas of similar affluence in the region. It's not a situation as in some parts of Lower Westchester where the cliques exist at the adult level and are centered around lifestyle or degree of affluence, as in the "mean mom" groups that exist to exclude others. In Katonah, people really don't focus on lifestyle and I had friends who lived in comparatively small homes in the downtown area and I never noticed a difference, since we all lived in the same general area.
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Old 07-18-2009, 10:13 AM
 
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dma1250 - isn't beacon full of amenities and just a stone's throw away from cold spring?

bmwguydc - interesting comments. Not worried about cliques as much as the folks with nothing better to do than butt in your business. I've heard this a few times about Cold Spring, which is why I asked. Doesn't sound like much of an issue in Katonah. Any other towns you recommend like Katonah in area?
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Old 07-18-2009, 10:21 AM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
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Originally Posted by swb212 View Post
dma1250 - isn't beacon full of amenities and just a stone's throw away from cold spring?
Cold Spring to Beacon was about a 25 minute drive last time I went up to Dia Beacon--and not the easiest drive in bad weather, either. Certainly doable, but not something I would want to do regularly. It's a little faster to get to Peekskill, which also has loads of amenities (similar to those in Beacon)--but again, not something I'd want to do regularly.
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Old 07-18-2009, 10:30 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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Indeed, that can be an element in Cold Spring. I would also recommend looking at parts of the Salems, especially Croton Falls, Cross River, and Pound Ridge. Pound Ridge is Bedford Central School District with Fox Lane at the upper grades. Somers also has much to like, including a good school district, but no train service, as it goes through Katonah. Goldens Bridge has some good housing stock and it's not that far away from Katonah, either.

What Katonah has, however, over all of them is the dowtown area which is much more comprehensive. And, the train is in town, as opposed to a bus from the lot in South Salem, or a non-resident permit in Katonah.

Even Ridgefield, CT might be worth a look, since you can catch a shuttle bus to Katonah station, though it adds a little to the trip. Ridgefield has a great town center, and lower Connecticut taxes, but it's a good twenty-five minutes from the station each way.
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