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Old 09-23-2009, 08:51 PM
13 posts, read 94,950 times
Reputation: 12


Hi. I’ve been reading this site for a long time and have come to depend on it for so much valuable insight. The quality of the posts here is extremely high, in general, and the observations really seem to ring true in the aggregate. So thank you.

My wife, two year-old son and I have lived in Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill in Brooklyn for the past several years and love it. We would ideally like to stay here but are priced out for buying a 3BR/4BR home. We both work in NYC so we are setting our sights on Westchester County. (We are also open to Connecticut, assuming the criteria below are matched, but we are strongly focused on Westchester because we know the area so much better.) Below are our leading contenders. If you have any insight into these towns or other places to recommend we would greatly appreciate it.

We are looking for a 4-bedroom, 2000 square-foot single-family house (or 3BR if we really love the house) for under $650k in an excellent or near excellent school district less than one hour from NYC and offers property taxes below $15k. Ideally, the town would not be too conservative or snobby, have a walkable village of sorts and some cultural amenities nearby. Having a Metro North station in the town is a must and having at least a third of an acre would be ideal.

(+) It looks extremely interesting, offering fair prices on real estate, good food, great schools, culture, trains and easy access to highways. It has also been climbing academically in recent years based on top school lists from various magazines and topped Chappaqua (Horace Greeley High) last year on the SAT (1876 to 1872). We like that it has excellent schools but doesn't have the attendant stress or reputation that comes with schools like Scarsdale, Chappaqua and Bronxville. We also like that it has some culture (Jacob Burns film center, music festivals, farmer markets, restaurants, etc.) It's also a smallish town, which suggests that academically students should get plenty of attention and people should know each other better than in a sprawling school. The high school is undergoing an expansion now, too.

(-) Kindergarten enrollment exploded this past year, which could be a concern in regards to class size, available resources and rising property taxes. And no buses to school for kids. Many of the houses, while nice enough, aren’t super attractive. Also, the downtown is ok but somewhat sleepy compared to towns like Bronxville or Scarsdale.

(+) We love the excellent schools, nice housing stock and abundant land.

(-) The downtown is fairly uninteresting and we’re concerned that our son could endure great pressure and hardship should he not excel at everything. We also aren’t swimming in money, so we don’t want him to feel insecure or be teased about that. Our concern too is that this might be too homogenous though this isn’t a big deal for us (our son is half-Asian).

(+) The schools obviously. Great resources (educational), nice village, pool, etc. Homes can be found in our price range in some neighborhoods like Edgewood and Green Acres.

(-) Like Chappaqua and Bronxville, there is the money/academic pressure issue.

(+) Top schools, beautiful village, fast commute.

(-) Like Chappaqua and Scarsdale, there is the money/academic pressure issue. High cost of living. Most likely out of reach unless we lived in a co-op.

(+) Great academically..

(-) Lacks a dedicated downtown and train station, instead relying on Scarsdale.

(+) We have yet to visit but hear many good things about it. The natural beauty, parks and the numerous trains are all plusses. We also like that that on the Hudson Metro North Line we’d have the water and beautiful views all around us. For $650k also it looks like fairly nice houses could be had and a good amount of land too.

(-) The schools, though very good by all appearances, may not be at the level we’re hoping for. Also, it seems the downtown area is somewhat diffuse. My concern is maybe we’d feel a bit isolated.

Pelham or Pelham Manor
(+) Nice houses, fair values, fast commute to NYC, very good schools.

(-) Borders Mount Vernon and New Rochelle. No real walkable downtown area (based on what I’ve heard).

(+) Schools, water, nice area.

(-) ???

(+) Strong schools, quaint village, great views on water.

(-) No super market, movie theater or pool. Fewer resources than a town like Scarsdale.

The following towns we have not visited but have also heard good things about: Briarcliff Manor, Hastings on the Hudson and Glen Ridge, NJ. And to repeat, we are open to Connecticut because we would love to have a lower property tax bill than we’d have in Westchester. Thanks so much for reading until then end! Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-23-2009, 09:37 PM
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
1,316 posts, read 5,190,894 times
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Having moved from Park Slope, let me give one word of caution: If you really would "ideally like to stay" in Brooklyn, be aware that no suburb is going to be like it so don't try to find a substitute or something "similar." It doesn't exist. Instead, if you're going to move, embrace experiencing a different lifestyle and look for somewhere that will provide you with things you could never have in the city. We moved about 8 years ago to Yorktown Heights and totally love it. The area provides all of the culture and amenities that we want and gives us great natural beauty. There are loads of ex-Brooklynites up here and we love the sense of community we've found.

But, looking at your list, I'd say you need to get a better sense of what you're after before you really start looking for houses. Croton is great--but it is really different than Bronxville or Pelham. Spend time in different towns and see what feels comfortable. Than you can worry about specific school districts and what not. Enjoy the search!
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Old 09-24-2009, 04:30 AM
413 posts, read 1,105,876 times
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I have one correction about Pelham. Pelham does have a very walkable downtown. People walk to the farmers market, to school, to each others houses. It's actually one of the things that my friends' children, from other towns, like when they come here .... walking downtown to get a sandwich or ice cream. It is a walking town, and safe. Look at the stats.
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Old 09-24-2009, 07:59 AM
375 posts, read 1,576,082 times
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Based on your budget and the "would-like-to-have-4-bdrm" criteria, I would say you are priced out of Scardale and Edgemont, except for few smaller homes, and condo/co-ops. I think you've captured the basic general consensus in your pluses and minuses in these areas, but like one other person said, I think you should visit these towns on weekends.

We are also looking for a place to settle, and one thing I plan on doing is to go to the HS football games... I live in White Plains so this would be easier for me to do.... you being in Brooklyn, this may not be as easy.

Few other towns I would throw in for your consideration would be Blind Brook, Rye Neck, and Mamaroneck. You would do slightly better on the house-to-dollar ratio while still maintining school quality.
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Old 09-24-2009, 01:46 PM
Location: Connectucut shore but on a hill
2,619 posts, read 7,029,336 times
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Originally Posted by nonny View Post
I have one correction about Pelham. Pelham does have a very walkable downtown. People walk to the farmers market, to school, to each others houses. It's actually one of the things that my friends' children, from other towns, like when they come here .... walking downtown to get a sandwich or ice cream. It is a walking town, and safe. Look at the stats.
I agree. The impact of Mt Vernon and New Rochelle is pretty much zero.
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Old 09-24-2009, 08:03 PM
124 posts, read 702,003 times
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we are looking to settle for a while too. i'd add to OP's list:

Rye: minus - pricy (or the wishful listing price is too high)

Irvington & Edgemont: plus - diversified population (Asian) and wealth and house inventory.
minus - my feeling is these two towns have higher tax bill than the other towns. maybe due to its small size, also to its exploding student body.

Pleasantville: tax is higher than Armonk, but more diversified (wealth wise).
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Old 09-24-2009, 08:48 PM
Location: Harrison
866 posts, read 2,484,065 times
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A minus for Rye is the parking situation at the Metro North station. As in, most houses in the City of Rye (school district) are NOT within walking distance to the station, and there's a 6-8 year waiting list for a parking permit. This was the main reason we did not buy in Rye.
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Old 09-24-2009, 09:12 PM
13 posts, read 94,950 times
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Thank you all for replying. Let me clarify/add to my comments. dma1250, you are right to recommend that I focus my list. So, we're ok without a top top school. This article, posted on the Chappaqua board, was eye-opening: Mean Moms—The Clique Is Back | LoHud.com | The Journal News
We certainly don't want to deal with nonsense like that and would rather live better in a less prestigious town than just eek into a top district where we, along with our son, might experience attitude.

I am very high on Pleasantville. While being close to the village would be nice, I would also really be extremely happy in a home with plenty of greenery and land and there it can be had for an affordable price. It's simply hard to find that in lower Westchester. The commute matters less than having some space to live comfortably and an extremely good school district.

Another benefit of living here is having access by Metro North on the Harlem line to White Plains, for possible jobs, and other parts of Westchester where friends and family live. If we used a different line, the train would be of less use but still be useful obviously for commuting to NYC.

Irvington and Croton still interest us a lot. Rye seems great but the parking situation (thanks for mentioning it!) is a major bummer. I know Scarsdale well and would be comfortable with living in Edgewood or Green Acres.

I think ultimately think we need to visit Irvington and Croton one afternoon. As for Pelham, I saw that the crime question, despite being seemingly largely overblown, was out there in some people's minds, so I thought I'd ask as it was brought up here: //www.city-data.com/forum/westc...y-cheaper.html

Thanks again.
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Old 09-24-2009, 09:48 PM
395 posts, read 1,617,984 times
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My husband and I just moved to Pleasantville over the summer with our preschooler and 1st grader and we are very pleased with it so far. We both work in the NYC midtown area with fairly flexible schedules and the commute is no problem (we moved from Los Angeles and I really do not miss driving in that traffic AT ALL , people are welcoming and friendly and the elementary school (Bedford Road) has been fantastic. P-ville is centrally located so we frequently spend time and shop, eat out, etc. in Briarcliff and Chappaqua, and over to Ossining and Croton on Hudson when we miss the water. The entire area is very scenic and charming. Happy to answer any more specific questions you may have. Good luck!
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Old 09-24-2009, 09:52 PM
13 posts, read 94,950 times
Reputation: 12
Hi Cali_to_nj, that's very reassuring to hear. It seems that everyone likes Pleasantville! (If anyone who lives there doesn't like it I'd be curious to hear why.) I may indeed eventually ask you a few questions about the town. Thanks again for replying.
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