Where should I live in SW Connecticut that has a good cheap rent vs. good elem. school balance?
December 8, 2009 11:47 AM   Subscribe

I'm moving with my family to Connecticut in a few weeks. Definitely western CT, probably SW CT. Need advice on rent and elementary schools, specifically: "Where should I live that has a good balance of cheap rent vs. good schools"?

I'm not going to be making SW Connecticut income, so I need a cheapish place to live with good schools. Aren't we all? I've investigated it a bit and there seem to be plenty of places to live as long as I avoid Norwalk and Bridgeport. Accurate assumptions? I'll be working near Stamford and Norwalk, with occasional stints near Hartford (once or twice monthly). I'd like to see a shorter commute than I currently have (50 mins each way) so I would like to live near where I'll be working.
posted by taumeson to Travel & Transportation around Connecticut (6 answers total)
I'm not familiar with the schools in the area, but Danbury and the towns around it might suit you in terms of commute distance and rent
posted by zippy at 12:20 PM on December 8, 2009

Best answer: I live in Norwalk and I love it. You just want to avoid south Norwalk (SoNo), but even that is undergoing a renaissance lately and most parts are not that bad. If you are going to be working in Stamford or Norwalk, then Norwalk will be your most affordable bet, with Stamford and Fairfield a close second, though Fairfield is further away - and the commute on 95 is hellish. Schools are about even in Stamford and Norwalk but better in Fairfield. Danbury is cheaper and has pretty good schools, but if going to the city (NYC) is important to you in any way I wouldn't go that far. Avoid Bridgeport at all costs.

Seriously, Norwalk is great - memail me if you have any specific questions.

posted by widdershins at 12:45 PM on December 8, 2009

When I was looking there seemed to be some decent deals (for buying, didn't look into rentals) in Wilton and Weston. We moved to Stratford; I love my neighborhood but wouldn't like a commute to Norwalk or Stamford, and the public schools get mixed reviews.

Will your workplaces in Norwalk/Stamford be near the train? Then you could look at places up the line - Stratford, Milford, West Haven. If not, are they closer to 95 or the Parkway? This can make a significant difference.

Fairfield and Trumbull have excellent schools and are cheaper than points south. Trumbull to Stamford wouldn't be a great commute, but might be tolerable.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 1:23 PM on December 8, 2009

If you want a commute less than 45-50 minutes, the furthest east you can go is Norwalk, and even that is cutting it. The morning rush on 95 and the Merritt is completely terrible - I did it from Bridgeport - Stamford for a couple years and it was 1.5 hours in the morning, 20 minutes on the way home. I'd get on the highway/parkway in Fairfield at 7:30, be running in to class at 9am.

Also, if you do want to do the train thing, Bridgeport can actually a good place to live (surprise!!). (I grew up there, moved to NYC in my mid-20s.) It's a city, and like any city, there are issues, but it's not the warzone people think it is. Last time I was home, I was talking to someone who put their kid in Black Rock School (took him out of private school to save money) and she says he's thriving, and it was the best decision she's ever made, even not considering the money factor. Of course, everyone's negative opinions of Bpt keeps the rents relatively low (a friend had a huge 2BR near the water for $900), so there's that too.
posted by AlisonM at 1:53 PM on December 8, 2009

I live in Norwalk! I had a kid in a public school here that was fantastic, despite being in an area that on paper looked sketchy for education. Low budgets, fabulous faculty. Lots depends on parental involvement, you know?

My brother lives in Fairfield very affordably.
posted by houseofdanie at 11:14 PM on December 10, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everybody. I ended up moving to New Canaan! I found an old farmhouse for a price that I was getting quoted in Norwalk and Fairfield.
posted by taumeson at 12:31 PM on January 7, 2010

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