Tell me about your experience living in some (relatively) affordable suburbs north of New York City!
July 12, 2012 9:34 PM   Subscribe

Tell me about your experience living in some (relatively) affordable suburbs north of New York City! Special snowflake details inside.

Husband and I recently relocated NYC, and we're starting to think about buying a home outside the city in the next few years. I strongly prefer suburbs north of New York, because my entire family is in New England, and this would provide the easiest access for visits. Being close to my family is a top priority.

We both work in Manhattan, but we don't make Manhattan-style money. We need a starter home under 500k. What are the best, affordable places for us to start thinking about? So far we've found Tuckahoe, Eastchester, Mamaroneck, and Yonkers to seem reasonable, but I know nothing about these places other than what I've found online. What towns are we missing? I'd love to hear about some experiences of people who have lived in Metro North suburbs.

Important to us: affordable, accessible to the city, safe, single family home. Is this even possible at that price range?
posted by PuddleWonderful to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The better the local public schools, the more expensive/the less house you get for your $. Additionally, the closer you are to the train, again your prices will rise, (with the exception of Yonkers-where the main train station is in the city center which is a bit on the urban side)

Consider towns a little further away from the city, ardsley, tarrytown, that are still along the metronorth trains, you'll definitely be able to find something in your range, however, you need to figure out how long of a commute you are willing to deal with. (And how big of a house you want....)

I'd prioritize schools if you are looking to have kids, or commute if you are not. That will give you a better idea of how to narrow your search.
posted by larthegreat at 10:03 PM on July 12, 2012

Check out towns north of 287. The Harlem Line is a great line, so look in Mt Kisco, Katonah, Golden's Bridge, etc. I would also look in Yorktown and Armonk. Also, consider Connecticut. Lower taxes, but further commute than Westchester.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:08 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Katonah is my favorite hamlet. I would live there in a heartbeat.
posted by unknowncommand at 10:41 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

No to Yonkers! Ossining, Croton-on-the-Hudson, Mt Kisco are very nice. Also look at some small towns in Connecticut.
posted by fifilaru at 1:22 AM on July 13, 2012

Don't forget to factor in that Westchester taxes are very high, and you'll need a car. Depending on your work hours, look near train stations that run express, so you can go farther away without a horrible train ride. Seconding larthegreat to pay attention to the school systems if you plan on having kids.
posted by cestmoi15 at 4:49 AM on July 13, 2012

First and foremost you should know that school districts, and not post office (ie the town name in the street address) or municipality (which doesn't necessarily overlap even an eponymous schools district) defines the home market in the Metro North catchment.

Do you have kids? Public school quality is a key issue in pricing and you can spend a lot less if you have no kids or would do parochial or private in any event.

In a good school district, your budget likely limits you to 2 bedroom condo or very small, very urbam feeling house .... but that might be very nice, and right by the station, too. Eastchester and Mamroneck fit that bill.

If public schools are not an issue, Yonkers, White Plains, Tarrytown and New Rochelle all have many attractive, safe and transit-convenient neighborhoods with small houses in your budget.

Tuckahoe might be your best bet of the places you noted. People are happier with the public schools, if not overjoyed, and very convenient.

In all cases be a very patient shopper: research safety, spend time near the house and on yiur commute path to the station at different times to get an accurate sense of traffic noise and street scene.
posted by MattD at 4:56 AM on July 13, 2012

Depending on your preferences for commute time, I would jump over Westchester and look at Putnam County - specifically Mahopac or Carmel. Good school districts, lots of houses for sale in your price range, some beautiful scenery, pretty safe, relatively easy to get to the city by car or train (it's about an hour either way and the train the Harlem line, although to be fair there is no stop directly in Mahopac or Carmel - but the Croton Falls station is 5 minutes away...), and more country like than Yonkers, Tarrytown, Mamaroneck, etc.
posted by firei at 5:58 AM on July 13, 2012

I was speaking of quick-commute lower Westchester towns. Upper Westchester and Putnam, like firei notes, has a lot more options if your time is fungible. You could also look at Stamford and Norwalk for that, in Connecticut. Opinions vary on those schools, I don't really know.
posted by MattD at 6:22 AM on July 13, 2012

Stamford public schools are TERRIBLE and getting worse and worse. If you don't care about that, Stamford is great. You likely won't want to live walking distance to the main train station (but you could possibly be walking distance from a spur) but the big positive to counteract that is a lot of express trains between Stamford and Grand Central.
posted by teishu at 9:30 AM on July 13, 2012

Norwalk schools also are not good. If you are willing to go that far (about an hour from Grand Central on Metro North), go one more town over, to Westport. We bought a 1,200-square foot ranch for $450K, you could do better today. Of the towns with good schools in this area (Wilton, Darien, New Canaan, Greenwich), it's the one with some affordable housing zones. Lot of good restaurants in the area, but I'd say Westport has as many as any surrounding town.

If you don't care about schools, both Stamford and Norwalk will have starter homes in that range. I would start with the East Norwalk and Silvermine section of Norwalk.
posted by troywestfield at 10:58 AM on July 13, 2012

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