Best places to live in Westchester in 2013: Katonah, NY



Jen Cook owns NoKa & NoKa Joe’s across from the Metro-North station, where commuters can grab a coffee before hopping on a train to the City. Several times a year, a couple will wander in and ask her if they should move to Katonah. Her reply: “Do it.”

Who wouldn’t want to live in this divine hamlet? Its early residents felt so strongly, they famously moved 55 buildings on horse-drawn logs when the State threatened to drown them under a reservoir. The town was remade in the shape of a Celtic cross. The result is a vibrant shopping district, devoid of chain stores, bordered by colorful village Victorians and cottages, and homes on larger pieces of land. Halloween is so popular here, says Cook, that village residents hand out 3,000 pieces of candy. The library is a vintage gem, with a stellar children’s section and a reading room people actually read in. On any given Sunday, you might see Martha Stewart browsing the aisles at Kelloggs & Lawrence hardware store.

Karen Benvin Ransom of the local Houlihan Lawrence office calls Katonah’s vibe “savvy country,” a fusion of bucolic scenery with culture and style. There is Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, the Katonah Museum of Art, and John Jay Homestead. “It’s an hour into New York, not beyond that. It’s the borderline for some people psychologically. And it’s such a world apart.”

“Katonah is singular,” says Cook. “It’s a lovely combination of smart, educated people who are choosing to live in a village environment because they want to know their neighbors. It feels a little timeless, like it belongs to a different era.”

Cook, a Wall Street exec turned entrepreneur, lives on a larger property three minutes from the village, in a onetime caretaker’s cottage on a subdivided estate. She and her husband raised two kids here; the oldest is at NYU, but he comes home often. “A lot of kids will move out, but I know my son loves to come home.”

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