Best Places to Live
Your passions, your needs, your requirements—Westchester has the right town for you.
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My wife needs hot yoga and a Starbucks. I can’t live without golf and a well-stocked library nearby. We both want room for a garden and a short train ride into Manhattan—just some of the reasons we live where we do in Westchester. You and your significant other, though, may need a high-profile school for your college-bound teens or yearn for a home where you can step out your back door and onto a hiking trail. Can’t go without scenic views or kumquat martinis? French cuisine or Japanese gardens? There is a place for you in Westchester.
We searched the county’s six cities, 23 villages, 197 hamlets, and untold hundreds of neighborhoods to find places to fit just about anybody’s lifestyle. We also used website houlihanlawrence.com to check recent median sales prices for single-family homes to give us some value ranges. Then, after talking to dozens of realtors, combing through a mound of census data and real estate listings, and driving for miles and miles around the county to check out the sites, we came up with a dozen great places to live.
Best for Family City Living
Median Home Price - $645,000
How can you argue with Business Week? The publication named New Rochelle one of the best places in America to raise a family last year. Having raised my own two kids there, I have to agree.
Here’s a hint as to how family-centric the city is: New Rochelle has not just a children’s room at the library but an entire building, the Hugenot Children’s Library on North Ave, devoted to books and activities for young readers. Business Week used school performance, affordability, and safety to make its selections from towns with populations over 50,000 and incomes between $40,000 and $100,000. But it also gave weight to cost of living, air quality, job growth, racial diversity, and amenities like local parks, ball fields, and recreation centers, all of which you’ll find in New Rochelle.
The multitude of ethnic backgrounds in the community is a big plus. New Rochelle realtor Tom Ralph, of Thomas J. Ralph Real Estate, recently sold a home to two doctors moving from San Francisco to Westchester. After looking at several places in the county, he says, “They chose New Rochelle because its diversity reminded them of the city they came from.”
The New Rochelle Public Library beckons book-loving families.
There is a little bit of everything in the rapidly transforming City by the Sound, much of it designed to appeal to parents with growing families as well as affluent two-income couples without kids. The downtown section has high-rise condos and apartments, offices, shopping centers, a medical center, and a state-of-the-train-station inter-modal transportation hub. Not far away are two college campuses (Iona College and the College of New Rochelle) and the high school-cum-lakefront park. Yacht and beach clubs dot the Sound Shore, while parks and nature centers thread their way through the residential neighborhoods in the north part of the city.
There are homes for pocketbooks large and small, too. Homes in Premium Point, a gated section of New Rochelle, go for anywhere from $2 million to $20 million. On the more moderate end of the scale is Bonnie Crest in the northern part of town. Ralph says it has two distinct neighborhoods: “The old section has turn-of-the-century center-hall Colonials and lots of Tudors built in the 1920s. New Bonnie Crest has split-levels and contemporaries built in the fifties and sixties. Pricewise, you can pick up a modest home in new Bonnie Crest for the low five-hundred-thousands.” In the older section, where homes are larger—three or four bedrooms up to 4000 square feet—prices, according to Ralph, range from $700,000 to $1 million or more.
Best for Commuters (West)
Ludlow Park, Yonkers
Median Home Price - $480,000
Commuting doesn’t have to mean an hour on the train stuck in a seat next to some cellphone addict jabbering about last night’s Jell-O shot drink-off to her hearing-impaired friend. For a shorter and, therefore, saner ride into the City, consider living in Ludlow Park in Yonkers, where you’ll not only find numerous options for your daily trip but some excellent home values as well.
“Ludlow Park is sort of like a mini Park Hill in that there are cute little three-bedroom Colonials as well as a handful of huge mansions,” says Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty associate broker Jane McAfee. “There are also a sprinkling of houses built in the fifties and sixties, when people sold off their lots. It has sort of a reputation of being arty. Many people move there because it’s close to the train; others because it’s near Riverdale.”
The ride to Grand Central from the Metro-North station in Ludlow can be as short as 27 minutes. You’re also a five-minute drive to the end of the subway line at 242nd Street, which is an excellent alternative for those who work anywhere on the West Side of Manhattan. If you absolutely have to drive into the City, it’s a quick hop on the Henry Hudson to the West Side Highway. Or, for a really cool commute complete with the best views around, the New York Water Taxi takes less than an hour to sail you from the Yonkers pier to Wall Street.
There’s a lot of home for your dollar to be had in Ludlow Park, too, mainly because of the neighborhood’s proximity to some of the old Yonkers industrial area on the river. Recent listings included a five-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath single-family home for $465,000 and a two-bedroom co-op not far from the College of Mount St. Vincent for $150,000. Community tag sales and block parties organized by the Ludlow Park Residents Association give you a chance for some fun after those grueling hours in the City—and the commute is so short you’ll be home in plenty of time to enjoy them.
Best for Commuters (East)
Median Home Price - $759,500
“Pelham is a unique, small gem of a place,” says realtor Scott Stiefvater, owner of Stiefvater Real Estate. “The commute is one of our village’s best attributes.” Grand Central is 29 minutes away, and the Pelham and Mount Vernon East stations are both options, putting most homes within easy reach of a station. Pelham isn’t an express stop, but there are only two regular stops, Mount Vernon and 125th Street, on the New Haven line before Grand Central. Parking can be problematic sometimes, with only 356 parking spaces at the train station for some 2,300 daily commuters, but walking to the train is a popular option.
Which is one big reason Pelham Heights is so popular now, according to Stiefvater. It’s in the very center of town near the railroad station, so the farthest walk to the station is probably 12 minutes. “You truly don’t need a car,” he says. “You can walk to the village, walk to the train, walk to the schools.” And for those who commute northward, you can take the train to Greenwich or Stamford, Connecticut, too.
“I love the commute,” says Pelham resident Tom O’Halloran. “It’s short, it’s easy, and it’s pretty reliable, too.” O’Halloran lives less than a half-mile from the station and walks there every day.