Best Places to Live
Your passions, your needs, your requirements—Westchester has the right town for you.
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Teatown Lake Reservation is but one of several nearby outdoor options for nature lovers living in Croton-on-Hudson.
Best for Value Lovers
Median Home Price - $520,000
Who doesn’t love a bargain? Especially when it’s a house, the largest single expenditure most of us make in our lifetime? The village of Croton-on-Hudson just north of Ossining not only has a plethora of affordable single-family homes, (remnants of the time when many of the village residents worked for the railroad) but some spectacular scenery to go along with them.
“We have the Hudson River on one side and the reservoir on the other,” says broker Cynthia Lippolis of River Towns Real Estate. “Then there is the River Walk, which is the most beautiful spot in Westchester.” A new three-quarter-mile section of the county’s River Walk, a pathway for non-motorized meandering along the Hudson River shoreline that will eventually reach from the Putnam County border to the Bronx, was recently added to the existing two miles in the village, most of which runs directly along the waterfront. The topography also includes the Croton River Gorge and a plateau on the northern boundary that reaches elevations up to 600 feet within a mile of the Hudson. A perennial summer highlight is the Great Hudson River Revival that takes place in Croton Point Park.
In addition to the ever-changing Hudson River, you’ll be near Van Cortlandt Manor and its fascinating gardens, Teatown Lake Reservation with its nature walks and programs, and the Croton Cortlandt Center for the Arts where you can indulge your passion for the visual arts.
Scenery’s great, you say, but it must cost an arm and a leg. Not so, Lippolis assures. “A number of homes have come on the market that would appeal to first-time buyers and others looking for value,” she says. “These include multi- and single-family homes, some of which just need a little sprucing up.” She mentioned a two-family home with Hudson River views in the village listed for $285,000 (it needs a little work).
Because valuations are low, taxes are low, too. By way of comparison, a recently listed 2000-square-foot home in Chappaqua carried a price tag of $989,000 and taxes of $22,613, whereas a comparably sized home in Croton was only $495,000, the taxes were $11,243—plus there was a pool and cabana!
Best for Hearty Partiers
Median Home Price - $651,750
The itch to eat, drink, and be merry can be scratched in plenty of places in Westchester, but the cognoscenti of the good life congregate in White Plains, where both hot spots and living spaces for the night-owl lifestyle abound.
The Mamaroneck Avenue strip is the place to be during the wee hours. The Lazy Boy Saloon offers hundreds of beers from the tap, cask, or bottle, while the Lazy Lounge next door serves up live jazz and blues along with tiramisu martinis. A little farther down the street is the Black Bear Saloon. Just around the corner on East Post Road, you’ll find the Thirsty Turtle or, for something truly different, try Prophecy on South Broadway or book a rooftop party at Elements back on the strip.
You don’t have to drive home, either, with the many apartments and condos on the market in White Plains. Houlihan Lawrence associate broker Arline Lane reports there were close to 100 co-ops and condos for rent in White Plains recently. They run from a studio for $1,200 to a penthouse in the Ritz for $8,900. “Jefferson Place, a fairly new building, has two bedrooms with two baths and a parking space for twenty-five hundred dollars,” she says. All are within a 10-minute walk of both the train station and the nightlife.
The sleek new White Plains skyline has helped to redefine the city.
If you’d like to buy instead of rent, Lane says there are about 150 condos on the market. Prices in the Trump Tower, according to Lane, start in the high $600,000s, with “many others in less spectacular buildings” in the $300,000 to $350,000 range.
Best for Hikers, Bikers, and Birders
Median Home Price - $730,000
If you’d just as soon be outdoors as indoors and like to have neighbors but don’t want to see them up close and personal all the time, Cross River is the community for you. The area along Routes 22 and 35 has about 500 single-family homes, a smattering of condos, and a business district you could miss if you blink while you’re driving through. You also might discover a ruffled grouse in your backyard some morning.
That’s because Cross River is home to Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, the largest park in the Westchester County Parks system, with 4,700 acres of woodlands, fields, and streams where you can watch the bluebirds and yellow-billed cuckoos during the summer and go cross-country skiing in the winter. In addition, there are 35 miles of hiking trails almost literally at your doorstep. “Ward Pound Ridge is probably the most bio-diverse area in Westchester County,” says Hudson River Audubon Society of Westchester President Michael Bochnik. “There is a phenomenal number of species of birds, butterflies,even dragonflies. Many of the bird species are ones you won’t find anywhere else in the county, including northern goshawks and scarlet tanagers.” Cross River is only 20 minutes from Acadia on Main in Mount Kisco, a great place for functional and eco-sensitive clothing, footwear, and outdoor gear.
According to realtor Sally Siano of Sally Siano & Associates Real Estate, the see-no-neighbor character of the area is the result of zoning and history. “Many of the homes were built on large estates that were divided up into four-acre or larger lots,” she explains. “They were originally hilltop homes with views of the Cross River Reservoir.” Recent listings in the community range from a two-bedroom Cape Cod on just under three acres for $450,000 to a four-bedroom, three-bath outdoor lover’s delight with front porch, pool, outdoor putting green, and a little more than an acre of deer-fenced property in a gated development for $1.1 million.
Illustrations by Michael Wandelmaier
Dave Donelson’s little bit of heaven is in West Harrison, where the foxes bark, the coyotes howl, and Starbucks is just five minutes away in White Plains.