Best Places To Live

Call us gluttons for punishment (and angry letters from you), but this year, we dared to tackle the unthinkable—we’ve numerically ranked (virtually) every place there is to live in our county, from best to worst. Yes, this means there is indeed a Number 1—and it also means there is a Number 40. Read on, and see where your town fell in our rankings.



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Is your hamlet, village, or town not specifically ranked? Blame it on the county. As we all know, our county is a confusing hodgepodge of incorporated and unincorporated villages and hamlets tucked into towns, cities, and municipalities (e.g., the town of Rye, which is bigger than the city of Rye, contains two villages—Port Chester and Rye Brook—along with the Rye Neck section of Mamaroneck. Got that?). Which municipalities (very loosely speaking) to include and how to group them was largely dictated by the availability of the stats and how taxes are collected, etc. In all, we looked at 40 communities. Also, since some communities are served by more than one high school, we calculated weighted composite average SAT scores for those towns.

Our goal was to assimilate all this information, weigh the variables, crunch the numbers (we enlisted the help of Pace University Mathematics Professor Augustine B. Mascuilli), and come up with our rankings. Disagree with us? Go online and use our sortable data chart to view which factors you deem most important. Read on for a community-by-community analysis.

 

Businesses along Irvington's idyllic Main Street beckon patrons with ample alfresco opportunities.

Photo by Phil Mansfield

[1] Irvington

Diversity: 4 / Housing Costs: 5 / Parks & Recreation: 8
Property Tax: 4 / Proximity to NYC: 7 / Safety: 10 / Schools: 9
Proximity to Water: 10 / Nightlife: 7 / Shopping: 6 / Downtown: 7

Who isn’t smitten with Irvington? Charming, quiet, green, with a darling Main Street, stunning river views, a burgeoning dining scene (Been to the Red Hat lately? What about Day Boat Café, Chutney Masala, or Mima?), this unassuming rivertown is pretty near perfect. Tucked in next to the mighty Hudson, Irvington, named after Washington Irving, who had the smarts to not only write The Legend of Sleepy Hollow but to live in town (Sunnyside, his cottage, is now a tourist destination), scored the highest in our tally, getting a perfect 10 for safety and proximity to water (duh); a 9 for its schools (where the average SAT score last year was 1778, or 267 points above the national average); and an 8 for its green space (23 percent of Irvington land is reserved for parks and recreation). While no one would claim that Irvington’s houses are bargains—the average house costs $585,780—they are below the countywide average of $725,000. And there are alternatives, with co-ops, condos, and smaller wood-frame houses along tree-lined neighborhood streets going for far less. What’s more, the commute to Manhattan isn’t bad at all: in less than 40 minutes, you can zip into Midtown on Metro-North. All in all, a great mix.

Ossining's dated but charming main street wends its way down to the Hudson.

Photo by Phil Mansfield

 

[2] Ossining

Diversity: 10 / Housing Costs: 9 / Parks & Recreation: 6
Property Tax: 9 / Proximity to NYC: 4 / Safety: 8 / Schools: 5
Proximity to Water: 10 / Nightlife: 5 / Shopping: 5 / Downtown: 6

We understand why Mad Men producers chose to locate their star couple (now, alas, divorced) smack in the middle of Ossining. This rivertown (population 24,146) scored two 10s—one for its nearness to the river and the other for its diverse population (45 percent of its residents are non-white). And in our pricey county, it’s actually among the most affordable towns in which to purchase a home: the average price of an Ossining house is $383,330, which is $341,670 less than the average price of a house in the county. Ah, but what about property taxes? They're among the county’s lowest; indeed $6,654 less than the county’s average of $16,689. And while it may not be a hop, skip, and a jump to New York City (it takes 50 minutes to get to Midtown), its schools are above average (SAT scores were 1659 out of a total 2400). Plus Ossining, architecturally, has a charming downtown with underappreciated cast-iron buildings (though the shops can use an upgrade), as well as a historic area (many village structures are on the National Register of Historic Places), and lovely streets that wend their way down to the shoreline.

Despite being on the river, Dobbs Ferry doesn't have as much open space per resident as some of its neighboring towns—but look at those views.

Photo by Phil Mansfield

 

[3] Dobbs Ferry

Diversity: 7/ Housing Costs: 7 / Parks & Recreation: 3
Property Tax: 7 / Proximity to NYC: 8 / Safety: 8 / Schools: 6
Proximity to Water: 10 / Nightlife: 7 / Shopping: 6 / Downtown: 7

This densely populated rivertown (population: 10,893), just 20 miles north of Midtown, offers a mix of two-family homes, Victorians from the 1900s, mid-century split-levels and Colonials, and sprawling estates. The average cost of a house is under a half-million, significantly lower than the county average of nearly three-quarters of a million, and its property taxes are relatively low, too: $13,451. Its quaint downtown offers a variety of dining and shopping options, a welcome asset to those whose first choice is small-town living. The village’s public parks—however lovely they may be—are not quite enough to serve the 3,967 households in the village. School performance was above the mid-point but not as high as neighboring Hastings-on-Hudson.

 

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