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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[18] White Plains

Diversity: 9 / Housing Costs: 7 / Parks & Recreation: 4
Property Tax: 6 / Proximity to NYC: 4 / Safety: 5 / Schools: 3
Proximity to Water: 5 / Nightlife: 10 / Shopping: 10 / Downtown: 10

The city with the greatest number of bars (been on Mamaroneck Avenue lately?), lots of condominum apartments, and many tall buildings (the tallest in the county, in fact; this is the only municipality with a real skyline), White Plains is a true city. This is where the county government does its work, where the very well-off stay for a night or two (the first suburban city in which the Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel chain built a hotel), where the county’s most upscale mall resides, and where you can enjoy music and beer until the wee hours of the night. And, alas, like most cities, there’s way more concrete than grass.

[19] Peekskill

Diversity: 10 / Housing Costs: 10 / Parks & Recreation: 5
Property Tax: 10 / Proximity to NYC: 2 / Safety: 4 / Schools: 1
Proximity to Water: 10 / Nightlife: 8 / Shopping: 5 / Downtown: 8

Many county residents may know Peekskill for its brewery and its beloved theater, the Paramount Center for the Arts. But this nice-sized (24,863 residents), diverse city has much more to offer, including well-priced housing, relatively low property taxes, a lively downtown, and, of course, great Hudson views (it's right by the river). In recent years, Peekskill has worked to attract artists. The downside is its commute to New York City (it takes at least 63 minutes to drive in) and its middling school performance (SAT scores were 1372, 139 points below the national average).

[20] Elmsford

Diversity: 10 / Housing Costs: 9 / Parks & Recreation: 5
Property Tax: 10 / Proximity to NYC: 8 / Safety: 8 / Schools: 2
Proximity to Water: 7 / Nightlife: 1 / Shopping: 1 / Downtown: 1

Elmsford has a diverse population, low-cost housing, and wonderfully low property taxes. However, it doesn’t offer much in the way of a downtown or nightlife, and its school performance is lackluster.

Larchmont has some of the most beautiful Victorians in the county—and if you're lucky, your Victorian can sit right on the water. Heaven!

Photo by Adam Samson


[21] Larchmont

Diversity: 2 / Housing Costs: 1 / Parks & Recreation: 2
Property Tax: 2 / Proximity to NYC: 8 / Safety: 8 / Schools: 8
Proximity to Water: 10 / Nighlife: 8 / Shopping: 9 / Downtown: 9

Larchmont is a gem: a village that delights the eye, caresses the shoreline, and offers a variety of dining alternatives—from Stan’z Caterer & Café to Chat 19 American Grill. Many of the homes—especially those east of the Post Road closer to the Long Island Sound—are magnificent Craftsman-style specimens dating back to when Larchmont was mostly a summer community. It’s also wonderfully safe and has great little shops, including one of the few remaining independent bookstores, Anderson’s Book Shop. But, housing prices are high; ditto property taxes.

[22] New Rochelle

Diversity: 9 / Housing Costs: 6 / Parks & Recreation: 2
Property Tax: 6 / Proximity to NYC: 10 / Safety: 4 / Schools: 3
Proximity to Water: 10 / Nightlife: 6 / Shopping: 7 / Downtown: 5

Diverse, a hop into the City, right on the Sound with fairly good shopping, New Rochelle is a nice mix of hip and traditional, new and old. Its crowning glory is its waterfront, with a municipal marina, park, and public beach, as well as the county-run Glen Island Park. Echo Bay, part of New Rochelle's astonishingly beautiful shoreline, represents the city's best hopes for new residential and commercial development once the pall of the recession lifts. In the north end of town, gracious Tudor-style homes line leafy streets. That part of the city also bustles with interesting shops and restaurants, separate from the downtown, which excels in certain areas (e.g. performing arts). What's missing? Enough foliage and parks.

[23] Port Chester

Diversity: 8 / Housing Costs: 8 / Parks & Recreation: 1
Property Tax: 9 / Proximity to NYC: 5 / Safety: 4 / Schools: 2
Proximity to Water: 10 / Nightlife: 10 / Shopping: 6 / Downtown: 6

Those who love good, funky, ethnic restaurants know that Port Chester may be the best dining town in Westchester. It is also wonderfully diverse and its housing costs and property taxes are among the lowest in the county. The village, however, doesn’t score high on safety or schools.

[24] Cortlandt

Diversity: 6 / Housing Costs: 10 / Parks & Recreation: 9
Property Tax: 10 / Proximity to NYC: 1 / Safety: 4 / Schools: 4
Proximity to Water: 10 / Nightlife: 1 / Shopping: 3 / Downtown: 1

Cortlandt (which includes the incorporated villages of Buchanan and Croton-on-Hudson, the hamlets of Crugers and Verplanck, and the communities of Montrose and Cortlandt Manor) has a lot going for it: it’s close to water, its housing and property taxes are among the lowest in the county, and it's got plenty of green space—lots of wooded hills, watershed lands, and running streams. Its biggest challenges: it’s sleepy (which for some is a plus, not a minus) and its commute to Manhattan is hefty—over one hour to get into Midtown).




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