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  • Family Living: Town & Country

    Expert insights (from local brokers in-the-know) for considering the key city vs. suburbs question

    By Andrew Kramer

    Young african-american parents with daughter taking a walk on footbridge on the highline in new york city

    New York City is a fabulous place to raise a family—however, as your family grows, the question of where to make your home grows to even greater importance. The answer to the city vs. suburbs question is different for every family—so we spoke with top brokers working in Manhattan and some of the most desirable neighborhoods surrounding the city to get their take on what’s on offer for parents in both NYC and the suburbs right now.

    Manhattan

    There’s nothing quite like living in the greatest city in the world. We’re surrounded by endless cultural offerings with every conceivable culinary choice at our doorstep and conveniences that can’t be beat.

    And when it comes to housing, Manhattan also offers a full spectrum of options…whether an apartment, townhouse, loft or a high rise tower with commanding views. For many city slickers there does come a point when they start to think about life beyond Manhattan—a more serene environment, more space, greener pastures and, more times than not, affordability.

    However, in the past decade Manhattan is winning out over the suburbs as the destination of choice. More new construction condos have been built with large apartments, boasting three, four, or even five bedrooms that are chock full of wonderful amenities like playrooms, basketball courts, billiard/ recreation rooms, party rooms, swimming pools, etc. to cater to this growing market. It’s also commonplace for Manhattanites to live in apartments that have been combined to accommodate the space they need.

    Generally speaking, Manhattanites live in less space than their suburban counterparts and they pay more for it. With the average price of an apartment in Manhattan hovering in the $2 million range, large apartments here come with a premium price tag. During the Fourth Quarter 2018, $1,404,117 was the average price for a two-bedroom co-op ($2,274,385 for a condo) and three-bedroom and larger co-ops averaged $3,159,741 ($8,225,107 for condos). I have come across opportunities, south of 96th Street, where a
    two-bedroom is trading for under $700,000 or a three-bedroom apartment can be had for under $1.5 million. However, those properties generally come with “issues” such as no view, no doorman, high maintenance, etc. Those looking for value on this island tend to look north of 96th Street, whether it’s Hamilton Heights, Central Harlem (with an influx of more affordable new condo developments in the past 10 years), Washington Heights, or Inwood, where your dollar goes a lot further. –Andrew Kramer, Brown Harris Stevens, (212) 317-3634, [email protected]

    Riverdale, The Bronx

    An easy MetroCard swipe (and only two subway stops North) of Manhattan, Riverdale is a bucolic enclave of the Bronx that is nestled alongside the Hudson River to the East, Van Cortlandt Park to the west (with 1,146 acres, it’s actually larger than Central Park) and Westchester to the North. Rolling hills and lush green space characterize the areas landscape with a diverse housing stock to choose from.

    Manhattanites can trade their Classic Six or three-bedroom co-ops (or twobedroom condos) apartments for a beautiful landmarked or contemporary estate in Fieldston or the Estate Area. Lovely smaller single-family homes in South and North Riverdale, with diverse architectural styles and wonderfully low New York City taxes, are comparable in price to a Manhattan one- or two-bedroom.

    And when it comes to apartment living, there’s a multitude of building styles and sizes, ranging from prewar to mid-century/postwar cooperatives to sleek new condominiums (many with Hudson River views) for a fraction of their Manhattan equivalents. At the high-end of the market, new construction condominiums are trading in the $700 per square-ft. range (translating to under $1.5 million for a 2,000-square-ft. three-bedroom) and spacious prewar and postwar co-ops (many with doorman) three-bedrooms begin in the $500,000 range with two-bedroom co-ops starting in the mid $300,000 and up (1,000-square-ft. newer construction condos in the $600,000 range) with Junior 4s and one-bedrooms co-ops in the $200,000 range with studios going for a song.

    This vibrant community, spanning less than five miles, top to bottom, with a population of approximately 40,000, is home to a plethora of parks and cultural venues, houses of worship, shops, and restaurants, and is served by Fresh Direct. Riverdale is an ideal choice for those looking for big city convenience in a more suburban setting. –Andrew Kramer

    Westchester

    Thinking about moving out of the city to Westchester? The nearby county is great families. Westchester has a lot to offer besides affordability. You get more interior and exterior space compared to many other areas. If you are one who likes to entertain, you can find a home that has a deck large enough to fit a table and chairs, BBQ, and a backyard.

    Throughout Westchester there are many activities such as indoor ice skating facilities, indoor and outdoor tennis centers/courts, horse trails, golf courses, mini golf, and town pools. In the winter you can be an easy car ride away to fabulous skiing. In the fall you can find many apple and pumpkin orchards. Many local parks have organized sports that offer baseball, soccer, lacrosse, and more.

    If you are looking for the urban to suburban feel, you can find many communities that offer homes within walking distance to Metro North. Depending on where you live in Southern Westchester, your commute could be a 30-minute express train into Grand Central Station. You also have options to walk to restaurants or local stores around town. The Westchester, an indoor shopping mall, located in White Plains, offers shoppers a variety of stores. You may feel you are shopping on Madison Avenue without weaving through car traffic or tourists.

    If you are looking to move to bucolic New Rochelle, you may be able to find a beautiful four-bedroom home for under $1 million. In parts of White Plains, your taxes may be lower for a four-bedroom because of all the corporations in the area. In fact, many people both live and work in White Plains. If you want to be in a waterfront community there are plenty of affordable opportunities in Rye, Mamaroneck, and the River Towns. –Jennifer Askowitz, Silversons Realty, (917) 747-3847, [email protected]

    Connecticut

    We find that there is a natural migration from the city to the suburbs. Especially young couples and young families find that the city was great while they were there, but the suburbs offer a terrific environment to raise children. Don’t be deceived that it is another state. Lower Fairfield County, which includes Greenwich, Stamford, Darien, New Canaan, and more, is closer to NYC than many areas in Westchester and Long Island, with much lower property taxes. Many families are searching for a more down to earth environment to raise kids and a more relaxing environment to come home to after a hard day’s work. Commuting is easy with trains to Grand Central and there are many opportunities in the Stamford/ Greenwich area as well.

    There are options for apartments, townhouses, and single family homes, large and small, and the dollar certainly goes further than many of the other suburbs. The more affordable Stamford and Norwalk towns offer apartments/condos in the $200,000-650,000 range and homes from $400,000 to $1 million and up. Other towns, such as Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan and Westport offer condos for $500,000 and homes that go into the multi-millions. –Jodi Boxer, Boxer Realty Group at Keller Williams Prestige Properties, (203) 249-1690, [email protected]

    Bergen County, NJ

    Located directly across the Hudson River from Manhattan in the northeastern of New Jersey is Bergen County—a thriving suburb of the NYC metropolitan area. Just a short bus or car ride across the GW Bridge, you’ll discover the quiet and serene neighborhoods situated amongst lush foliage. Bergen County offers a wide and diverse housing stock to satisfy every taste and budget. A three-bedroom/two-bath single family home in move-in condition range from $450,000-500,000 and $550,000-600,000 fully renovated. Larger 4-5 bedroom new construction homes trade in the $750,000850,000 range and $1.1 million to $3 million at the high end of the market.

    Bergen County is also home to big name department stores and shops to please everyone. Routes 4 and 17 offer everything from TJ Maxx, Ikea, Century 21, Whole Foods, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstom, Neiman Marcus, and so much more. When it comes to suburban living with easy access to New York City, Bergen County can’t be beat! –Aline Smolanoff, Keller Williams Townlife, (201) 957-4800, [email protected]

    Long Island’s Five Towns

    Living in the Five Towns, located in the southwestern portion of Long Island, can be summarized in three categories—lots of grass, a comfy home with large rooms and close proximity to the ocean. The outdoors become an extension of your home—with plenty of parks, access to the boardwalk, numerous recreation options, and plentiful shopping.

    Each of the communities has its own character and vibe and include Cedarhurst, Woodmere, Hewlett, Inwood and tiny unincorporated villages called Hewlett Bay Park, Hewlett Harbor, and Woodsburg. Cedarhurst, where the median price for a single family home is $726,500 (condo $490,000 and co-op $260,000), is known for its high-end fashion boutiques. Woodmere has a mixture of both original and large custom designed homes, with a median price of $738,000 (condo $659,000 and co-op $185,000). Lawrence is at the high end of the market with its large size properties (many with guest quarters) where $1.025 million is the median price (condo $648,000 and co-op $180,000). $558,885 is the median price for a home in Hewlett (condo $490,000 and co-op $140,000) and $427,500 in Inwood (condo $427,500 and co-op $219,000), the Five Towns’ most modest community.

    The commute to Brooklyn and Manhattan is on the Long Island Railroad and takes just 45 minutes, and each town has its own station with parking. The public schools are highly rated and there are also a number of well-regarded private school options. Another benefit of the Five Towns is that the community is just minutes from JFK airport, making business and leisure travel very easy. –Szilvia Bitton, V.I.Properties, (516) 791-1313, [email protected]

    Andrew Kramer is Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker at Brown Harris Stevens Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales. Contact him at (212) 317-3634 or [email protected]

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