Moving to the suburbs is a BIG decision that many families deal with at some point during their life in the city. And now with COVID-19 and the unknown of life, in general, moving to the suburbs might be more appealing than it once was, but it’s still a challenging option to wrestle with. So, “Do you stay, or do you go?”
My family and I ping-ponged with these questions for years that we overanalyzed, and ultimately under-analyzed when we saw a listing to a town we were eying and eventually made the leap five years ago. What really pushed us to the suburban edge was having a third child and feeling increasingly cramped in our Brooklyn apartment. Along with weighing the pluses and minuses for our family, we decided to embark on a new and unknown phase with a new town, new schools, and a unique way of living.
If you’re thinking about the leap (due to COVID-19 or have been thinking about moving to suburbs), check out more about what to consider when taking this exciting, new leap.
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Moving from NYC to Westchester
Consider Your Price Point
Price is always a factor in any move. But with a potential move to the suburbs, you might find listings that are comparable to your city life with the added benefits of additional space and a backyard. In general, the further you move away from the city, the more you can stretch your dollar.
While you factor in your budget and start talking to real estate agents, you may also have to factor in other elements like the home’s age, which might include immediate repairs or what costs are involved for upkeep down the line.
If you aren’t ready to buy (and that is a huge commitment), you can also look into renting a house in a town or nearby town where you want to live. This will allow you to test out living there and have a first-hand feel of the real estate market. It also gives you the freedom to go back if it’s not a good fit for you and your family.
Visit the Towns You Want to Live In
You have probably heard of some common towns from families who have taken the leap or towns infamous for converting city families to the suburbs. Make a list of these places and visit them.
While it is different now with COVID, you can still enjoy a day in these suburbs — driving by the schools, local shops, and even taking a look at some neighborhoods that you are interested in.
While you won’t actually know the “feel” of a town until you live there, you can get a better idea of what’s happening by checking out what’s around.
Scope Out Local Publications
Many suburban towns have hyperlocal newspapers, websites, and parent groups (generally on Facebook). Visit and join as many of these groups as you can to ask questions about the area and get a feel of what they have to offer.
How Far Away Do You Want to Be From the City?
This isn’t as much a factor right now with so many people working from home, but at the time we factored in my husband’s commute to Manhattan from Westchester in comparison to his subway commute from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
The train time was actually the same (one hour), but the commute from Manhattan to Westchester was a little longer given that there was a new walk to the train. The cost of the monthly MetroNorth pass was also substantially different than the monthly MetroCard, which we also factored into our costs along with the increased cost of gas and car repairs, which wasn’t a huge part of our Brooklyn life.
Real Estate Agents Offer a Wealth of Information
Your real estate agent will be your best friend during a big move like this. Make sure you find someone who you trust who understands exactly what you are looking for, factoring in schools, price, and location.
When we moved, our real estate agent ended up connecting us to another family in the area, and now our girls are still best friends.
Research the Schools
Schools are a huge reason for any move so you want to make sure that your potential new school has everything you are looking for. This includes daycare and primary school options. We asked on Facebook groups for daycare centers at the time that helped me to coordinate a tour and sign up within a week of our move.
Realize That it Takes Time to Find Your Groove
As someone who grew up in Brooklyn, it took a long time to find my rhythm in the suburbs. Just like your kids, you have to find your people, things that interest you, and just mentally shifting your life.
Now that we are five years in, I feel so much more at ease in the suburbs and actually love the quiet, comfort, and slower pace of my new life.
As a native Brooklynite, our move to the suburbs forced me to finally learn how to drive (yes, I learned at age 35), which I actually enjoy now as we drive all over exploring our area and nearby towns.
Realize That the Kids Will Be Fine
One thing that was constantly rattling my mind was how my kids would adapt. My oldest daughter was going into second grade at the time, and I was nervous about leaving her friends and how she would adapt to a new school.
After a few weeks in, they were completely fine and quickly made friends.
We also made it a point to visit her friends in Brooklyn as much as we can and also have them up for weekend adventures.
You Will Give Things Up
And while it takes time to find your groove, you will be giving up some aspects of city life. For me, it becomes increasingly challenging (and exhausting!) to hop into the city whenever I wanted. And when I bring the kids in, it’s a whole production and usually a day trip with new train schedules to adapt to or finding parking lots.
As time passed, I realized that I went to Manhattan less and started to spend more time in our area (and the surrounding towns), exploring and discovering more day trips and activities only 30 minutes to an hour away. But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss the city and want to live there again one day, this is simply the version of what our life is right now.
You’ll Rediscover a New Version of Your Family
Beyond the schooling and additional space, I love this new version of myself that I had no idea actually existed.
I love that we have access to hikes, different beaches, lakes, and the ability to easily visit other towns I likely would not have ventured to before.
Enjoy the Ease of Life
For us, the ease of life is also very welcoming at this stage. We all know that life with kids is crazy and doesn’t ever let up (sorry!), so having some space and access to nature has been helpful. It’s also nice to have laundry in our house or grocery stores that are 10 minutes away that we can drive to.
Of course, we all have our own version of what makes things easier, and depending on where you live, you can find something that fits your needs and provides some relief from the hustle of the city.
Making a move to go to the suburbs is a personal choice. While price, schools, location, and spacing are all factors in making this move, so is considering how life will be substantially different for both you and your kids. And with COVID, this could be exactly what your family needs as we all slow down and take new leaps.
These Real Agents Dish On Some Hot Areas to Buy in Westchester Right Now
As we mentioned, moving to Westchester is an exciting step for many families but also one that can feel daunting, confusing, and overwhelming as you try to figure out the uncharted territory of suburbia. With the help and expert insight from some Westchester-based real estate agents, we’ve outlined some of their listings and their recommendations to help you to take the leap with ease.
As the #1 agent in total sales volume in Rye Brook in 2017, 2018, and 2019, Kori has been recognized as a Top 40 Agent in Westchester County who also serves as an expert advisor and trusted fiduciary to real estate buyers, sellers and developers across Westchester and Fairfield County.
She also made the move from the city to Westchester herself who knows firsthand the excitement and challenges that come with this type of move. She noted, “Living here, and enjoying the space, the amenities, the privacy, and the community—it truly creates a complete lifestyle. Westchester towns each offer their own special nuances. There is great culture and tons of things to do. My buyers are always amazed and relieved once they are here. It’s a new chapter but it’s still New York, just with a backyard!”
Kori currently has two hot Westchester listings, including 10 Hilltop Drive in Port Chester and 13 North Lake Road in Armonk. The stunning six-bedroom, four-bedroom Port Chester home is around 50 minutes-60 minutes from NYC and within close proximity to Connecticut beaches and seven area schools. The Armonk property includes five-bedrooms and five-bathrooms as well as a host of amenities such as a fireplace, chef’s kitchen, vaulted ceilings, two laundry rooms, and more. The home also includes a community pool and tennis court as well as being within close proximity to North Lake.
Born and raised in NYC, Stacey Pinkas also has firsthand experience finding her dream home in Westchester when she moved just five years ago. She now makes it her priority to get to know her clients to help them find their ideal location. She noted, “I believe that support and education are key when going through the intricate, emotional undertaking of buying or selling a home. I pride myself on presenting a wealth of information to my clients, which I explain in understandable terms so they can make the best choice for their particular needs and situation.”
She also remarked on the state of the real estate market right now, stating: “The Westchester market is extremely active right now with lots of people searching for homes and rentals. There is limited inventory, and an abundance of active buyers looking. I receive numerous calls and emails a day, with requests for homes spanning lower and upper Westchester, and buyers with all different criteria. Homes are moving quickly, and if the house is priced accordingly, there is almost always a bidding war. Top amenities buyers are looking for right now are a pool, home office or zoom room, and home gym.”
Currently, Stacey has a beautiful listing in Northern Westchester at 256 Mount Holly in Katonah. This 7,324-square-foot property, situated on 4.42 acres has five bedrooms and three full bathrooms as well as an outdoor pool for the ultimate in suburban luxury.
A fantastic benefit of living in Westchester is not being too far away from NYC. In fact, some towns are around the same distance from Manhattan as are some of the boroughs. Maryann Petrescu of Houlihan Lawrence noted, “Living in Westchester is having the best of both worlds! Award winning schools and supportive communities, surrounded by beauty, tranquility, and culture yet under 30 minutes to one of the most amazing cities in the world, Manhattan!”
With over 20 years of experience, Maryann is a Platinum Award Winner at Houlihan Lawrence and The Real Deal Top 100 Agents in Westchester who is known for her extensive knowledge of the local real estate market, strong negotiating skills, integrity, honesty, and commitment to her clients. She lives in Scarsdale with her husband, a local Architect where they raised their 2 sons. She specializes in listing and selling existing homes and new construction in Scarsdale, Edgemont, Eastchester and New Rochelle including the current listing at 8 Murdock Road in Scarsdale. This 4,760-square-foot property boasts six bedrooms, 5.1 bathrooms.
As a native Westchester Resident, Roseanna works very closely with her husband who develops, builds, and renovates properties throughout Westchester and Connecticut. She also loves the area as a Scarsdale mom of two who said, “ I love having access to space, calm, top-notch schools, small-town hamlets, historic river towns, the arts, great restaurants, and beaches and all within short proximity to NYC.”
She added, “In addition to having personally bought, sold, and renovated many properties, I can provide my buyers/sellers with a wealth of information and professional advice.” This includes a specialty in Scarsdale, Edgemont, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Ardsley, and Hastings-On-Hudson. In Westchester, she currently has listings at 29 Bonaventure Avenue in Ardsley and 66 Main Street in Dobbs Ferry.
Ann Marie prides herself on being honest, trustworthy, and knowledgeable in the Westchester County real estate market. She is a skilled negotiator and a deep commitment to her customers and clients. She noted in her recent piece in Brownstoner, “We’re seeing lots of demand from both buyers and renters looking to move to the suburbs.”
While taking the leap from the city to the suburbs is a huge decision, these agents can help you to make this choice a little easier with their expert advice and insight on several Westchester towns. Happy hunting!