The Best Places to Live In and Near NYC

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The Best Places to Live In and Near NYC

Ahhh New York…and nearby! There’s something here for everyone, especially when it comes to real estate. The metro area, which is the most populous in the United States, is home to family-friendly communities of all kinds—from city neighborhoods such as Crown Heights and Park Slope in Brooklyn to quaint towns in Long Island and Connecticut.

The options are endless when it comes to home buying in and near NYC. And the best part is, that each community has its own unique feel and charm while offering an easy commute to the heart of the Big Apple.

To get you started on your house-hunting journey, we’ve highlighted a few local neighborhoods with our top picks for real estate within each one. Browse our list, delve deeper into each town, and be on your way to finding your dream home!

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Pictured: 1371 Rahway Road, Scotch Plains, New Jersey 5 Bedrooms / 3.5 Baths / $1,395,000

Scotch Plains, New Jersey

Families looking for space and a desire to live at a close distance from NYC need to consider beautiful Scotch Plains. Most homes are nestled on sprawling properties which means the kids will have the great outdoors at their beck and call. Parents will appreciate the excellent schools and parks and recreation activities. 

The town has a strong sense of community and hosts events to support residents, small-business owners, the local police department and more. Locals work within New Jersey, but many also travel to NYC. The easy commute to NYC also gives parents opportunities for family fun in the city on the weekends! 

This home sits on over 4 acres with gorgeous landscaped grounds. While the house is ready for your family to move in, there is plenty of space to add your decorative touches. With five bedrooms and 3.2 baths, this home is ideal for large and growing families. If nature is one of the musts on your home searching lists, this home is practically a private park; however, it is close to the Ponderosa Farm Park, a Scotch Plains jewel!

Frank D. Isoldi,, Coldwell Banker
[email protected]
Cell: 908-787-5990 Direct: 908-301-2038

Pictured: 444 Wolf’s Lane, Pelham, New York 3 Bedrooms / 2 Baths / $969,000

Pelham, New York

If you’re looking for a home where community is part of the town’s culture- Pelham offers this and more. Located in Westchester County, the area is bustling with families of kids of all ages, and with a great school, after-school options, and weekend activities. Pelham offers an array of lovely homes in suburban neighborhoods. With around 12,000 residents, it has a small-town vibe. It’s hard to believe Midtown Manhattan is just a 30-minute train ride away! 

Parents will love that the local parks aren’t overcrowded and that the town feels quaint, the kind of neighborhood where the kids have an easy walk to school. But don’t mistake charming for ‘out of touch;’ Pelham is rich with diversity and a mixture of cultures you love about city life is something you’ll find here.

​​This side entry Colonial is perfect for buyers seeking charm, space, a ton of light, and a big backyard. It features a large living room with a wood-burning fireplace,  a grand formal dining room, a country kitchen, and a sitting room, plus 3 bedrooms, including an oversize suite with an alcove for an office, workout area, or dressing room.  A convenient location and quick commute to NYC make this property a must-see.

April Monaco, Houlihan Lawrence
[email protected]

Pictured: 11 University Court, South Orange, New Jersey 4 Bedrooms / 2.5 Bathrooms / Asking $650,000

Maplewood/South Orange, New Jersey

These twin towns–often known as SOMA–offer lots of diversity and a school district that has been nationally recognized as one of the top 100 communities for music education for four years in a row. Five of the district’s elementary schools have been named Let’s Move Active Schools, a national initiative that works to ensure that 60 minutes of physical activity a day is the norm in K-12 schools across the country. There’s certainly a lot for parents, students, and educators to be proud of in this school district.

SOMA residents enjoy a variety of family-friendly activities in both towns, including kids’ camps in the summer, arts-and-crafts classes, a public pool, and a seasonal farmers’ market. A local favorite is the Maplewoodstock Music and Arts Festival held in the summer featuring a variety of bands and musical styles. 

Maplewood specifically is reminiscent of many trendy NYC neighborhoods—like Industry City and Park Slope—but has a small-town feel. In fact, many New Yorkers, including Brooklynites, have moved to this New Jersey town for many reasons, including the fact that it’s recognized for being widely diverse. 

Easily accessible by its throughways and the New Jersey Transit, it’s no surprise SOMA’s towns have been ranked several times as one of the most desirable places to live in America by a number of surveys and won several recent awards as the best place to live and award winning downtown.

This classic side hall colonial features plentiful sunlight, a wood-burning fireplace, and a former dining room and more. There are enough rooms to convert one into an office or a playroom. There are also perks a family will cherish, such as tons of storage, a laundry room and a fenced-in yard for the kids. 

Mark Slade, The Slade Team, Keller Williams
[email protected]

Syosset, New York

When we think of Syosset, family-oriented is the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, Niche ranked Syosset as the #2 place to raise a family in New York in 2022. Located on the North Shore of Long Island, the town and its surrounding areas – Jericho, The Brookvilles, Woodbury and Plainview/Old Bethpage – is a highly desirable spot for house hunters, largely because beautiful and affordable homes can be found at all price levels. 

Another appeal of Syosset is its award-winning school district. The Syosset High School was designated a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, an honor bestowed on public and private schools throughout the country for academic excellence or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. The school district also offers broad programming for all students, including great sports programs, music programs and extracurricular programs.

Syosset is a tight-knit, thriving community with many restaurants, retail stores and professional services. All of your shopping and dining needs are nearby, along with picturesque parks, beaches, hiking, and biking trails for outdoor adventures. The commute to NYC is easily accessible, with two convenient LIRR stations nearby, including one right in the heart of Syosset, allowing for less travel time and more family time.

Linda Freedman, Douglas Elliman
[email protected]

​​Pictured: 1769 E 13th St, Unit 3B Millwood/Homecrest, Brooklyn 2 Bedrooms / 2 Bathrooms / $749,000 Maintenance $1026/mo; Taxes abated until 2033!

Crown Heights/Midwood

Architecture in Crown Heights is frankly gorgeous- families can find homes that work with their aesthetic and budget. Single-family Victorian homes. Historic brownstones. Condo and co-op buildings. These are just some of the beautiful real estate options in this up-and-coming part of Brooklyn.Culture is at the epicenter of Crown Heights. It’s home to the world-famous West Indian Parade, has one of the largest Hasidic communities, and offers lots of restaurants and dining establishments that serve a variety of ethnic cuisine. Another huge plus of Crown Heights is that it’s located on the east side of beautiful Prospect Park, where real estate is more affordable than on the west side. 

Although Crown Heights is very accessible to Manhattan, there’s so much for residents to enjoy within their own neighborhood and nearby without even stepping onto a train. Families often frequent the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Even the park itself is home to fun attractions that kids love, including the Prospect Park Zoo, the gorgeous Prospect Park Carousel, and so much more. 

This Modern luxury two-bedroom, the two-bathroom condo includes two balconies, private storage, plus a common roof deck and spa with a pool, jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room. Families will love the luminous floor-through the apartment, and breathtaking interiors including a grand open concept living room, dining room and kitchen with floor-to-ceiling windows. A generously sized main bedroom features an entire wall of windows. An en-suite master bathroom with sleek modern finishes and a bright second bedroom and an adjacent large guest bathroom with a soaking tub are just a few of the gems of homes you can find in Crown Heights.

Elizabeth V. Alicea, Compass Realty 
[email protected]

Pictured: 636 17th Street, Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn 3 Bedrooms / 2 Bathrooms / Asking $1.995K

Park Slope/Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn 

These two Brooklyn neighborhoods are—in a word—beautiful. And even more than that, both Park Slope and Windsor Terrace are very family-friendly and provide a perfect locale for homeowners who want a more low-key city atmosphere. They are close to bustling Manhattan without actually being in it!

Park Slope is considered one of the most desirable places to live in NYC. While many homes here are limited in terms of yard space, the neighborhood makes up for it by offering parks and other ways to embrace nature. The 526-acre Prospect Park has hiking trails, amazing trees, sprawling fields (with off-leash hours for dog owners), the Prospect Park Zoo and other ways to spend time in the great outdoors.

Living in Park Slope or Windsor Terrace will immerse you in arts and culture. Park Slope is home to a variety of religious institutions, including churches and synagogues—many of which are housed in historic buildings. Families enjoy visiting nearby cultural institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Academy of Music. 

This stunning Windsor Terrace 3 Bedroom, 2 bathroom single family home with private outdoor space is a sample of the styles of homes, apartments, and brownstones you’ll find in Park Slope/Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. Near Prospect Park, excellent schools, close to the subway and shopping destinations, all located in what is considered the true gem of Brooklyn.

Lia Wiedemann, The Lia Wiedemann Team, Compass Realty
[email protected]

New Canaan, Connecticut

At only an hour away from NYC- New Canaan is still accessible to the city-yet once you arrive home, it is pure charm. This friendly town is known for supporting its community and being diverse. Parents chose to live in New Canaan for its excellent schools. The school system includes five public schools in the district and three private schools. The downtown area is quaint but thriving, especially on weekends when you will likely run into friends shopping in the local shops. Cafes are unique and delicious, and the restaurants in New Canaan serve Top Chef-worthy cuisine. The charming New Canaan Library on Main Street is the perfect spot for playdates, storytimes, music, and events. 

Summer thrives in New Canaan. Outdoor events and activities such as the Family Fourth Fireworks at Waveny Park and firefly viewing at the New Canaan Land Trust are favorites among locals. And with classic architectural touches woven throughout the town -it is picture-perfect throughout the year. 

This 5-bedroom, 4 1/2 bath Colonial provides sun-filled rooms all day long. There is a spacious sunken family room. High-end appliances in the kitchen will bring joy. Located on 2.3 acres located on a quiet cul-de-sac. A deck and slate patio looks over a private backyard. If space in a home is top on your real estate needs -the large primary bedroom suite features his and her bathrooms and closets. No more shoes all over the house- there is a large mudroom for the entire family.

Christa Kenin, Douglas Elliman
[email protected]