Where to Live in the Suburbs?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past year you probably have noticed a bit of an urban exodus. People, especially families, have been trading their city digs for more nature and space. Parents have realized the value of having a home where everyone in a family can carve out a little piece to call their own—whether that means each person has their own bedroom, or maybe there’s a dedicated playroom for toys and games, or maybe there’s a backyard big enough for kids and adults to all have their own fun. City living is special for so many reasons, there’s no denying that, but oftentimes remaining sane, especially when you have kids, means leaving your home in search of activities elsewhere. It means being on the go constantly whether in search of parks, sports, cultural activities, or even just neighborhood walks to get some air and stretch the legs. But when you can’t leave your home, whether because of bad weather or a pandemic, then what? This year many people found out the hard way that staying home in a tiny apartment with kids is just not sustainable.
Jeffrey Carlson, sales director at Argo Real Estate, says clients who were deep in their home search in the city pre-pandemic have switched gears. “Many of them have decided to reverse their plans mid-search and relocate to the suburbs,” he said. “We’ve seen plenty of that.” He even had an agent on his team, who worked in NYC for almost 20 years, decide to relocate his business entirely to Westchester to serve clients up there. “He started to see people in his network who were simply no longer interested in buying in the city,” Carlson explained. “So he left and didn’t come back, just like many others.”
And for those nervous to make the jump, it might not be as big of an adjustment as you would think. This mass exodus is creating wonderful urban-like pockets in the suburbs, filled with like-minded transplants who want to recreate the magic of their city life. There are a lot of neighborhoods within a 30-45 minute commute that boast walkability, a sense of community, diversity, and cultural activities—all of the calling cards of the NYC neighborhoods we know and love. If you’re just beginning to explore the idea of leaving, these homes below are a great start. They offer everything you need to transition from city dwelling to suburban life.
Scarsdale, a suburb located in Westchester County, is a family-friendly town with a robust school offering. Many of the homes have a Tudor and Georgian vibe, but you can also find some beautiful Mediterranean-inspired options as well. The homes in the area are usually spacious and are surrounded by nature. Around 25 miles from midtown Manhattan, the train ride is just under an hour, and the express will get you to the city in 30 minutes—plus the station itself looks like it’s right out of a storybook! With such proximity to the city, it is no surprise that this is one of Westchester’s most popular suburbs for young families looking to escape the city.
Many families who move to Scarsdale love the town for the locally-owned shops and restaurants where stores feel welcoming and friendly. Residents also love the library, which has recently undergone a gorgeous renovation, and is a significant hub for the community. The school district is stellar with five elementary schools feeding into one middle school and one high school.
Agent: Lisa Nelson Ludwig
Firm: Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty
Contact info: 914-659-9225, [email protected]
The idyllic town of Harrison is a hidden gem centrally located to explore all that Westchester has to offer. The town is only 24 miles north of New York City, with a 36-minute express-train commute to Grand Central Terminal, making it the perfect location for families who want to remain near the city. The downtown area is currently undergoing a revitalization of both retail and residential spaces. Locals agree that for years Harrison has been suburbia’s best kept secret, but fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you look at it) the secret is out. More than 29,000 residents live in close proximity to shopping, restaurants, transportation, and entertainment, proving that magnificent homes and sprawling acreage can go hand in hand with a cosmopolitan feel.
The Harrison school system is highly ranked both in New York State, and the nation. There are four elementary schools that feed into one middle school, and then into the prestigious Harrison High School, which is ranked in the top 2% of schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report. In 2019 99% of graduates were admitted to institutions of higher learning. In addition to academic accolades, the students of HHS are also avid participants of the arts. The school has a nationally-recognized concert band, concert choir, dance program, marching band and string orchestra—music students have qualified and participated annually in both the Area All-State and All-State NYSSMA Festivals.
Agent: Kori Sassower team
Contact info: 914-727-0169, [email protected]
The first two words that come to mind upon seeing this five bedroom house are cool and contemporary. Situated at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac perfect for young families, this incredibly rare ranch in Upper Montclair, on nearly a half acre of property, offers an elegant and modern design. There is an amazing chef’s kitchen, a dining room with a fireplace, and enough space for a formal living room and family room—there is also a finished basement perfect for a playroom, office, guest space, and more. The smart layout lends itself to indoor/outdoor living at its best, with a sunroom that opens to a huge deck and an oversized, private backyard. The entire home is light and bright thanks to plenty of windows and an abundance of natural light pouring in from every angle.
Montclair is a town of parks and there are three great ones that are less than a 10-minute walk from this house. It is also a town with a popular film festival, vibrant nightlife scene, it’s own art museum, movie theaters, and an ever-growing selection of restaurants and shops. The public school district comprises seven elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school. Its award-winning magnet system has schools identified by themes to serve the needs of the community: global studies, science & technology, creating connections, Montessori, university, STEM, environmental science, and gifted & talented. It is a diverse and eclectic community offering something for everyone, and since the train commute to NYC runs between 35-45 mins from our six train stations, Montclair is the perfect urban-yet-suburban locale.
Agent: Amy Owens
Firm: Keller Williams
Contact info: 201-396-2927, amyowensteam.kw.com
In Pelham, NY, Westchester’s oldest town, you have your pick of gorgeous homes, like this stately brick colonial. Walk through the double foyer and be greeted by wide open spaces. There’s a large formal living room with a wood burning fireplace, a cozy sunroom, a dining room with exposed beams, and an oversized bright kitchen. The kitchen features granite countertops and top of the line appliances, along with a spacious eat-in breakfast area perfect for the whole family to gather. The kitchen has access to the beautiful backyard with a new firepit area, a patio for al fresco dining, and a swing set. Upstairs you’ll find three well-sized bedrooms (including one en suite bedroom with a walk-in closet and balcony). All three full baths in this charming home have been renovated, and there are brand new windows throughout. The lower level offers more space for a playroom and gym, as well as a powder room and laundry area.
Living outside of the city has never been easier—the library, the schools, and the train are all in walking distance. In fact, being just 17 miles from midtown Manhattan, the commute is just 29 minutes to Grand Central Station. The town offers a dense suburban feel, with restaurants, shops, the town hall, and the five-acre Wolfs Lane Park all situated on a mile-and-a-half strip in the village center. There is a strong community vibe among residents, with most residents taking full advantage of the walkability.
If you are looking for a great school district, you can find it here. There are four elementary schools which feed into one middle school and one high school. Pelham Memorial High School focuses on an environment that promotes respect and responsibility, with a rigorous college preparatory program. In fact, 94.8% of graduates are receiving post-secondary education.
Agent: April H. Monaco
Firm: Houlihan Lawrence
Contact info: [email protected], 914-548-8350
Walk into this beautiful house and you will fall in love with the elegant staircase and grand living room. The eat-in kitchen features a gourmet range, updated design, and access to the large deck. The main level also includes a stunning library room which can double as an office. There is plenty of room for your growing family with five bedrooms and five bathrooms, and since there are three levels (not including the basement), everyone can spread out accordingly. Downstairs in the large finished basement is room for an at-home gym, a kids area, a powder room, and a laundry room.
Maplewood is a very active community that has it all, but is only 18 miles from NYC. The 30-45 minute commute via NJ Transit is a breeze, but if you’d prefer to drive, the city is just a quick car ride away. Maplewood’s downtown shopping district is noted as being the only one in the state that doesn’t have a stop light. Memorial Park, a sprawling 25-acre oasis in the heart of the town, was designed in the 1920’s by the Olmsted brothers who also designed NYC’s Central Park. It features a ballpark, amphitheater, courts, a pond, and plenty of greenery. The town is a magnet for city transplants due to its diverse community that prides itself on embracing a melting pot of religious beliefs, lifestyles, and more.
The South Orange & Maplewood School District serves 10 schools, with a diverse student body that is recognized annually for academics, championship athletic programs, and award-winning fine and performing arts programs. It has also been nationally recognized as one of the top 100 communities for Music Education four years in a row. More than 90 percent of graduates plan to attend college each year.
Agent: Mark Slade
Firm: Keller Williams
Contact info: 917-797-5059, [email protected]
One of Westfield’s most notable homes, this French Normandy-style home is set on 1.1 acres of property offering stunning views of Echo Lake Country Club. This exquisite estate has been meticulously renovated featuring spacious rooms, cathedral ceiling, custom millwork & stone fireplace. The magnificently landscaped property includes a gracious patio with entertaining area as well as a sunken level which houses a Gunite saltwater pool and cabana with full bath. Whether formally entertaining or casually relaxing, this home has it all.
Westfield is conveniently located only 22 miles from Manhattan, easy to hop on a train or bus to head to the city. The downtown area is award-winning with a popular restaurant scene and locally owned businesses. The town is suburban with an urban vibe that mixes well with the many families who have transplanted from the city. Families love that Westfield Schools are some of the top-ranked in the state. There is a kindergarten academy, six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school campus. This stunning home truly has it all—it’s in a premier location, convenient to schools and parks, close to NYC transportation and downtown Westfield, home to great shopping and dining, and more!
Agent: Frank D. Isoldi
Firm: Coldwell Baker
Contact info: 908-301-2038, [email protected]