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Heather, Home Buyer in Brooklyn, NY

Where are some easily commutable suburban-feel areas to raise a family outside of Manhattan?

Asked by Heather, Brooklyn, NY Sun Sep 16, 2007

We need to work in Manhattan, but want safe streets - kids to ride bikes, maybe have a pool or near a lake... but can't afford Greenwich or Mamaroneck prices... Checked SeaGate in Coney Island yesterday, but it was just too weird... If upstate, where? If Queens, where? Thanks!

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I am a native of Fairfield County, CT but I know many people who are from Bergen County, NJ and Westchester, Putnam and even Dutchess County, NY. Most people decide between CT/Westchester and NJ/Long Island by which train station they work closest to. People in Wall Street come into Penn Station and take New Jersey Transit or LIRR to get there. People who are commuting to Mid-Town come into Grand Central which is fed by Metro-North.

When my family decided to move (we lived in Darien and Trumbull) we moved way down the shoreline to Madison which still had a large population of NYC Commuters. As simple as it sounds, pick your train station and follow the lines out. Towns like Westport, Fairfield, Southport, CT are beautiful but you'll pay waterfront prices. Trumbull, Wilton, etc... are one layer in from the water and more reasonable. Westchester County is also very expensive, so maybe going to Putnam or Dutchess will make more value sense.

Of course, most communities in LI (Cold Spring Harbor, Garden City, etc..) are just as beautiful and accessible to the city. Same with Jersey and towns like Upper Saddle River and the surrounding towns.

You have so many options, and so many transportation choices. Most of these towns are all populated by NYC commuters and have very strong school systems, good safety records and all of the other desirable features buyers look for. At the end, take the location that will allow you the simplest access to and from work so you can spend as much time with your family as possible.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 16, 2007
Hey Heather,

It's great that you know what you are looking for but really hard to pin it down, or trust any one person's judgement, you can use our site do a search across hundreds of communities within a three hour radius of NYC. Enter commute time, lifestyle choices, price and a bunch of other details and we'll show you very detailed and insightful narrative profiles AND most importantly connect you with a seasoned, provened agent in that area to do a house search for you and support you through the choosing and buying process. Good luck, it's exciting!

1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 29, 2010
Little piece of feedback; just visited your site, selected 'more on smart home search' and was presented with a list of 'Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' messages and was immediately put off. Just thought you'd want to know.
Flag Mon Nov 9, 2015
I grew up in a small town in Bergen County (NJ) and my mother always worked in Manhattan. The town where I grew up (Carlstadt) has a very low crime rate, low property taxes, and has a small-town feel even though it's very close to Manhattan. East Rutherford, the next town over, has even lower property taxes. Since it's in NJ, the MTA doesn't reach there, but NJ Transit has regular, efficient service (the 163 and 164) from the Port Authority that takes between 20 minutes and half an hour (depending on the time. During rush hour, it can be a little more.)
The schools were great (I think I learned a lot, anyway), there is a town summer recreation program, and the town has fewer than 6,000 residents. How big a house are you looking for? How much of a setback from the curb are you looking for, and what size lots? Carlstadt lots run between 35 and 50 by 100.
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 13, 2007

I recommend the Malba, Whitestone area of Queens. The commute is a relatively 40 - 60 min commute, based on who you speak to. From Penn Station to the Broadway Station on the LIRR - only 40 minutes.

I don't know what your budget is but it seems to be a great area for children w/ lots of detached houses, yards. I've attached an older article from NYTimes (1998) but it still accurately describes the area.

Let me know if you need further help.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 26, 2007
sure if she wants to pay 20 g in taxes..then come out of that area and its bad
Flag Wed May 29, 2013
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 29, 2015
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 29, 2015
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 29, 2015
We recently moved to Westfield (NJ) in January and are very happy with it so far. It has a great downtown with a very good community vibe, lots of activities for families / kid / moms, etc. Many good restaurants and good schools. Plus, the commute to Penn Station is not too bad: 45 minutes.
Google images:,+NJ&es_sm=93&a…
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 19, 2015
Long Island has an expansive and efficient railroad system where many trains stop in Jamaica StAtion( for easy transferring) and also many are expres into Penn Station.
Rockville Centre is a great village for commuting to the city. It's on the "Babylon Line" tranfering.
Award winning schools, every type of restaurant, beautiful parks and recreation areas, and just a wonderful community of residents . (And just 10-15 minute drive to Long Islands BEST beaches!)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 22, 2015
Well, I grew up in Yonkers and Bronxville, in Westchester County and used to commute to the city by the NY Central RR, about a 1/2 hour ride.. There are a lot of apartments just outside Bronxville on Pondfield Road in Yonkers that are not too far from the train station.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 22, 2015
Hi Heather,

I don't know whether you have embarked on your search but I grew up in Jersey City and summered at the Jersey Shore during my youth. I wanted nothing more than to raise my family in southeastern Monmouth County.

The towns of Spring Lake and Sea Girt have price points reflective of Greenwich and Mamaroneck, however, there are many alternatives with lower price points. These towns have terrific, family oriented characteristics. They include Manasquan, Birelle, Spring Lake Heights, Avon by the Sea, Belmar, Bradley Beach and Wall Township. Having raised 3 children here, I suggest you seriously consider a move to southeastern Monmouth County.

If I may be of any assistance to you and your family in your search, please do not hesitate to contact me.



Michael Skea
Realtor Associate
Ward Wight Sotheby's International Realty

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 21, 2015
Hi Heather hope all is well,

I had the chance to grow up and work on the North Coast of Long Island. The commute varies but is nothing short of flawless with LIRR running constantly. If you are interested in hearing more about this area I can tell you from personal experience how great of an opportunity it was to grow up in such an amazing place.

Thanks and look forward to hearing back from you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 9, 2015
Hello Heather!

Please contact me if you would like to tour lower Westchester where average commute times are between 20-50 minutes depending on your chosen location. Greenwich CT is one of the priciest neighborhoods in the country, so don't feel defeated. There are many more affordable options within Westchester county and young families find starter homes here all the time.

As I'm sure you are aware, there are many factors that go into pricing so it seems ineffective to typify each town via blog post as there are pro's and con's to every location - walkability, taxes, school ratings, commute time, move in readiness, etc. Many of our towns have a distinctive characteristic as well, whether you're looking for a historic river town, a bustling suburban city or something in between.

My office is in Bronxville, a 30 minute commute from the city, but I cover most of lower Westchester including Tuckahoe, Eastchester, Scarsdale, Hartsdale, Harrison, Ardsley, Irvington, Tarrytown, Pleasantville, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings-on-Hudson, Larchmont, New Rochelle, Pelham, Port Chester, Rye, Thornwood, West Harrison, Valhalla and White Plains. Please call me if you would like more info on any of these areas.

Melissa Colabella
2 Park Place
Bronxville, NY 10708
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 9, 2015
Wow you are getting alot of responses, so let me add one more. I live and work in Westchester in the Rye area and think it is a great place to live. Like anything, the community you choose to live will depend on several factors. Commute time to city, importance of schools, price, taxes are all very important factors that will help narrow your search.
While their is no one right answer, I think you need to seriously consider your commute time. Their are plenty of great schools in all the comunities that have been mentioned but travel time has a big impact on family time. I have found that most of my clients in the past have put about 45-55 minutes commute cap. After an hour, it starts getting where many start wondering if it is worth it. But please keep in mind I am just reflecting what my own clients have said.
The last piece you should consider is how all of these communities have handled the changing market in regards to resale. The stronger communities show up in difficult times because they tend to hold their value better. Well if you ever have any questions about this part of Westchester always feel free to visit my website at Good luck.

Andrew Rogovic
Associate Broker Prudential Rand Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 30, 2008
it is best site in searching home
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 30, 2008
What about Bayside, Queens? It's a short drive to the Upper West Side by car and also accessible to all of Manhattan by train and subway.. I recently came across a detailed description online at the NY Times:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 29, 2008
This is a tough question since everyone is sharing their favorites. Obviously, at suburb you children will have more area to play, but you may miss the city if you are used to being there for long. I am in Fairfield County and I know many people work in the city who live near me. It takes them about 60 to 70 minutes to the city.

Take care,

Sonia Holmes
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 29, 2008
Long Island was great for us when kids were young and before we moved away.

We lived in Manhasset, next to Great Neck, Port Washington areas, which can be pricy. You go a little out, New Hyde Parke, Roslyn Heights, Westbury, Bethpage (we had great time taking kids biking there, watching the different kinds of turtles in the stream), and then you can go to the Hamptons for summer afternoons.

Hop onto the train, it gets you right to the city.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 19, 2007
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin, CA
Have you considered Long Island? What is your price range and I will tell you where to look.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 19, 2007
You might consider Bucks County. The Yardley area is very suburban, but is only 45 minutes by train into Manhattan. I would be happy to give guidance if needed.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 16, 2007
I grew up in Riverdale in the Bronx. It is your best bet in terms of accessibility and a suburban community feel. Find yourself with a property on the river, surrounded by forest/park, within a 15 minute drive downtown, plus you always find yourself riding against traffic.
Let me know if you have questions.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 16, 2007
I grew up in Bronxville, NY in Westchester Cty. It is a grat place to raise kids. 125 in the graduating classes in HS, great community, nice homes but also expensive. There are some more reasonable houses in the neighboring communities of Tuckahoe and New Rochelle. The communte to NY (Grand Central is about 30mins. The Jersey Shore is also very nice especially if you are going all the way to Wall Street.
My advice is to look at where in NYC you are going to work and then draw a 15-30 mile circle around it and look at the communities that fall inside. Commuting is a to agents in the area and people who do it every day...25 years ago I moved to about traffic! I love i there but would never work more than 15 miles from my office. Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 12, 2007
If you like visit my site and do a home search to see what NJ has to offer. There are some great family oriented towns that give you the small town america feel. People jogging and walking there dogs, going for ice cream and where everyone knows each other because the town is so small. If you are interested perhaps we can setup an appt and i can show you some homes and town in NNJ.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 12, 2007
I would recommend taking a look at Staten Island (that's where I grew up). A client of mine who was an exacting man, an architect, thought Forest Hills, Queens was the perfect place to live.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 6, 2007
If you are considering Queens and want a wonderfully social and safe community look into jackson Heights. We just had a film festival this weekend, today was the kids portion. Many parades especially a kids Halloween parade. 3 TRAIN stops from upper east side of manhattan. It takes me 25 minutes door to door! no kidding. I just love this area and can't say enough. Multicultural, diversity, restaurants galore, great library, many kids activities, private/public/catholic/charter school etc... I can go one for ever.... If you are really interested I love giving my version of a landmark neighborhood tour. You'll see our beautiful architecture, tree lined streets, commercial strip which has many mom and pop shops :-) etc... WE have an old fashion ice cream parlor, peruvian, indian, ecuadorian, columbian, italien, argentine, restaurants and more! Also check out the yahoogroups/jacksonheightsfamilies. We are very involved in our community and dedicated
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 30, 2007
Putnam County is your best bet. You can usually get more house, property and lower taxes than Westchester. I grew up in CT and most of the areas that are commutable are way too expensive! I work for a brokerage company in Westchester but live in Putnam. There is no way that I could afford my 4 bedroom 3 bath home on 5+ acres if I lived anywere else. Putnam is becomming the new Westchester as people are being squeezed out. From where I live, I have the choice of 3 train stations that run to NYC (you're looking at a 1 hour commute) within minutes of my door. I really feel like I have it all here in Putnam County. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly at 845-234-0600 or my office: 914-277-5000 ext 235

Stefani Green
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 26, 2007
Hello Heather,

Some great family type town with an easy commute to NYC cam be found on The South Shore of Long Island, There is Lynbrook, Malverne, Valley Stream, Rockville Centre, Oceanside just to name a few that you might want to consider, they all have an easy commute to NYC. I would suggest that you check out the different areas take a drive around and get a feel for the neighborhoods.

Quality Home Shoppe
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 16, 2007
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