Great, here are some possibilities. When buying in NYC, the most important thing to consider may be the Subway Lines. In Wall Street, practically every line comes rushing in, so finding a place to live within 30-45 minutes is actually quite easy. Manhattan is expensive, and since you live an hour and a half away, I am thinking that had you been able to afford the Wall Street Area, you would not be asking this question. therefor I propose the next best thing: Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Carroll Gardens, Ft. Greene, Clinton Hill, You may even be able to pull off a 45 minute commute from Bay Ridge on the R line which connects to the 4,5, N, R, 1, 2, 3, etc...Also - Windsor Terrace is a great little 'hood with not much nightlife, but good conveniences and blocks away from Prospect Park and Park Slope.
I was born and raised on Manhattan's Upper East Side, 70th Street, until I was 22 years old. I moved to Brooklyn 8 years ago and I have lived In Dyker Heights, Windsor Terrace, and now on the Bensonhurst / Gravesend border. My 2 family home is detached, has a driveway, 1,200 square feet per floor, a full finished basement, backyard and awesome neighborhood amenities, and it is very safe, upper-middle area. you find a home like this for around 800K, you are talking about over 3,000 sq feet of living space 45 minutes from Manhattan on the N or F line - NOT BAD! and their are plenty of condos there too. I leave my house at around 7:45 and I am in my office on Lafayette and Astor by 8:20.
hope that helps.