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Nice place to live commutable to Manhattan

(41 Posts)
HtheH Tue 05-Mar-13 13:51:55

My dh has been offered a job in NYC. They will pay for the move and our rent, school fees efc. So it is all quite exciting. However, I don't think we want to live in Manhattan or immediate surrounds - Brooklyn etc. i think we would prefer a smaller community within 40 mins or so commute of the city. Can anyone help? Budget not too much of an issue. Important that it is safe for children, parks, playgroups, school etc. The white picket fence American dream - if that still exists? Thanks

pennefab Tue 05-Mar-13 21:56:33

The white picket fence rarely as attractive as portrayed in books/tv/movies.

Frankly, I'd opt for Manhattan and that lifestyle. Especially if company is paying education (private schools fairly expensive).
Even northern Manhattan (80s-100s) feels like suburbs.

North - the farthest out with that 40min commute is White Plains. And frankly, most of Westchester County is ok and very suburban. You will be tied to having a car in Westchester. But that commute only gets you to Midtown - Grand Central. Then, if husband traveling to Financial District, add another 15 min for commute. Brooklyn areas can be ok - but again, depends on destination of DH for commute.

I'd skip heading south to NJ.

I live here. Feel free to message me privately.

barnet Tue 05-Mar-13 22:01:19

Roosevelt island- not white picket fences but a community of its own right next to Manhatten.

HtheH Tue 05-Mar-13 22:27:36

The office is on 5th Avenue, HSBC, up by 40 th street I think. Not sure which station it would be closest to? But that would be a good place to start! The reasons why I would prefer out of Manhattan are the noise, a house rather than apartment, finding school places - which I assume is impossible in Manhattan? And actually wanting a car! I think if it was 5 years ago we would have loved embracing the city lifestyle, but now with 2 children etc. think somewhere more 'rural' would be better. We live in SW London at the monent, but were planning a move out to the country if this opportunity hadn't come up. Thank you so much for your help so far.

FlipFantasia Tue 05-Mar-13 23:35:48

Well I'd totally suggest looking at NJ! But then we moved from London to Maplewood last Sept/Oct (spent the first month in temp apartment in midtown) and we absolutely love it smile.

There are a couple of train lines into Penn Station (Gladstone & Morris & Essex lines) that take 30-40 mins or so (depends on what town you pick) - it's full of commuters but there's also a real sense of community, eg things like town pools that open for the summer, great schools. Towns like South Orange/Maplewood/Millburn/Summit/Chatham. Beautiful places with walkable downtowns and lots of gorgeous nature close by (eg South Mountain Reservation is right on our doorstep or we spent last Saturday at the Great Swamp preserve in Chatham at a maple sugar festival, which the kids loved). We walk almost everywhere (bar the trips to Trader Joes or Wholefoods) and have had some lovely days out to places like the shore (our effort to help boost those economies after Sandy - Roll on the summer with those miles of sandy beaches!) or the our local "park" (South Mountain Reservation, very wild feeling with nice hiking and a cute zoo, and designed by the same folks as Central Park).

Another lovely place is Montclair NJ (off our list as it has no direct train) or West Orange. And apparently there are some cool towns up the hudson on Metro North (where hipsters go to breed according to this article)

BTW I agree about the Manhattan lifestyle. We got the hard sell from everyone who banged on about embracing the NYC lifestyle, which would have been fine 5 years ago but now with two kids in tow we wanted space, a house, a place with great schools and community but with big city stuff on our doorstep. We had a great 12 years in London, so had really already had the big city fun pre-kids!

Good luck with it all!

pennefab Tue 05-Mar-13 23:57:54

If your DH is working at 40th. & 5th then one train ride into Grand Central (via Metro North) best bet - places you looking North of Manhatten - into Westchester County. You'll find something to like there. NJ will place him long car ride or 2 train rides. And don't discount how wearing taking 2 trains can be, when all you want to do is get home at night.

Depending on where in Brooklyn you might look, easy local trains to work - but can be packed. And can take some time. (Altho Park Slope fairly quick at about 25 min via Express trains). I think you might find it too city-like, tho.

Go for Westchester County. Straight shot on Metro North then a 3-4 block walk (depending on exit from Grand Central Terminal).

Sorry to be so negative about NJ. Many people like it. I just couldn't stomach it. Plus NJ Transit or Path Train to Penn Station still has him with another commute to make to get to/from office.

FlipFantasia Wed 06-Mar-13 01:16:47

Pennefab I think your dislike of nj is funny grin as my NYC friends are the same and then they visit and are pleasantly surprised. They're all expecting something grim and Republican and suburban and stepford-y and, gosh darnit, it's liberal and diverse and safe and community minded and walkable. It's funny grin

But then they're nearly all american and from places like the mid-west and really and truly love nyc and all that identifying with it brings. Which is great, just not my cup of tea (though i do like having friends & family in the city to visit smile).

FlipFantasia Wed 06-Mar-13 01:28:15

Then there's the whole industrial grimness of north jersey that even DH (he's from southern NJ just outside Philly) was nervous about and it honestly isn't something I've seen. It's very funny to me grin but then the closest I've been to that is the ikea by newark airport (which is actually great as you can watch planes as you eat your cake!).

But then I'm just way happier with our lifestyle here than even in lovely crouch end (though I miss my friends) and we're here forever (i'm irish so never thought of the UK as where i'd live forever) as we want the dc to be able to see family, get to the summer place in the poconos easily etc so I've perhaps a different perspective...

anonymosity Wed 06-Mar-13 01:36:40

Greenwich Ct and its surrounds (Old Greenwich, Riverside) - some of the best schools (public & private) in the country. Beach. Short commute (35 mins to Grand Central Station) and its pretty and safe.

piratedinosaursgogogo Wed 06-Mar-13 01:38:21

We moved over from the UK three years ago and decided to live in Long Island. It takes my DH about 35 mins into Penn on the Long Island Rail Road. It also takes us 15 mins to drive to beautiful beaches which is where we spend most of the summer.

We live in a very 'Desperate Housewives/white picket fence type' community and are very happy to be here, although clearly it's not everyone's cup of tea. We have beautiful parks, excellent schools, a community pool complex and children's museums on our doorstep.

LI doesn't seem to be an area that expats head for but I have met two other english friends here with young families so I can get my fix of talking about 'home' if I need to.

Please pm me if you would like more info on where we are.

Happy planning!

NeitherShreddedNorSmug Wed 06-Mar-13 02:17:11

I agree with the suggestions of heading north. Westchester schools are apparently among the best in the country. Scarsdale, Rye, Mamaroneck all worth looking at. Plenty of expats (if that's what you're after), and welcoming communities.

Agree with anonymosity about Greenwich (Connecticut) too.

I've lived in Midtown for the last 4 years. Nice neighbourhood, but not very exciting smile.

Kungfutea Wed 06-Mar-13 03:19:08

Don't forget queens, the overlooked borough! Sunnyside gardens, forest hills gardens and kew gardens are lovely and vry fast to manhattan, especially midtown, on subway. There are some excellent private schools but less pressured to get into than manhattan, public schools in the good areas are ok but not the same as westchester. You can drive out to long island at weekends if you want but have the city on your doorstep. It's not quite rural, white picket fence but house and yard is definitely affordable for the price of a 2 bed apartment in the decent parts of manhattan. Queens also has the BEST authentic ethnic food smile

anonymosity Wed 06-Mar-13 04:48:40

look on - it has school rankings (test results) and numbers of students. You can contact the schools directly they are usually very helpful if you call them. But you can't register unless you live in the district. This is for the good public schools, someone else will have to advise on the privates.

HtheH Wed 06-Mar-13 10:16:28

Thank you so much everyone, this is brilliant. I think Westchester or Greenwich are our best bets, due to the easemof commute into Grand Central, which seems to be on the doorstep of his office. NJ is out because of the commute, as is Long Island, I think. I am not a NJ hater, have seen beyond its hideous industrial side, and am looking forward to weekends in Cape May etc..! Imam so excited I adore the States andhave always felt I was meant to live there at some stage in my life, so this feels so right! I am so looking forward to having so much beauty and excitement on the doorstep,or just a plane/car drive away! I have done 4 big drives already before children. Spent 2 months driving from LA to New York via all the southern states, and a big drive from New York down to Florida, and another trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway, as well as a West Coast drive So i have visions of us exploring the North, Chicago and the Lakes etc! If you can't tell, I am a bit excited!
Any way, got a bit distracted there! Who can tell me about schools/nurseries? Thisis my biggest concern. My ds is due to start school here in September, he is more than ready, but I dn't think there start until 5 or 6 in the US? He definitely will need some kindof structured education, do they have full time pre school or anything like that? Or do private schools offer anything earlier? My dd is due to start 3 mornings nursery here in September, so would love something similar for her out there, again she will be ready, she will be 2.5, ds will be 4.5 when we move. I believe school/nursery fees are part of dh's contract, or at least paying the loss of deposits from back here as both nursery and school here are private so we will be out of pocket. Are fees much more than London out there? And what about the application process/waiting lists etc. My ds has been down on a waiting list for his primary school since he was 4 months old! That is how mad it is round here, is it the same in Westchester etc. if so we could be scuppered? Thoughts would be hugely appreciated, thank you so much.

NeitherShreddedNorSmug Wed 06-Mar-13 13:02:01

I think that if you live in the catchment of a public (i.e. state =) school you automatically get a place. Private schools a whole different ball game.

You're right about not starting school until later, my DS transferred from Year 2 in the UK and went into grade 1 here. Kindgergarten seems roughly the same as Year 1. Pre-K is the same as reception, only it's usually only part-time, so it's more like the 15 nursery hours 3 and 4 year olds used to get in the UK when DS was that age. There are some private nursery schools/Montessoris for 3 and 4 year olds.

Are you going to be able to come out on a recce visit to look at schools/where to live?

Kungfutea Wed 06-Mar-13 15:37:48

When's your ds's birthday? New York state has a 31st Dec cut off so he may be able to start k

anonymosity Wed 06-Mar-13 17:12:06

CT also has a Jan 1st cut off date so that's helpful, potentially. The majority of the states have a Sept 1st cut off. As in, your child must be 5 on or before. If you are up to 6 weeks after the cut off they can in some circumstances do academic testing / interview and let you in the year above. But you'd need to check with the local district.

I would be wary of signing up for any preschool until you've seen it for yourself first hand. We moved coast to coast and I did a lot of research online but its really only when you walk in that you know if its going to work for you or not.

HtheH Wed 06-Mar-13 20:12:22

Thank you all. DS bday is May '09 so he won't be old enough will he? It is my biggest problem with the move. He is so excited about big school and is reading and writing etc. already so really wouldn't want him being bored and frustrated for another year or so. I am a teacher so am sure I could set up activities at home etc. but then he would miss out on the social side. And we are all keen to make friends as soon as possible. How structured are preschools? I am not remotely pushy, but obviously don't want him bored orv'falling behind' compared to the school system here. When we return to UK he could effectively be 2 years behind... It is all so difficult from so far away. A couple of recce trips are going to have to be booked in asap I think.
Don't know where to start. Where is good in Westchester? White Plains? Where are places to avoid? Are there such things as 'villages' outside the big commuter towns? Would we get more house in CT? So many questions! Thank you for all your help so far.

Kungfutea Thu 07-Mar-13 01:43:45

No, he'll be too young to start k in September this year wherever you are. You can either put him in a public pre-k although spaces may be limited depending on schoo, district and likely just for half a day or a private one.

How long is the move for? I wouldn't worry about him being bored. I personally far prefer the early years approach here. There's more an emphasis on play, creative learning etc. it's still structured and well thought out in good pre-schools

The only thing is that for a shorter posting, he may be a bit behind what's been covered in England. I think they catch up, especially as they prepare for middle school, but that won't help you if you've already gone back. The privates tend to even more laid back in k and 1st grade than the publics which have mandatory testing.

Most people I know in westchester live around Scarsdale/Edgemont, the commute to midtown is reasonable and schools are fab. I wouldn't do ct. I have a colleague who commutes to ct, it's nightmarish for her.

Look on trulia and zillow or ny times real estate for rentals. Itll give you an idea what's available.

Don't forget Queens! Did I say it's great? smile you could send your ds to a pre-k attached to a private school, your dh would have an easy commute by subway to midtown, all the wonderful diversity of new York!

blackcurrants Thu 07-Mar-13 02:05:02

Do consider Hoboken NJ, its 35 minutes from NYC by bus and more/less by underground, depending in where you live on the line. It considers itself the sixth borough of NYC, feels a bit like living in Manhattan (I ve done both), but a smaller and cosier community. Pricy housing, but totally lovely for Dcs. I would move back there in an instant if dh,s job want so far down in NJ! Google it, it is fab!

anonymosity Thu 07-Mar-13 02:48:48

Don't be put off by one person's bad commute from "somewhere" in CT. I'm sure it is bad from some places. The thing about Riverside, Old Greenwich and Greenwich is that they have the shortest commute, the best schools and the nicest real estate (and some of the most expensive, but that's beside the point).

I don't know the preschools there any more. But when we lived on the East Coast with our DCs we found some of the more formal Montessori preschools to be excellent. You do have to go and inspect them and if they inspect you, probably all the better.

Good luck in your search!

TheCatInTheHairnet Thu 07-Mar-13 03:17:44

I would come out for a (preferably mid week) trip and go and look at the various towns. Scarsdale is very Jap-y and wealthy. As good as the schools are, I knew it wasn't for us. I didn't want to live in a town where the High School seniors drive better cars than the principal. Bronxville is even more so.

If the company will pay for school fees, consider Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow. Tarrytown has got a great town centre with lovely restaurants and views of the Hudson, but the public schools are not so great.

Mamaroneck is nice, bit expensive for what it is IMO.

Chappaqua is more low key than Scarsdale, but further out. Excellent but very competitive school district. Pleasantville is lovely, and more low key but, again, a bit further out.

It really depends on your budget and whether you want to live somewhere exclusive or more mixed. Be aware, that the very exclusive towns can be very hard work. Feel free to pm me for more advice.

TheCatInTheHairnet Thu 07-Mar-13 03:27:30

Sorry, I just read back. You can find preschools to suit any chance. If you want a pushier (for want of a better word) one, you'll find one. If you want a very laid back, play orientated one, you'll find that too.

I wouldn't live in White Plains. The first few weeks in the country living there were enough for me!

Kungfutea Thu 07-Mar-13 03:27:30

Is there an underground to Hoboken blackcurrants??

natation Thu 07-Mar-13 08:38:50


why don't you type in "Queens" "Westerchester" "Fairfield" etc into google maps, you'll see the delineations of boroughs / counties. Queens has subway lines going through Grand Central too. You can highlight the subway lines on google maps by clicking on the M signs and it shows you the routes.

Then take the subway and train maps, mark off which stations are in which boroughs / counties. Look up the timetables and which stations are 40 minutes max from Grand Central. Draw a line at that point, disregard any stations more than 40 minutes.

Go to real estate websites, find what sort of housing you can afford near the stations 40 minutes or less, if anywhere is too expensive, take them off the list too.

Finally go and research the schools and facilities in those areas left on your list.

Here is the Metro North map for Westchester and Fairfield

Here is the subway map for Queens

Towns in Fairfield county

Towns in Westchester county

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