By Cristiana Caruso, Joe Cesarano & Duke Ratliff
Westchester County has something for every lifestyle. Its residents have the option of taking in bustling downtowns, fine restaurants, beaches, pastoral farms, woodsy parks, and historic river views. Here, Westchester Magazine’s annual “Best Places to Live” feature provides the inside scoop to decide which town best suits you.
An increasingly impressive skyline has materialized in downtown New Rochelle, bringing with it amenities that make this modern city on the Sound more appealing and livable than ever before.
In the past year, eight residential developments were completed, with at least 15 more still creeping toward the sky. Several of these buildings, both rentals and condos, climb as high as 28-stories, including 360 Huguenot, on the former site of the historic Loews Theater. 1 Clinton Park’s dual towers offer unparalleled panoramic urban and ocean views. Additional up-and-comers include The Printhouse, Watermark Pointe, and The Standard.
“With more than 30 major projects underway and unprecedented investments in infrastructure and the environment, New Rochelle presents an attractive value proposition to prospective homeowners,” says Noam Branson, mayor of New Rochelle. “We’re a growth stock.”
With resources like CircuitNR, a six-seater electronic bus that’s available for free via an app, or the New Downtown Resident Card, which grants access to discounts and offers at featured businesses, New Rochelle is evolving into a more personable, practical mini-version of Manhattan.
“New Rochelle is also creating more open, outdoor space, including a large, new waterfront park adjacent to the downtown and the ‘LINC,’ which will repurpose portions of Memorial Highway into a linear park with ample recreational, pedestrian, and bike amenities,” explains Bramson.
Coupled with the expansion of public transit to parts of the city that were previously nearly impossible to get to without a car and an urban hub that is getting more walkable by the day, New Rochelle has become a pioneer in accessibility and making a community work for all who live there. —CC
Steeped in rich history and charming neighborhoods, Rye delivers a chic New England harbor-town feel with metropolitan New York conveniences. Home to national historical sites, like the Jay Estate and Playland Amusement Park, there is no shortage of things to do. “Few other communities have a public golf club, municipal boat basin, and great kids’ programs,” says Judge Joseph Latwin, a 41-year resident of Rye, as well as a volunteer firefighter. “You have all the benefits of having Manhattan close by, with clean air and a seashore.”
This old-school garden suburb checks every box on the list: public programs, enriching early-childhood education, a myriad of cuisines, and the Big City right at your fingertips.
An extremely walkable downtown is speckled with trendy restaurants, sophisticated boutiques, and bakeries that spill the smell of freshly baked bread out onto the sidewalk. Offsetting the siren call of baked goods is Rye’s impressive number of fitness centers, which run the gamut, from customized personal training to electrifying spin classes.
At the same time, lovers of the outdoors don’t need to drive to a hiking trail upstate. “Rye has great nature life,” says Latwin. “I can go for a walk in the Marshlands or on the beach behind Playland and see all sorts of different wildlife.”
The St. Regis Residences, Rye, which opened in the summer, adds luxury to the condo market. The upscale development (units start at more than $1 million) is loaded with haute amenities, including butler service, valet parking, gated entrances, and manicured gardens. —CC
With its own little piece of coastline, the Rye Neck neighborhood of Mamaroneck is home to gorgeous parks and a community on the rise.
One of the crown jewels of owning a house in Rye Neck is the town’s outstanding school system, as the town has gained a reputation for educational excellence. It’s currently working to expand science and math offerings, according to Superintendent Dr. Eric Lutinski. “Rye Neck is a small school with big-school resources,” he says. “Because of our size, our teachers and support staff personally know each student. This individualized attention and availability of resources fosters a warm and deeply enriching educational environment that sets us apart from other schools.” —CC
183 Grace Church St, Rye
5 BR | 3.1 BA | 3,024 sq. ft | .61 acres | $37,326 estimated taxes
This 1930s Tudor stuns with its two-floor-length stained-glass windows and hardwood curved staircase. The porte cochere and wraparound driveway offer a feel of luxury. The spacious living room makes for the perfect place to entertain guests, while the reading alcove provides privacy and refuge.
Listed by Siobhan Dolce, Julia B Fee Sotheby’s International Realty
*All homes were on the market at press time.
Who would want to live in Dobbs Ferry? According to William Ford-Sussman, Coldwell Banker real estate agent and one of the town’s biggest fans, the question should be: “Who wouldn’t want to live in Dobbs Ferry?”
“Strolling down Cedar Street or Main Street just feels like home, even to people who don’t live here yet,” Ford-Sussman says. “It has a small-town, neighborly feel, yet you can enjoy a variety of eateries.”
Dobbs Ferry restaurants include David DiBari’s Italian gastropub, The Cookery, plus longtime farm-to-table Mexican fave Tomatillo.
Butcher Girls on Cedar provides fresh organic meat; MOM’s Organic Market is filled with healthy treats. The Three Dogs Artisan Collective on Cedar is a creative gallery featuring handmade local arts and crafts with a whimsical flair.
“Three Dogs is just the kind of place that fits here in Dobbs; we have a quirky but rich and beautiful culture here,” Ford-Sussman says. “There’s just a secret recipe, a special soup that makes people want to live here.”
At the same time, the allure of nature is one of Dobbs’ biggest draws.
“One visit to Waterfront Park, bordering the majestic Hudson, with views of the Palisades and the Manhattan skyline, will give you a wonderful sense of community,” Ford-Sussman says. “Plus, the Croton Aqueduct Trail runs straight through the center of town, bringing nature’s recreation and beauty to Dobbs Ferry village residents.” —DR
It’s all downhill in Irvington, literally. The town’s quaint, relaxed Main Street, filled with an eclectic selection of shops and restaurants, takes you down a hill toward the picturesque Hudson River, home to well-kept Matthiessen Park, the popular Scenic View Park, plus some drive-worthy restaurants, such as Red Hat on the River, MP Taverna, and Sambal.
“You can see the river the entire time walking or driving down the street, automatically lending the town a relaxed feel, making it hard to believe it’s just 40 minutes outside of the big city,” says Ilisa Crosby, real estate agent at Douglas Elliman. “The overall feel of Irvington is low-key and laid-back, a quaint village for residents.”
There are no strip malls or even supermarkets in Irvington. Older homes, lively streets, friendly people, a sense of community, and an easy commute to Grand Central are now drawing scores of people from New York City.
“Irvington attracted New Yorkers looking to escape the city when the pandemic hit,” Crosby says. “Buyers who want a little history and a lot of land come up to Irvington. The residential lots are larger in Irvington than other Hudson River towns, and many of them come with scenic views.”
A farmers’ market is the center of activity from June through December. Residents come for the food but stay for the vibe, Crosby says. The Irvington Theater, which hosts live performances, children’s shows, and film, has been closed since the pandemic but is scheduled to reopen next year. The town is especially known for its diverse dining options, including Korean, Greek, Thai, barbecue, and Indian. —DR
Once a rare occurrence in Croton-on-Hudson, hipster sightings are becoming a regular happening in what is one of Westchester’s smallest and leafiest Rivertowns. In addition to attracting families seeking peace and quiet, plus top-notch schools and plenty of parks, Croton-on-Hudson has slowly developed a significant restaurant-and-bar scene, with Croton Tapsmith as a hub near the town’s beloved dummy light. The recent addition of 140 Grand, a meat-lover’s paradise, combined with other Croton favorites, including the recently expanded The Tavern, the town has evolved into a low-key weekend destination for discerning fun seekers. —DR
78 Oliphant Ave, Dobbs Ferry
5 BR | 3.1 BA | 3,871 sq. ft. | .57 acres | $41,077 estimated taxes
This five-bedroom, center-hall Colonial has been well maintained and updated and is in move-in condition. Enter via a covered front portico; formal dining room features hardwood floors and crown moldings. Walk to the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail; 40 minutes to NYC.
Listed by William Boeckelman, Coldwell Banker
*All homes were on the market at press time.
A welcoming Main Street, river views and plenty of mom-and-pop shopping opportunities make Tarrytown an excellent place to live and a destination for homebuyers.
The historic Tarrytown Music Hall anchors a bustling downtown and hosts numerous national touring musicians and comedians. The Jazz Forum Club is the sole venue in Westchester County dedicated to the only American-born musical genre.
Nearby restaurants, many with outdoor dining, offer everything from Mexican at The Taco Project to farm-to-table American dishes at the Sweet Grass Grill. Tarrytown shops offer jewelry, souvenirs, antiques, and gifts.
The Scenic Hudson RiverWalk Park and the Cuomo Bridge walking/biking path are two of the latest draws to the village.
“The charm of Main Street and views of the Hudson River never get old,” says Jody Toth, associate broker for William Raveis Legends Realty Group. “Tarrytown is ever-evolving, but character, charm, and history are constants.”
The town also hosts a bustling farmers’ market on Saturdays at Patriot’s Park, the famous site where Revolutionary War spy Major John Andre was captured.
The seasonal summer concert series on the waterfront and the jazz series at Lyndhurst are perfect ways to spend an evening enjoying music, fun, and friends, accompanied by an awesome sunset over the Hudson, Toth says.
She adds that the Tarrytown real estate market is “hot,” as low inventory has created a sellers’ market.
“We’ve seen many buyers leaving apartments in the city and Brooklyn, looking for more open space since COVID-19,” Toth says. “Well-priced homes in good condition usually sell quickly, often in a weekend, with multiple offers.” —DR
Perhaps no city in Westchester County offers a more winning combination of suburban and urban lifestyles than White Plains, where one of the region’s most walkable downtowns coexists with relatively affordable homes on tree-lined streets.
“White Plains is an unusual mix,” says Ann Bernstein, associate real estate broker, Houlihan Lawrence. “Residents here are able to blend a vibe of a suburban lifestyle into an urban setting. It’s a phenomenal destination because of its walkability, and it attracts a broad spectrum of people.”
The city’s revamped and ever-evolving downtown has become a destination point for the entire region, with a constant stream of new restaurants and activities. Recent culinary additions to Downtown White Plains include Greca, Chazz Palminteri Italian Restaurant, and Fogo de Chão Brazilian steakhouse, located in the historic Bank of New York Building. The Opus Westchester hotel provides a center for White Plains luxury with BLT Steak, Kanopi (offering views of Manhattan from its location on the 42nd floor), and The Opus Lobby Lounge, with signature cocktails.
The White Plains Business Improvement District sponsors numerous family-friendly activities to beckon folks downtown. White Plainers mark their calendars for JazzFest, Music in Motion, White Plains Cinco de Mayo, and Holiday Market. WPBID’s New Year’s Eve celebration, with fireworks and a ball drop, has become an annual extravaganza, drawing 20,000-plus revelers from all over the county.
Bernstein describes the White Plains real estate market as “smoking hot”: Year to date, single-family home-sales volume is up 34%; condos are up 18%; co-ops are up 29%.
“We have something here that’s affordable for everyone, from a studio co-op to a $2 million home,” Bernstein says. “We really run the gamut, so we’re able to put together a unique blend.”
Bernstein adds that the city continues to be a huge commuting town. “We have lots of buildings, many of them new, that are within walking distance of the train station,” she says. “It’s a 35-minute express train ride to Grand Central. Eventually, we’ll go back to commuting, and that’s a huge attraction for buyers.” —DR
Funky Peekskill continues to be “the little city that could” as it attracts residents looking for an affordable urban lifestyle with world-class river views and artsy amenities. The historic city has added more trendy bars and restaurants, such as Whiskey River, El Rincon Colombiano, and the Pink Iguana; SoHo-type shops (Hello, Bucko!), and family-friendly events. The Paramount Hudson Valley Theater in the downtown district is up and running with top-notch musical acts and comics, and Riverfront Green Park offers one of the loveliest and art-infused strolls of any Rivertown. The new Abbey Inn & Spa welcomes luxury seekers from all around — and beyond — the region. —DR
329 Fisher Ave, White Plains
5 BR | 2.1 BA | 2,743 sq. ft. | .41 acres | $13,206 estimated taxes
This 1924 Colonial Victorian has been lovingly maintained, with an updated kitchen and baths. Features include wood-burning fireplaces in the living room and dining room, a sunroom off the living room, stained-glass windows, and wood moldings. The kitchen includes granite countertops, stainless-steel appliances, and a heated ceramic floor.
Listed by Terri Crozier, Michelle Reggio, Toni Chrystal, Houlihan Lawrence
*All homes were on the market at press time.
“Chappaqua has long been considered a jewel of Northern Westchester,” says Alicja Bohmrich, a Realtor with Houlihan Lawrence. “It is sophisticated yet has all the charm and peace of the countryside.”
Bohmrich added that the hamlet — which is part of the town of New Castle — offers privacy, natural lakes, rolling hills, and parks with playgrounds, picnic areas, and playing fields. It is close to the city by train or car, and the highly rated public school system makes it a very attractive destination for first-time homebuyers.
“Chappaqua offers something for everyone,” Bohmrich says, noting that there are more than 150 recreational activities and clubs in town. The local parks-and-recreation commission offers activities for all ages, including an outdoor summer-concert series, and the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center offers a 425-seat theater to area residents. Events such as Chappaqua Community Day and the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival tend to draw large crowds.
The original HQ for Reader’s Digest, which called Chappaqua home for many years, has been converted to an upscale retail village, called Chappaqua Crossing, featuring rental units, a Whole Foods Market, and community arts center. Also, the town center was recently renovated, and many new businesses have opened.
“I always describe Chappaqua as either a big small town or a small big town,” says Sena Baron, a Realtor with William Raveis. “It offers a nice-size community — not too small and not so big that it’s anonymous. There’s also a strong sense of community here.”
Baron noted that the sense of community has also allowed it to become more diverse in recent years, as the town has proven to be welcoming for families of all ethnic groups, as well as same-sex couples with families. These changes have also made it a more desirable location for city residents to consider as they ponder relocating to the suburbs. —JC
If your ideal suburban life combines residential neighborhoods with an energetic downtown, then you will understand the appeal of Katonah. The village — which is technically a hamlet within the town of Bedford — is characterized by its variety of things to do and businesses old and new.
“The strength of our downtown is that it’s so vibrant,” says Kelly Raneri, a Katonah native who is now the fourth-generation owner of the Charles Department Store. “There are so many shops and places to walk. You can come to Katonah for one hour or an entire day and have no problem filling your time.”
Raneri adds that she has seen many city residents jump on the train for a day trip to Katonah, especially last year, during the pandemic. One of the unique things about the village is the longevity of certain businesses, which have become staples in the downtown area. Raneri’s Charles Department Store is close to its 97th year in business. Kelloggs and Lawrence, the local hardware store, first opened in 1887. But newer businesses, such as Wild Fig Floral, Rubysue women’s shop, and Bijou Fine Jewelry, add to the mix downtown — and the combination of old and new is attractive to buyers.
“Right now, so many people are moving and buying homes here,” says Raneri. “They want a vibrant downtown. Usually, they liked where they’re moving from, like Brooklyn or the Upper West or Upper East Side. They seem to be pretty invested in wanting to support the town.”
Margaret Harrington, a broker at Douglas Ellman, says that the top-ranked school district is another draw and complements Katonah’s eclectic vibe. “It has many personalities,” says Harrington. “You can have village; you can have country. It’s a really beautiful place to land.” —JC
Nestled between the mighty Hudson and much smaller Pocantico River, Briarcliff Manor might be smaller than its neighbors in Ossining and Sleepy Hollow, but it has a great deal to offer. With a highly regarded school district and top-notch recreational facilities, the village boasts a wide array of housing types, from older homes to newer condo developments. Law Memorial Park offers residents tennis courts and an outdoor pool, while Scarborough Park is right on the Hudson. —JC
11 Green Ln, Chappaqua
5 BR | 6.1 BA | 6,165 sq. ft. | 1.53 acres | $60,569 estimated taxes
This Mediterranean-inspired home in the heart of Chappaqua features a private setting and amenities aplenty, including a gourmet kitchen, luxurious master bedroom suite with sitting room and spa bath, elevator, whole-house generator, salt-water pool, meticulously landscaped grounds, and a two-bay heated garage with Tesla charging stations.
Listed by John Buckley, Douglas Elliman
*All homes were on the market at press time.
Bronxville “is a hometown village,” says Jeff Ungvary, president of Strategic Wellness & Investment Management Services and a Bronxville resident since 1997. “Most of the businesses you find here are locally owned and operated. It’s consistently committed to local merchants.”
Pondfield Road, Bronxville’s commercial center, is the location for local caffeine institution Slave to the Grind, iconic bar and restaurant Underhill Crossing, and family-owned Value Drugs. “It’s a one-square-mile town,” Ungvary says, “but at the same time, dead-center Manhattan is only 12 miles away.”
Bordering the collection of mom-and-pop shops is Bronxville High School, which U.S. News & World Report ranked the 145th best high school in the country. Along with the academic prowess, Bronxville is also known for its elite sports teams, with many student athletes going on to play to play at the college level. The middle school and elementary school can be found on the same grounds as the high school, making pickup and drop-off a breeze for families with children in different grades.
Ungvary says Bronxville’s little slice of Americana offers unparalleled camaraderie and personability. “My office is above Mini’s Prime Meats, and my door is right next to Park Place Bagels,” he says. “My bagel provider is also my friend, and now he’s become my landlord, as well.”
The community showed up in a big way during the pandemic, Ungvary explains. “The village and some of its residents put together a fund to assist local merchants who were in need. There were workshops and Zoom meetings; there was tremendous support and a great sense of community.”
Replete with storefronts and restaurants, Scarsdale is a green oasis that feels farther away from the concrete jungle than a mere 35-minute train ride. This little slice of suburbia, which is both a town and a village, is gaining new residents from Manhattan and elsewhere like never before.
Dawn Knief, of Compass Realty, in Scarsdale, attributes the increase of new residents to the excellent school system and the calm and peaceful environment of the village. “This past year, we had a buying frenzy,” says Knief. “There were bidding wars on most homes, especially those that were turnkey, and those with home offices, large yards, and swimming pools.”
Taking a stroll among the Tudor-style town-square buildings (such as the iconic Harwood Building) that date to the 1920s or catching an outdoor concert at Chase Park is like being in the middle of a classic Hollywood movie set. Surrounding neighborhoods are laden with modern architecture and grand sculptures scattered across meticulously manicured lawns.
Scarsdale is a landing spot, not a steppingstone, explains Knief. “Once people live here, they tend to stay. Even those who grew up here and start their careers and families in the city, very often return.”
Additional family attractions include a brand-new, state-of-the-art library and a recreation complex that includes four swimming pools (one of them Olympic-size). —CC
Westchester historians know the Park Hill area of Yonkers as one of the nation’s first planned neighborhoods, established in 1888, with a wondrous collection of well-maintained Victorian homes. Insiders, especially those who live there, know that the Park Hill is synonymous with the word “community.” Neighbors invite neighbors to their backyard parties, play tennis (on clay courts!), racquetball, and bowl at the historic, quaint Park Hill Racquet Club. The Park Hill Residents Association hosts a well-attended garden and walking tour each year to experience this unique Westchester jewel, where everything old is still new and inviting. —DR
2 Hampshire Rd, Bronxville
5 BR | 3.2 BA. | 4,100 sq. ft. | .73 acres | $25,409 estimated taxes
This suburban retreat in the heart of Lawrence Park West offers lush, tiered gardens and a short commute from Manhattan. With a formal dining room, eat-in kitchen, mudroom, and personal library, a life of luxury awaits. Take a lap in the in-ground heated pool or bask in the screened-in sunroom — this house is the ultimate oasis after a long day.
Listed by Elizabeth Yienger, Compass Greater New York
*All homes were on the market at press time.
“We’re a quiet, sleepy town, and that’s the way people like it,” says Jocko McKean, executive director of the North Salem Open Land Foundation, regarding his hometown. “We pride ourselves on protecting and conserving open space here. People like the rural quality.”
The rural feeling also has a practical side. McKean noted that according to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, North Salem — which includes communities like Croton Falls, Grants Corner, Salem Center, and Purdys — features about 50% of the remaining useable farmland in Westchester.
For many residents, North Salem represents horse country, and the town boasts a large amount of bridle trails for the equine-minded to explore. Others are attracted to its wide array of local organizations, which draw hundreds of volunteers each year to various local causes. The town’s dedication to preserving open space, which includes about 15 conservation easements within its borders, is also a selling point for some.
“Things change very slowly in North Salem,” notes McKean. “We don’t have four new developments going in [at any time], and most residents in town like it that way.”
Among the town’s greatest attractions are Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard, which is a short distance from Interstate 684 and draws many thousands of people each fall for apple picking, hayrides, pumpkin picking, and numerous family activities. Nearby Outhouse Orchards also draws large crowds during apple-picking season. Hayfields, located on the town’s border with Connecticut, combines a café, florist, and catering business and has built a dedicated local following. Purdy’s Farmer & the Fish is among the top dining destinations in the county.
North Salem also boasts an array of housing options, ranging from old-world farms to newer construction. Most of the town is zoned for four-acre properties, preserving its open-space feel.
“You can kind of disappear and be a hermit in your house,” says Nikki McMann, a Realtor at William Raveis, regarding the Northern Westchester town of Pound Ridge. “It’s a very small town. You can kind of get tucked away.”
The county’s smallest town features no streetlights but lots of wooded areas and hiking trails. According to McMann, it also has one of the most active recreation departments in Westchester and many volunteer organizations that put on a wide variety of community events. “It’s really nice in that sense,” she adds. “When you go to these events, you really get to know everybody.”
Longtime resident Liz Larkin, who operates her home business, Mrs. Larkin’s Scones, in town, said what sets Pound Ridge apart is the people. “Everyone is super-friendly,” says Larkin. “Neighbors helping neighbors. My favorite part is just the niceness of the people. You feel it when you go somewhere else.”
The walkable downtown business district in Scotts Corners is about one block that you can walk in just five minutes. Westchester Avenue, the main street in the business district, has “everything that one might need,” according to Larkin, including grocery stores, restaurants, a gas station, hardware store, and a post office. While the commercial district is much busier than it was 10 years ago, the changes in Pound Ridge still haven’t disrupted the small-town feel that lures many people to the area.
According to McMann, the real estate market is “busy and hot,” with a mix of modern and contemporary homes that are very popular now, as well as custom-built and antique houses. For years, more than 50% of residents were people who owned country homes and would come to stay for the weekend, but there are many more full-time residents today. —JC
Tucked in between Katonah and Ridgefield sits the town of Lewisboro, home to some of Westchester’s most impressive parks and natural areas and one of the safest communities in the county. The town, known for its open space, stretches from the Connecticut border across to Interstate 684 and consists of five hamlets: Cross River, South Salem, Waccabuc, Vista, and Goldens Bridge. Located partially in Cross River, Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is Westchester’s largest park, covering 4,700 acres of trails, camping areas and a museum. —JC
35 Autumn Ridge Rd, Pound Ridge
4 BR | 3.1 BA; 5,093 sq. ft. | 5.06 acres | $24,532 estimated taxes
Enter this grand Colonial through a double-height foyer and be greeted by a sweeping staircase and elegant chandelier. A formal living room with fireplace has French doors leading to a large deck, for a seamless flow to the outdoor space. Upstairs features a primary suite with two walk-in closets and a bathroom with double sinks and an overside shower and tub.
Listed by Richard Esman, Douglas Elliman
*All homes were on the market at press time.
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