R5 Best places to live in Westchester in 2013: Somers, NY

If you’ve always wanted to run away with the circus, moving to Somers might be the next best thing. Somers calls itself the “Cradle of the American Circus” (some other place lays to claim to being “the birthplace”), and its symbol is Old Bet, an Indian elephant and local attraction in the early 19th century. A sculpture of the old girl is perched on an obelisk in front of the Elephant Hotel (now the town hall), and the high school teams are the Tuskers.
In reality, Somers is the opposite of a circus: It’s suburban country, quiet but not remote, with plenty of housing options. “You can find anything from an antique farmhouse to brand-new construction to townhouses,” says Carol Christiansen of Judy Johnson Real Estate. “You get more house for the money, and the taxes are excellent,” thanks to IBM and PepsiCo, which have large facilities here. With several reservoirs, Somers is part of the New York watershed, so Albany kicks in its fair share.

A few working farms remain: there’s historic Muscoot Farm, a County park, and Stuart’s Farm in Granite Springs, with the oldest apple orchard in Westchester. But most of Somers’ farmland now sprouts large homes: Primrose Farm, Stonewall Farm, and The Preserve atSomers in Baldwin Place, to name a few.

Jessica and Chris Gephardt recently bought a 2,200-square-foot Colonial-style home on two acres in Valley Pond Estates near the Amawalk Reservoir. Originally from Brewster, New York, Jessica, a lawyer in Tarrytown, and Chris, an equity trader in the City, used to live in Heritage Hills, a large condo development in Somers that began as 40-and-over housing but eventually opened its doors to everyone. Their house is the perfect place to raise a family—and host one, too: It has a patio and a dining room large enough to hold 30 relatives at Thanksgiving.

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“We plan to be here for the next 30 years,” says Jessica. She likes the fact that her future children will attend a small school system (Primrose Elementary School is a standout), forging lifelong friendships. She watches local kids play hockey on the pond and wakes up to deer on her front lawn (“you learn what to plant and what not to plant”). Somers has business districts in the central village and Baldwin Place, but she likes that she can hop on the Saw Mill and hit the stores elsewhere. “You have the feel of being in the country, but you’re still close to everything. I timed it: It takes 13.5 minutes from my door to the Target in Mount Kisco.”

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