For some New Yorkers, urban life is a phase, to be experienced between college and the birth of a first or second child. The question of moving to the suburbs is not “whether,” so much as “when.”
Now with the pandemic, the timetable for departure is accelerated. “The calls started coming in: ‘We’re ready,’” said Janey Varvara, a real estate agent from New York. “Everyone’s schedule changed dramatically.”
And the question has shifted to “where.”
Because suburbia is far from homogeneous (this is even acknowledged in “The Stepford Wives”), and because no single community ticks all the boxes (as much as real estate people love saying, “ticks all the boxes”), urbanites ready to cut ties should carefully weigh their priorities.
For this article, I asked real estate agents in Connecticut to recommend places to move within two hours of New York City, based on eight different criteria. I narrowed down the suggestions with the help of data about school performance, population density and demographic diversity and present them below with the caveat that they will likely make no one happy.
For the Most Bang for Your Buck — West Hartford, Conn.
Median home price: $309,900
Hear me out.
The pandemic, and its disruption of work habits, has led New Yorkers not just to untether from the city but to propel themselves to places where they never dreamed of living. So why not consider a community less than two hours from the George Washington Bridge with historic roots, a walkable center, high-ranking schools, three public libraries, six public parks, two active senior centers, a 10-year-old mixed-used development that went out of its way not to look like a typical shopping mall and a raft of “Best Places” awards, including from Money magazine, Niche, Family Circle, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine and a travel website called The Crazy Tourist?
In West Hartford you have everything. Nature, culture, restaurants with award-winning chefs. New developments are helping to shift the center of gravity from adjacent Hartford, though there is easy access to the economically troubled capital’s jobs and cultural offerings. And proximity to the nearby Farmington Valley means being minutes away from apple orchards, golf courses, hiking and river sports.
Among the 98 active listings for single-family houses on Realtor’s website as of Aug. 3, the most expensive was a Bauhaus-inspired 1936 modern house with five bedrooms, on 1.5 acres. The asking price was $899,900, with taxes of $23,370.
A 1930 Tudor Revival house with four bedrooms on a quarter-acre lot, two blocks from the 18th-century home of the lexicographer Noah Webster (it is now the historical society) was listed for $549,900 with taxes of $11,622.
And a 1951 three-bedroom Cape Cod house on a deep, 0.37-acre lot, across the street from an elementary school and near a country club was priced at $339,000 with taxes of $6,870