You’re in the Country Now!

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Moving from the city to the suburbs is an exciting time, greeted with the promise of larger, more spacious homes, greener, more expansive grass for one’s children to play in, and if you still work in the city, a chance to take a deep breath away from it every night.

But even the most enthused and eager new suburbanite needs to take the right steps to ensure the move from the city is smooth, swift and meets expectations. Especially when it comes to a new home and community.

Below are some top insider tips for the urban New Yorker beginning their transition to Westchester living, and hoping for the smoothest transition possible.

Speak to Your Realtor About Each Local Community

Each Westchester town has a character, personality and infrastructure all its own to learn and explore.

While realtors cannot legally opine on schools, they can give you detailed information where catchment lines are drawn. Moreover, and most importantly, local realtors have deep ties to their local communities and they can help you integrate into the fabric and rhythm of your new town. From recommending the best loan officer to the best soccer camp, realtors can make you feel welcome and covered.

Starter Homes

The rule of thumb here is to plan ahead and know your boundaries. Westchester offers a measurable price-per-square-foot discount in comparison to popular urban areas in New York City. As such, the dollar stretches farther here than in Manhattan.

But with prices in Westchester at all time highs, odds are you may need to select a starter home, or fixer-upper, as a first destination.

As such, know your boundaries. You may outgrow a starter home quickly, so look for bonus spaces such as basements that add footage. Keep in mind that fixers can get pricey when making it move-in ready. Bring contractors and architects to your property early on, and only bite off what you can chew.

Be Prepared for New Expenses

Even if you were active participants in local community activities, teams and more in the city, Westchester presents some new realities to factor into the budget.

These include added commuting cost via train or car, more annual funds allocated for housing upkeep and landscaping (especially with older homes in older communities), higher property taxes within 45 minutes of Manhattan and more. Weighing these factors in your budget eliminates potential sticker shock.

Understand Your New Commute

Basing your commute expectations solely on the trip length from Grand Central to your new town during rush hour leaves out some important considerations.

There are other things to include in your calculations. How far is your new home from the closest Metro North station? Will you be driving yourself to the station, walking, biking or hitching a ride? How easy is it to park a car at the station?

Some towns have fair and free-market solutions to obtaining parking permits right when you move, while others make the process much harder and longer. Due diligence on this is key.

Think More About Connectivity, Power and Preparation

In New York City, everything is at your fingertips and a quick walk or delivery away. And further, the urbanite is more comfortable keeping their apartment lean without consideration to potential disruptions in life. In Westchester, things quiet down on nights and weekends.

Also, power and water issues can be more frequent. Newly landed suburbanites always do well to evaluate their emergency power needs at their new home, and to consider installing a generator. Stocking up on food and materials in advance of extreme weather can help keep things ordinary for your family at home if there are some downed power lines in a winter storm.

And finally, strong cell service is not always a given. The more land acreage and quiet you find, the more likely you’ll need a cell signal boost.

Time Your Move Based on the School Year

It’s important to plan to close on your home prior to the beginning of the school year. Doing so will ensure your children can enter their new school at the beginning of the year, and will minimize the financial and emotional impact of doing so.

Ian Katz is principal real estate broker at Ian K. Katz Group, a real estate brokerage serving buyers and sellers of homes on Westchester County’s Sound Shore.

Updated 1:25 pm, August 3, 2017
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