Summer Rental? Remember, Every Town Has a “Summer Personality…”​

Like people, towns also have personalities. If you are looking to spend your vacation in the 'burbs, get to know the town's personality. Searching for a Summer Rental? Start Here.What You Need to Know About a Town’s “Summer Personality”Every town has a personality—and every town has a  summer personality. With the warmer months fast approaching, Suburban Jungle talked summer personalities with Downtown Chic Moms—and if a summer rental is on your to-do list, this is definitely a post you want to check out. From Downtown Chic Moms:  “If there’s one thing Suburban Jungle wants city families to know it’s this: EVERY town has a unique personality—and understanding that personality is VERY important to your suburban search. The happiest urban-to-suburban families are the ones who find the right town—the town that syncs with their lifestyle, their wants, their needs and their expectations from day one.” READ THE FULL POST, “WHAT ARE YOUR SUMMER PLANS? NOT SURE? SUBURBAN JUNGLE IS HERE TO HELP” ON DOWNTOWN CHIC MOMS And, keep in mind, this summer personality rule applies to every town, from the go-to vacation hotspots to sought-after suburbs families often “test drive” in the summer.“Thinking the Hamptons, Nantucket, Jersey Shore or some other summer hotspot? Remember, even popular summer rental towns have major personalities. Your job? Find one that aligns with your family. In the Hamptons, for example, Montauk is nothing like East Hampton, which is nothing like Southampton, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor, Watermill or Sagaponack.”And in the ‘burbs?“Testing out a town for a potential move? In the New York City suburbs, towns like Rye, Pound Ridge, Bedford, Greenwich and Westport are popular for summertime test runs…In towns like these, the summer personality can be very indicative of the full-year personality—or it can completely miss the mark.” READ THE FULL POST, “WHAT ARE YOUR SUMMER PLANS? NOT SURE? SUBURBAN JUNGLE IS HERE TO HELP” ON DOWNTOWN CHIC MOMS Your goal? If you’re heading to a summer rental in a vacation town, make sure your family’s plans are in-sync—and that could mean signing up for a local day camp, joining a beach club or getting situated with some other popular activity or membership.And if you’re heading to suburbia to try out a town that could be “The One?” Same rules apply to this summer rental. Suss out the town’s summer personality and make sure it’s a good fit—or that, at the very least, you know what to expect and can plan accordingly. And while you’re there, see if you can get a feel for what “real life” is like the other nine months. This will help you determine the right suburb for your family based on your lifestyle, wants and needs, and not just bedrooms and bathrooms.To figure out which town truly fits your family—and YOUR summer personality—click here and schedule your complimentary suburbs strategy session.

How to scout out the NYC suburbs like a pro: tips for city parents​

Scouting out suburbia can be both exciting and daunting, especially if you are a city parent. Here are some tips on how you can get to know your prospective 'burbs in NYC. So what did Alison Sherwin learn while scouting out the NYC suburbs? How to get a true sense of a community fast, including suburban search with the kids and why diners are the ultimate gauge of a town…While in the process of looking for a house, how do you get a sense of the town—or towns—you are looking at? I wanted to know how busy each town’s Main Street was, how far the playgrounds and parks were from any potential house, where my supermarket and drugstore would be, and whether I should expect daily traffic jams at any place in town. How do you do that? Here are some of the issues: Bringing the kids? Let’s face it, if you’re looking to move from Manhattan to Westchester or any of the NYC suburbs, there’s a good chance you have kids, likely more than one. Do you take them with you? If not, then you need to arrange for child care, potentially on short notice if a newly listed property seems likely to field multiple offers. If taking, then driving—see below!—becomes almost a necessity to accommodate their car seats, diaper bags, and other accoutrements. And if you are taking them, then be prepared to look at each house separately from your spouse as you trade child-care duties. Each visit will take twice as long as it would otherwise. The times we took our toddler, I felt as though I only saw staircases—my apartment-raised toddler enjoyed the novelty of stairs and wanted to go up and down them multiple times!On the plus side, when we found the house we eventually bought, we took our toddler with us on our second visit and she immediately liked the large driveway and the surfeit of acorns falling from the oak trees on the property. Consider transportation. If you don’t have your own car already, then you really have two options for exploring the NYC suburbs while living in the city: borrowing or renting a car every time you want or need to see a house, or taking the commuter rail north and riding with your real estate agent.My husband and I started out trying to house hunt via train, but several issues quickly arose.  Not many realtors have car seats, meaning we would have to bring it on the train. While it is very easy to get to any particular town on the train, if you are looking at houses in several towns on the same day, it is hard to get to them if they aren’t on the same train line. There are three Metro-North lines that run through Westchester. The River Towns are on the Hudson line, Scarsdale on the Harlem line and Larchmont and Mamaroneck are on the New Haven line—going between these NYC suburbs on separate lines via train doesn’t work.After giving up on the train and not wishing to deprive my brother and sister-in-law of their car every weekend, we relied on rentals. Renting cars allowed us to more easily bring our toddler the times when we didn’t have a family member who was able to watch her and to give us more flexibility in driving around. It’s definitely not the cheapest option but it helped me to feel more connected to the area and allowed my daughter to nap in her car seat instead of attempting to keep her occupied on the train.If you keep a car in the city or can rent one, use it! Create personal landmarks for yourself. For various reasons, we were searching for houses in several different suburbs. As someone who didn’t grow up in Westchester, I didn’t feel as though I had any sense of where I was in the NYC suburbs—and it probably didn’t help that I insisted my husband drive almost all of the time. (Side note: after 13 years in the city, it took a while for me to be comfortable driving again.) I started looking for landmarks so I could start to feel as though I knew where I was. This could be anything: (1) the castle where a friend of mine was married, (2) the street where we saw a house with a crazy catwalk or (3) the diner where we ate at multiple times during this process. Driving past each of them—and noting this fact out loud—helped me feel somewhat geographically connected to the process. This also helped me to feel more comfortable in the area once we moved—using the same landmarks to slowly stop using the GPS to get everywhere. Related Posts...What I wish I knew before I started the house hunt... What to do before you start your search...Look beyond a bustling downtown... Eat at ALL the diners. Embrace whatever your stress eating food of choice is and order it. Try out all the different diners in the suburb or suburbs you are searching in. Take some time to people watch—are there entire kids’ baseball teams coming in to eat after a game? Does the church congregation from next door walk directly over to eat? Does the couple sitting at the next table watch as you debate the pros and cons of making an offer on a particular house and tell you that their town is wonderful? Is your request for a highchair met with a smile, crayons and prompt delivery of chicken fingers?Just as with houses, there is no perfect town in the NYC suburbs or any suburbs. Remember that most of the towns in Westchester are relatively small. We live in Irvington, but the kids’ preschool is in Tarrytown, their pediatrician is in Hastings-on-Hudson, the dentist is in Hartsdale, our butcher is in Ardsley, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary at a lovely restaurant in Dobbs Ferry, and we do a lot of shopping at the Costco in Yonkers. The best diner or church/temple or playground doesn’t have to be in the same town as your future home. With the right landmarks and new-found confidence in driving, you can get anywhere. For your personalized suburbs strategy session, click here!​

Scouting Suburbia? Don’t Miss THIS!​

Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah Scoping out suburbia over the Thanksgiving weekend? Start with these great events. Here you’ll meet the locals, interact with your (maybe!) future neighbors and understand what makes a town tick, all putting you in a better position when it comes to deciding on a forever ‘burb.NYC SUBURBSThe Long Island Children’s Museum in Garden City is celebrating all month long with their “Tree”-mendous Thanksgiving Cards and “Turkey Talk” event.There are plenty of turkey trots happening all over Westchester this year. Whether you hop in and run or just like to cheer on the competitors, these are definite MUSTS. Check out events inBedford, Rye and White Plains, for starters.Your kids will love making their own Thanksgiving centerpieces and festive place mats at the Wilton Library in Wilton, CT on Sunday, November 20. Looking for something a little more active? Hit the Greenwich Turkey Trot on Saturday, November 26!CHICAGO SUBURBSThe Gingerbread Jubilee is a must for kids of all ages. This year, it’s happening the weekend after Thanksgiving at Wagner Farm in Glenview.Hitch a ride on the Winter Wonderland Train, departing from the North Glenview Metra Train Station and heading straight to Libertyville. When do we start thinking about Christmas? Right after that last bite of turkey! So why not celebrate the season with this early visit from Santa and the Polar Express, at Hollywood Palms in Naperville?SAN FRANCISCO SUBURBSA quick trip to Fairyland in Oakland is a great way to let the kiddos burn off some Turkey Day steam. The Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay is hosting family-friendly holiday movies under the stars—check out the full schedule now! With Thanksgiving over you’re no doubt ready to ring in winter. What better way than the Mill Valley Winterfest?LA SUBURBSLace up those skates! It’s time for ICE Santa Monica, running now through January 18. Want to jog off some of the turkey and trimmings? The Burbank Community YMCA Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day is a must. If you’re looking for a really unique way to spend Thanksgiving afternoon, head to Long Beach for their annual lunch at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Think lunch with otters and other sea life—fun!BOSTON SUBURBSSomerville’s annual Gobble Gobble Gobble 4 Miler benefits Project Soup, and attracts runners from all over the Boston ‘burbs. Grab the gang for a great post-Thanksgiving movie—the Regent Theatre in Arlington is screening a sing-a-long version of Mary Poppins! Commonwealth Ballet’s The Nutcracker kicks off November 25 at Casey Theatre in Weston. Tickets are available now! To figure out which town truly fits your family, click here and get your complimentary suburbs strategy session.​

The Suburban Grocery Store Scene​

You’ve left the city and are now settling in in the suburbs. But, as new suburbanite Alison Sherwin discovered, there’s still one final step: learning to navigate the suburban grocery shopping landscape. Here’s what she discovered in the Westchester suburbs, and why having stroller-sized aisles is a major plus.  So you’ve taken the plunge and moved to the Westchester suburbs—now what? The family needs to eat, and sadly you can’t live on takeout forever. Once you’ve celebrated all the storage space in your new kitchen (!) and unpacked all the pots and pans, the cooking begins. It’s time to explore the grocery store options in the area.My old apartment was a block away from a Fairway, so I was spoiled by the ability to find almost everything I could have needed or wanted in one spot. Fairway didn’t have everything—it lacked many specialty Indian and Asian ingredients and a few items for which I needed to brave a Gristedes—but it came pretty close.Once I started cooking in my new house, I found that to get everything I wanted, I would need to go to many different stores. It may sound crazy, but none of these places are too far away and I don’t go to all of them every week. Plus, I get to revel—every visit—in the joy that is grocery shopping with children in the suburbs! (That’s not sarcasm.) After struggling in the city with strollers, tiny carts, and narrow aisles teeming with people, the suburban grocery store is a dream. That doesn’t mean that shopping with toddlers is anything other than stressful, but at least the carts are big and the aisles are wide.First stop—the closest full-size supermarket to your house. For me, that’s a Stop & Shop. Wide selection, wide aisles, and grocery carts with plastic cars in front that your kid can “drive.” Fair warning—those car carts aren’t the easiest to maneuver, but if it keeps your toddler occupied, so be it. Stop & Shop has all the basics in a wide selection of brands, a decent selection of organic and conventional produce, and some of the ethnic options I like. The store is lacking however, some of the oddest things—for a while mine didn’t carry dark corn syrup—but overall it works for daily shopping.DeCicco’s. There’s one in Ardsley and other branches throughout the Westchester suburbs.  If it was closer to my house I’d make it my everyday store. It’s got a great selection of produce (both organic and conventional), a really great butcher and a deli that I love. I find that the ethnic variety is a bit better than at my Stop & Shop, and it carries some fancier options.Overall, it feels quite a bit like a Fairway to me. I see on the Westchester “mommy” boards a lot of complaints about it being expensive, but after almost a year of shopping there, I’m still trying to figure out why. Yes, there are some nicer and therefore more expensive options, but the day-to-day items seem to be priced the same as at Stop & Shop. If someone can explain this to me, please do!Whole Foods. I go to the one in White Plains. You can park in the parking garage connected to the store, making the stress of driving in White Plains worth it. This branch has everything you would expect from a Whole Foods. I buy a lot of organic items and specialty items there that I simply can’t find elsewhere. Grab your reusable shopping bags and go.Trader Joe’s. I go to the one in Hartsdale, but they’re also in Scarsdale and Larchmont. It probably has the narrowest aisles of any of the grocery stores I go to. But it has all the Trader Joe’s specialty foods and rotating seasonal options. In the fall, everything is pumpkin. For the holidays, it’s all gingerbread. I can’t get everything I need there, but it’s always fun to go in.HMart (Hartsdale). Asian and other ethnic foods galore! A foodie’s dream! Plus, a bakery! I find it’s not a great place to bring my kids, as it takes me a bit of time to find what I’m looking for because many of the items are labeled in different languages. I can’t just run in, grab two things, and run out. But any Asian produce you are looking for, it’s there. Any random ingredient that I can’t find in traditional stores or on Amazon, it’s there, too. It may not be in English so be prepared with pictures of the item on your phone. And stop in the bakery for something—especially if you’ve left the kids at home.Stew Leonard’s (Yonkers). My kids love this store. Every few feet there’s a talking or singing animal, and a train goes around the cashier area. Before you go, understand that there’s one path through the store. You have to wind around the entire store to get to check-out. It’s a time commitment, especially when you have to stop and listen to each animal sing. Amazing prepared foods and the nicest cashiers. However, Stew Leonard’s does not carry everything that a “normal” grocery store does. I didn’t understand this the first time I went and was so confused by the fact that although I had yummy flying saucers and an excellent calzone in my cart, I still had to go to another store to do my actual grocery shopping if I was going to cook dinner that night.Costco (Yonkers). Yup, you’ve moved to the Westchester suburbs. One Costco membership, please. I buy organic milk there once a week. Buy paper products and diaper wipes in bulk as well as anything else your kids eat rapidly. And hey—you have a house now—storage space! Related posts...What farmers markets say about a townGet your hands dirty with an organic vegetable garden! From urban to suburban... in Westchester! Two issues: First, it’s extremely crowded on weekends. Second, the organic produce selection isn’t the best or consistent. What might be organic one week may not be the next. But, if you have freezer room, there are great organic produce options in the frozen section. Plus, the Costco in Yonkers is next to Home Depot and Stew Leonard’s is right around the corner, so you can combine errands.That’s my list of usual suspect grocery stores. There are different reasons to go to each and I try and stock up on things at each store to avoid frequent trips. It took me a while to figure out where to go, but it’s nice to have options. Besides—I can now put groceries in my trunk and drive home—no more lugging bags of groceries home while trying to push a stroller too!For your personalized suburbs strategy session, click here!​

Almost suburbanites​

Our Journey from the City to the NYC Suburbs
Justin Lane and his wife have lived in Manhattan for 15+ years, even navigating life with twins on the Upper East Side. Now, looking ahead, they’re ready to make the leap to the NYC suburbs and tapped Suburban Jungle to help them identify the right communities for their young family. The end result?

What We’d Tell Justin & Jessica About Moving to the ‘burbs…​

Justin Timberlake has announced that he and wife Jessica Biel and young son Silas are packing up and leaving LA for suburbia. But, unlike many Los Angelenos, this A-list family isn’t heading to Beverly Hills or Ranchos Palos Verdes. These superstars are heading to the NYC ‘burbs—to the Norwalk, Connecticut area, specifically, reports WLEB 21. In a statement late last week, Justin said he and his growing brood were, simply, looking to “slow things down a bit and get away from the crazy, hectic life in L.A.,” a sentiment that likely rings true for any city family considering a move to suburbia. He added, “I’ve visited the Norwalk area a few times over the years and the people there are real… they’re genuine and pretty friendly too and I think those are the things that are most important in deciding where to live.” While we couldn’t agree more—Fairfield County is an amazing spot for young, career-minded families—there are a few things Justin and Jessica should consider as they’re planning their jump across the country…and from urban to suburban. They’ll need access to NYC—and LAThe Biel-Timberlake family will need bicoastal access—NYC and LA—given their careers and personal commitments. So which posh CT suburb offers the quickest commute to the city? Rowayton is just over an hour to midtown Manhattan, as is Darien. Knowing Justin favors the “Norwalk area,” these two towns could be great choices. Rowayton, a seaside community that’s part of Norwalk, is just minutes from downtown. Darien is less than 10 minutes from Norwalk by car. Another perk to these towns? They’re close to not just New York City airports but, also, smaller regional airports in Westchester and New Haven, where the family could hop a chartered flight back to LA. They love music, entertainment and culture. Fairfield County is rich with art, music, culture and entertainment, making it a perfect spot for Justin and his crew. Fairfield itself has a massive arts scene and bustling nightlife, which could be attractive for the family. Westport—home to chic boutiques, galleries, award-winning restaurants and the acclaimed Westport Country Playhouse—could also be a good spot to consider.  Here they’d also be neighbors to fellow celebs, including Melissa Joan Hart and Martha Stewart, and was the long-time hometown of Paul Newman.  They’ve got a baby Connecticut is a great state overall for families, but plenty of Norwalk-area towns consistently top national ranks of the best ‘burbs for bringing up baby. Lately, hotspots including Darien, Westport and New Canaan (home to another crooner-turned-actor, Harry Connick, Jr.) have landed high on countless lists, and with good cause. Looking at overall quality of life indicators—things like schools, climate, things to do and overall safety—these three consistently pop, as do popular family-friendly towns including Weston, Wilton and Fairfield. Related Posts...These Stars Are Brooklyn-bound—But Are The ‘burbs The Next Stop?Why I Picked My Town: Meet Catherine Siroka Why These A-List Celebs are Heading to the NYC Suburbs She’s a working mom While towns like Greenwich attract plenty of A-listers, it’s also not big on the working mom front. Our advice to Jessica? Find a community where you won’t be flying solo but, instead, will have the support of other like-minded career-minded mamas. What CT towns are working mom-heavy? Milford and Ridgefield each rank high on the list—in these towns, more than half of all moms work. New Canaan is also a chart-topper, with close to three in five moms working outside of the home. In Norwalk and Fairfield, that number rises to more than seven in 10. We can’t wait to welcome Justin and Jessica to the ‘burbs! Until then, our offer stands: the Suburban Jungle team is here to help your family—and any family—plan their move from urban to suburban. Ready to get started? Fill out our interactive online questionnaire to help refine your suburban must-haves and get your family started with a dedicated Suburbs Strategist! See you in suburbia!​

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