Our Hunt for Home: How We Chose Where We Belonged
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Suburban Jungle client (and newish suburbanite) Robin Halpern was confident she didn’t want to move back to Long Island. With the help of Suburban Jungle Strategists and locals, her family toured a series of great towns throughout Westchester and New Jersey. But like any suburban search, this one was filled with some twists, turns and unexpected realizations. Chief among them? That you can learn almost anything about a town by visiting the local diner!
When it came time to leave NYC we had so many options—and so few at the same time. My husband and I both worked in midtown Manhattan, so a reasonable commute was central to our decision. We wanted to choose a nice town, where we could find a nice house, meet some nice friends, and give our children a warm, enriched upbringing. With the help of Suburban Jungle experts here is how we approached “the hunt.”
My husband and I both grew up on the South Shore of Long Island. Unlike many of our peers, we never went to sleepaway camp and we went to universities with small tristate populations—and that meant, when it came time to kick off our search, our network was limited. We knew what we knew but, really, nothing else. Most of our friends were still in NYC (and would be for life), our co-workers had a lot of competing opinions, and our families (selfishly) wanted us to come “home” to Long Island.
So we did what so many families do: we looked everywhere. Each time we “toured” a town—Tenafly, Chappaqua, Short Hills, Woodbury and, it seemed, everywhere in between—we had a barrage of questions prepared for our local guide/real estate agent, from info on the schools to the restaurants for my foodie husband to the ease of the commute for a working mom like me. We took note of how close the houses were, how good the shopping was, and the location of the nearest synagogue. And what we found? One of the best ways to find out if you’d fit in in any particular town is to visit the local diner! It’s the best place to find the crossroads of all demographics. If we saw kids running around, young frazzled looking parents, grandparents smiling, and great sour pickles, we knew we’d fit in just fine!
We saw some great towns with rich (in fulfillment, not necessarily money!) cultures. But in the end, our parents won. We needed their help, and they would eventually need ours. Our kids could make friends anywhere, but they wanted to see their cousins. So we landed (close to, but still a comfortable distance from) home. I’m still glad we spent all those weekends going through the whole process though. It ruled out my tendency to have buyer’s remorse. And now, 2 1/2 years later? I don’t regret a thing.
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