By Wanda Bailey , CNN Written by
New York is known for its high rents, and increasingly, many suburban regions are feeling the wrath of these high living costs.
But for those who want to stretch their dollar farther, there’s plenty of rich pickings to be had in New York’s less visible corners.
Dobbs Ferry, about two hours from New York City, is a quintessential Southern bedroom community, with a small but thriving local business scene in its post-industrial central business district.
But its charm is decidedly on the other side of the tracks: Dobbs Ferry is an expatriate enclave where European business executives and diplomats often set up their homes.
According to census data, the average household income in Dobbs Ferry is $34,770, just over half the average income across New York State.
On the upper reaches of the local River Hudson, Dobbs Ferry sits high above the farmland of Catskill. The American Tappan Zee Bridge runs across the Hudson, connects New York City to southern New Jersey and is only a few miles away.
There are a few surprising facts about Dobbs Ferry: It has more streets than Kingston, a city about 140 miles away, and is home to more businesses per person than any other small town in America.
“Dobbs Ferry is really like a microcosm of small towns across America,” says Mark Brown of Esri , a mapping software company, which provides data analysis and management to small businesses across the country.
Dobbs Ferry is also home to least one of the highest rate of bankruptcies per capita in the country — better-known towns like Niagara Falls and Rochester also have ones in the top ten, he says.
Under our suburban sprawl we live, so what can Dobbs Ferry be good for?
For one, it’s a striking and scenic view. Dobbs Ferry is at the confluence of the Hudson and the Hudson Rivers, and the views from the houses along the promenade along the upper reaches are breathtaking.
“Dobbs Ferry is on the edge of something. The river is this magical, enchanting and peaceful feature of our day-to-day life that we take for granted. But underneath it, with its intermittent meanders, is the brackish waters of the Hudson. And then there’s this alluring, deeper natural theme of the New York City skyline stretching above it all,” says Brown.
And as the end of the week draws closer, it seems the weekend lifestyle at the beach beckons.
From rooftops to the river
The riverfront is another draw.
Guided tours from the 300-acre Dobbs Ferry Campground can take visitors through the local history, from how the river was formed to the damming up of New York City’s waterways.
New York City’s luxury water taxi, which runs from DUMBO (Dobbs Ferry and Brooklyn) and stops at South Street Seaport, Chinatown, Fort Tryon Park and elsewhere in Manhattan, will connect visitors with the town’s waterfront communities.
Although its proximity to Manhattan may be tempting, there’s lots to do when the hours begin to drag. The college town of Dutchess County is a short drive to the west and is home to Brookhaven National Laboratory, Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and several national parks.
The country’s highest U.S. tennis stadium is a short walk to the riverfront, allowing visitors to take in the sights and national monuments from atop the wooden bleachers that now outnumber the trees around the court.
Aimee Corvin, the director of New York Coast Campgrounds , which operates the Dobbs Ferry Campground, considers Dobbs Ferry a reflection of the character of the Hudson Valley, which is more central to the country’s highest berry-growing region than you might expect.
“Dobbs Ferry isn’t just another commuter town from New York City. Its the only one in the Hudson Valley, which is a mix of Midwestern, New England and Appalachia. I think that makes it distinct from other Hudson Valley communities,” says Corvin.
“The town’s more people of different creeds, cultures and interests.”