So, you’ve heard that these long-term housing arrangements — known as single-family suburban homes with a side of infinity pools, detached garages, and direct access to fast rail service — are seeing a wave of mansions and a wave of dysfunction as the middle class and working class flee to closer communities with amenities and services. Well, you can find examples right here.
Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., is actually a once-rural, working-class neighborhood that was known for its vast wineries, like Rockwool Winery, and a wild assortment of farms and farm-zones. Now, after a string of development projects, Dobbs Ferry has become a mixed-income river town, where what you pay for your monthly mortgage will tell you how you can live. There are so many lavish homes up for sale in Hoboken and elsewhere in Hudson County that rent can be downright cheap.
I once heard a young woman say: “I’ve wanted to live in New York City, but it’s very expensive. I heard a lot of people complaining that Manhattan rents are out of sight and out of mind. When I think about buying an apartment, my first question is, where am I going to live?”
So, how do you get a lot of bang for your buck? My recommendation: You want to buy a “starter home.” The median price for a one-bedroom apartment in Hoboken is currently $2,000; for a two-bedroom, $2,100. Considering that the median price for a two-bedroom home in Dobbs Ferry, is $380,000, that’s a 30 percent discount.
For the most part, selling your home won’t be so difficult. In New York City, if you’ve got 100 to 200 years of memories and ties, you can move out — with the neighborhood, friends, and family still knowing who you are and where you’ve lived. But there are a lot of home sellers on Long Island and New Jersey who have much less sentimental attachments to their neighborhoods.
Even in the best of times, leaving isn’t an option for someone like Dan Dagostino who has lived in Dobbs Ferry his entire life. He’s built a business, he and his wife help run a 2,000-member Knights of Columbus lodge, and he and his wife recently moved into their home of almost 20 years. “I have nothing to say about the problem,” he says, when I ask him if he’d rather that the town of Stony Point catch up with the rest of New York City and Brooklyn and offer his kind of suburban lifestyle for cheaper. “My home is in Hoboken and I never could have afforded to buy here.”
Dobbs Ferry is a real-life example of how rising rents and zoning codes making it tough for people to stay in their homes can be the ultimate equality. And even if you’re willing to live where the prices are more affordable, it still has to be a good neighborhood to live in — and it’s kind of rare when you can find that. If you do find it, pay attention to who you live with — and where you live — and make the next decision about where to live.