When leaving the city, many New Yorkers are faced with the question of what suburb they should move to. Both Westchester County, NY and Fairfield County, CT provide plenty of housing and lifestyle options, with quaint towns, stunning shorelines and an abundance of recreational options. But these two counties also have some significant differences, so it’s important to consider your personal situation to determine which makes the most sense for you.
While we encourage everyone to do their own research, here are a few factors that you may want to consider when deciding between these two NYC suburbs.
There are three Metro-North lines that serve the counties of Westchester and Fairfield: Harlem, Hudson and New Haven. The line that you use depends on the specific neighborhood you live in. There are several express trains to Grand Central, offering full express service (making no stops in between) or partial express service (making one or two stops in between). While most towns have at least one full express stop, others have multiple, making them convenient and ideal locations for commuters.
If you need to get back to Grand Central frequently, Westchester County offers the most convenient commuting options. All three lines serve Westchester County, offering full and partial express trains. The Harlem line serves South County and North County and offers full express trains from White Plans, Scarsdale, Crestwood and Mount Vernon West. The Hudson Line serves the Rivertowns and offers full express trains from Croton-Harmon, Tarrytown and Yonkers. The New Haven line serves towns in the Sound Shore and you can expect the most express trains out of Rye and Larchmont.
Fairfield County still offers some convenient options for commuting if you want to live in Connecticut. Greenwich has a full and partial express train which can get you to Grand Central in about 50 minutes and Stamford has a full express that gets you to the city in under an hour.
Property taxes are a key factor to consider when purchasing a home, as it greatly impacts your monthly mortgage payment. In general, taxes in Westchester County are higher than Fairfield County. Westchester County has different layers in their tax code and many of these highly residential villages rely on taxes for public funding. Depending on its location, an individual property may be layered with 4 different tax rates: city and town, village, school, and special district. Connecticut’s taxes are made up of only one layer and are based upon the town’s mill rate.
The amount of property taxes that you pay depends on a variety of factors including school district, size of the home, and improvements. As an example, Greenwich and Armonk are two similar and neighboring towns, and on a $1 million home in Greenwich, CT you can expect to pay around $7,000 - $10,000 in taxes, while in Armonk, NY a $1 million home might amount to $15,000 - $25,000 in taxes.
As a buyer, you should be aware of the potential closing costs that you will need to pay upon the purchase of your new home. There are certain taxes and fees associated with Westchester County that might make it more expensive to buy a home than in Fairfield County. Below are a few costs you should consider.
Mortgage Tax: 1.05% of loan
Mansion Tax: 1% of sales price for homes over $1M
Both Westchester County and Fairfield County are known for their highly rated schools. In Niche’s “2022 Best School Districts in the New York City Area”, Scarsdale Union Free School District (NY) was ranked #4 overall, New Canaan School District (CT) was ranked #9 and Westport (CT) was ranked #10. On Niche’s list for Best School Districts in CT, seven of the top ten were in Fairfield County. Similarly, on Niche’s list for Best School Districts in NY state, three of the top ten were in Westchester County.
If you’re considering leaving the city to explore the NYC suburbs, both Westchester County and Fairfield County provide great options for a convenient and comfortable lifestyle. Whether you prioritize a shorter commute, good schools, or lower taxes, we’re here to talk you through your options. Reach out to us today for a free consultation.