Many times, when people hear “New York,” their thoughts automatically drift to the Big Apple—tall buildings, crowded streets, Times Square, Broadway, Central Park—you know, New York, completely forgetting about the whole rest of the state.
Today on the Movoto Real Estate Blog, we’re here to show you that not only are there actually some really cool places in New York other than New York City, but, according to our analysis, there are quite a few that are a whole lot better.
Which one was the very best? Turns out it was Mamaroneck. Of course, this Westchester County town wasn’t the only one to impress us. Here are the best places in New York.
1. Town of Mamaroneck
2. Village of Tarrytown
3. City of White Plains
4. Village of Mount Kisco
5. Town of Scarsdale
6. Town of Harrison
7. Village of Dobbs Ferry
8. Village of Ossining
8. City of Rye
10. City of New Rochelle
10. City of Saratoga Springs
If you’re a New Yorker, you probably see something of a pattern here: 10 out of 11 of these places are in Westchester County, just north of New York City. You also probably realize that this list is a bit longer than normal. That’s because we had a tie for our No. 10 spot, and as much as we like to keep things brief, we couldn’t exactly leave out Saratoga Springs.
To find out the methodology of our analysis and just why each of these places was better than the rest, keep on reading.
How We Did It
In order to come up with our ranking of best places in New York, we started out by gathering a list of all the places in the state with 10,000 people or more from the 2010 U.S. Census. This left us with a total of 87 places. We then looked at each of these places in terms of the following criteria:
- Total amenities
- Quality of life (cost of living, median home price, median rent, median household income, and student to teacher ratio)
- Total crimes
- Tax rates (sales tax and income tax)
- Commute time
- Weather (temperature and air quality)
From there, we ranked each place with a score of 1 to 87, according to the above criteria, with the lowest number being best. After that, we averaged each for an overall Big Deal Score; again, the lower the better.
To see how the top 50 places in the state ranked, head down to the bottom of the post for a complete list. Otherwise. we’ll meander to Mamaroneck to see just what makes it so special.
From its very beginnings when a London merchant purchased the land from the Siwanoy Indian tribe, Mamaroneck (which in Siwanoy means “the place where the sweet waters fall into the sea”) has come a long way.
Even though Mamaroneck has grown to a population of almost 19,000 today, it is still well known for its small town feel and charm, which, in our analysis, was reflected in its low unemployment rate of just 6.20%, its relatively low sales tax of 7.38 percent, and all around good quality of life.
What does a good quality of life look like? Well, in Mamaroneck, it’s a high median household income ($86,307) and higher-than-average median home and rent prices, which reflect the town’s desirability. Of course, these are all excellent reasons to live in Mamaroneck, but let’s be honest, if you’ve been to Sal’s Pizzeria you know that the Sicilian is reason enough.
This little town, along with Sleepy Hollow to the north, are well known as locations in Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, but Tarrytown may be even better known as the home of many of the nation’s wealthy, including John D. Rockefeller himself, who first moved there in the late 1800s.
As our analysis shows, that trend continues today, with one of the higher median household incomes in the state and a median home price of $556,800; a good indication of peoples’ desire to live in the area. It’s for good reason, too. Despite a potential Headless Horseman running around, Tarrytown is actually one of the safest places in the state, with a crime rate of just 832 crimes per 100,000 people.
Along with many other places in our top 10, it also had a sales tax of just 7.38 percent, making it one of the more affordable—well, at least in terms of taxes. Tarrytown didn’t exactly earn points for its overall cost of living index of 142, where the national average is 100.
Seeing as it’s the commercial hub of Westchester County, it may come as no surprise that one of the reasons White Plains ranked so well in our analysis was its number of amenities. Of course quantity doesn’t always mean quality—luckily, with places like MELT Sandwich Shop, Francesco’s Restaurant, and the Spa at the Ritz Carlton, it seems like White Plains has both.
According to our analysis, it also has a whole lot more. For example, White Plains, along with most of our other top places, had an unemployment rate of just 6.2 percent, and with a median home price of $510,400, was among the top 15 in terms of real estate prices (the higher the better, as far as indicating the area’s affluence and desirability).
4. Mount Kisco
Here’s a fun fact about Mount Kisco that you may not know: Chief Kisco, the village statue, mascot, and protector of sorts, was never actually a real person. The statue was given to the town by David F. Gorham in the early 1900s as a decorative top to a water fountain. Here’s another fun fact: according to our analysis, Mount Kisco residents have one of the best qualities of life in New York.
That’s because in Mount Kisco, the student-teacher ratio was just 13 to 1, where in some places like Tonawanda or Lockport it is as high as 17- and 19 to 1, respectively. Mount Kisco also had relatively high median home and rent prices, each within the top 25 in the state. To top it off, Mount Kisco, along with the other Westchester County places in our top 10, had some of the lowest unemployment and tax rates in the state.
The Village of Scarsdale placed highly in our analysis for some of the same reasons as our other Westchester County winners—an unemployment rate of just 6.2 percent and a sales tax of 7.38 percent—but there was one area where this place really stood out: overall quality of life.
Scarsdale beat the competition hands down with a median household income of $237,135, which is not only the highest in the state, but one of the highest in the nation. It also had the highest median rent in the state, with a price tag of $5,100 a month, and the second highest median home price, $1,005,800.
All of this, plus a student-teacher ratio of just 13 to 1, gave Scarsdale the best overall ranking for its quality of life. Of course, this comes at a price, and in Scarsdale the price is steep: a cost of living index of 217, where the national average is 100.
Harrison may not be quite as affluent as its neighbor and previous place, Scarsdale; but as the numbers show, this certainly doesn’t mean residents are wanting for funds. Here, the median household income is still well above average at $106,299, which is over twice the national median household income of $52,328 and over $30,000 more than median household income of New York.
Harrison also had some of the highest real estate prices in our analysis, with a median home price of $871,500 and a rent price of $1,707; plus, along with the low unemployment rate and sales tax that we’ve seen in our other Westchester County places, Harrison also ranked as one of the safest. Certainly something worth celebrating—perhaps with a pint at the Craftsman Ale House?
7. Dobbs Ferry
From Scarsdale, to Harrison, and now to Dobbs Ferry, we seem to be on a bit of a roll here when it comes to a good overall score for quality of life. Dobbs Ferry scored well in this department for its student-teacher ratio of just 13 to 1, a high median household income over $100,000, and a median home price above $630,000.
Of course, like the other Westchester places in our top 10, Dobbs Ferry ranked well for its unemployment rate of 6.2 percent and sales tax of just 7.38 percent, but where Dobbs Ferry really stood out was in its weather score; namely for its air quality.
Nearly all of the Westchester County places on our list ranked well for their average summer temperature of 70 degrees, but Dobbs Ferry left the others in the dust (or, more likely, in the clean, crisp, dust-free air), with an air quality of just 6 (the lower the score, the better), where most of the state scored above 35.
Ossining night not have wowed us with its overall number of amenities, but really, do you need much more than Los Abuelos’ guacamole and tacos al pastor? Didn’t think so.
Surprisingly delicious Mexican food aside, Ossining scored well in our analysis for a low crime rate of just 1,104 crimes per 100,000 people annually, and like the other Westchester County places, a low unemployment rate and sales tax.
While Scarsdale may have taken first when it came to a high median household income, Rye takes the lead when it comes to the median home price: a staggering $1,035,000.
Of course, in order to be able to afford such real estate, residents aren’t exactly working for beans; the median household income here is an impressive $146,069—that’s 104 percent higher than the state average. Apart from a low unemployment and tax rate, shared with the other Westchester County places on our list, Rye has a charm that is unique to this city.
It’s steeped in rich history, as home to one of the Founding Fathers, John Jay. It’s also the site of the Square House, where George Washington once stayed (now a museum), and Playland, one of the oldest amusement parks in the U.S.
10. New Rochelle
Residents of New Rochelle are probably used to praise by now. After all, in 2008, it was named the best city in New York State by “Businessweek”, and, that same year, one of the 100 Best Walking Cities in America by the American Podiatric Medical Association.
With all of the walking going on in New Rochelle, it’s a good thing it ranked so well for its high number of amenities—places like AJ’s Burgers, Sweet Potatoes, and Spadaro Ristorante all within a quick jaunt. (Don’t worry, you’ll burn it off walking home.)
Considering the great walkability, a pleasant average summer temperature of 72, and a low unemployment rate, it’s no wonder residents are willing to pay a median price of $605,500 for a home here.
10. Saratoga Springs
Saratoga Springs came in among the best for a number of reasons, the first of which was its high number of amenities. Not only does it have a lot, but with places like Mrs. London’s, the Saratoga Race Course, 9 Maple Ave., Uncommon Grounds, and the crepes at Ravenous, well, it clearly has some good ones too.
The best part? The sales tax in Saratoga is just 7 percent, the lowest in the state, so residents can shop away. Plus, with an unemployment rate of just 6.1 percent and an overall cost of living of just 107, it seems as though they can afford it.
The Empire State Strikes Back
Like we said at the beginning, when people hear “New York,” it isn’t uncommon of them to think of The City. As residents have known all along—and as you now know, too—there’s so much more to this state than the Big Apple. As a matter of fact, according to our analysis, New York City didn’t even make the top 50 (it came in at No. 56).
So, New York City residents, if you happen to get tired of the unemployment rate, the heck of a commute, and the income tax (the only place in the state higher than 6.85 percent), perhaps you should consider heading to the “sweet waters” of Mamaroneck. We’re sure they’d welcome you—probably with a delicious slice from Sal’s.
Featured image source: Flickr user Ed Yourdon