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advice on towns near Stamford Ct w/ good schools

SarjonSarjon Posts: 1Registered User New Member
edited October 2011 in Parents Forum
I am a parent of elementary school age children, and have one teenager who will be entering college in three years. My husband took a job in Stamford, CT and is currently commuting from Northern NJ. It's an hour there, not too bad, but over two hours home, and winter is coming.

He's finally let the broom drop and said we must move. It's funny, I would have jumped at moving to CT from NJ a few years ago, but w/ my kids and this home that I love...it's tough. I know we will lose a ton on our current home, it's a horrible time to have to sell, so we will probably rent for a while this time around.

He wants an easier commute. I want a good school district. Any advice?

We currently live in a beautiful, almost bucolic town, and my kids are in private school, which we can no longer afford. We will be downsizing, and I need to be open minded about where we go so that my kids can go to a good school. I'm not going to make any requests about 'town feel' or amenities. My primary concerns are school quality, safety, affordability, and ease of commute to Stamford. I don't want to be too far off from the city, just in case he ever had to work there again.

Thanks in advance.
Post edited by Sarjon on
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Replies to: advice on towns near Stamford Ct w/ good schools

  • stradmomstradmom Posts: 3,570Registered User Senior Member
    I know people who are very happy with the schools in New Canaan and in Westport.
  • emilybeeemilybee Posts: 5,939Registered User Senior Member
    Westport, Darien, Wilton, New Caanan, Fairfield. Trumball housing is less expensive but I'm not sure about their school system - though the younger members of my family with young kids live there as that is the only town where they could afford a home. There are parts of Shelton which are nice but I have no idea how good the schools are there.

    I also have family who live in N. Stamford. They did private through high school for their son but their daughter wanted to go to public for high school so that is where she went.
  • MarianMarian Posts: 9,326Registered User Senior Member
    Westport, Darien, Wilton, New Caanan, Fairfield

    Wait until you see what it costs to buy a home in any of these towns.
  • emilybeeemilybee Posts: 5,939Registered User Senior Member
    ^ That's true. She can look further east - perhaps Milford or Orange. Not sure how Milford's schools are but Orange kids go to Amity which is a very good school district and the homes are a bit less than in Woodbridge.
  • jrparjrpar Posts: 2,083Registered User Senior Member
    Darien, New Canaan, Wilton.
  • Knights09Knights09 Posts: 1,739Registered User Senior Member
  • CBBBlinkerCBBBlinker Posts: 2,647Registered User Senior Member
    As others have posted, the schools in Darien, New Canaan, and Wilton are excellent. The trade-off is the housing prices are high -- although not quite as high as several years ago. Towns a little further out still have good schools, and the housing prices are somewhat less, BUT the trade-off there is the more time consuming commute into Stamford.

    We spent 18 years in Darien. When we moved to the Hartford area, the one thing we NEVER missed was the Fairfield County traffic. At least when we're down that way now, we know the back roads to get around it.
  • MommaJMommaJ Posts: 4,634Registered User Senior Member
    It would help to know what sort of commute your husband is willing to take on, and how far from NYC you are willing to live. Milford and Orange, for example, are quite far from both Stamford and NYC. You may want to consider some towns in Westchester County, a number of which are closer to NYC and involve a preferable "reverse commute" or back road commute to Stamford. Unfortunately, the towns with the best public schools have the priciest real estate--no way to avoid that.
  • jrparjrpar Posts: 2,083Registered User Senior Member
    i think that the Milford/Orange commute to Stamford is long enough that it wouldn't make sense to move from Northern NJ. A key difference between CT and Westchester is taxes: taxes are considerably higher in Westchester; on top of that there is a premium on much of Westchester RE reflecting a shorter commute to NYC.
  • Classof2015Classof2015 Posts: 3,437Registered User Senior Member
    I would look at living in parts of Westchester that offer good value (everything is relative). You might find that Katonah or Somers or Purchase (yes -- that's the name of an actual town) have a lower tax base/affordable housing vs. the cost of housing in Fairfield County.

    People say CT is so great because taxes are so low, but the cost per square foot is higher. And even though he may have this job in Stamford forever, being in Westchester means he can work in CT, NJ, NYC, Northern Westchester, etc. It will give you flexibility.

    Your needs will vary for the high schooler vs the kids. You may find that the younger ones would benefit from private school. Which means you shouldn't try to buy the house with the schools, etc.

    I never understood the NYC mindset of "find the house in the area with the best school system". It limits your search. I have a college freshman and a son in 10th grade. Honestly, I wish I'd chosen to live in the house I liked and then figured out if the kids needed public or private.
  • limabeanslimabeans Posts: 4,743Registered User Senior Member
    ^There are specific concerns you should consider when renting or purchasing a house. Real estate taxes in Westchester are the absolute highest in the country, which makes living in CT much more moderate in comparison. If you look in Westchester, I suggest you look in Katonah or South Salem for reasonable houses.

    The important factor will be where his office is. If he's downtown Stamford, you might want to consider the train lines, which are amazingly convenient. If he's North Stamford, he may want to access the Merrit Parkway and towns in the north.

    If you are going to be renting, there are specific neighborhoods for rental properties. Stamford has lots of condos, while Cos Cob and North Mianus (parts of Greenwich) have lots of smaller home rentals that are modest. New Canaan and Wilton, by contrast, have bigger houses and much more land, but not as many rental properties. Note that some communities have their specific "flavors" as well. Westport is known as very beachy or arty. I remember when the real estate agent showed us houses in Darien, she was all pleased that they had a very homogeneous community.
  • cnp55cnp55 Posts: 3,450Registered User Senior Member
    The current issue of Connecticut magazine rates the towns by all whole slew of things, but includes the schools and affordability. You should absolutely pick up a copy.

    I'm going to suggest very specifically the Georgetown area -- which is part of four different towns -- Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding, and Weston. All of those towns would have good schools -- Georgetown is the more affordable area of all of them also. As you probably know, our school districts follow town lines.

    Branchville is a district of Ridgefield that is similar (and next to Georgetown). They are both on the Danbury line of Metro North.
  • ConsolationConsolation Posts: 14,451Registered User Senior Member
    As a native of the area, I'd second cnp55's advice for locating pockets of slightly less expensive real estate.

    If cost isn't an issue, I'd go for New Canaan based on schools, ease of commuting to multiple destinations by train or car, and beauty. (It's also my hometown. :) ) There is a significant loss of convenience if you must commute via the line to Danbury, vs the branch line to New Canaan or the main line to Fairfield/Westport. (I've lived in Wilton and New Canaan, and commuted to Manhattan, the interior of CT, and northern NJ by car and by train.) Milford and Orange would be a horrendous commute to Stamford, due to traffic, and Fairfield would be pretty bad too, unless H could take the train.
  • arabrabarabrab Posts: 4,620Registered User Senior Member
    Limabeans and MommaJ have some good ideas. After years of living in LA, there is a tremendous amount to be said for getting a physical map, and figuring out acceptable commute times and modes, and perhaps marking them on the map in different colors (one color for train, another for driving,...) -- from my memories of Wilton and the surrounding areas, it will not be at all symmetrical. (LA certainly isn't.) There are lots of very good schools in that area, and I'd think that you'd find some that are feasible that also keep the commute reasonable.

    And I don't understand how the economics of private school for two or three kids could possibly end up being less expensive than getting a modest home in an area with excellent public schools. At $12K-$20K per kiddo, I'd think that overwhelms housing costs rather rapidly.
  • cnp55cnp55 Posts: 3,450Registered User Senior Member
    Consolation's right. New Canaan ought to rank right up there as almost anyone's first choice for commutability to Stamford, Greenwich, NYC etc.

    The New Canaan line is highly preferred for commuting over the Danbury branch. That's what drives the prices too!
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