We’ve got hiking along the Hudson. Brooklyn’s got Prospect Park. We’ve got picture-perfect walkable villages. They’ve got neighborhoods teeming with restaurants and nightlife. We’ve got yards and pools. They’ve got vespas and fedoras. So where is the better place to raise kids?
On a recent stop into Larchmont’s The Voracious Reader, owner Francine Lucidon told me how many families she’d recently met who have moved to Westchester from Brooklyn. “I can see why,” she said, going on to describe the artistic spirit and indie shops that line Larchmont’s main drag. (The influx has been great for business, she says, since so many of these Brooklyn transplants see the value in her oh-so-lovely children’s bookshop.)
If it’s true that Brooklynites are heading to our neighborhoods, it’s easy to see why: While Brooklyn may be home to many of the city’s best restaurants (very jealous of that!), Westchester is actually the better place to raise kids. Listen up, Brooklyn friends. After this, you may want to consider leaving Stroller City forever.
Because lots of us don’t lock our doors.
It’s probably not a good idea to keep your doors unlocked anywhere. But crime is so low in Westchester (Scarsdale and Pound Ridge both have less than 2 percent of property crime per 1,000 residents) that you almost never look over your shoulder when you walk down the street. You don’t worry that someone’s following you home or that they may shimmy up to your kid’s bedroom window. Some Brooklyn Heights residents tried to live with the same carefree attitude toward crime, reported The Village Voice in 2011. A string of break-ins ensued. “The deep dark secret about Park Slope is that there’s tons of crime here. According to the detectives from today, Manhattan is safe, but Brooklyn is decidedly not,” wrote Barbara Rushkoff in 2007, when she used to author a blog called “A Girl Grows in Brooklyn.” That was after her husband was knifed while taking his trash out to the curb. They’ve since relocated, according to her husband’s Twitter account, to Hastings-on-Hudson.
Because we don’t have to lug strollers up brownstone steps.
Park Slope. Carroll Gardens. Brooklyn Heights. Each one is lovelier than the next. But let’s talk logistics, friend. Whenever I visit friends in these nabes, I curse having to carry Harper on my hip while lugging the stroller up a dozen steep steps. How do you Brooklyn moms do it?
Because we have Manor Park. And Rockefeller State Park. And Greenwich Beach.
People don’t just move to Westchester County for the houses. People choose Westchester because you can raise a child feeling connected to the natural world. You can take in breathtaking views of the Long Island Sound while walking Larchmont’s Manor Park, or hunt for turtles and frogs while meandering the bridle paths around Swan Lake in Pleasantville’s Rockefeller State Park. Kids can hunt for shells or collect materials to craft with at Greenwich Beach, or just pal around with their dog there, since pups are allowed in the off-season. We’ve got waterfront playgrounds. Community pools. A pretty spectacular waterfall. Snow shoes. Farms are a dime a dozen. Westchester is where people move when you want to live your life outdoors.
Because we can plant flowers in our front yard without worrying about someone taking a piss on them.
This is complements of a friend in Fort Greene. While the flowers along her walkway in spring and summer are colorful and sweet, the sidewalk in front of her house is a favorite spot for people to unzip in the middle of the night. At least that’s what I assume, considering how it smells. Maybe it’s the dogs?
Because we don’t have to double-park our cars in front of our house, run the kids and all of the stuff we need to bring inside, and then drive around looking for a parking spot.
Imagine this: You’re in Montauk for the weekend. Everyone sings through BQE traffic on the way home. Then comes the dread when you pull up and realize you’re going to have unload all of the bags and loveys, groceries, whatever, into the house, and somehow get dinner on the table and find a parking spot in the same hour. Driving around for parking is mind-numbingly frustrating. Wouldn’t it be nice to pull into a driveway at night? (I can tell you: It’s a dream.)
Because the farm-to-table movement is happening in our backyard.
Sure, Brooklyn’s got lots of cool craft foodie start-ups. (Love the pickles! And the beer!) But the Hudson Valley is spearheading the “eat local” food movement in this region. Buying local often means running to the farm stand around the corner. Just take a look around at Brooklyn’s Farmers Markets. Many of the purveyors are from the Hudson River Valley. Or spend a market day at Stone Barns: They sell meat from animals they’ve raised humanely, and fruits, veggies, and jams from the farm. Here, you don’t just meet the farmers who raised your carrots, you see the farm too.
Because our kids will never hear the neighbors doing it upstairs.
Because we’ll never be hip. And we’re okay with that.
Weschester is many things — charming, sophisticated, friendly, neighborhoody — but it will never be voted the coolest places to live in the New York area. (Although Brooklyn’s reputation was tarnished yesterday when it was reported that Miss America lives in Park Slope.) Dads don’t wear purple and green Nikes with rolled up jeans at the playground, like they do in Fort Green, and our PTA moms aren’t getting together to sing “My Neck, My Back (Lick It!) and then having it posted online (seriously, watch this video — you’ll die). But you don’t move to Westchester to be cool. You move for a slice of the good life. The air is clean. The public schools are top-notch — and you don’t have to apply to get into them. We’ve got porch furniture and a grill. My husband and I often say we feel like we’re on vacation living up here because it’s so beautiful and there’s so much to do.
Because many of us have shorter commutes than parents in Park Slope.
Be honest with yourself, Brooklyn friends. How long is your commute into mid-town? The MetroNorth Express train to Grand Central from Larchmont is 30 minutes. Going to Bronxville? Takes 27 minutes. Want to live on the river? MetroNorth takes 32 minutes to get to Dobbs Ferry. Seriously. Your commute could be shorter if you lived in Westchester.
Because preschool doesn’t have to be $10,000 a year.
Even the most reasonable preschools in Park Slope tend to be several thousand dollars for two 2 hour preschool days for a 2-year-old. While Westchester has plenty of pricey programs, there’s dozens of spectacular preschools that cost no more than $4000 a year. No lie.
Because we rarely sit in traffic.
Lots of people equate living in Westchester with spending your life in a car. They prefer their own two feet. I respect that. But here’s a little secret about Westchester: You rarely sit in traffic. Most of your days are spent on wide-open back roads and zipping through small village side streets. Unless you’re traveling north on the Hutch after a weekend in the Hamptons or fighting a flooded Bronx River Parkway, our roadways are actually pretty clear. Who minds driving when the road before you is so wide open?
Because you’ll never, ever see a fedora.
And I couldn’t be more thankful for that.
Why do you prefer living in Westchester? Brooklyn moms, let’s hear from you too. Would you ever move to Westchester?