Westchester County or Fairfield County? Things to Consider
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: Buyer pays 1.05% of loan Mansion Tax: 1% of sales price for homes over $1M
Westchester and Fairfield County will have different conventional loan limits set forth by the Federal Housing Finance Agency each year. Conforming mortgages financed by government-sponsored entities and the FHFA are the most lenient, allowing eligible first-time homebuyers to put down as little as 3 to 5 percent in some cases. In high-cost markets such as our areas, there may be an even higher limit to allow homebuyers to access these benefits.
The 2023 Conventional Loan limits for one-unit properties in our counties are: ⇢ $1,089,300 for Westchester County, NY ⇢ $726,200 for Fairfield County, CT
You can discuss details with a lender to understand how this affects your purchasing power.
Fairfeld or Westchester: Which is Best for You?
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.
Take our quiz to find out which neighborhood best fits your personality or head over toour neighborhood guides to learn more about the lifestyle and appeal of other wonderful towns in the NYC suburbs.
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.
We're not your typical real estate agents.As former city dwellers, we appreciate the qualities that make city lifestyle so unique, from the convenience of walking to your favorite restaurant or corner store to the vast and diverse cultural and entertainment activities. But we’ve also experienced the challenges and frustrations that are motivating you to seek change. During our transition from the city to the suburbs, we had the same thoughts, concerns and questions, prompting us to create a better way to navigate the suburban home buying journey for others.