Moving to Connecticut

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  • Possibly moving to CT

    (6 replies)

    We are possibly moving to CT by next fall. We are looking for a place with excellent schools, a vibrant downtown with semi-laid back vibe, within an hours commute to NYC. Asking too much? How about a place that has an excellent middle school and high school where my academically minded kids will thrive within an hours commute to NYC.

    One of us an ex east coaster and the other is a lifelong Californian. Love CA, but want a bigger house, better schools and a less agist work environment.

    Any thoughts?

    Sounds like Greenwich or South Norwalk might fit that request. A dear friend of mine is raising her family in Greenwich and loves it.

    I made the opposite move so I think I can provide some input but you will have to take it with a grain of salt! After 5 years of trying to see the good in the CT suburbs I finally gave up and admitted that I am not a CT suburbs person. I moved to the bay area for more affordable housing (isn't that what we are all looking for!), shorter workday, a shared expectation of work-life balance, more open-minded culture and schools, and better weather - and found everything I was looking for and more.

    If you want to commute via train you really only have Greenwich and Stamford to choose between in CT, and unless your timing is perfect and you take the super-express express train its going to be at least a little over an hour on the train. Greenwich is very expensive and known for being very snobby, with very little diversity not an ideal culture for raising kids IMO but the schools are "good", Stamford is more affordable but has notoriously bad public schools, there are some magnet schools that I'd heard good things about but they are very hard to get into (lottery system), you can get a nice deal on a beautiful home in the woods in North Stamford but then your commute with drive + train will be over an hour and a half. Stamford does, however, have the world's best pizza (colony pizza, hot oil).

    Have you considered NY suburbs like Rye or Larchmont that would be a little closer to the city and might meet your criteria? I don't know much about towns that aren't on the New Haven line but the NYtimes has a lot of good material on the atmosphere and appeals of various suburbs in the real estate section. If I were moving back to the NYC area myself I would probably look at the outer boroughs.

    I grew up outside New Haven, and can say that generally, east of New Haven along the coast you get more liberal, academic, artistic communities, and west of New Haven along the coast you get more conservative, financial, business, corporate communities. The train to New York runs along the coast, and New Haven is less than two hours away. There are many lovely smaller towns. Closer to New York are the more affluent bedroom towns of New York commuters. Westport, Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, Wilton, all have lovely pastoral settings and close proximity to New York. 

    Schools will be much better.  The move from the east coast to CA has been hard for my academically minded kids. 


    Having lived there for 3 years I have to say that there are no towns in CT with a vibrant downtown. You should look into Wilton, Westport and Fairfield if you want good schools and easy commute to NYC. Or any town south of Fairfield really. Good luck, hope you find what you are looking for! 

    Former Nutmegger with family still there. I agree that outside of the cities (which, except for Stamford, are not within an hour of NYC), there aren't many options for vibrant downtowns. It's pretty suburban. Schools are generally stronger and better funded than in CA (though sadly this is not a high bar!) but not as consistently strong as they once were, since the state has fallen on tough financial times in recent years. The wealthier communities have better-funded schools (but are generally taxed accordingly). For a commute under an hour, you likely want to look at the towns between Stamford and NYC on the New Haven Metro-North line--in CT, that's mainly Greenwich. (Be sure to look on the New York side as well--you may find better options there.) If you'd consider a slightly longer commute, extend this to Norwalk. If I were planning to move back today for a reasonable NYC commute with strong schools, though, I'd be looking in New York along the Hudson and Harlem lines--just something to consider.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Moving for a job at U Conn in Storrs

July 2008

We are moving to Connecticut in January (ouch!). I (mum) will work at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, which is a tiny place near communities such as Mansfield, Tolland, Willington. I am looking for recommendations on schools (I have a soon-to-be-kindergardener) and daycares for my 12 months old. Also any tips on neighborhood in general or things to do in the area will be very appreciated. Many thanks! barbara

I went to grad school at U. Conn and rented a house on a creek in Willimantic. That was about 35 years ago so I don't know what the area is like now. Connecticut is a lovely state that most people know little about because it's stuck between NY and Boston but it's really a lovely place to live. It's not a long drive to either City so you can get to excitement when you want. Physically its beautiful with lots of woods and when I was there it was very peaceful. I knew a lot of people who lived around Coventry Lake and that area was lovely. This isn't a lot of info but I hope it helps you feel a bit better about moving there. Reva

Moving to Westport

Nov 2005

I never thought I would be writing this, but we're leaving the Bay Area. Our work will be in Manhattan and we'll be relocating to the Connecticut area and we've heard great things about Westport. Has anyone lived there? What are the good neighborhoods to look for? Are the schools good? How is the commute? Is it as liberal as they say? Any info is appreciated! Thanks!

My husband, daughter and I had planned to move to CT 2-3 years ago, when a job opportunity came our way, and we had friends there so we were able to visit and drive around. We didn't end up going, but I can tell you what we saw and learned.

Westport is lovely, but we did not look there because we didn't feel we could afford it. To my knowledge, there are no bad areas/neighborhoods in Westport. Westport is an upper class community--residents include David Letterman and Martha Stewart to give you an idea--as are a lot of areas in CT, and as most of Fairfield County is, but there are a few towns within an hour's drive of NYC that are affordable (especially if you are selling your house here!) I believe that most of CT is very liberal, by the way, but it's a *different* kind of liberal than it is here. If that makes sense. The town that most resembled feel to Berkeley, which is where I live, is Bethel. It's ecclectic, has a strong arts community, good schools, and the most racially diverse of all the areas (which is not saying much). The houses were gorgeous and old (picture postcard perfect) and on par with what houses cost here but you get a lot more for your money. Also, in parts of Fairfield County, if not all of it, the parcels are *required* to be 2 acres at least! My friend lived in Redding which was a quaint town but VERY expensive. Other towns that we looked at for the neighborhoods as well as the schools and convenience to the city were: Trumball, Easton, Monroe. Ridgefield and Wilton are a little closer to the city, gorgeous cities but also on the high end. We REALLY liked Newtown, as well, but it is a bit farther away. Remember though that commuting an hour to work is commonplace out there, and the public transport is so great that it's really not as hard as it would seem to be (I also lived on the East Coast for five years). Anyway, I could go on about it. If you have any specific questions feel free to email me. I don't know if this is what you were looking for but I hope it helped. am

Hi: I am originally from Connecticut, and I am not sure where you heard that Westport is liberal, but I certainly don't think of it that way. It is Martha Stewart country, so very waspy and, in my mind, a bit uptight. Certainly, it is not as conservative as some states, but it is a wealthy town and I'm sure has a healthy number of republicans. There are other parts of Connecticut that seem preferable to me...more laid back...have you been to visit? You should really try to schedule a visit of towns that have commuter train service to NYC...not just the towns along the coast, but some of the towns heading north from NYC. I imagine that the schools are great in Westport, though, but so they are in many towns in Connecticut. Good luck! Jennifer

You are SO lucky!!!!!!!!! I grew up in Westport (my family moved there when I was in Kindergarten, and sadly moved away after I graduated from high school). What an idyllic place. I was back recently for a day and although it has changed somewhat I think it is still amazing. The town has its own country club which all residents automatically belong to. (Plus a beautiful large public beach.) Yet, it's not some gated community - far from it. It has working class and artistic roots that go back to the turn of the (20th) century, I believe. The schools are indeed excellent. There's only one high school (Staples) which you can look up on the internet. When I attended (I graduated in 1979), there was AP everything you can think of, several bands, orchestras, singing groups, and an amazing drama program; all kinds of clubs and sports, the school had its own radio station, student newspapers, literary magazine, you could take French, Spanish, Latin, German and Russian... in any event, it was as good as any Bay Area private school I can think of. I couldn't tell you which elementary school is considered best - as far as I know, they are all good. It's not racially diverse, but it's much more economically diverse than towns like Greenwich or Darien. When I lived there, it was predominantly Catholic (lots of Italians) and Jewish, few WASPs. Since my family left, new housing developments have been built which I personally think are hideous (awful McMansion type things) but there are plenty of older homes on much larger lots than you'll find around here. My family's 4 BR house on a wooded half acre was considered very modest (which my parents bought in 1967 for, I believe, $45K...sigh). As for the commute, my dad took the train to Grand Central every day for 12 years and wasn't sorry to say goodbye to that drill. I think it took him over an hour, which he considered horrendous. He did get a lot of reading done, however. I love New York, too, so to me it sounds great! Please, take me with you!!!

Moving to Danbury/Ridgefield

March 2005

We will move to the Danbury/Ridgefield area in Connecticut in May and I'd like to know what are the best places to live, how are the schools and preschool there, what kind of activities with kids can be found, diversity, etc. Everything would be appreciated.

We have two friends (both with kids) that live in Connecticut and love it. One friend (with 2 toddlers) lives in Westport and the schools are outstanding, though housing can be quite expensive. The other friend (with a 10 month old) lives in Wilton and it is beautiful and it, too, has wonderful schools. It also depends on how close you want/need to be to NYC. Greenwich is also wonderful, but I don't know about their schools. I am sure you can find some info about the schools on a Connecticut website. My husband and I grew-up on the east coast and have always loved Connecticut. Good luck. dms

I missed the original post but I was born and raised in Connecticut, and it is an excellent place to live. I grew up in Marlborough a rural town about 20 miles southeast of Hartford. There are so many green spaces in central CT- lots of state forests and parks. I attended my town's public elementary school which was and still is excellent, and a regional public high school which was great when I went there and is even better now. There are also many wonderful private schools if you are interested. Another great thing about CT is that you can live in a quiet town yet be very close to major shopping areas and culture (festivals, theater restaurants). If you like the beach, Rhode Island is only an hour away from where I grew up, not to mention Long Island Sound if you are looking around the Greenwich/Westport area. Boston and New York are short drives away. You can live in CT and commute to NYC by train- I know people who did that for years. Good luck- I'd highly recommend CT! Amy

Moving to New Haven

May 2002

Hi my family and I. 2 kids and spouse. Will be moving to New Haven or a surrounding area. Looking for advice line similar to this or any info on area. School for children, housing, moving info needed. Please! Never lived in East Coast Maribel

In terms of where to live, there are quite a few options depending on what you are looking for. For excellent public schools (a la Piedmont, CA), you would want to be living in Woodbridge, CT which is situated just minutes away from New Haven. Unlike Piedmont, Woodbridge is actually becoming more and more diverse which is a nice change from when I grew up. It's still a very high income area, and homes are spaced very far apart. Probably hard to rent in Woodbridge. Not a lot of rental homes.

So if you are looking for a more urban/city setting where you are in closer contact to people, then you would want to consider living in New Haven. When I left the public school system was horrible. If you are open to private schools, then contact me directly, and I can make recommendations. New Haven has some beautiful neighborhoods, but frankly, without Yale University as an anchor, this town would have been off the radar years ago. Over the years, New Haven has attempted to revitalize itself, but I suspect poor city administration and lots of cronyism has destroyed any good faith attempts. You may want to check on this but I believe crime rates are bad, as New Haven is a short train ride away from New York City and Bridgeport, CT, thus any problems those cities experience, find their way very easily into New Haven.

The option in the middle of both extremes (Woodbridge vs. New Haven) is Hamden. It's in the middle in terms of socio-economic factors and public school education. Not as isolated of a place as Woodbridge, but definitely suburbia with diversity.

Some other options: The shoreline (East Haven, Branford, Milford, Madison, Clinton). Beautiful!!

Fairfield County - Fairfield, Westport, etc. Fairfield county option means a short reverse commute into New Haven, but this is a very affluent area (a New York City bedroom community).

Hope this helps. Feel free to contact me directly if you have more questions, because I've tried to be brief. Daphne

I lived in New Haven for about six years. I was a student and not a mom while I was there, so don't have much to offer in terms of a similar parents list. However, I would recommend the Orange Street/St. Ronan area in terms of housing. Yale has a housing office that you may be able to access. Housing was not hard to find or too competetive. The Orange St./Whitney Ave is a safe, residential neighborhood, with some shops, restaurants, and parks. There seemed to be lots of families there as well. When I lived there, housing costs were reasonable (especially compared to the Bay Area's). If you are interested in living outside of New Haven, Hamden and Branford are close by, though more expensive. While New Haven has a bad rap, I really enjoyed it. I would recommend it over the suburbs. There are some really great neighborhoods, restaurants, and things to do there. I'm not sure how old your children are, but there are some decent public schools in New Haven, such as Edgewood and Hooper (these are elementary). A good private school that I actually taught at is Cold Spring School. It has a progressive, inquiry-based approach, is small, and has a very good teaching staff and administration. It is K-8. In terms of activities, the Creative Arts Workshop and Neighborhood Music School both offer a wide range of classes and activities for children and adults, though they can be a bit expensive. Good luck. If you have more questions, feel free to email me. brightstar

My sister lives in Fairfield Ct, quite near New Haven. She is very happy with the excellent public schools, strong community and big houses. I have to say as an observer that Fairfield is one of the least diverse places I have ever been... Not just white, but almost entirely Catholic. It's very convenient to a midtown Manhattan commute and quite pleasant. Good Luck.

I grew up in Guilford CT, on the shoreline, 10miles from NewHaven it is a quaint town with good public schools. I was just visiting a month ago and I was impressed with the children's dept of the local library - lots of great stuff for kids, storytimes, classes to take, very child friendly - much better than N. Berkeley branch. It was quite progressive - i was surprised. Looks like housing prices are decent as well. I think it has come a long way since I was a child and it is much more diverse. Donna