Moving to Long Island
Archived Q&A and Reviews
We are contemplating a job offer on Long Island, central, and are thinking of living in the Stonybrook,Port Jefferson area. We would be grateful for any information about that area(real estate, schools, pre-schools, pediatricians, good hospitals, fun things to do with kids, how to manage the weather, etc.)or other areas that are liveable and like Berkeley(!?!). We have 2 children, one school age and one almost pre-school age. It would be great about how different it is there or how liveable it is there. It is a big decision for us. Thanks !!!
I grew up on Long Island and visit my father who lives in Port Jefferson twice a year with my two kids. There is some good news about Long Island which is that many school districts (including Port Jefferson) are quite good. Three Village School District, where Stony Brook is, has a very highly rated High School (Ward Melville) which apparently is very strong in Math and Science (lots of participants in the Intel (used to be Westinghouse) Competition) and placement in top colleges. The weather on Long Island is not really that bad, although the humidity in the summer can be a drag, though the beaches are great. The food is quite good (or perhaps, since it is the food of my child hood, I think it's very good)
The bad news about Long Island is that it is totally a suburb, and an insular, conservative suburb at that. There are some charming older areas and lots of strip malls, fast food joints and chain stores. And, since most of the people who live there have family and long term connections with the area, it can be very difficult to meet people and make social connections. Stony Brook is a relatively new University, and a commuter school. As a result it doesn't have the same kind of community around it that Berkeley has. Certainly, there are a lot of interesting people affiliated with the University and if you can connect with them, you'll have interesting people to talk to.
Port Jefferson is a solid two hours to Penn Station by LIRR, but you can commute to Manhattan, and use the wonderful resources there as well. In any case, this may be somewhat more negative than you would get from someone else, but I moved to Berkeley to get away from Long Island!
Although I never actually lived there, I am a little familiar with the Setauket, Port Jeff, Stonybrook area. My parents lived in Setauket for six years (until last year). My experience is that it is not at all like Berkeley from the walkability,accessability aspect. With the exception of a little downtown area in Port Jeff and Stonybrook most things are located in strip malls or the big mall along pretty busy highways. While we like to walk and bike as much as possible here, we drove everywhere when visiting there. I think the high school has a pretty good reputation and my mother actually taught at a very good private but expensive private elementary school (Laurel Hill) Real Estate is high but not as bad as here. I think you will get more bedrooms/bathrooms for your money. The hospital (Stonybrook) is supposedly fantastic. I don't know any pediatricians but my parents had a great dentist -- I think his name is Dr. Diehl on Lower Sheep Pasture Road. (this is all from memory but I'll verify if interested). Other good/fun things are the local beaches. We actually spent a lot of time playing and walking there and I believe at least one has a playground. Feel free to contact me if you'd like more information/opinions. I also happen to have two friends here in Berkeley that grew up there and I could maybe ask them some things too.
I grew up on Long Island, central-ish (East Meadow) and would be happy to go over lots of details with you. The climate is mild for the East Coast and the country-side can be very attractive - lots of green trees and grass. Detractions are the amount of people and having the megalopolis that is New York City between you and the rest of the country. The culture and customs are very different from the Bay Area; hard to summarize in a few words, but my thoughts include directness and intolerance along with tight-knit and even friendly (after you are known and trusted.) I'm sure there will be those that disagree with me, but those are my thoughts after being gone for almost twenty years and having lived there for twenty-one. We have close friends in East Northport if you want to contact current residents.
I have spent many years on Long Island, and my husband was born and raised there. I can't say I like it very much--It is too suburban and the developed areas are really ugly, and I found many people there to be closed minded and negative (of course that's a big, bad statement and there are many nice people there too). Generally, homogeneity wins over diversity. The further east you go, the nicer and more rural the areas become. Huntington is a nice town with good bookstores and restaurants, and areas around Oyster Bay are very pretty, although expensive. Stonybrook and Port Jefferson areas are also among the nicer towns. The strangest thing about Long Island is that houses in good neighborhoods can be identical to houses in less esteemed areas, and can carry 3x the price tag. My in-laws sold their 6 bedroom house in Levittown for 165K, while in Westbury the same size house (albeit with slightly fancier amenities) could run well over 500K. Western Long Island, near Queens, the towns are more urban but also much closer to the city. However, public transportation is great in NY, and It is easy to get to NYC via the Long Island Rail Road from many towns, a big plus for me. Sorry I can't offer too much advice on what to do with kids (besides the beaches in summer)-- we moved before the kids came along. Good luck!
I went to graduate school at Stony Brook and then worked for a year at Brookhaven National Lab, and most of that time I lived in Port Jefferson. Firstly I'd say you're not going to find anything like Berkeley on Long Island. It's a whole different culture. It seemed to me that historically anything 'cultural' stopped in Manhattan and didn't find it's way out to the island. I found that Pt. Jeff was the nicest part of that local area to live in, but still it didn't have a whole lot of culture or anything. Stony Brook is a somewhat well-off town and generally they like to ignore the fact that there is a major university there. There is nothing even close what you can find near UCB near that SUNY campus for eats, bookstores, etc. My wife and I enjoy skiing and other trips and I have to say that having to go through New York City just to get off the island made travel rougher. We didn't have kids at the time and we didn't buy a house so I can't really speak to your other questions. It'll certainly be cheaper than Berkeley for cost-of-living and real estate. The Stony Brook (and two other towns) Three Village High School has some excellent advanced classes and always has lots of entrants to the Westinghouse Science competition, for example. Anyway, I did enjoy my time there but that way primarily because of the great people I knew in the physics department and medical school at SUNY Stony Brook. I grew up in California and was glad to know that my time there would end and I am happy to have moved back here! Personally I'm not sure if I would move there on a permanent basis. Probably your family should try visiting there and see what you think of the area, and it's feel. Good luck!
I am not sure if you will find anyplace similar to Berkeley but you will find other positives.
Positives: 1) No earthquakes 2) Homes that are built to last, and lots of storage space 3) Water that is warm enough to swim in during the summer 4) Generally the winters are mild considering its N.E. location 5) Homes are more affordable and you generally get a back yard. 6) Within reach of lots of fun places to visit. 7) You get all the seasons
Negatives: 1) Your kids might grow up with a Long Island accent 2) Your car will rust 3) Close but still about 1 hour from NY city 4) It will rain more and snow 5) Not as much diversity
I grew up on L.I. in the east end in a town called Riverhead. But I have not lived there for 19 years. My parents still live there and I visit bi-annually. I have very fond memories of growing up there. The summers where great with a choice of the ocean, bay or sound to swim for swimming.