NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
jory1804
Posts: 17
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2016 4:24 pm

NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by jory1804 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 9:03 pm

My wife and I live in Manhattan with two kids: ages 4 and 1. We're considering buying a weekend house somewhere near the city, perhaps in Westchester. The reason being to have somewhere quieter and with more space to go on the weekends. The kind of place we can go outside and ride a bike, kick around a soccer ball in the backyard, ... .

My reason for posting is not to ask if this is a good financial decision. I'm more looking to ask folks who've done this (i.e. city life during the week, suburbs on the weekends) how it's worked out for them. Are you glad you bought the second place, or not so glad? How much did you end up using it? How much hassle was it, and how did you minimize that hassles? Was there an age at which the kids no longer wanted to go out there, e.g. because they'd rather play with their city friends on weekends? How much enjoyment did you get out of it? Is there anything you'd do differently?

Any advice and anecdotes would be much appreciated.

z3r0c00l
Posts: 1502
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 11:43 am
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by z3r0c00l » Sun Sep 23, 2018 9:18 pm

Most important part of my life as a child, the ability to spend time in the country while growing up in the city. If you can afford it, the only question is where to get the country home. Are you more a woods and lake type or a ocean type? : ) Long Island and NJ both good picks imho.

User avatar
gasman
Posts: 741
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2007 6:13 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by gasman » Sun Sep 23, 2018 9:44 pm

If I had a choice, I would do the reverse. Live in Westchester or Long Island and keep an apartment in the city for weekends.

stan1
Posts: 7739
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by stan1 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:02 pm

I have not been in this situation in Manhattan, but these would apply to any second home:
- Buy vs rent. One benefit of renting is you can easily decide to go somewhere else as everyone's interests change. If you are in a situation where you can consider this I'll assume you can also afford to consider a furnished rental.
- Rent (or sublet) when you aren't using it. If you plan to do this location and proximity to beaches might matter more.
- Time to get there. If over two hours to get there visit frequency will go down. One hour would be even better.
- Beach home on eastern seaboard. Remember Sandy.

wilked
Posts: 1627
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:50 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by wilked » Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:07 pm

gasman wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 9:44 pm
If I had a choice, I would do the reverse. Live in Westchester or Long Island and keep an apartment in the city for weekends.
Exactly. No brainer here

msk
Posts: 1399
Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:40 am

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by msk » Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:16 pm

stan1 wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:02 pm
- Time to get there. If over two hours to get there visit frequency will go down. One hour would be even better.
- Beach home on eastern seaboard.
Both above critical. Kids lose interest VERY quickly if there is no beach. At least there ought to be a pool (+skiing for winter? if inland). Whole family will lose interest in a few years. "Few" is inversely proportional to driving time. One hour may keep it going for up to 5 years. Three+ hours will kill enthusiasm after just a year. Makes a nice, forever family place if you plan to retire there, ideally. No regrets having gone through the experience, but what a relief getting rid of it after 10 years! As your frequency of visits gets less and less the irritation of fixing things every time you go mounts up (everything from wifi to leaky faucets) until it becomes irrationally exasperating :annoyed

nyclon
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Oct 02, 2015 5:30 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by nyclon » Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:19 pm

Winters become the only time the kids enjoy (primarily for family skiing)

Summers you'll be alone at the house since the kids will want to hang out with their friends, mostly at NYC-style "camps".

The in-between periods are iffy and depend on how far the home is and what activities are available.

lynneny
Posts: 212
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2012 10:23 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by lynneny » Mon Sep 24, 2018 1:36 am

OP, my friends did something similar. NY is a somewhat unique situation. My friends are a couple with three kids, crammed into a small nyc apartment they couldn't leave because their neighborhood has excellent public schools. They can't afford a bigger apartment there, or private school if they left that area.

So they bought a house at the Jersey shore, and that's where they spread out and live their lives. The Christmas tree, bicycles, beach umbrellas, etc. are there. What makes it work is that they have close family living in that New Jersey town. So the kids play with their cousins, and can spend more time there at the beach in summer, staying with aunts, uncles, grandparents if their parents have to go back to the city. And there's public transportation to nyc, so various family members can come and go for work/social and sports activities/etc, without being limited to five people always coming and going at the same time because they only have one car.

It works really well for them, but certainly helps that they bought in a community they had family in and wanted to be part of, and can come and go as they please (especially now the kids are older and can go back and forth on their own if they want to pop back to the city for some activity).

senex
Posts: 307
Joined: Wed Dec 13, 2017 4:38 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by senex » Mon Sep 24, 2018 3:50 pm

It's easier for kids to be kids in the country - to play outside unsupervised, to explore, build things, ride bikes. The silence and greenery and fresh air are refreshing to the soul.

It's difficult to live a double life. It's best if you have many friends/family in the vicinity; else it can be lonely. Frequently inviting friends is one way to mitigate it (if you have the space & resources).

If your kids want to do sports/chess/extracurriculars or go to birthday parties & social events, you'll have many weekends (probably the majority) where you can't use the house. Using it on long weekends and school breaks is nice.

Ownership is work. Things break constantly, especially in older homes and country homes (rodents, dead animals indoors, septic, power outages, frozen pipes, etc). You need full service everything (cleaning, caretaking, repairs, lawn, plowing, cleaning) unless you want to spend all your weekends cleaning/fixing. Renting for a year or two is a good start.

Traffic is best to the north. Rail access is important for flexibility. An hour's drive is convenient but is within the city's circle of influence so doesn't feel as remote or calm as going 1.5-2.5 hours. Westchester taxes are atrocious and owning real property in NY State can create tax problems if you ever move out of NY State (read up on NY statutory residency, which burns some people).

You'll only know by trying it. Renting is the best way to try.

IngognitoUSA
Posts: 182
Joined: Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:54 am

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by IngognitoUSA » Mon Sep 24, 2018 4:37 pm

Remember, NJ no longer has Estate tax. NY has a cliff estate tax plan.

Pigeon
Posts: 249
Joined: Mon Mar 06, 2017 8:50 am

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by Pigeon » Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:43 pm

Make sure you do the drive a few times simulating the weekend trip. Having lived in NJ for a few years, there is absolutely nothing on earth that would make me think the beach traffic is worth it.

flarf
Posts: 74
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2018 2:05 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by flarf » Tue Sep 25, 2018 2:49 pm

jory, we have similarly aged children in the city, but I work in Greenwich.

We got a weekend place on Cape Cod a few years ago. From Greenwich it's just over a three hour drive. Wife and kids ride the train out Thursday evening, meet me at work, and we drive from there. We picked the Cape because my wife has family there, which is great -- the kids see grandma and grandpa all the time, and we get free babysitting. I love going there to get away... the beach is a two minute walk, everybody has a ton of space, we drive an old Jeep with no top and no doors, restaurants are decent, and you can actually see the stars at night.

But the drive is long (almost four hours coming back to NYC) and it does get old. We've kept it up because it's worth it to escape and give the kids room to ride bikes and go to the beach and have a swingset. We've been doing Thursday night to Sunday night because my wife is off Fridays, I can work remotely, and my oldest only goes to school Mon-Thu this year. Next year he will be in kindergarten, so school will be all five days. That will cut our typical weekend by one-third, and my fear is that it's really going to make the trip a lot less attractive.

What minimizes hassles? A car with radar cruise control and comfortable seats. Kids who can sleep in said car. Wifi cameras to keep tabs on things. Neighbors who are retired and around all the time to keep tabs on everything.

One of my kid's schoolmates has a weekend place in Westerly, RI. It's a 2h30m drive from the city if you time it right (i.e. after the evening rush hour), and there's an Amtrak stop there as well (3hrs to NYP). You may not ride the train, but it could be useful for city friends who want to visit but don't have a car, or for when your kids are older so they can make the trip on their own.

Maybe I'm biased since I work just outside the city, but I think you need to travel farther to really kick back -- Westchester (or Fairfield County) doesn't feel different enough to me to warrant the hassle. I would look at southeastern CT / southern RI or eastern Long Island (Montauk, etc.). Both options give you great beaches, a 2-2.5 hour drive, and rail access.

I completely agree with the suggestion of renting something first before buying -- you need to not only verify the commute is doable, but also figure out what you want in a house. In town or away? Neighbors nearby or lots of land? On the beach, near the beach, drive to the beach? Garage or no garage? Move-in ready or fixer upper? Etc.

pejp
Posts: 159
Joined: Thu Jan 04, 2018 4:12 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by pejp » Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:38 am

Pigeon wrote:
Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:43 pm
Make sure you do the drive a few times simulating the weekend trip. Having lived in NJ for a few years, there is absolutely nothing on earth that would make me think the beach traffic is worth it.
Ha, my wife is from Toms River originally. When we move back to the East Coast, our long term plan is to get a place in Lavalette or somewhere like that, and then rent a small place in Jersey City for the week. Sound like it might not be the best idea!

User avatar
Hayden
Posts: 1259
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:13 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by Hayden » Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:03 pm

I did this, although not in NY. Spent alot of time on logistics - need to keep two refrigerators and two pantries stocked. Need to do laundry at two places, clean two places, and do ongoing maintenance at two places.

Bubbacat
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:07 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by Bubbacat » Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:39 pm

Hard part is when kids get older. If they have school-connected activities like sports, clubs or even birthday parties, it's hard to get away.

We have a house in the 'burbs and just bought a small condo in the city (ATL), with a plan to use part time now and move in later as empty nesters.

Bubbacat

Hug401k
Posts: 361
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2014 7:49 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by Hug401k » Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:24 pm

I have family in Manhattan that own a "country house" in Lyme, CT. They are a family of 4. They've been going continuously for years. They essentially share it with their sister/brother in law who are also a family of 4. So it's all the cousins together, keeping each other entertained and running around outside. (ages 9,8,5,3) They also have a lot of family near by, which seems essential. It allows for holiday gatherings, birthday parties etc. They have pretty small living spaces in the city. My sense is this makes bearable. For many years, they owned this house and rented in the city.

3-20Characters
Posts: 683
Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:20 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by 3-20Characters » Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:38 pm

What you propose is neither fish nor fowl. People who live in NYC and seek weekend escapes don’t escape to the suburbs. They escape further afield to the beach on LI or the Jersey Shore, or southeastern CT Shoreline, or up the Hudson into NY State for a country experience. Some variables of which is of these is best would include likes/dislikes, distance, train service. Those who choose the suburbs at a commuting distance generally live there day in day out and commute to NYC. With kids, they generally make this move before kids grow up and get attached to friends and the city. This is a time honored tradition among many young NYC professionals. A second home in a nearby suburb make less sense imo, from both an economic standpoint and a varied life experience standpoint.

* Not saying what you propose isn’t right for you and your family. Just adding some input.

Steve723
Posts: 187
Joined: Sat Aug 16, 2014 4:44 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by Steve723 » Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:52 pm

May I suggest Bucks County, PA as another viable destination. It sort of combines the best of "country" and "suburbs", but a lot cheaper than places in New Jersey and New York that have a similar feel. It's about a 2-hour drive from Manhattan.

Topic Author
jory1804
Posts: 17
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2016 4:24 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by jory1804 » Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:49 am

Thanks all for your thoughts. Given what I've read here, I'm now leaning against getting a weekend house. In particular, it sounds like it works best when one has family in the "weekend area," which we would not. Truth be told, it would also be hard for us to find the time that maintaining a second home requires.

As a partial alternative, we might look for a primary in one of the quieter parts of the city, rather than in Midtown East (where we currently live).

Topic Author
jory1804
Posts: 17
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2016 4:24 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by jory1804 » Mon Nov 04, 2019 10:59 pm

Update: a year deciding not to get a weekend house, we've changed our mind and decided to go for it.

The place is a 45-minute drive from the city, which is short enough to keep the trip manageable. It also means if we have an event or playdate on Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon, we can still make that event and use the house in the same weekend.

As for activities: the place is in a townhome community, so we have the use of a pool and tennis court. It's also near the Hudson river where we can go fishing, kayaking and the like. There are also several great parks nearby (with real grass, unlike the paved "parks" of NYC).

The community also takes care of exterior structure maintenance, landscaping, plowing and the like. This should help keep the maintenance burden low.

We're now in the process of renovating the place.

I'll post again in a year or so with an update on how it's going.

a_movable_life
Posts: 126
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:33 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by a_movable_life » Tue Nov 05, 2019 9:54 am

Most people who also do this, change their legal residence to outside of NYC to save sometimes thousands of dollars in NYC Income Tax.

knowledge
Posts: 204
Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:44 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by knowledge » Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:49 am

jory1804 wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 10:59 pm
The place is a 45-minute drive from the city, which is short enough to keep the trip manageable. It also means if we have an event or playdate on Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon, we can still make that event and use the house in the same weekend.
45 minutes outside of the city north is...Yonkers? Only semi-kidding. Correctly anticipating traffic can only help. 45 minutes out of midtown Manhattan on the start of a holiday weekend is...midtown Manhattan, so plan accordingly. But otherwise, enjoy!

canderson
Posts: 308
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:12 pm

Re: NYC weekend house: your experiences?

Post by canderson » Tue Nov 05, 2019 7:21 pm

Can we use your NYC home 6-7 Saturday nights a year to save on hotel costs on our theater weekends? Only half joking ...

Post Reply