Lay of the land: About an hour north, just off the Saw Mill, lies Katonah, a small enclave within the tony precincts of Bedford. Expect to be charmed by the village’s downtown district and its turn-of-the-century homes painted in shades of pale peach and lilac. “We put together a T-shirt a few years ago that said katonah: country living at its best,” says 20-year resident Michael Berardino. “I cringe whenever I have to go to Mount Kisco, because they have traffic lights. You get spoiled here—Katonah’s both rural and has great proximity to the city. It has a real New England–type atmosphere.”
Meet the neighbors: With the exception of a few—notably Martha Stewart, Ralph Lauren, and George Soros, whose properties value in the millions—most Katonah residents subscribed to the “buy the cheapest house on the richest block” theory of home ownership. Katonah offers all the benefits of an upper-middle-class Westchester burg, at a slight discount. “We looked in Chappaqua and Briarcliff Manor, but what we wanted in our price range forced us to move up a bit,” says Jonathan Gold, an accountant who left his $1,950-a-month one-bedroom at 90th Street and York for a two-and-a-half-acre, three-bedroom raised ranch that he purchased for about $500,000.
Needful things: Chain stores have failed to establish a beachhead in Katonah. “We fought ’em off,” says David Raneri, vice-president of Charles Department Store, a third-generation family-owned all-purpose shop. “Nobody wanted them here.” There’s not even a Home Depot. “Any store that’s significant in size, anything commercial, is at least fifteen or twenty minutes away,” says Gold. Miss Starbucks? Sip a cappuccino at one of the downtown cafés, such as Healy’s Deli or Willy Nicks. The Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, a 100-acre estate, showcases annual festivals and houses the Orchestra of St. Luke.
School report: The Katonah-Lewisboro School District, which has five public schools and two private, ranks in the top 15 percent in Westchester County. Last year, the average SAT score was 1150, and 89 percent of the student body enrolled in four-year colleges. On average, the district spent $16,467 per student.
Commute: Katonah is 46 miles from midtown Manhattan. The train to Grand Central takes about an hour. Monthly Metro-North passes are $193. New residents are guaranteed a spot in one of three lots at the station.
Recommended brokers: Mary Palmerton, Coldwell Banker (914-232-7000).
See also:Katonah Web Guide