Melissa Gill and Mathias Lilja
Dermatopathologist, Financial Vice-President
Where They Live Now: A two-bedroom in Chelsea.
What They Want: A four-bedroom house with a yard, in a diverse town that’s “intellectual, not money-oriented.” Gill works in Teterboro; Lilja works in Purchase and often travels, so he needs to be near an airport. Good schools, too, because Gill is expecting a baby.
Their Budget: $900,000 to $1.1 million.
What She Offered: Bernstein focused on their commutes first, and zeroed in on Bergen County and the villages lining the lower Hudson. The couple had considered Ridgewood, New Jersey, and asked Bernstein to broaden their horizons. She rejected nearby Harrison, because it is too car-oriented. Lilja wanted some acreage for a pool, ruling out Scarsdale and Rye—the lots are too small there. So it came down to two areas. Dobbs Ferry, in Westchester, is smack between their jobs. And Tenafly (with nearby Cresskill and Closter as alternatives) is smaller than Ridgewood, with a multiethnic crowd and more houses within walking distance of town.
The Verdict: Pretty good. Tenafly was a pleasant surprise. “I saw a house on a half-acre a mile from town I could totally move into,” says Gill. “We’re adding it [to the list] for sure.” (Cresskill was too small, and Closter just turned them off—“so strip-mall-y.”) Lilja found Tenafly “cute,” but preferred Dobbs Ferry. “The first thing with me is the gut feeling, and I felt like I could live there,” he says. He’d thought Dobbs Ferry would be out “because the commute on I-287 would be awful,” but Gill and Lilja tried it and it wasn’t so bad.