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So close to NYC.

If you are thinking about moving out of the city and need some real estate advice, email me pzweben@elliman.com

If you are thinking about living very close to NYC and commuting, then Suffern may be the answer. Take a look at this article. I know some great real estate agents in Suffern that could help. Happy Sunday!

Living In | Suffern, N.Y.

When the Town Line Is the State

 Line

Alan Zale for The New York Times

OLD-FASHIONED On weekends at the 85-year-old Lafayette Theater, an anchor of Suffern's downtown, a Wurlitzer pipe organ is played before the main feature. Having New Jersey nearby means access to cheaper gasoline and lower taxes on clothing. More Photos >

Published: January 2, 2009

AT 5:54 a.m. on weekdays, Lynn Palmer Jr. leaves for his hedge fund firm in Manhattan. From his four-bedroom colonial in Suffern, in Rockland County, some 30 miles northwest of Midtown Manhattan, he walks four minutes to the railroad station, his coat collar turned up against the cold.

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He times it so there’s no waiting for the train to Hoboken, N.J., where he will catch a PATH train to Wall Street — or sometimes, in warmer weather, take a ferry across the Hudson.

Because he lives so close to the train, he said, “I don’t have to warm up a car or brush off the snow, and then look for a parking space once I finally get to the station.” Door to door, Mr. Palmer’s commute is an hour and 10 minutes. “Not bad,” he said, “considering that I have to switch trains along the way.”

A commute he can live with; the relative affordability of housing, especially compared with similar villages in Westchester; and the academically high-performing Ramapo Central School District are among the reasons that Mr. Palmer and his wife, Darlene, bought their early-1900s-vintage house in Suffern a decade ago.

Suffern, a two-square-mile village in the town of Ramapo along the New Jersey border, has held fairly steady at about 11,000 people since 1990, census figures show. It was not always the kind of place that attracted young families, said Mayor John B. Keegan, a retired postal worker. “When I first moved here as a kid 46 years ago,” Mr. Keegan said, “it was a real tough town, with people speeding all around in hot rods.”

That was at least partly because of the difference in the legal drinking ages in New York and New Jersey until 1984. With not even a river to discourage New Jersey teenagers from driving into Rockland County, where the legal age was 18, Suffern’s bars were a magnet for out-of-state youths, said Mr. Keegan, describing the village back then as “a real gritty place.”

But the crowd from New Jersey has long since thinned out. In recent years, migration patterns across the state border have reversed; residents can drive less than five minutes to fuel up and make purchases in New Jersey — where gas prices are lower, there is no sales tax on clothing, and large stores abound. Today, the mayor said, the focus of the village’s struggles is maintaining economic viability.

Suffern’s main streets are lined with small shops, restaurants and taverns. Nestled amid the Ramapo Mountains, it has a coziness reminiscent of the village
from an earlier era in “It’s a Wonderful Life” — a movie that played during the holiday season to a full house at the 975-seat Lafayette Theater. An 85-year-old auditorium, its lights twinkling on the marquee, the Lafayette has a balcony and a single movie screen — as well as a Wurlitzer pipe organ played on Friday and Saturday nights before the main feature.

To protect that old-fashioned charm, the Village Board of Trustees and the mayor are thinking ahead, contemplating ways to buffer the village from the accident of its geography. If there is convenience in living along the state line, there are also economic costs.

WHAT YOU’LL FIND

For such a small village, Suffern offers a rich variety of housing options: single- and multifamily homes, as well as condominiums, co-ops and rentals — or, as John C. Layne, the acting building inspector, described it, “a little bit of everything for everyone.” Lot sizes vary from one-eighth of an acre, near the center of the village, to three-fourths of an acre farther out.

The business district is centered on two blocks of Lafayette Avenue, with the theater at one end. It is close to the train station and small neighborhoods like the one the Palmers live in. Increasingly, sections of the village near the downtown, with smaller houses dating back to the early 1900s, are being sought after by buyers who want “walkable neighborhoods” less dependent on cars, said Joy G. Dorn, an associate broker for Prudential Rand Realty in Suffern.

Dave Gutierrez, a media consultant, and Tara Agen, an executive for Hewlett-Packard, paid $86,000 a decade ago for a century-old one-bedroom stone cottage with a loft and finished basement in one of those neighborhoods. A year ago the couple, who work at home, received an offer of $500,000 for the house. Because they treasure the convenience that their neighborhood affords, they turned down the offer, Mr. Gutierrez said.

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