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The Best Neighborhoods in Long Island for Buying a Home

April 19, 2024

From first-time homebuyers to people who want to move into more spacious homes, there is something for everyone in Long Island. While easy accessibility to New York City is a boon, there’s much more you’ll find in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. However, the best places to live in Long Island for young adults are not necessarily the same as the ones for families.

Given that most young adults and millennials are likely to exceed their budgets when looking for homes in New York City and its immediate surroundings, home-buying trends in the region indicate that many are turning outward.

Incidentally, Long Island, despite the infamous Long Island Expressway, has plenty to offer, of which the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) network is only one example. The proximity to beaches and robust education systems offered by different school districts are among the other perks of living in this region. So, which are the best neighborhoods in Long Island for young adults and millennials?

Aspects that might require your attention when looking for the best Long Island neighborhoods include, but do not limit to:

  • Access to the LIRR
  • Access to public schools
  • Rating of the school district
  • Cost of living
  • Local amenities
  • Access to and quality of parks
  • Local job opportunities
  • The presence of other young families

Even if you limit your search to Nassau and Suffolk counties, you still have a significantly large area to cover. Having to choose between two cities, over 10 towns, and more than 200 villages and hamlets, arriving at a decision might seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, paying attention to your requirements can make the process considerably simpler. The list that follows gives you insight into some of the best neighborhoods in Long Island.

Greenport

The history of Greenport dates back to the mid-1600s. It went on to become a major shipbuilding and whaling village in the late 1700s. Now, its bustling harbor is home to scores of upscale yachts as well as small fishing boats. It comes as no surprise that many think of Greenport as the best place to live in Long Island.

This village in Suffolk County makes it to several lists of best neighborhoods in Long Island, and not without reason. It consistently ranks as the safest region on the island. The downtown area boasts of several restaurants and boutiques. In addition, some of the island’s best vineyards are in Greenport. Access to the Greenport Railroad Station ensures you do not have to brave the expressway traffic when heading into or out of NYC.

The Greenport Union Free School District provides public education in the region. The average home value in Greenport is around $903,000*.

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Smithtown

Ranked among the best towns to live in Long Island, Smithtown, in Suffolk County, lies along Long Island’s north shore. Located midway across the island, Smithtown offers a family-friendly atmosphere through its picturesque tree-lined streets. With the average annual household income of the region exceeding $110,000, Smithtown is among the more affluent Long Island towns. On the other hand, the average home value of around $710,000* works well for young adults and millennials who don’t have large budgets.

Driving to Manhattan can take around an hour and a half. However, Smithtown has a railroad station, so you may make good use of the LIRR as well. The Hamptons is a short drive away, as are the North Fork vineyards, the Blydenburgh County Park, and the Caleb Smith State Park.

Hauppauge Shopping Center, Maple Commons Shopping Center, and Nesconset Plaza offer numerous alternatives for shoppers.

The Smithtown Central School District includes two high schools, three middle schools, and eight elementary schools.

Bellmore

Located along the south shore of the island in Nassau County, Bellmore is a hamlet that offers peace and quiet. The ideal suburban setting of this picturesque waterfront community makes it perfectly suitable for young adults and millennials who are wondering where to live in Long Island.

The Bellmore railroad station ensures that your commutes to NYC remain hassle-free. Jones Beach Park is nearby, and it hosts various concerts and events throughout the year. The John F. Kennedy International Airport is around 15 miles away.

Bellmore Shopping Center houses several commercial establishments and shops. Robbie Plaza and Merrick Mall are easily accessible as well.

The school districts of Bellmore include the Bellmore School District, the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District, and the North Bellmore School District. The highly-rated John F. Kennedy High School is open to Bellmore students. The annual Mathematical Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools take place in Bellmore.

The average home value in Bellmore is around $728,000*.

best places to live in long island for young adultsRoslyn

Roslyn, in Nassau County, might be up your alley if you’re after an affluent and airy neighborhood. One of the main reasons that put this village on the list of best neighborhoods in Long Island for families and older millennials is the quality of its schools. While Roslyn Public Schools serve seven communities, they cater to just around 3,000 students.

Students from Roslyn High School have a good acceptance rate across top colleges, and their average SAT scores are noticeably better when compared to the scores of students from other parts of New York. The Roslyn Union Free School District includes five schools – Roslyn High School, Roslyn Middle School, East Hills School, Heights School, and Harbor Hill School

Residents of Roslyn get several alternatives from which to choose when it comes to shopping. These come in the form of Harbourview Shoppe, Americana Manhasset, Wheatley Plaza, the Suburban Shopping Center, and TJ Maxx.

If you wish to get to Manhattan, all you need to do is catch a train from the Roslyn station. Driving to midtown could take around 40 minutes. The average home value in Roslyn is around $1,344,000*.

Massapequa

A little further east from Bellmore is Massapequa, a hamlet in Nassau County. Massapequa has a railroad station, so getting to Manhattan is easy. It has six elementary schools, as well as middle and high school alternatives, making it among the best neighborhoods in Nassau County for families and millennials.

If you love being around nature, you may use your free time to explore the bordering Massapequa Preserve. The Massapequa Cove makes for an idyllic fishing spot and recreational area.

For shopping, residents have easy access to Sunrise Mall, Holiday Park Shopping Center, Macy’s, HomeGoods, Marshalls, and Sears.

The average home value in Massapequa is around $704,000*.

Stony Brook

This hamlet on the north shore of the island in Suffolk County was founded as an agricultural enclave during the Colonial Era. It grew in prominence as a resort town and is now among the region’s major tourist and education hubs.

Schools in Stony Brook fall under the purview of the Three Village Central School District. Recognized as one of the best towns in Long Island, it is home to the popular Stony Brook School and Stony Brook University.

The region is connected to the LIRR network by the Stony Brook station. The Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages is in Stony Brook. Avalon Park and Preserve is no more than a short drive away.

Coventry Commons Center, Stony Brook Square, Smith Point Plaza, and Three Village Shopping Center are located within short driving distances.

The average median home value in Stony Brook is around $682,000*.

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Lake Ronkonkoma

Lake Ronkonkoma is a part of the Long Island towns of Brookhaven, Smithtown, and Islip in Suffolk County. While a major part of this census-designated place (CDP) is located in Brookhaven, the land that surrounds the actual lake is a part of Islip. This region is connected to the LIRR network through the Ronkonkoma railroad station. It functions as the western terminus of the Greenport Branch and the eastern terminus of the Ronkonkoma Branch.

The Sachem Central School District looks after public schools in Lake Ronkonkoma. The lakeside Lake Ronkonkoma County Park offers baseball fields, handball and basketball courts, a picnic area, as well as a fishing pier.

For shopping, residents of the area can turn to Lakeshore Plaza, Gatelot Plaza, Lake Grove Shopping Center, and Kohl’s.

The median home value in Lake Ronkonkoma is around $510,000**, making it suitable for young adults and millennials who are looking at affordable alternatives.

Holtsville

If you wish to limit your search to affordable houses in Long Island, Holtsville requires your attention as well. The average home value in Holtsville is around $575,000*. A major part of this hamlet is in the town of Brookhaven, whereas a small portion is also a part of Islip. The region is served by the Sachem Central School District.

The Holtsville train station was closed in March 1998 because of low ridership. Now, most commuters from the region make use of the Medford and Ronkonkoma stations. The Wildlife and Ecology Center Animal Preserve is in Holtsville.

Depending on where in Holtsville you live, you may shop at Waverly Shopping Center, Holbrook Center, Expressway Plaza, Morris Avenue Shopping Center, or Lake Shore Plaza.

Wantagh

Wantagh makes it to the list of the best neighborhoods in Long Island for young adults and millennials because of different reasons. Originally named “Jerusalem”, this hamlet in Nassau County is in close proximity to Jones Beach Island. The Wantagh railroad station connects its residents to Manhattan easily. Besides, the region boasts of some great schools.

The Wantagh Union Free School District serves the residents of this region. It consists of the Wantagh Elementary School, the Mandalay Elementary School, the Forest Lake Elementary School, Wantagh Middle School, and Wantagh High School. Wantagh holds the distinction of being the only School District in the state in which all schools have been acknowledged as National Schools of Excellence.

Some parts of the hamlet’s peripheral neighborhoods are served by the Seaford Union Free School District, the North Bellmore Union Free School District, and the Levittown School District.

The Wantagh State Parkway, the Sunrise Highway, the Seaford – Oyster Bay Expressway, and Merrick Road pass through Wantagh and they have major intersections or entrances/exits here.

Cherrywood Shopping Center, Wantagh Woods Plaza, and Willow Wood Shoppes are in close proximity.

The average median home value in Wantagh is around $707,000*.

long island neighborhoodsCommack

This CDP roughly corresponds to the hamlet with which it shares its name. It is located in the Long Island towns of Smithtown and Huntington, and both are a part of Suffolk County. Access to the LIRR network comes through Northport, Huntington, and Smithtown stations.

The region is served by the Commack Union Free School District. It has four primary schools, two intermediate schools, one middle school, and one high school. Commack is home to the Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve, the Whitman Hollow Park, and the Hamlet Golf & Country Club.

Commack residents may meet their shopping requirements by visiting the Mayfair Shopping Center, Commack Corners Shopping Center, Commack South Shopping Center, Commack Commons, Veterans Memorial Plaza, or Walmart.

The average home value in Commack stands at around $716,000*.

Jericho

Situated on Long Island’s North Shore, Jericho is a hamlet and CDP in Nassau County. It found a place in the top 50 places to raise a family in the U.S. by Niche in 2024. Residents who wish to make use of the LIRR may turn to Westbury, Hicksville, or Syosset stations.

Jericho has four schools, and public schools in the region are part of the Jericho Union Free School District. The Westbury Union Free School District is close by, as is the Hicksville Union Free School District. SUNY Old Westbury’s main entrance is in Jericho.

Residents don’t have to venture far to shop, given that the area is home to shopping malls such as Jericho Commons, Jericho Atrium, and Jericho Executive Plaza.

The average home value in Jericho is around $1,117,000*.

Syosset

Syosset is a hamlet and CDP in the Town of Oyster Bay in Nassau County. It is situated on the North Shore of Long Island. Residents of the region get easy access to the LIRR from the Syosset station.

Syosset has 11 schools, and public schools in the region are part of the Syosset Central School District. Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District and Hicksville Union Free School District are close by.

Syosset Center, Syosset Plaza, Syosset Corners, and East River Plaza offer numerous options for shopping.

The average home value in Syosset is around $972,000*.

Merrick

Merrick is a hamlet and CDP in the Town of Hempstead in Nassau County. Situated on Long Island’s South Shore, several young families looking for good schools and proximity to water feel this is among the best areas to live in Long Island. Merrick has an LIRR station.

Merrick has 14 primary and secondary schools. Public schools in the region belong to the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District or the North Bellmore Union Free School District. Other alternatives come from the nearby Freeport Union Free School District and the Bellmore Union Free School District.

Residents of Merrick can find various shops and other commercial establishments at Merrick Mall and Merrick Commons. The area also has a HomeGoods store.

The average median home value in Merrick is around $776,000*, which makes it one of the more affordable places to live in Long Island.

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West Islip

Situated on Long Island’s South Shore, West Islip is a hamlet and CDP in the Town of Islip. The region’s natural western boundary comes in the form of Hawley’s Lake, Deer Lake, Sampawams Creek, and Swan Creek. The Islip station gives residents of the region easy access to the LIRR.

West Islip is home to four elementary schools and two middle schools. Public schools in the area are part of the West Islip Union Free School District. The Bay Shore Union Free School District and the North Babylon Union Free School District also offer some alternatives.

The Southdown Marketplace in West Islip is a well-rated supermarket. Other shopping alternatives come in the form of Captree Village, South Bay Commons, and Gardiner Manor Mall.

The average home value in West Islip is around $653,000*, making it one of the best Long Island neighborhoods from an affordability point of view.

Valley Stream

This village in Nassau County is situated in the southwest part of the town of Hempstead. In 2017, Money Magazine picked Valley Stream as the best place to live in Long Island. The area offers a dense suburban feel and boasts of several restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and parks. Valley Stream has an LIRR station.

As one of the best neighborhoods in Nassau County, Valley Stream has a total of 18 schools. Public schools in the region are part of the Valley Stream Central High School District or the Elmont Union Free School District. The Hewlett-Woodmere Union Free School District and the Valley Stream 13 Union Free School District are nearby.

Shopping alternatives come in the form of a Walmart Super Center, Green Acres Mall, Green Acres Commons, and Macy’s.

The average home value in Valley Stream is around $678,000*.

Levittown

Previously known as Island Trees, Levittown is a hamlet and CDP in the Town of Hempstead in Nassau County. It is situated between the villages of Farmingdale and Hempstead. While the region does not have its own LIRR station, residents may access the train network through Hicksville, Bethpage, Wantagh, or Bellmore stations.

Levittown has 11 primary and secondary schools. Public schools in the region are part of the Levittown Union Free School District or the Island Trees Union Free School District. The Bethpage Union Free School District and the Hicksville Union Free School District are nearby too.

Levittown Plaza, Levittown Mews, Nassau Mall, Gardiners Plaza, and Tri-County Mall give shoppers plenty from which to choose.

The average median home value in Levittown is around $632,000*, making it one of the best places to live in Long Island if you wish to buy a house without spending too much.

Plainview

Plainview is a hamlet and CDP in the town of Oyster Bay. It is situated near Long Island’s North Shore. Residents benefit through several parks nestled between homes, which is one of the reasons that put it on the list of the best neighborhoods in Long Island for families and millennials.

The 77,000 square meters Plainview-Old Bethpage Community Park is located on Washington Avenue. Depending on where you live, you could use the Hicksville, Bethpage, or Syosset LIRR stations.

Plainview has seven schools. Public schools in the region belong to the Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District or the Bethpage Union Free School District. The Syosset Central School District and the Hicksville Union Free School District also offer some alternatives.

Plainview Shopping Centre, Woodbury Plaza, and Manetto Hill Plaza are home to a number of shops and other types of businesses.

The average home value in Plainview is around $848,000*.

best places to live in long islandEast Meadow

East Meadow is a hamlet and CDP in the Town of Hempstead in Nassau County. Incidentally, there are almost no meadows in the region anymore because of post-World War II development and urbanization. The Nassau University Medical Center and Eisenhower Park are located in East Meadow. Access to the LIRR network comes through Hicksville and Westbury stations.

The region is home to six primary and secondary schools, and public schools here are part of the East Meadow Union Free School District. The North Merrick Union Free School District and the Uniondale Union Free School District are in close proximity.

Residents of East Meadow are spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping. Their options include East Meadow Mall, Clearmeadow Plaza, Meadowbrook Square, Stew Leonard’s Plaza, Stop & Shop, Marshalls, and Walmart.

The average home value in East Meadow is around $704,000*.

How Do You Go About Buying a Home?

Once you’ve decided to transition from being a renter to a homeowner and have narrowed down on a few nice neighborhoods in Long Island, you need to start looking for homes based on your specific needs. For instance, how important is proximity to an LIRR station for you?

Data suggest that there is a significant drop in the availability of entry-level homes, so people looking for affordable places to live in Long Island might have to deal with limited options. However, the average home value appreciation of 3.4% from March 2023 to March 2024 can serve as good news for prospective buyers.

Here are some other aspects that need your attention if you plan to buy a home in Long Island any time soon.

Mortgage Rate Trends

According to Freddie Mac, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) increased by 0.61 percentage points from April 2023 to April 2024. As of April 11, 2024, the average interest on a 30-year FRM stood at 6.88%. These numbers bode as good news for prospective home buyers, all the more so because of the significant increase in interest rates from April 2023 to October 2023. What also helps is that most experts expect mortgage rates to remain favorable in the near future.

Affordability

A simple rule of thumb is to limit your budget to three times that of your annual household income. For instance, if you and your spouse earn $150,000 each year, set the higher end of your budget at $450,000.

Down payment

Save as much money as you can to put toward the down payment. The more you pay as down payment, the less you end up paying as interest through the course of the loan term.

Get Prequalified

Getting preapproved for a mortgage gives you a good indication of how much you qualify to borrow, so you may limit your search to homes that match your budget. It also gives sellers an indication that you are a serious buyer. Not getting preapproved, on the other hand, exposes you to deal breakers in the underwriting process after you have narrowed down on a house you wish to purchase. As a result, it is important that you get prequalified before beginning your search for a suitable home.

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Attend Open Houses

Attending open houses gives you an easy way to look at what’s on offer. You get insight into the existing market, while also getting to identify the best Long Island neighborhoods based on your specific needs. By looking at homes that are up for sale, you may determine what amenities you wish to have, as well as ones you may do without. When you’re attending open houses, take time to explore the neighborhood as well.

Making an Offer

Once you find a house you like, make a competitive offer. Remember that other prospective buyers might also be interested in buying the same home. Homes in some of the best areas to live in Long Island might be subject to bidding wars, so prepare ahead of time. While paying more than the asking price might work for some, walking away might be the order of the day if it comes to stretching your budget.

Choosing the Right Mortgage Lender

No matter which of the Long Island neighborhoods you choose, working with a good mortgage lender is important. When selecting a mortgage lender, you must look beyond the interest rate on offer. Different types of fees associated with your loan can increase its cost significantly. Besides, a good lender provides flexibility in terms and conditions. For instance, some lenders let borrowers make weekly, fortnightly, or monthly repayments. Another aspect that requires your attention is the level of customer service any lender provides.

What Type of Loans Are There?

You get to choose from two basic types, government-backed and conventional loans.

  • Government-backed mortgages. These come in the form of USDA loans backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), VA loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and FHA loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). If you qualify for any of these loans, you do not have to worry about making a substantial down payment.
  • Conventional mortgages. These are typically offered by mortgage lenders, banks, credit unions, and private lenders. When compared to government-backed alternatives, these tend to require higher down payments. In addition, your credit score has an effect on the approval process and the interest rate you get.

Conclusion

With an area that covers over 1,400 square miles, Long Island has homes to cater to different needs. Whether you want your family to live in the lap of nature or want your kids to have a great education, you get to choose from various Long Island towns, hamlets, and villages. What also helps is that the island has neighborhoods to suit different budgets.

Once you’ve narrowed down on the best neighborhoods in Long Island, the next step is to look for a reliable mortgage lender and determine how much you can afford to borrow. You may then look for homes accordingly.

 

 

* Values taken from Zillow.com on April 17, 2024.

** Values taken from Redfin.com on April 17, 2024.

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