When you share an island with nearly three million people -- many of whom take to the roads and public transportation at about the same time every day -- finding a home close to the workplace can feel akin to discovering the Holy Grail. But it's not so elusive: Living on Long Island puts residents close to employers in health care, technology and education -- three of the fastest-growing job sectors in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Those fields are also expected to show the fastest growth on Long Island through 2018, according to a Long Island Association report based on New York State Department of Labor projections. "There are major job hubs," says Pearl Kamer, author of the report and former chief economist for the Long Island Association. Kamer cites communities with hospitals, universities, corporate operations and county government as some of the most job-dense areas.
And there's a push to promote local jobs through entrepreneurship. Start-up incubators and local organizations such as Accelerate Long Island -- a collaboration of research institutions, the Long Island Association and the Town of Brookhaven -- are helping fledgling companies grow by connecting them with low-cost or free cooperative workspaces, mentoring and funding. Local government is doing its part; for instance, Suffolk County recently approved $140,000 in tax breaks for a new business accelerator in downtown Huntington that will assist tech start-ups by offering mentorship and leasing office space in an 8,522-square-foot space.
Here are some picks for great places to live on Long Island if you want a home that's convenient to a job hub -- and a sampling of what you can get for each county's median closed sales price (or close to it): $425,000 for Nassau and $340,000 for Suffolk as of June, according to the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island.
Stony Brook is a standout in all three of Long Island's fastest-growing job categories: health care, education and technology. Stony Brook University -- which comprises a hospital, state university and high-tech business incubator -- has more than 15,000 employees, making it Long Island's largest single-site employer as of its 2011-2012 annual report.
According to the report, Stony Brook University employs a hospital staff of 6,273, an academic staff of 3,963 and a nonacademic staff of 4,981. It's also home to the Long Island High Technology Incubator, a nonprofit that has housed and supported more than 70 start-ups.
"The Stony Brook incubator is phenomenal," says Tal Eidelberg, whose hospital software company, Intrigma, Inc., started out there. "They have a lot of biotech firms, and for that kind of stuff they're second to none. They have pharma companies, medical device companies -- all that stuff requires labs, expensive equipment, access to serious, heavy-hitting researchers," he says. "There's an enormous amount of activity there."
Of occupations with the largest number of projected jobs through 2018 on Long Island, four out of the top five are health-care related. For those seeking a home near jobs in this category, Stony Brook is a great pick, because in addition to Stony Brook University Hospital, the community also offers easy access to nearby Port Jefferson, where both John T. Mather Hospital and St. Charles Hospital are located.
This three-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch is located in the Three Village school district. It's listed with Michael Ardolino of Realty Connect USA.
Home prices in Stony Brook range from $199,000 for a one-bedroom condo to $1.899 million for a six-bedroom estate on a 6.01-acre lot.
Mineola is an obvious choice for those seeking homes near a hub "because you have both the hospital and the county government," says Kamer. Winthrop-University Hospital, which employs 6,000 people, is located in Mineola. The Nassau county executive's office is located there, too.
Mineola is also a short drive from several institutes of higher learning; it's about three miles from Adelphi University's main campus in Garden City, which has 1,068 full-time employees and 464 part-timers; about five miles from Nassau County Community College in Garden City, which has 1,132 full-time employees and 1,470 part-time; and about four miles from Hofstra University in Hempstead, which has a staff of 2,472, including full- and part-time faculty and non-faculty.
There's support for entrepreneurs in Mineola, too. LaunchPad Long Island, a 12,000-square-foot business incubator offering seed capital and low-cost, shared workspace, is located just south of the Long Island Rail Road's Mineola train station. LITech COMETS, a start-up accelerator program, moved into LaunchPad Long Island earlier this year. The program selects promising start-ups and provides them with free workspace in the building, mentoring and the opportunity to apply for local seed money.
This four-bedroom, two-bathroom Cape is in the Mineola school district. It's listed with Claudia Jardin of Charles Rutenberg Realty, Inc. Home prices in Mineola range from $104,999 for a studio apartment in a co-op to $849,000 for a four-bedroom Colonial on a 50-by-140-foot lot.
For homes near jobs, look at neighborhoods near the business-dense stretch of Route 110 between the Northern State and Southern State parkways, known as the Route 110 corridor. Melville is one of these communities, where large corporations such as Nikon and Estée Lauder have operations -- and where Canon USA recently opened its headquarters.
"I deal with plenty of people that work in the area that are looking to live nearby," says real estate agent Eliot Lonardo. "I think that Melville is a great location, not only for Route 110, but because it's the westernmost part of Suffolk."
The Melville area is also a good place for bioscience entrepreneurs: It's convenient to the Broad Hollow Bioscience Park, a nonprofit partnership between Farmingdale State College, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the Research Foundation of the State University of New York, which supports bioscience start-ups by providing lab space at affordable lease rates. While the recent departure of the park's anchor tenant, OSI Pharmaceuticals, Inc., means plans to expand the park have been put on hold, it frees up lab space for new businesses to move into the facility, which is located on the Farmingdale State College campus.
This three-bedroom raised ranch in the South Huntington school district was listed at $359,000 with Eliot Lonardo of Long Island?s Finest Homes in Melville. At press time, the home had gone into contract. Home prices in Melville range from $315,000 for a four-bedroom expanded Cape on a 0.31-acre lot to $2.295 million for a six-bedroom Colonial on a 1.09-acre lot.
Bustling Hicksville has a sprawling commercial district, with corporate operations of large companies such as Sam Ash Music Corp., mattress retailer Sleepy's and National Grid USA, as well as Broadway Mall, anchored by big-box retailers such as Target and Ikea.
The hamlet is centrally located, with access to major roads in every direction, including the Long Island Expressway, the Northern State Parkway and Route 106/107. Hicksville's Long Island Rail Road station is a busy hub, with connections to the Ronkonkoma and Port Jefferson lines. Commuters can take their pick of about two dozen peak trains to New York City on weekday mornings, with most rides taking between 39 and 50 minutes.
House hunters in the health care field will find an easy commute to nearby hospitals, such as an eight-minute drive to Plainview Hospital in Plainview and a 10-minute drive to Nassau University Medical Center.
The convenient location, reasonable costs and collection of colorful cuisines might make Hicksville an alluring spot for a growing tech start-up scene. For instance, the hamlet is home to Thought Box, a $30-million incubator of early-stage businesses, including hospital software innovator Intrigma Inc. "It's a great spot because it's right on the train line, it's not overly expensive and it's within reach to the city and the airports," says Tal Eidelberg, Intrigma's chief executive. He moved his business from the Stony Brook incubator to its new Hicksville home earlier this year to be closer to staff in Queens and Brooklyn.
Eidelberg sees the area catching on as a place for up-and-coming techies to collaborate in a casual setting. "There's a lot of activity here; people coming in, joining the talks, hanging with other entrepreneurs in the restaurants," says Eidelberg. "The restaurants are exotic, with good food, and affordable, so it's kind of a neat spot," he says, adding that the community even attracts visiting techies from out of state. "They come in to visit, to see what we're doing, to learn from us, to teach us. It's like a tech entrepreneurial hangout."
This three-bedroom, three-bathroom expanded Cape is on a landscaped 70-by-103-foot lot in the Hicksville school district. It is listed with Andrea Costello and Michele Gort of Shawn Elliott Luxury Homes & Estates. Prices for single-family homes in Hicksville range from $158,000 for a three-bedroom cottage on an 85-by-125-foot lot to $679,000 for a five-bedroom high-ranch on a 70-by-137-foot lot.
Buying a home in Hauppauge will put you in the same neighborhood as one of the largest industrial parks in the nation. The 1,400-acre Hauppauge Industrial Park is the site of about 1,300 companies that employ some 55,000 people.
"We house some of the largest pharmaceutical companies on Long Island," says Terri Alessi-Miceli, president of the Hauppauge Industrial Association, which represents businesses in the park. "In itself, that helps it become a job hub. The business profile of it, the economic engine portion of it, helps it become a hub for a myriad of types of industries."
For instance, some 24 percent of the park's businesses are in the wholesale trade industry, 20 percent are in manufacturing and 16 percent are in professional, scientific and tech services.
Kamer says that Hauppauge, the site of Suffolk County government offices, is also a good choice for those who want to live near public sector jobs.
This four-bedroom, two-bathroom expanded Cape is listed as a short sale with Pamela Zaid of Coach Realtors.
Home prices in Hauppauge range from $125,000 for a one-bedroom condo to $3.85 million for a 12-acre family compound with three houses and three stables.
CORRECTION An earlier version of this story had the wrong firm for Eliot Lonardo. He is with Long Island?s Finest Homes in Melville.