Choosing a hometown: Follow your passion
IF YOU'RE OUTDOORSY
Surrounded by 400 miles of coastline, crisscrossed with trails and bristling with beaches, Long Island provides open-air action along its entire length.
Montauk, at the eastern tip, remains a prime destination for ocean thrills. This is fishing, jet skiing, surfing country. "God, do we have surfing," says Ada Stevens, a broker with Kathleen G. Beckmann Real Estate, which specializes in Montauk properties.
Living near a hiking trail isn't hard since the island is laced with them. The 20-mile Nassau-Suffolk Trail, for example - one of five Greenbelt trails spread across the Island - passes through communities such as Massapequa, Bethpage, Woodbury and Cold Spring Harbor.
Canoeing or kayaking enthusiasts might consider settling in Smithtown, near the head of the Nissequogue, a part river, part estuary that runs to Kings Park 8 miles away, or maybe the 15-mile-long Peconic River, which meanders through Riverhead and empties into Peconic Bay.
Biking, both road riding and mountain biking, is an option on both shores with a wide range of clubs. The Long Island Biking Club, for one, meets in Westbury and sticks mostly to routes on the North Shore.
Horseback riding is readily available, although most facilities are concentrated in less populated areas in Suffolk County. Riders at the Sweet Hills Riding Center in Huntington, for instance, have access to about 20 miles of trails in the West Hills County Park.
IF YOU'RE SINGLE
Of the 2.3 million people who live in Nassau and Suffolk, about 1 million adults of all ages are currently unmarried, according to census statistics. There's a good chance you'll find some of the more eligible ones in Huntington, which Jay Rosenzweig, who runs speed dating and singles events on Long Island (weekenddating.com), says is at the "top of the list" for singles.
"The downtown stays open late, you can park your car in the municipal lot and walk everywhere," says Coach's Katherine Timms says. "You feel like you're in New York City." In addition to top quality restaurants and bars, venues like The Book Revue, Cinema Arts Centre and Heckscher Park are big draws for singles too, she adds.
If ocean living is your thing, try the city of Long Beach, which Leah Rosenberg of Weissman Realty Group Llc describes as "awesome for singles."
"There are activities every weekend, even in the winter, including a chili cook off, Polar Bear plunge, Super Bowl parties," she says.
Close to the city line, Great Neck offers "an incredible choice of restaurants, health clubs, pools, tennis and even two Starbucks," says Tina Kupferberg of June Shapiro Realty Laffey Associates. In other words, there are lots of places for singles to meet.
IF YOU'RE A SHOPAHOLIC
Outlets cluster in Carle Place, Deer Park, Bellport and Riverhead. Malls serve Valley Stream, Garden City, Massapequa, Huntington Station, Lake Grove, Bay Shore and Hicksville. But beyond these extravaganzas of consumerism, what draws home buyers are bustling downtown villages, says Stephanie Cullum of Coach Realtors in Garden City.
"We have one-stop shopping" on Garden City's Seventh Street, says Cullum, also vice president of the Garden City Chamber of Commerce. Shoppers can get all their chores done - visiting the dry cleaners and the grocery store, finding a bottle of wine or a quick gift - in one spot that also offers ample parking. Plus, Garden City's Franklin Avenue shopping area, along with Roosevelt Field, The Source in Westbury and the Americana in Manhasset are all nearby.
The same could be said for Riverhead's historic downtown, nestled on the scenic Peconic River. Not far from Tanger Outlets, it hosts a farmers market, says chamber of commerce president Robert Lanieri. Riverhead, he adds, is the gateway to the East End for shoppers headed to places like Sag Harbor and the Hamptons.
IF YOU WANT A MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE HOME
If you dream of living in a classic Mediterranean style home - with tile roof, stucco and curved arches and doorways - you're not out of luck.
About 20 to 25 percent of the homes are Mediterranean style in Merrick, once considered the "Hamptons to the stars" back in the 1920s and 1930s, points out Todd Litz of Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
The influx of Greek immigrants to Mattituck more than 50 years ago resulted in their building these types of homes, says Marie Beninati, broker-owner of Marie Beninati Associates Real Estate.
Mediterranean homes, some dating back 100 years, make up about a quarter of the houses in the community of Sands Point. "With their use of terra cotta and stone, high ceilings, and distinctive fireplaces, these houses remind us of a bygone era," says Nava Mitnick of Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty.
About 15 percent of the homes in Long Beach are Mediterranean in style, says Joyce Coletti of Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate. These oversized houses tend to be on larger pieces of property.
IF YOU WANT TO BE IN THE HILLS
The highest point on the island is Jayne's Hill in West Hills County Park in Huntington, and there are homes in the surrounding area. There are waterfront bluffs and inland hills - many with homes and many with Long Island Sound views - along the North Shore in Sands Point and Roslyn in Nassau and from Cold Spring Harbor to Orient Point in Suffolk. And then there are the even more exclusive Shinnecock Hills in Southampton. Naturally, properties with such exceptional views are pricey.
In the hills in Lloyd Harbor, homes start in the $950,000 range and estates run up to $45 million. On the lower end is Centerport in an area called the Huntington Beach Association, where the streets are named for presidents and the 40-by-100-foot properties run from $425,000 to about $600,000, says Katherine Timms, who manages the Coach Real Estate Associates offices in Huntington and Huntington Bay.
James Kindall, Bill Bleye, Laura Koss-Feder, Judith H. Bernstein, and Laura Mann all contributed to this story.
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