No matter where people want to get to — a highway, a park, shops or public transit stops — they overwhelmingly say they want an easy time getting there, according to a community preferences survey by the National Association of Realtors and researchers at Portland State University in Oregon. That’s precisely the kind of access that characterizes the mid-island region of Long Island — a span stretching from Floral Park to Riverhead, loosely bordered in Nassau by the Long Island Expressway and the Southern State Parkway and in Suffolk by Route 25 and Sunrise Highway.
Living along this popular corridor puts homeowners within easy reach of many of the Island’s major thoroughfares, commercial and employment hubs, retail centers and recreational amenities. In this installment of Best Places to Live, we explore five great Long Island communities that are right in the center of it all.
If you want city perks in a village setting
For Long Islanders who travel to Manhattan for work or play, this incorporated village is an enviable sweet spot that straddles the line between urban and suburban, offering the best of both worlds. “You can get out of the city and be in a residential neighborhood in 35 minutes from start to finish. It’s a commuter haven,” says Rhonda Zeller of Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The Long Island Rail Road schedule confirms that a number of peak trains between Mineola and Penn Station clock in at well under 40 minutes. “And you are in close proximity to major highways — the Long Island Expressway, the Northern State Parkway, the Meadowbrook Parkway,” Zeller says.
At the same time, the community offers a distinct village feel: The bustling business district is surrounded by leafy side streets with single-family homes on neatly tended lots, as well as numerous apartment buildings and co-ops for those who prefer a more urban setup or lower-maintenance lifestyle. Community life includes a street fair in the fall, outdoor concerts and movies in the summer, and even a village Halloween party, scheduled for Friday, Oct. 28.
Home prices in Mineola range from $119,500 for a studio apartment in a co-op to $1.326 million for a five-bedroom, five-bathroom newly constructed Colonial. Rentals range from $1,550 for a two-room apartment to $4,100 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in One Third Avenue, a new luxury highrise near the train station with amenities such as doorman service, pool and fitness center.
$224,000 in Mineola
This 865-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit in the Birchwood Court co-op is two blocks from the Long Island Rail Road station. The building features 24-hour security. It’s listed with Rhonda Zeller of Douglas Elliman Real Estate (516-621-3555).
If you want to build your dream home
Beyond the obvious allure of a home that’s in pristine, unused condition, building a brand-new house offers other advantages: Modern construction materials are designed to meet today’s efficiency standards, and in many cases, new homes can be customized with the buyer’s preferred options, colors and finishes. If you like the idea of being the first person, ever, to live in your house, you’ll find plenty of options in Manorville: There were no less than 25 newly built homes available here, most on an acre or more of property, in a recent search of MLSLI.com.
And the dreaminess doesn’t stop there. Manorville, a former farming community, offers the kinds of outdoor leisure activities that are often associated with luxury markets — stables and riding schools, country clubs and golf courses — yet all listed homes here are priced well under $1 million. From this bucolic setting, it takes just 10 minutes to drive to Riverhead, which offers an outlet mall as well as a downtown with a variety of shops, eateries and night life. The Long Island Expressway runs through Manorville’s northern edge, making it easy to hit the road for longer jaunts.
There were 110 homes for sale in Manorville in a recent search, ranging from $279,000 for a two-bedroom ranch built in 1940 to $717,125 for a new four-bedroom Victorian to be built.
$449,900 in Manorville
This four-bedroom, 2½-bathroom Victorian is a newly constructed on a 2.02-acre lot. It’s listed with John Williams and Toby Williams of Douglas Elliman Real Estate. (631-363-5434)
If you want a downtown that’s heating up
If you’re on the hunt for the next housing hot spot, experts say you can’t argue with Starbucks; the popular coffee chain was famously linked to neighborhoods on the rise in a study by two Zillow executives. In Farmingdale’s case, the Starbucks location that opened near the Long Island Rail Road station this year doesn’t so much predict as confirm it: This downtown is heating up.
A revitalization, centered around the development of new transit-oriented housing, has been busily transforming the village into a trendy spot where locals can shop the spruced-up storefronts of Main Street by day, hit a wine bar, beer garden or gastropub at night, and take a train to or from New York City in under an hour. “Main Street is the heartbeat of the whole town,” says George Scarpias of Coach Realtors. Farmingdale also offers quick access to additional employment hubs, retail and entertainment, such as along the nearby Route 110 corridor.
There were 90 homes on the market in Farmingdale with prices ranging from $108,000 for a studio apartment in a co-op to $1.05 million for a six-bedroom home with four bathrooms and two half-bathrooms, according to a recent search of MLSLI.com.
$449,999 in Farmingdale
This four-bedroom, 2½-bathroom expanded Cape features a great room with cathedral ceilings and a designer kitchen. It’s listed with George Scarpias of Coach Real Estate Associates Inc. (631-587-1700).
If you want an accessible oasis
Try: Dix Hills
Homeowners in Dix Hills enjoy the tranquility of living in an almost entirely residential enclave of grassy properties on winding roads, largely uninterrupted by commercial development. Yet in a matter of minutes, they can be traveling on a major roadway, or shopping, dining and entertaining themselves in one of the numerous nearby retail hubs that conveniently serve the community without intruding on it. These include the Walt Whitman Shops to the west in Huntington Station, Tanger Outlet to the south in Deer Park, and big box stores and more to the east in Commack.
And having two major arteries nearby makes travel a snap, says Marilyn Urso of Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Atlantic Shores. “It really is extremely accessible, right by the Northern State Parkway and the Long Island Expressway. Going east or west, you have that convenience,” Urso says. “And yet the neighborhood is quiet, peaceful and residential . . . no strip malls, no stores.” Popular public perks include Dix Hills Park, which features golf, a pool and an ice-skating rink, and the Half Hollow Hills school district, which far outperformed the county overall in college readiness indicators in 2015, according to state education department statistics.
There were 147 homes for sale in Dix Hills with prices ranging from $250,000 for a four-bedroom, 1½-bathroom Contemporary to $3.9 million for a three-bedroom, 1½-bathroom home on an 11.7-acre horse property.
$899,000 in Dix Hills
This five-bedroom, 3½-bathroom Colonial features numerous energy upgrades, including LED lights, a high-efficiency heating system, an air filtration system and rooftop solar panels. It’s listed with Marilyn Urso and Frank Urso of Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Atlantic Shores (631-427-0010).
If you want a great bang for your buck
Try: East Meadow
At $440,000, the median home price in East Meadow is below the $465,000 median for Nassau County, according to September data from the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island — yet this hamlet offers an amenity list that rivals many pricier neighborhoods. For instance, East Meadow is home to three town parks, as well as Eisenhower Park, a sprawling 930-acre county park offering ice skating, swimming, golf and other sports, as well as trails, picnic areas and an accessible playground to accommodate kids with and without disabilities. And the 2015 graduates of East Meadow schools outperformed the county overall in college readiness, according to state education department statistics.
The community is centrally located, with easy access to multiple parkways, as well as a veritable cornucopia of options for dining, shopping and entertainment along Hempstead Turnpike and several other major roads. “It’s a very well-rounded neighborhood. It’s very diverse in terms of culture and employment, so you find everyone is comfortable here,” says East Meadow resident Tracey Goodman of Realty Connect USA LLC. “There’s a big spectrum in terms of home values, so it’s affordable for a lot of different people. It’s a very nice community.”
There were 53 homes for sale in East Meadow with prices ranging from $275,000 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home to $929,000 for a five-bedroom, three-bathroom Colonial in a recent search of MLSLI.com.
$679,000 in East Meadow
This three-bedroom, two-bathroom expanded ranch is located on a cul-de-sac and features crown moldings, designer doors and numerous updates, including the kitchen, bathrooms, roof, siding and windows. It’s listed with Tracey Goodman of Realty Connect USA LLC (888-236-6319).