Green(wich)er on the Other Side
The sun peeked over the skyline of the City (with a capital C), I peered over my cup of coffee from the 22nd floor and took in the sight Midtown Manhattan. The restrictions of Covid had finally been eased and New York City was swinging back to life again in stride. I had a few days off and after the morning hustle of taking the kids to school, I relaxed with a nice cup of coffee. This is nice, I thought to myself as I basked in the schadenfreude of watching people rush to work while I was on a mini vacation. I could get used to this. I was joining my family for an extended period after a few years of being apart most of the time, and was looking forward to getting into the rhythm of this vibrant town. We would be here for a while more, I said to myself as I nodded knowingly. How wrong I was.
Remember when I said the city was getting back into stride after the pandemic restrictions had lifted. Well that was also because a lot of people were coming back to town after they had moved out over the previous two years, and suddenly, there was a surge on demand for apartments for rent, which of course led to the inevitable rise in rent. It’s funny how the cost of housing will change your perspective on a lot of other things about your situation; a vibrant and lively town becomes a noisy and chaotic city. A quick and convenient subway ride becomes a stressful and cramped commute, and instead of focusing on how walkable the city is, you focus on how difficult it is to drive with a semblance of civility. When you feel out of place at home, everything else falls out of place.
As our lens shifted, we took a more considered look at our situation; the kids were getting older, they needed more space, and we had been in the city long enough to have looked a little beyond the sparkle and felt the stress it puts on its people. So we sat down, my wife and I to see what we could do: should we take the step that so many others took before us? Take the trodden path, venture into the land beyond the skyscrapers and into serenity of greener pastures?
So it began. We wanted a place with good schools, good community, somewhere the kids could enjoy themselves and get some relief from the stress of living in a big city. We also wanted somewhere where we had access to the city; we wanted to leave the city but still be in its orbit. My wife works 3 days out of the week in the city, while I’m a little freer than that. We’re also admittedly quite attached to the city; it is difficult to get rid of the attraction to a place where anything is possible.
So we began searching north, through the expanses of Westchester county, moving upward little by little and exploring the towns and places we could call home for the next few years. We saw many beautiful places, lovely houses and communities. And still we looked, and then we crossed the state line (gasp!) into Connecticut and Fairfield County.
Trees of Green, Skies of Blue
Our first time in Greenwich, we were met by an old friend of ours who invited us up to take a look at a few houses when we mentioned that we were in the market for a new home. When we got there and stretched as we stepped out of the car after an hour or so of driving, we felt a connection to the place that we hadn’t experienced in anywhere we had previously looked.
There is a gentle flow between one neighborhood and the next, and the area is peppered with parks, green spaces, easy access to any service that could be needed. However, as someone who has travelled the world, there is one marker that I find indicative of whether a place is genuinely pleasant to live in or not, and that is the level of comfort people exhibit as they go about their day.
In comfortable, safe, welcoming areas with cohesive communities, you find that people stroll around with relaxed demeanors, gentle smiles, and an openness to the world around them. On the opposite end, when you find people are highly alert to their surroundings, rushing from one place to the next, and harboring suspicions towards others around them, you can deduce that the general level of stress in the area is high.
Greenwich was the strolliest (if that is even a word) and relaxed community we saw. People were going about their day with a sense of contentment and relaxation, and the vibe of the town was very welcoming. We had a coffee and then took in the place that we would soon call home (although we did not know that at the time).
Summer Day At Tod’s Point
Once we managed to navigate the intricacies of buying a house in the area (find more about that here), we settled in to our new place. We found ourselves quickly being welcomed by the community. It is an active, lively, welcoming group of people who are open to newcomers, showing them the ropes and giving tips and insights on getting settled in.
Greenwich is a place for all seasons. We started our stay there in fall, and truly appreciated the beauty of the change as the treetops were painted with hues of yellow, orange and red (the leaf blowers whirring constantly helped stave off the nostalgia for the noises of NYC). The area is generously served by a variety of restaurants and cafes where you can bask in the warmth as the wind flutters by outside. If you feel more inclined towards something more lively, a few minutes away from almost any point in Greenwich is downtown Stamford where you can select your own flavor of fun, and if you are feeling even braver you can step onto the train and find yourself in Grand Central Station in less than an hour.
As winter crept in, the biting cold was softened by the gentle wafting of snowflakes and the whole town for a short while felt like being inside a snow globe. As we made more friends, almost effortlessly in this welcoming town, the cold weather is staved of by the warmth of the community, the cozy restaurants, and the unreasonably good bakeries peppered around.
Spring leapt rather than crept and suddenly everything came to life; the bright colors speckling the canvas of ever deepening green, people venturing outside as the days become longer, venturing through the beautiful parks and open spaces, and of course the beach. The beach starts coming to life as the coldness of the winter fades, and almost in anticipation of the watersports and activities the water calls out to the kayakers and sailing enthusiasts. Cycling enthusiasts will find that Greenwich is cycling friendly; the roads are willingly shared by cars and bicycles to the contentment of all and there are strong and well established communities that go on weekly rides.
Then there is summer. The heat of the sun balanced by the freshness of the water and the coconut scented sunscreen, the joy of having a lovely beach mere minutes away is something that really cannot be overstated; it is a laid-back beach at Tod’s Point, with lulling laughter, smiling faces and comfortable people. After the sun and the beach, it comes a time to take advantage of the bounty of the sea in one of the many establishments offering a broad selection of seafood.
Can’t Go Wrong
If you want a place that is serene, welcoming and comfortable, with ease of access to NYC, minutes from the beach, a welcoming community, good schools, and a range of activities to suit every taste, you cannot go wrong with Greenwich. You would think that there would be widespread buyers’ remorse given the prices of homes in the area, but you would be hard pressed to find anyone who felt they made the wrong decision my moving here; sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side.
Getting here requires a bit of work though, to find what you want and the place that feels like home you need to invest the time and effort; because it is a place with such a high quality of life, there are far fewer people moving out than there are who are seeking to move in. Take the time, work with people who can guide you, and explore what it has to offer.