When my husband was assigned to New York for his current assignment, we were torn about where to live. Having lived once before in New York, as young singles, we'd had the city experience, and now with teenagers decided to look for a place in Westchester County, just north of the city, where we could have a house with a yard.
Schooling was our first priority, and we used Niche.com and Greatschools.org to compare ratings on quality, as well as to look at academic offerings, athletics and diversity. There is a wealth of top-rated schools in Westchester, and we zeroed in on the Rye Neck school district within the city of Mamaroneck, where we felt that the smaller schools would make for an easier transition from the cozy private schools our kids were used to, and equally importantly, the high school offered Italian language all the way through the AP level. While my husband and the kids always speak Italian, the chance to study it in a classroom setting was a big plus.
Mamaroneck is a town of about 30,000 inhabitants, with two school districts (Mamaroneck High School serves the town of Larchmont and southern Mamaroneck, while Rye Neck serves northern Mamaroneck and a small part of Rye). The French American School of New York (FASNY) is also located in Mamaroneck.
Screetshots of some available rental in the area
It has an old-fashioned "main street" packed with busy restaurants (Italian, Asian, Mexican and more), a toy store, a couple of clothing stores and an antique shop. The town cinema is currently under renovation and due to open soon. The is a great public library and several parks throughout town. And there are a few Italian stores and bakeries - perhaps we should have been able to guess why the school offers Italian - there are many Italian-American families in the area! Mamaroneck is also home for a fairly large Hispanic population, primarily from Mexico and Guatemala, and a good number of expat families with kids both in the public school system and FASNY.
For those who love the water, the town has a harbor where you can rent kayaks and take stand-up paddle board lessons, while those who are into winter sports can go ice-skating on Friday nights at the town ice rink. The housing stock includes a few apartments, many duplexes (two-family homes), and single family homes ranging from modest to waterfront mansions.
Mamaroneck is a 37-minute commute to Grand Central during peak hours, 42-minutes in off-peak.