I’m coming up on my 1-year anniversary living in Westchester, New York, in March 2021. It’s surreal to think that a year ago, I didn’t even know Westchester existed. My mental map of New York consisted of Manhattan and a vague shape that was Brooklyn in the distance. Long island was a mere shadow somewhere in the ocean.
As I’ve lived in and explored (to my limited ability) the towns and villages of Westchester and filled in my mental map, I’ve learned a few things that have been lifesavers.
And because there are a million guides for Manhattan and Brooklyn, I think it’s time Westchester got some spotlight.
1. Get a Brita and microwaveable dishes
Trust me. The first 3-4 months of my time in Westchester were spent drinking pool water. If you’ll be living in an apartment or house without a filtrated water system, you will need a Brita. They’re relatively inexpensive and are easy to maintain. It comes with one filter to start with. This is the one I have:
They have a simple filter-tracking system on the lid that lets you know when the filter needs to be replaced, and the replacements come in three packs for about 15 dollars. The filters usually last upwards of 3 months. I use mine every day. This is the pack I get:
You’ll also likely need dishes that are microwavable in case you are unable to access a stove (which is probable). Make sure the dishes you bring and/or buy are safe for the microwave.
2. Try to rent near a Metro North line, preferably the Harlem line
This will ensure you’ll have direct access to most of Westchester as well as just a 35-minute trip to Manhattan.
If you have work in the city or even Mount Vernon, you’ll want to have access to this line.
You can buy tickets at the platform/skybridge or via the app. There are screens at each platform that list the schedule — if you can’t find it on the platform, check the skybridge or the underground. You can also access the schedule through the app/website.
3. Bronxville is one of the best places for grocery shopping and exploring
If you’re hungry for the New York/Walk-everywhere experience but don’t want to make the trip to the city, jump over to Bronxville. It’s the cutest village and is, in my experience, the most walkable.
4. Be sure to look up alternate names of your favorite grocery stores if you’re coming from the west coast
Safeway = ACME. Your account/phone number transfers if you have one. This fact could have saved me a lot of headaches when I first came over, unfamiliar with any stores besides Trader Joe’s and Target. Once you figure out which store you want to frequent, look up all relevant locations. You may find one closer than you expect.
One of the best things I’ve gotten at ACME was this storage container for work lunches, helping me avoid any instances of squished sandwiches in plastic bags with a tidy container or two. And, you guessed it, they’re microwavable. Fun fact! You can successfully make quick oats in these bad boys if you don’t have regular bowls.
5. Invest in some microfiber cloths
It’s common to not have access to a dishwasher here. I’ve been hand washing my dishes for my entire time so far, and it would be much more of a hassle without my Norwex cloths doing most of the heavy lifting.
As long as you care for them properly (or at least throw them in the wash with the correct laundry detergent) they’ll serve you well and keep you safe from bacteria.
6. Get a laundry bag and a sturdy backpack
The odds of having access to in-unit laundry machines are slim. One way or another, you’ll be hauling laundry around. Make sure you’re equipped with a sturdy tote.
If you’re planning on commuting, exploring, or even just going for a walk, I strongly suggest bringing pr purchasing a backpack. I put this off for way too long, and my back has paid the price (Let it be known: a satchel does not perform the same as a backpack).
7. Reusables grocery bags
You don’t want to be paying for paper bags. And, having your own means you’ll always have reliable handles, in case you’re like me and walk between train stations and stores the majority of the time.
8. Visit Oval Park in Tuckahoe if you’re feeling down/homesick/trapped
This little park has saved me a few times when I was desperate for nature. It has a beautiful river, a mini waterfall, a fantastic trail that takes you to Crestwood, and a stunning tree canopy in the fall.
There’s usually a soccer game happening in the big field, but if you go to the left, there’s a hushed part of the forest that feels entirely unattached to the rest of the park when the leaves are still full.
9. Salon 70
I was nervous about finding a place to get a haircut (among many other greater worries) and didn’t know what to expect. Hair salons can be so tricky if the people aren’t personable. Fortunately, Salon 70 has some great stylists. I can’t speak for any future staff of course, but as of now, they’re very efficient and welcoming. So, if you’re looking for a salon, maybe start there. Fairly affordable, as well.
10. Nutmeg Café
This place, oh my goodness, this place. Nutmeg is the cutest little café you’ll find in Tuckahoe. They sell a delicious chicken pot pie that kept me alive more than once. They also sell delicious muffins, pies, and hearty soups. They even provide gluten-free options. They also have coffee, which makes the whole atmosphere ideal.
11. Topps Bakery
Back over in Bronxville, right around the corner from the ACME, you’ll find a beautiful little bakery with amazing freshly baked bread and pastries. They sell incredible jelly donuts and cannoli’s so heavenly you’ll wish you bought a box of them.
12. Carvel Icecream in Tuckahoe
This place has the creamiest ice cream I’ve ever had. The perfect place to stop and grab a cone or bowl with your flavor of choice.
Well, that’s my little guide to Westchester. There’s still much to explore, but I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far in case anyone out there is looking for some insider information on Westchester New York.
I know I sure as heck couldn’t find anything concrete when I was looking.
Thank you for reading!