This week, I’m shining a light on one of the richest towns in America – the quintessential town of Bedford. With its long winding roads, stone-walled buildings, and picture-perfect horse farms, it’s no wonder that local luminaries like Ralph Lauren, Martha Stewart, and Chevy Chase choose to live here. Whether you are looking for a starter home or a larger estate, this beautiful town has it all.
Living in Bedford can be living as a suburban family on a cul-de-sac street, or living on a lot of acreage that allows you to keep horses in your own barn. Some choose it as a weekend home instead of The Hamptons, trading the ocean for lakes and riding trails, while others choose it as the perfect place to raise a family.
Tune in this week and hear from two residents who feel extremely fortunate to live in Bedford and how it was the down-to-earth community and amazing location that led them here. Discover all that Bedford has to offer and why you can have it all here, without being overwhelmed.
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What You’ll Learn from this Episode:
- The history of the town of Bedford.
- How life has been in Bedford during COVID.
- What the schools are like in Bedford.
- How the farms in Bedford are dedicated to sustainable agriculture.
- Why Bedford is the perfect place to raise a family.
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- If you enjoyed today’s show, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know and help others find Your Real Estate Connection in Westchester. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to subscribe, rate, and review!
- Ep #5: Katonah: A Down to Earth and Inclusive Community
- Bedford Village Library
- Bedford Hills Library
- Bedford Central School District
- Bedford Chamber of Commerce
- DeCicco Market
- Town of Bedford
Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome to Your Real Estate Connection in Westchester. A show for people looking to buy or sell homes in the Northern Westchester County area. Join local real estate expert Harriet Libov as she shares her professional advice on the local real estate market, connects you with knowledgeable community residents, and gives you helpful insights behind the home buying and selling process. Now, let’s dive into today’s episode.
Hello and thanks for tuning in. Today is a tour of Bedford, New York. This small Westchester town is one of the richest towns in America. And local luminaries like Ralph Lauren, Martha Stewart, Chevy Chase come to mind. It’s also the home of multi-millionaire Wall Street types like Nelson Peltz and Jamie Dimon. It’s known for horse farms and country estates. One of the reasons these famous people move here is that they can live under the radar and are treated like regular citizens.
Contrary to what most people believe, Bedford appeals to a wide range of buyers looking for different styles and sizes of residences. You can buy starter homes or a large estate. In 2020 the lowest sale price in the Bedford Central School district was 230,000 in Mount Kisco, New York. And the largest sale was for 5,150,000 on 18 acres, which my buyer client bought as a country home. Their main residence is New York City.
Technically the town of Bedford is made up of three hamlets, the Chair, a local government, and a police department. Bedford, Katonah, remember episode five? And Bedford Village. But as agents we work by school district when working with buyers. So for today’s episode we will be talking about the Bedford Central School district only. And we will be speaking to some local moms today as guests in today’s episode.
Jessica Nable moved here almost seven years ago and has three children in a home that has incredible privacy with a long, secluded driveway. Aggie Zaro moved here a little over eight years ago and lives on a real neighborhood street with bicycles and kids out all the time.
They both wanted a down to earth community and found it in Bedford. Thanks for being here today, I appreciate you tuning in. Let’s settle in, learn about Bedford, and begin the conversation.
Bedford Village and the village green are the heart of Bedford. With winding roads, stone walls, and picture-perfect horse farms. There are riding trails where you can have your own barn and ride off your own property on private dirt roads. Talk about a lifestyle.
The village green is a town common that looks like a Norman Rockwell painting or the quintessential New England town. It is now listed on the national register of historic places with the incredible architecture of the preserved old buildings like the library and churches that make up the small town. There are spaghetti dinners at the local firehouses, holiday parades, and it’s just a very community-oriented place.
A very old movie theater was no longer viable, and the community wouldn’t let it go. After years of local fundraising it’s now become the Bedford Playhouse, home of the Clive Davis Arts Center, another famous resident who contributed greatly to the playhouse’s second chapter. It’s now become a vibrant, state of the art cinema, cultural center, and community hub. A fun, welcoming space to relax and socialize. There’s also the impeccably maintained Bedford Village Memorial Park nearby. It’s complete with pool, tennis, and playground.
The preservation of the 400-year-old Bedford Oak, an incredible oak tree which stands along route 22 is an example of efforts to hold on to a symbol of the town’s history. In the 1980s a developer filed for permission to build a house next to the open field where the breathtaking tree stands. But concern that sewage might damage the tree’s roots spurred a fundraising effort that raised $51,000. With the money the Bedford Historical Society purchased the land and established a special fund to maintain the tree.
The Bedford Central School District offers a full day kindergarten in all elementary schools. And serves the southern two-thirds of the town, including Bedford Village, Bedford Corners, and Bedford Hills, as well as parts of neighboring towns of New Castle and Pound Ridge. There are five elementary schools, and Fox Lane Middle School and Fox Lane High School, which are on the same campus.
There are local farmer’s markets and private farms, like Cabbage Hill Farms, that are dedicated to sustainable agriculture. And is a working farm with no chemicals, hormones, or antibiotics used and has local events as well as selling at the John Jay Homestead farmer’s market. And there’s Rochambeau Farm, formally Daisy Hill Farm, that’s a local fruit and vegetable store.
Aside from the quaint village green the neighboring towns of Mount Kisco and Bedford Hills offer all the conveniences of larger stores such as Target, and home goods, as well as car dealerships and restaurants. Mount Kisco is a hub and the home of Northern Westchester Hospital, which is part of the Northwell system. It is strongly supported by the community.
So let’s talk today in a group conversation format to Jessica Nable and Aggie Zaro and how they live in town with all the resources available. So I normally ask where you and your husbands grew up. But I know the answers to all four of you, I think.
Jess grew up in Armonk, around the corner from where I raised my family in Windmill Farm. And even babysat for my kids. Her husband David grew up in Brooklyn. Jessica currently resides in Bedford Corners with David, and three children ages three through seven. She works as a communication consultant and is a regular contributor to Westchester County Mom. A parenting resource for local Westchester county area moms.
Aggie Zaro was born and raised in the Bronx, and her husband Michael also grew up in Armonk. And I’ve known and been friends with his parents forever, since I first bought my first home in Westchester. They have a son who is eight and a daughter who is six. And after working for many years in celebrity PR, model management, and as a celebrity and editorial manicurist Aggie is now freelancing for artist rep consultant Carol Romanoff of Romanoff Elements.
Harriet: Based on the fact that, Aggie, Michael grew up in Westchester, and Jess you grew up in Westchester, you knew a lot about Northern Westchester. Why did you each choose Bedford as your community? Who wants to go first?
Aggie: Jess, do you want to go or do you want –
Jess: I can go first. Yeah, I’m happy to go first. So we actually rented in Chappaqua for about a year before we started to look for the house that we ultimately bought. And I think that was really helpful just because my husband grew up in Brooklyn and didn’t know Northern Westchester at all. And even though I grew up in Armonk a lot changes over time.
It also gave us an opportunity to really figure out how far we would be willing to commute, get to know the towns a little bit better, and really determine what our top priorities were. And so once we decided that we wanted a lot of property and privacy. And wanted to be close to my parents who are still in Armonk, and my sister who is in Bedford, that really helped us to kind of hone in on Bedford and learn a lot in that process.
Things that I didn’t know even though I grew up here. Like the fact that there’s neighborhood elementary schools. The fact that there is so much hiking and outdoors activities that when you’re a child you may not take advantage of. But those things are really important to my husband who just loves to be outdoors. He’s an Eagle Scout so that was kind of part of what really appealed to us about Bedford.
Harriet: Okay, and Aggie.
Aggie: For us it was Michael grew up in Armonk and we always knew we would end up in Westchester. And we knew we wanted to be close to his parents who are still in Armonk. But even though we are five miles down the road, being a town apart feels a little separated. And we also knew some people who were thinking of moving back to Armonk. And we just wanted to start our own thing in Westchester.
And we also knew we wanted, at the time, a bigger school district. I grew up in the Bronx where everything is very different. And Michael grew up in Armonk which your friends from kindergarten you’re with all the way through high school. And we just wanted something a little different for our kids where it was more of, not a melting pot, but you have your elementary school friends. And then you go to middle school, you meet all new people from more elementary schools, because Bedford has five of them. So we just sort of wanted that aspect of it.
Harriet: Okay. And you both live in very different settings neighborhood wise. Jess, you’re in a more private setting and there’s actually a lake in the neighborhood for residents to use. Aggie lives on the quintessential, almost suburban street in Bedford with bikes and kids all running around. Does it in any way change the way each of you live here? Do you feel, other than your streets that your lives are any different because of that, or it’s just a choice of residence?
Aggie: Well, for me I never imagined myself in a colonial on a street like I am on. I always saw myself in a mid-century modern, in the woods somewhere and never seeing a neighbor. And when we first moved into the house I was like, “Oh my God, I see neighbors everywhere.” And as the street turned over to younger and younger families, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Especially this past year with COVID and everyone being stuck at home to just sit in your driveway and see people walking back and forth.
Harriet: Right, that’s a good point this year.
Aggie: And the kids riding their bikes back and forth and like, “How are you guys doing?” Like talking very far away, but just seeing people I think really helped myself and I think the kids sort of navigated it a little better.
Harriet: Right. Jess, you didn’t have that.
Jess: No, so we’re up an eighth of a mile hill.
Harriet: But your husband wanted –
Jess: Yes, he did, he did. But I grew up a hill in Armonk. But we really wanted a private setting, we wanted a lot of land. We back up to hiking trails at Butler Sanctuary. As Harriet mentioned, we have a lake that’s a private lake for our street and a couple streets in the area.
And I think our street does have some families and it’s taken a little bit more time for us to get to know them, but we have. And it also has weekenders because of the lake, I think. It feels a little bit more like a vacation home. But it’s still within a 10-minute drive to major highways, to all of the schools our kids will go to, to downtown Mount Kisco, to the doctors and the hospitals.
Harriet: It’s an amazing location.
Aggie: Yeah, your street is a very special street.
Jess: Yeah, so it’s really amazing that you can have that kind of private sanctuary. And I think for us with the pandemic we have just so much space for the kids to run around and explore and just be outside. So that has been really helpful too.
Harriet: Okay. And you both have kids in the schools and you’re both very involved. They’re in different elementary schools and you’ve both just experienced elementary school at this point. Obviously, post pandemic is challenging. What have your experiences been pre-COVID and I guess with COVID?
Aggie: For me pre-COVID it was everything you would ever want your child to have in an elementary school.
Harriet: You’re at Bedford Village Elementary School.
Aggie: Bedford Village Elementary School. Small, maybe two classes. Two, three classes tops per grade. It almost felt like a private school because it was so intimate and the classes were small. And all the teachers know the kid’s names, and they know the parents’ names. And just like that lovey-dovey feeling where you walk into the building, and I want to say it smells like cookies, but like it’s just –
Harriet: It’s a happy place.
Aggie: It was a really happy place. And it still is a happy place, I’m sure. I haven’t been in there in like a year. But parents can come and go and be as involved as they want to be. And they rely on parents a lot to do a lot of stuff, which I didn’t grow up with that so I think it’s amazing, I could be class a mom and this and that. And so I couldn’t ask for more from an elementary school for my kids.
Post pandemic, yes, more challenging. My first grader gets to go every day, and my third grader is on hybrid. But this too shall pass. And we’re getting through it. But as far as what the school, the teachers, and the school administration is doing for them has been above and beyond. Like everyone is smiling, you drop your kids off, you pick them up, the teachers are smiling.
Harriet: Right, the way it should be.
Aggie: Yeah, I think they’ve made it as not scary and normal as they can for them. As a parent it’s kind of scary and not normal but everyone is trying their best and I think they’re doing a good job. There’s hiccups always, but as far as the elementary school itself, it’s a wonderful experience.
Harriet: Okay, Jess, you’re at West Patent?
Jess: Yes. So I have a kindergartner and a second grader at West Patent. Similar to Aggie, I just adore the school. It’s such a sweet, sweet school. The staff is amazing, we haven’t had a bed teacher yet, and we’ve had, I guess, four teachers at this point. They just keep getting better and better.
And the other thing that I didn’t know when we bought our house, right, you see kind of the ratings, maybe you hear some things anecdotally. But what’s beautiful about West Patent is they have this whole focus on character education that I had no idea about. And kindness, and it’s just really distinct. And they have national accreditation around it. It’s just not something that was even on the radar, but I already see the benefits for my kids.
And then I think in a pandemic world just having the neighborhood elementary schools and these more like isolated environments for the kids with, as Aggie said, with two to three classes per grade. I mean my daughter’s class is like 14 kids. My son’s is 18. And they were able to bring the groups back together recently because it just is so small and the space allows for it.
So I’m very grateful for the neighborhood elementary aspect. And again, as Aggie has experienced, everybody knows my kid’s names, they’re greeted with friendly greetings in the morning, and everybody seems to want to be there. Which was definitely one of my concerns for educators and staff in a pandemic, “Do these people want to be there?” And they really do, it’s just a happy environment.
Harriet: Right. Question, just because I’m listening to what you’re saying and it sounds like that program you said at your school, is that only at West Patent? Or is the curriculum the same within the district for each elementary school? Are your curriculums different?
Jess: I believe the curriculum is the same. This is more of like an added focus area and there’s a coordinator who’s really focused on it. So it’s everything from service projects to just some of the things that they weave into the curriculum or into the way that they engage with the kids.
So one of the examples they gave us through, I think it was kindergarten orientation, was the way that the children are taught to greet the adults in the building when they see them. And the way that the children are greeted when they walk in the door. It’s things like that less so than the academic aspects.
Harriet: Okay. Okay, interesting.
Jess: It’s really interesting and I see the impact on my kids when my seven-year-old introduces my parents to her friends in kind of like a very mature and proper way.
Harriet: That’s very sweet. So Bedford has two private schools, Rippowam Cisqua, known as Rip, and The Harvey School. And I know there’s also a bus from Fox Lane that goes to Hackley in Tarrytown. And a pretty large student population from Ed Hackley in Bedford. My experience has been there’s a certain group that comes to Bedford with a private school mentality and it’s not necessarily a reflection of the schools. What’s your take on it as young moms in the schools?
Aggie: I mean, the few people that I know that are in the private schools up here are people that went to private schools themselves. And that’s just what they know. And that’s what they like. And it’s not, like you said, a reflection that our public schools are less than, or not giving the kids what they need. It’s just they’re private school families. And it’s just what they know and what they want.
And what I do like about Bedford Central School district is the sports that you do, like my son and daughter do play lacrosse, and it’s like Fox Lane Lacrosse. People who go to Rippowam, I’m not sure about Harvey school, but I know people who are at Rippowam who play lacrosse with my kids. So they sort of like intermingle anyway because I guess they don’t have that sort of program. So I think that’s great that private school, public school, they’re all together playing sports. It’s not a thing.
Harriet: It’s a community.
Aggie: Yeah, it’s not a thing, it’s like, “Oh, you go to Rip? Cool. You guys have a great playground.” Like, “Oh, you’re at Bedford Village? That’s so nice, you can walk up the hill and go to the deli.” It’s not a weird sort of public school, private school sort of thing as far as my perception and from the people that I know that go there.
Harriet: And Jess, any thoughts on that?
Jess: Yeah, so we do have some friends who do private school. We have a friend whose son is at Hackley and they both kind of were private school people. That was kind of always what they had wanted for their children. And I think for some other people maybe if there’s a specific need or focus that they want to have for their kids, private school may make sense. But I think that that’s probably a theme you’ll see in a lot of different towns, not specific to Bedford.
Harriet: Correct, but I think the fact that it is a very renowned private school, and the fact that you can own a beautiful home here. It’s a way for somebody who has a private school mentality to move to the suburbs and still accomplish what they want to do with school.
Okay, so what about recreation, parks?
Aggie: It’s the best. Bedford Memorial Park is the best.
Jess: We actually learned from Aggie about the pools in Bedford because I didn’t know about it growing up. And we did not do that in Armonk because I grew up in Windmill, so we had the lake. But Bedford has amazing town pools that you can join as a family for very little money. And they’re beautiful, pristine. They did an amazing job through COVID. You get access to three different pools.
We also took advantage of the town camp when our kids were really young. They go to a private camp now just because we wanted something a little more robust. But the town camp offerings I hear great things about as well. And we’ve also done a lot of the different programs through the rec department from dance to tennis, to ninja class. So I think that it’s a really good opportunity and it’s similar to some of the other sports offerings like Fox Lane Youth Lacrosse.
The Rec Department serves all of the areas of Bedford, so you’ll get Bedford Village, Bedford Hills, Katonah. Which is also really nice because my kids have friends in some of those towns and they do programs together.
Harriet: That’s nice.
Aggie: Yeah, like what Jess is saying, a lot of my kid’s closest friends from preschool are Katonah families. So the fact that we can go to their pool, they can come to our pool. And honestly, it’s like a country club, it’s so quiet and it’s shocking every time you go that there’s only like five families there. And I hope people don’t hear this and like come and ruin that. But it’s a gift to have it. And we don’t have a pool. It’s always been my dream, if you want to tell Michael.
Harriet: Yeah, I think he knows.
Aggie: I know, I think I’ve been very vocal about a pool. But just to go and they can run around, and they see their friends, it’s like the baby pool, and the lifeguard. It’s really magical.
Jess: And then they can run over to the playground right there. And run around on these beautiful playgrounds that are very well maintained. And also somewhat underutilized depending on the day.
Aggie: It’s like where is everybody?
Harriet: And what about commute to New York City? Jess you didn’t commute.
Jess: No, I mean I have here and there.
Jess: But my husband, before the pandemic, was commuting four to five days a week. From where we live, which is kind of closer to Mount Kisco than some other parts of Bedford, he drove to Mount Kisco. You’re able to get not resident annual parking, you can also get parking by the day, which I’ve done. Some people, depending on where they are may choose to commute from the Bedford Hills train station. Or I have friends who live even towards Bedford Village who will drive to North White Plains or White plains because they would prefer a longer car ride and shorter train ride.
So, I mean, there’s definitely options. I think especially in a post pandemic world you’re not going to see the same kind of wait lists for parking. But it’s manageable. It’s probably about an hour on the train from Mount Kisco and pretty pleasant because you’re one of the first people to get on one of those trains so you could always get a seat.
Harriet: Right. Anything else you guys want to add? You’ve given us so much nice information.
Aggie: I mean, I love Bedford. I mean, Jess, how many people have we gotten to move here? It’s magical, it’s great. It’s small, it’s cute, it’s quaint, it’s very down to earth. Yes, there are these mega mansions and horse farms but there’s also little cute streets like where I live, and the farms.
Aggie: And you can sort of get it all here and it’s not overwhelming. And I don’t know, I feel very fortunate to be here.
Jess: Yeah, and I think for me, what I love about it is it’s just a beautiful place to live. I mean I’m driving past farms and gorgeous estates every day, yet I’m so close to everything I want or need. And then the people are just wonderful. Like it wasn’t hard to find our people and to find really amazing friends. I think it attracts really nice families.
Harriet: That’s really nice. Okay. Well thank you guys, I really appreciate it.
Aggie: Thanks for having us.
Jess: This was fun.
Harriet: And I’ll see you around after COVID.
Jess: Definitely after COVID.
Harriet: Definitely after COVID.
So here’s the takeaway, living in Bedford can be living as a suburban family on a cul-de-sac street. Or living on a lot of acreage that allows you to keep horses in your own barn and ride on to riding trails as a normal part of your day.
You can do public school or one of the fine private schools in the area. Some residents might choose the area as a weekend home instead of the Hamptons. And trade the ocean for lakes, and hiking trails, and less traffic to get to and from the city.
So thanks for listening. Next episode we’ll learn about the Village of Pleasantville. A walking town with a unique blend of urban and suburban life in Northern Westchester.
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