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Published by Contour Mortgage on December 27 2019

10 Awesome Long Island Neighborhoods for Young Families

Topics: Home Buyers

Update: Our original article from 2015 featured the 10 best Long Island neighborhoods for young families. Well, it’s high time for a revised list based on fresh information and new trends. Let’s revisit the statistics with NerdWallet.com and see what’s changed over the last several years!

When most people hear “New York,” the first thing they think about is the island of Manhattan and maybe one or two of the outer boroughs. In fact, there’s much more to the Empire State than the Big Apple—namely, the 118 miles of land to the east of the city known as Long Island. Sure, there’s also the great expanse that is Upstate New York, but it’s Long Island’s ascendance from mere bedroom community for New York City to the booming symbol of suburbia that makes it an intriguing place to raise a family.

For the uninitiated, Long Island proper consists of two counties: Nassau County to the west and Suffolk County to the east. Some might say that Queens and Kings (Brooklyn) counties are also part of Long Island, but that’s only partially true. Yes, those two city boroughs are part of the geographic land mass that makes up the island—but when you say “Long Islanders,” you’re referring specifically to people who live in Nassau County and Suffolk County. 

In those two counties, you’ll find two cities, 13 towns, and 205 villages and hamlets, with populations totaling close to 2 million people in each county, according to the most recent U.S. Census report. With so many potential places to live on Long Island—and so many people populating the island—what’s a first-time home buyer on Long Island to do?

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, NerdWallet.com analyzed 75 locations in the entire Empire State, including cities, towns, villages, and hamlets. The online research company then used that analysis to find the best combination of top-rated schools, overall affordability, potential for growth, and family friendliness, limiting its survey to municipalities with more than 20,000 residents. 

Here’s how Long Island fared: 17 of the top 20 places in the analysis were in Nassau or Suffolk counties. As such, for our list here, we present the top 10 awesome Long Island neighborhoods for young families, using NerdWallet’s analysis, along with our own factors, such as proximity to mass transit, neighborhood parks, and more.

Factors To Consider:

  • School District Rating
  • Number of Parks & Family Friendly Features
  • Proximity To Long Island Rail Road (LIRR)
  • Median Home Value

We're pretty enthusiastic about all of Long Island, but with a place this big, a starting point is always helpful.

 

Neighborhood County Town School District Median Home Value Parks Access to Mass Transit Proximity to NYC
Plainview Nassau Oyster Bay Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District $492,300
  • Plainview-Old Bethpage Park
  • Manetto Hills Park
  • Borella Fields
  • Hicksville (3.3 miles)
  • Bethpage (2.9 miles)
34 Miles
East Meadow Nassau Hempstead East Meadow Union Free School District $388000
  • Senator Speno Memorial Park
  • Eisenhower Park
  • Merrick (4.0 miles)
  • Bellmore (4.4 miles)
28 Miles
Commack Suffolk Huntington and Smithtown Commack School District $466,200
  • Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve
  • Whitman Hollow Park
  • Northport (4.2 miles)
  • Greenlawn (5.5 miles)
  • Deer Park (6.4 miles)
44 Miles
North Bellmore Nassau Hempstead North Bellmore School District $433,000
  • Newbridge Road Park
  • Adam D. Rand Memorial Trail
Bellmore (1.9 miles) 29 Miles
Levittown Nassau Hempstead
  • Levittown Union Free School District
  • Island Trees Union Free School District
$357,400
  • Levittown Veterans Memorial Park
  • Salisbury Park Drive Park
  • Bethpage (2.9 miles)
  • Wantagh (4 miles)
32 Miles
Smithtown Suffolk Smithtown Smithtown Central School District $472,200
  • Blydenburgh County Park
  • Caleb Smith State Park
Smithtown Train Station 50 Miles
Massapequa Nassau Oyster Bay Massapequa School District $485,500
  • Massapequa Preserve
  • Marjorie Post Park
  • John Burns Park
Massapequa Train Station 30 Miles
Valley Stream Nassau Hempstead Valley Stream School District $371,000
  • Valley Stream State Park
  • Arthur Hendrickson Park
  • Barrett Park
  • Valley Stream Train Station
  • Gibson Train Station
18 Miles
West Islip Suffolk Islip West Islip School District $411,500
  • Parkway Lawns Park
  • Islip Veterans Memorial Park
  • Babylon (1.1 miles)
  • Bay Shore (3.2 miles)
43 Miles
Merrick Nassau Hempstead

School District - Merrick and North Merrick School Districts

$527,200
  • Cammanns Pond County Park
  • Merrick’s Veteran Memorial Park
  • Norman Levy Park
Merrick Train Station 26 Miles

 

 

1. Plainview

 

County Town School District Median Home Value Parks Access to Mass Transit Proximity to NYC
Nassau Oyster Bay Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District $492,300
  • Plainview-Old Bethpage Park
  • Manetto Hills Park
  • Borella Fields
  • Hicksville (3.3 miles)
  • Bethpage (2.9 miles)
34 Miles

What began as a farming community and named after the “view,” its highest point afforded of the local “plains,” Plainview currently has close to 27,000 residents in what could be called the quintessential suburban hamlet. With particularly easy access to multiple major highways and parkways, including the infamous Long Island Expressway, Plainview is centrally located in Nassau County and features close proximity to multiple Long Island Rail Road stations. The hamlet’s schools are considered excellent and is extremely family friendly, while it also boasts many shopping centers and community parks both big and small. 

Local Food Tip: Plainview is home to multiple pizza joints, bagel stores, and Chinese restaurants, but it’s the gastropub and comfort-inspired restaurant Morrison’s that truly stands out.

 

 

2. East Meadow

 

County Town School District Median Home Value Parks Access to Mass Transit Proximity to NYC
Nassau Hempstead East Meadow Union Free School District $388000
  • Senator Speno Memorial Park
  • Eisenhower Park
  • Merrick (4.0 miles)
  • Bellmore (4.4 miles)
28 Miles

Way back when East Meadow was mainly pasture land, the area provided the country with more than 50 percent of its wool needs—but from those grazing fields grew one of the most diverse and successful neighborhoods on Long Island. East Meadow, an unincorporated hamlet with about 38,000 residents and one of the island’s largest and most popular parks, lands at No. 2 on the list due to its highly regarded school district, was ranked second in the entire state. Beyond that, East Meadow is ranked for being highly prosperous, with great potential for future growth.

Local Food Tip: While eateries of all types dot Hempstead Turnpike—the main thoroughfare that bisects East Meadow—one of the most impressive hidden gems is Sufiya’s Grill, an upscale-casual restaurant serving phenomenal Persian fare.

 

 

3. Commack

 

County Town School District Median Home Value Parks Access to Mass Transit Proximity to NYC
Suffolk Huntington and Smithtown Commack School District $466,200
  • Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve
  • Whitman Hollow Park
  • Northport (4.2 miles)
  • Greenlawn (5.5 miles)
  • Deer Park (6.4 miles)
44 Miles

Formerly the home of the Long Island Arena, where the American Basketball Association’s New York Nets and the Eastern Hockey League’s Long Island Ducks once called home, Commack is yet another Long Island neighborhood that was settled for its rich soil that made it perfect for farming. Now completely suburbanized, Commack is split between two towns, Huntington and Smithtown, and ranks second in terms of family friendliness. Four major thoroughfares surround Commack, including the Long Island Expressway, Northern State Parkway, Sunken Meadow Parkway, and Jericho Turnpike. 

Local Food Tip: It’s all about Athenian Greek Taverna, a local favorite lauded for its incredible food and friendly staff—and it recently relocated to a larger, more sleek space across the street from its original location.

 

 

4. North Bellmore

 

County Town School District Median Home Value Parks Access to Mass Transit Proximity to NYC
Nassau Hempstead North Bellmore School District $433,000
  • Newbridge Road Park
  • Adam D. Rand Memorial Trail
Bellmore (1.9 miles) 29 Miles

South of East Meadow on this list and on the map, North Bellmore shares a border with Bellmore proper—together known as “The Bellmores.” On the lower end in terms of population, with less than 20,000 residents reported in the last census, North Bellmore ranks among the most family friendly neighborhoods in the entire state. North Bellmore’s location also gives it easy access to the idyllic beaches along the island’s south shore.

Local Food Tip: While it’s technically located in Bellmore, not North Bellmore, Fat Boy’s Burrito Co. is a fast-casual Mexican spot with gigantic burritos befitting of the eatery’s name.

 

 

5. Levittown

 

County Town School District Median Home Value Parks Access to Mass Transit Proximity to NYC
Nassau Hempstead
  • Levittown Union Free School District
  • Island Trees Union Free School District
$357,400
  • Levittown Veterans Memorial Park
  • Salisbury Park Drive Park
  • Bethpage (2.9 miles)
  • Wantagh (4 miles)
32 Miles

Famously, Long Island’s Levittown is the country’s first planned suburban community, predating Pennsylvania’s Levittown by a handful of years. The neighborhood was built in the years following World War II and was mainly intended for returning veterans—and it’s still home to one of the island’s largest populations of former service members. These days, Levittown, a hamlet, is home to close to 52,000 residents with two quality school districts and home costs that are relatively affordable when compared to other nearby communities. 

Local Food Tip: Another community where Hempstead Turnpike provides lots of places to eat, Domenico’s, a family owned Italian eatery, has been serving the community for an astounding 50-plus years.

 

 

6. Smithtown

 

County Town School District Median Home Value Parks Access to Mass Transit Proximity to NYC
Suffolk Smithtown Smithtown Central School District $472,200
  • Blydenburgh County Park
  • Caleb Smith State Park
Smithtown Train Station 50 Miles

Smithtown is a hamlet that’s located in a town that’s also called Smithtown. With that somewhat confusing anomaly out of the way, Smithtown is steeped in Long Island history, with a founding that’s deeply ingrained in the settling of the island at large. Today, there are about 115,700 people living in the community, which also includes an up and coming Main Street that’s currently on the rebound. Situated just east of Commack, Smithtown’s chief draw is the prospect of a most fruitful future.

Local Food Tip: The community consensus is that if you’re going to Smithtown, you’ve got to stop for a drink at Tap & Barrel, a casual pub serving 50-plus craft beers. And for food, try Casa Rustica, which serves old world Italian cuisine.

 

 

7. Massapequa

 

County Town School District Median Home Value Parks Access to Mass Transit Proximity to NYC
Nassau Oyster Bay Massapequa School District $485,500
  • Massapequa Preserve
  • Marjorie Post Park
  • John Burns Park
Massapequa Train Station 30 Miles

The hometown of actors Jerry Seinfeld and Alec Baldwin, as well as musicians Dee Snider and Brian Setzer, Massapequa is one of the easternmost communities in Nassau County, while also brushing up against Long Island’s south shore, giving its residents great access to the beach. Massapequa, a hamlet, currently has a population of close to 22,000 residents, and scores well on the family friendliness, as well as schools, and prosperity, just like the aforementioned surrounding communities of East Meadow, North Bellmore, and Levittown. 


Local Food Tip: While there are many remarkable places to eat in town, ask anyone in the community and they will direct you to All American Hamburger Drive In, a true throwback burger joint that’s been in operation since 1963.

 

 

8. Valley Stream

 

County Town School District Median Home Value Parks Access to Mass Transit Proximity to NYC
Nassau Hempstead Valley Stream School District $371,000
  • Valley Stream State Park
  • Arthur Hendrickson Park
  • Barrett Park
  • Valley Stream Train Station
  • Gibson Train Station
18 Miles

Among the most affordable places on the list, Valley Stream has the distinction of being the lone Long Island community to rank that touches Queens County. This fact gives it incredibly easy access to JFK International Airport, as well as a decent drive time to Manhattan. Even with its proximity to the city, Valley Stream still maintains a certain suburban charm, complete with a main street-esque stretch along Rockaway Avenue. As for schools, Valley Stream boasts three high schools, each one gaining momentum in terms of academic prowess. 

Local Food Tip: Foodie destinations in Valley Stream consist of old favorites and new additions. There’s Charlie Meaney’s for wings, Itgen’s old fashioned ice cream parlour, Mia’s for classic Italian—but for a true hidden gem worth seeking out, try La Tienda De Chavela for authentic colombian food.

 

 

9. West Islip

 

County Town School District Median Home Value Parks Access to Mass Transit Proximity to NYC
Suffolk Islip West Islip School District $411,500
  • Parkway Lawns Park
  • Islip Veterans Memorial Park
  • Babylon (1.1 miles)
  • Bay Shore (3.2 miles)
43 Miles

Yet another south shore community makes the list, this time in Suffolk County. West Islip is situated on about 4,000 acres with close to 28,000 residents. There are numerous community groups offering services and cultural enrichment for residents, along with many clubs and organizations affiliated with schools and churches—this makes West Islip quite family friendly, while the great school system gives it the potential for future growth and prosperity. 

Local Food Tip: One of the most memorable meals you can get in West Islip is also one of the day’s earliest. Brownstones Coffee serves remarkable breakfast and brunch—think classic hash and eggs, along with the must-try French toast bites.  

 

 

10. Merrick

 

County Town School District Median Home Value Parks Access to Mass Transit Proximity to NYC
Nassau Hempstead

School District - Merrick and North Merrick School Districts

$527,200
  • Cammanns Pond County Park
  • Merrick’s Veteran Memorial Park
  • Norman Levy Park
Merrick Train Station 26 Miles

The south shore of Long Island boasts a very particular lifestyle, and few places on the island are more ensconced in that way of life than Merrick. Many of the community’s parks and activities center on the waterfront area, while Jones Beach State Park is a short 10-15 minute drive—depending on traffic. There are just under 23,000 residents in Merrick, according to the most recent census, and though it’s definitely suburban, it’s much more sparse than other similar communities. Meanwhile, Merrick’s schools rank among the absolute best on Long Island.

Local Food Tip: Being so close to the water, it stands to reason that a seafood restaurant is the place to go in Merrick. Check out Anchor Down, a small and intimate, yet casual and boisterous seafood eatery with one of the best lobster rolls on the island.

 

Awesome Long Island Neighborhoods: Honorable Mentions

Nerdwallet’s previous list of the top Long Island neighborhoods for young families featured some towns not found here. While those neighborhoods are no longer in the top 10, they are still great places to raise a family. Here they are!

  • Stony Brook
  • Massapequa Park
  • Wantagh
  • Holtsville
  • Bellmore
  • Lake Ronkonkoma
  • Manorville
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