“We are not the least expensive place in the world,” he said. “Our taxes are not cheap. But from my experience speaking with people, everyone tells me they are willing to pay a little more to help maintain the rural character of our town.”
The Farrells — she is an independent interior designer, he a film producer and media executive who works in Manhattan — had rented and owned apartments in the city for 20 years. The couple, both 43, and their daughters, 10 and 4, were spending July at Mr. Farrell’s mother’s home in Waccabuc, not far from where he was raised, and a few miles from Goldens Bridge.
Their time there had shifted their thinking about where they wanted to live. “We realized we could leave the city full time,” Mr. Farrell said. “We started looking at houses around Waccabuc and Pound Ridge, but we hadn’t fallen in love with anything.”
After Ms. Farrell left her purse on the train, her husband picked her up at the Purdys station, and drove her around the reservoir where he had bicycled as a boy. That night, captivated by North Salem’s beauty, Ms. Farrell went online and found a house. It is a 3,450-square-foot, three-bedroom carriage house on 8.9 acres. Named Swan’s Way, it was built in 1920 as the chauffeur’s cottage on the former estate of Richard W. Woolworth, and later expanded, then renovated. The Farrells paid $1,100,000 and moved in October.
Since then, their older daughter has begun playing soccer and basketball. And Mr. Farrell is honing his skills chopping firewood and creating enormous rounded Norwegian wood stacks in the front yard. “These are the changes that are happening to our family,” he said.
What You’ll Find
Nearly 1,900 single-family homes, some from the 18th and 19th centuries, make up the bulk of North Salem’s residential properties. About 250 houses around Peach Lake, on the town’s northeastern edge, belong to three cooperative complexes with private lakeside access. There is a 64-apartment affordable housing development and a 38-townhouse condominium complex.
The town consists of four hamlets: Purdys and Croton Falls to the west, Salem Center and North Salem east of the reservoir. Lesa Vogliano, an associate broker with Houlihan Lawrence, said Purdys and Croton Falls were more densely settled, with lower-priced homes, than the eastern side of town. There, she said, “you can feel the openness.”
What You’ll Pay
On March 4, there were 43 homes on the market, ranging from a $239,000, 1,260-square-foot, two-bedroom cooperative cottage in the Peach Lake neighborhood, to a 9,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom Georgian manor on 25.99 acres, listed at $12,800,000.
According to Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, the median sale price for North Salem homes during the 12-month period ending March 4 was $461,250, compared with $400,000 for the previous 12 months. The jump reflects a greater number of home sales over $500,000.
Sales were active on the lower end, too. “Under $600,000, they’re really moving,” Carol Goldberg, an associate broker with Vincent and Whittemore Real Estate, said.
It is just 55 miles from Manhattan, but it feels like the country. “We have no downtown,” Peter Kamenstein, the deputy supervisor, said. “We have no drugstores, no supermarkets, no movie theaters, no bowling alleys.”
What North Salem does have is open land: thousands of acres of horse farms, more than 100 miles of riding trails and 1,222 acres of protected land. The 1,082-acre Sal J. Prezioso Mountain Lakes Park encompasses five lakes and Bailey Mountain, the highest point in Westchester.
The town is home to Old Salem Farm, a nationally renowned equestrian facility, and Golden’s Bridge Hounds, among the oldest fox-hunting clubs in the country.
Shopping is limited, but nearby alternatives abound in Ridgefield and Danbury, Conn. In North Salem, local produce is sold at farms like Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard; at Purdy’s Farmer and the Fish, a farm shop and farm-to-table restaurant; and at Hayfields, a cafe, farmstand and gathering spot.
Theatergoers can attend performances at the Schoolhouse Theater. Across town, the Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden presents exhibitions and programs; its stroll garden was designed based on Japanese horticultural principles.
The North Salem Central School District’s roughly 1,100 students attend the Pequenakonck Elementary School for kindergarten through fifth grade and then North Salem Middle/High School, housed in one building. About 58 percent of the students live in North Salem; the rest come from portions of Somers in Westchester County, and Southeast and Carmel in Putnam County. Mean SAT scores for the district’s graduating class of 2016 were 543 in critical reading, 561 in math, 545 in writing; statewide mean scores were 489, 501 and 477.
Residents can take Interstate 684 to Manhattan, or catch Metro-North Railroad’s Harlem line at Purdys or Croton Falls. The rush-hour commute from Purdys is 66 to 81 minutes, and from Croton Falls, 69 to 84 minutes. The monthly fare is $407.
A 60-ton pink granite boulder, a remnant of a retreating glacier, perches atop five limestone rocks in North Salem, a configuration known as Balanced Rock. And the positioning has sparked debate in town: Is it man-made or natural? “I am not aware of any geologists or archaeologists who believe the placement was accidental,” said Susan J. Thompson, the town’s historian. “The real question is, how did it get up on those pedestals, and why?”
An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the stop on the Metro-North line where Gretchen Farrell left her purse. It is Goldens Bridge, not Waccabuc.