Can you afford property taxes in the NYC suburbs?

For families moving to the suburbs from New York City, one of the more mystifying elements of the experience is figuring out property taxes. On many occasions, people set their budget based on the price of the property they wish to purchase, only to realize later that in many of the desirable towns throughout Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, and Connecticut, property taxes can rival your mortgage as a line item in your monthly budget.

Property taxes can be confusing, and there are a number of factors that can determine how high the taxes are in a particular town. As a general rule, however, most towns with a strong school system and close-in commutes are going to be pricey on the tax front (with occasional exceptions.) Oftentimes the largest driver of a towns costs is its school system, and towns that invest more in their schools often have higher taxes. Another huge factor is how many large (tax-generating) businesses are in town – a town with a huge mall, or corporate headquarters, may be able to raise a significant share of its costs by taxing businesses. But for those leafy, quiet towns without much in the way of large businesses, they will likely be depending on the homeowners to pay for needed services.

Generally, your taxes will be calculated based on two figures: 1) the tax rate (0r the percentage of your home’s assessed value that will be make up your annual tax bill) and 2) the assessed value of the home. This means that even if your town has a lower tax rate, if the property values are very high you will still have significant taxes. Conversely, you may have a town with lower property values but much higher rates. Complicating matters further is the question of how often (and how long ago) a given town has done property assessments. One town might not have done an assessment for many years (leading to lower assessed values and perhaps higher rates to compensate), while another may have done an assessment in the last year (leading more accurate – and generally higher -assessed values and perhaps a lower rate.)

Want to know more about property taxes in the NYC suburbs and which towns might be best for you? Check out PicketFencer’s free concierge service that offers expert advice from locals who have already made the move. Click here to learn more.