When Eugenia Spektor and her husband decided it was time to leave Long Island City for the suburbs, they knew the kind of community they wanted to live in, but weren’t sure they could find it. Their list of wants was straightforward: good public schools for their two children, a train commute of no more than an hour, walking distance to town, an easygoing atmosphere. The characteristics they hoped to avoid were harder to divine: success-crazed moms, high-pressure schools and, since they work full time, a predominance of stay-at-home parents.
Both from outside the tristate area, the Spektors were overwhelmed by the prospect of trying to distinguish among the hundreds of commuter towns surrounding New York. So they turned to Suburban Jungle Realty Group, a personal relocation firm that works one-on-one with city dwellers looking to move to the “right” suburb.
Though a licensed brokerage, Suburban Jungle acts more as a savvy guide, says the company founder, Alison Bernstein. Staff members interview clients in depth about their needs, values and lifestyle — liberal or conservative? Full-day or half-day kindergarten? Summers away or at home? Then it suggests some potentially appropriate towns. Clients are referred to outside real estate agents (who split their commission with Suburban Jungle if they sell a home), and can meet with designated resident “consultants” to talk in more detail about what a particular community is like.a