Life in Rye: 26 Things You Should Know, from A – Z

Welcome to Rye!

Congratulations on one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. As a Rye resident, you have access to top notch schools, great food, waterfront recreation, arts and culture, and a warm and welcoming community.

As you settle into your new hometown, you may have many questions about where to go, how to get around, and what to do in your new hometown.

I’ve called Rye home for over 25 years and feel uniquely qualified to offer some tips on this very special place to live. My children attended Rye public schools and I’ve been a very active member of the community (details here!)

I’m happy to offer a list of extensive resources for you to find answers to some of those questions! You’ll find links to important government, education, recreation, and community resources here.

Fiona Dogan’s ABCs of what every Rye Newcomer Needs to Know

For a more personal look at what I love about Rye, here’s a list from A to Z for you to discover what makes Rye such a special place:

A is for Arcade Books, Rye’s only independent bookstore. In operation for over 30 years, it’s a local favorite. A is also for the Rye Arts Center, a terrific community resource for art classes and so much more.

B is for the beaches! Rye Town Park has 34 acres of beach and swimming areas (also known as Rye Beach and Oakland Beach) and Rye Playland Beach is backed by the boardwalk and amusement park. Plenty of space for frolicking and fun in the sun and sand.

C is for the croissants and other delectable offerings at Patisserie Salzburg, a European-style café in Rye. 

D is for our lively downtown Purchase Street, lined with upscale shops for and restaurants. It’s also the site of many wonderful events put on by our active Chamber of Commerce, including the annual Sidewalk Sale and Mistletoe Magic.

E is for the Expat Connection, a terrific resource for the community of expatriates from other countries who now live in Rye.

F is for Frankie and Johnnie’s, Rye’s fabled steakhouse that is just a short walk from the Metro North train—perfect for dinner and drinks on the way home!

G is for the city-owned Rye Golf Club, home to a challenging 18-hole course with spectacular views of the Long Island Sound and an Olympic sized swimming pool.

H is for the hometown feeling you have when you live in this tight-knit community that is so warm and welcoming.

I is for indoor ice skating at the Playland Ice Casino, which offers a nice schedule of public skating time.  

J is for the Jay Heritage Center, the historic landmark home of American Founding Father, John Jay. An active museum, educational programs and historical tours are all offered here.  

K is for kid-friendly! There’s no community more suited to family-life than Rye! With top-notch schools, kid-friendly restaurants, waterfront fun, easy hiking, and a walkable downtown. Life’s a beach!

L is for Longford’s Ice Cream, simply the best! Small batch, premium ice cream for the past 26 years in downtown Rye.

M is for the 5.5 miles of pristine Long Island Sound shoreline you have access to, now that you live in Rye!

N is for Rye’s Nature Center, a wildlife preserve offering hiking, recreation, and educational programs and special events throughout the year.  And the Rye Newcomers Club — and excellent resource!

O is for oyster bar, as in Ruby’s Oyster Bar, a Rye mainstay serving up delicious steak, seafood and so much more in a chic and comfy setting.  

P is for Rye Playland, the historic art deco amusement park home to Westchester’s famous Dragon Coaster. Hours of entertainment!

Q is for all of your real estate questions I’m happy to answer! Just email me at

R is for our fabulous recreation department, which hosts several community events throughout the year including summer concert series, magic shows, Shakespeare in the Park, October Fall Festial, and much more.

S is for schools — Rye is home to two top-ranked public school districts, Rye Neck and Rye City school districts.  

T is for our beautiful 62-acre Rye Town Park with verdant spaces for relaxing and shoreline for swimming and historically significant buildings and structures.

U is for the dozens of upscale shops on Purchase Street which offer everything from clothing and home décor to wine, fresh produce and prepared food.

V is for very close to New York City! Whether you’re doing the daily commute or just popping into the city for dinner and a show, you’ll appreciate the quick trip in and back.

W is for the Wainwright House, a beautiful mansion that houses health, wellness, spiritual, and ecological centers. A great place to rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit!

X is for the eXcellent opportunities to volunteer in and around Rye. From getting involved in your children’s schools to joining a community organization such as the philanthropic Woman’s Club of Rye, there are several ways to give back to your new community.

Y is for the Rye YMCA, an important community organization offering exercise, swim, and sport programs, in addition to arts and community health programs. They host birthday parties, too!

Z is for Zoltar, the fortune-telling machine on the Rye Playland Beach Boardwalk where the 1988 fantasy comedy “Big,” starring Tom Hanks, was filmed.

International Buyers Should Consider Westchester County, NY

Relocating to the U.S.? Why International Buyers Should Consider Westchester County, New York for Their Next Move

International buyers purchased residential property nationwide, but in 2018, just five states accounted for 53 percent of all foreign residential homes purchased, according to research conducted by the National Association of Realtors.

New York State is among those top five top destinations for international homebuyers, and with good reason! Job and educational opportunities, and cultural similarities are among the factors cited. New York, and specifically Westchester County, has some of the best opportunities the nation has to offer.

Why should international buyers move to Westchester County? Here are just a few reasons.

Top ranked public schools

Westchester is the perfect place for young families because it is home to some of the best public school systems in America. In fact, in beautiful Rye, located in southern Westchester on the Long Island Sound, over 45 nationalities have been represented at Rye High School over time, which is consistently top-ranked among public schools nationwide.

International schools

Not only is Westchester home to stellar public schools, if you prefer other choices, there are five international schools which offer primary and secondary school options. The EF Academy is a traditional boarding school describing its education as “Oxfordian;” The Keio Academy is affiliated with Keio University in Tokyo, Japan; The German International School New York is college prep school which confers both a New York State high School Diploma and the German International Abitur upon its graduates; The French American School is an international school offering curriculum from nursery school through grade 12; and the Lyceum Kennedy French American School is a bilingual school from nursery school through 12th grade.

Access to New York City

Commuting to NYC couldn’t be easier from Westchester. With commutes averaging 30 minutes by train from Lower Westchester, traveling to midtown Manhattan for work or play is a breeze. Access work, culture, food and shopping in NYC while enjoying the quality of life Westchester has to offer!

Expat community

Expatriates, or “expats” — foreign nationals who have relocated to the U.S. – are in abundance in Westchester County. Many expatriate social organizations and informal social networks exist to support the community. For example, Rye Expats is a group of 160+ families who moved from overseas to live in Rye and nearby towns. They offer regular meetings and events throughout the year as well as online resources — including a “Taste of Home” list for readers who want to find the nearest shop with their native country’s specialties.

Beautiful homes, fabulous lifestyle!

Westchester County offers an unparalleled quality of life and a home to suit any price point. We have classic and custom Colonials, contemporary estates, waterfront luxury villas, historic and antique houses, and brand-new construction. For international buyers wanting to try out a certain area before settling in, beautiful homes are available to rent. (See current homes on the market here). Westchester County boasts world-class cultural institutions, beautiful parks and beaches, shopping and dining to suit an array of tastes, and close-knit communities. (Even more reasons to move to Westchester here).

Fiona Dogan, expert real estate professional with global expertise

An expat herself, Fiona Dogan helps international clients find their dream homes and settle into their new communities with ease. A native of Dundee, Scotland, Dogan travels the globe with her husband, a native of Istanbul, Turkey, and she speaks German, Turkish, and French. She raised her children in Rye, joined the Rye Newcomers Club and Rye Expat Connection, and came to know many relocated families of all nationalities. In short—she, too, has been a “fish out of water” and understands the needs of international families who are relocating the area, and can help them navigate new communities, new schools, and new customs. (More on Fiona’s story here).

Top 10 Reasons to be Thankful for Living in Rye

Beautiful beaches, quaint shops, gourmet dining, and top-notch schools—there’s no shortage of reasons to love living in Rye, New York! As the holidays approach, and we take time to be thankful for what matters most, this special community I call home is one of those things for which I am most grateful.

In the spirit of the season, I’ve narrowed my list (a challenge!) to just ten things that make Rye an idyllic place to live:

  1. The Beaches: Soft sand and gentle waters characterize our 34 beautiful acres of public beaches, known to locals as Rye Beach and Oakland Beach. Amenities include restaurants, a summer concert and entertainment series, and year-round scenic views.
  2. Rye Playland: Anyone who has seen Tom Hanks star in the movie Big is aware of our iconic amusement park, which opened in 1928. The centerpiece attraction is the Dragon Coaster, one of America’s few remaining wooden roller coasters—which also had a star turn in Big and in Fatal Attraction. A visit to Playland is always filled with old-fashioned fun.
  3. Lifestyle options: People looking to live in Rye have an array of home styles to choose from, making it easy to find one that is a good fit. From sprawling coastal estates and traditional center hall colonials, to split-level and ranch-style homes, the real estate market offers something for everyone.
  4. Top-notch schools: From private options like Rye Country Day, School of the Holy Child and Resurrection School, to our award-winning public schools in Rye and Rye Neck, which consistently rank among the best in New York State and across the nation, the educational institutions in Rye are simply stellar.
  5. Community involvement: If you’re looking to make new friends, donate time to a worthy cause, or spend time on activities you enjoy, there’s undoubtedly a community organization aligned with your interests. The Rye Arts Center, Newcomers Club, Women’s Club, Expat Connection, and Garden Club are just some of the many organizations that contribute to our vibrant civic community.
  6. Gourmet Dining: Rye has it all, including an elegant French eatery, upscale steak house, low-key bar and grill-style establishments, vegetarian dining, and beachy waterfront restaurants with views of the Long Island Sound.
  7. Shopping! Rye is a shopper’s paradise, with retailers offering fashion choices for the whole family (including the dog), home goods, and specialty stores such as Blue Tulip Chocolates, Parker’s, and Arcade Booksellers, all nestled in our quaint downtown shopping district made for strolling and browsing.
  8. Recreation: Rye is rich with recreation options! Our town park boasts a nature preserve, duck pond, and beachfront. The Rye Nature Center provides public environmental programs and includes a 2.5-mile trail system. Residents can take advantage of the Marshlands Conservancy and Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary. There’s also a municipally-owned boat basin and public 18-hole golf course.
  9. Proximity to New York City: The greatest city in the world is just 36 minutes away by train! Commuting to jobs in Manhattan is a breeze. Locals who work in Westchester can hop on Metro North after work, have dinner, and catch a Broadway show, or visit one of the city’s world-class cultural institutions. 
  1. The People: As a resident and local Realtor who has lived in Rye for 19 years, I can tell you there’s just something special about the people in Rye. It’s a safe, warm, and inviting community where your neighbors become your friends. People look out for you. Rye is a city with a small-town feel. I’d be happy to show you around!

Helping International Real Estate Clients Spread Their Wings

Are you relocating to New York and buying a home? Fiona Dogan is one of the leading international real estate agents in Westchester. Here’s her story…

An expat myself, I love helping international relocation clients find their dream homes and settle into their new communities here in the states. Looking back, one of the strongest motivating factors in my choice of a career in real estate was the opportunity it gave me to work with international clients and help them make the same transition I did when I first moved to the U.S. in 1993.

I was born in Dundee, Scotland and attended the University of St. Andrews. I’ve lived in London, Munich, Brooklyn Heights, Michigan, and have loved residing for the past 18 years here in Rye. My husband hails from Istanbul, Turkey. We we spend much of our free time visiting family in the UK and Europe as well as traveling nationally and internationally. I speak fluent German and some Turkish and French.

Having this global background has given me an unparalleled understanding of what my international clients go through when they make their first move to the U.S.

When I first moved to Rye, my children were just starting school. They attended Rye Presbyterian Nursery School, Rye Playschool, and subsequently Osborn Elementary, and Rye Middle and High Schools. My older son attended The Williston Northampton School from 10th to 12th grade, which gave me an additional, valuable understanding of the programs and environment private schools can offer.  All three children are now in college (Universities of Clemson, Michigan, and Richmond) so I am also very familiar with the college application process in the United States.

Just as I had experienced when I first moved to the U.S., international families tend to seek each other out to discuss and learn about how things work here. I myself joined the Rye Newcomers Club and the Rye Expat Connection, and connected with other new arrivals, many of whom are still my close friends 18 years later. Through school and these groups I got to know a lot of relocated families of all nationalities.

My career in real estate began in 2004 when I built my own home here in Rye. I joined Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty as a full-time Global Real Estate Advisor in 2007 and have worked with all types of clients at entry-level to luxury price points since then.

I’ve built an international real estate clientele based on a mixture of personal referrals, global clients who have sought my services after visiting, and others who have responded after seeing my global-themed advertising in the Rye Record. I also have many friends who are transplants, and they regularly refer their expat friends to me. In addition, satisfied international clients refer their incoming colleagues and friends. They know that I completely understand what they are going through as they try to navigate the complexities of moving to a new country, new community, new school system, new customs, and even language barriers and different types of humor!

I have enjoyed working with German, Dutch, French, Mexican, Canadian, UK, Japanese, Swedish, Swiss, Finnish, French, Australian, South African, and Argentinian clients, and am currently working with lovely families from France, Britain, Albania, Turkey, and India.   International clients prefer working with someone who has lived outside the U.S. and has also experienced being a “fish out of water.” Because I can relate to that, I can help ease their transition until they are ready to spread their own wings.

Fiona Dogan is a Licensed Realtor® in the Rye office of Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty. She is a Westchester Five Star Real Estate Agent, Platinum Award winner, and an Accredited Buyer Representative. For more information, please contact Fiona Dogan at: or visit her website at

Helpful Tips For Evaluating A School District

Considering a move to the suburbs? If so, finding a great home in an excellent school district may well be at the top of your list. Keep in mind that even if you don’t have school-age children, a community’s highly regarded public school system helps to ensure strong market value and a consistently high demand for property. Here are a few tips to get you started on finding the right school district for your family:

1.Visit the school district website in the communities you are thinking about moving to. The site should provide such comprehensive information as:

  • Number of schools in the district
  • Size of each school’s student and faculty body
  • Availability of learning support services and differentiated learning programs.
  • Detailed curriculum information
  • Electives
  • Extra-curricular programs
  • Disciplinary policies
  • Athletic offerings
  • College acceptance rates and results
  • PTO activities

2. Visit the Institute of Educational Statistics at, which analyzes data related to education and allows you to look for information about public and private schools, colleges, and libraries in the communities you are researching,

3. Explore school districts you are interested in at helpful online sites such as Education.comand, which will allow you to compare statistics for schools and school districts, as well as link to local community information and parent blogs.

4. When evaluating and comparing school districts be sure to examine such indicators as:

  • Class size
  • Student-to-teacher ratio
  • Standardized test results
  • Number and range of Advanced Placement (AP) courses
  • Average SAT/ACT scores
  • College matriculation results

5. Some progressive districts offer International Baccalaureate (IB) programs in high school geared toward preparing students for a global education, which is often of interest to parents from other countries.

6. Go see for yourself! Because you want to be thorough, I suggest that you tour the schools you are interested in, interview faculty and administrators, and, if possible, talk to parents about their experiences and recommendations.

7. Lastly, ask your Realtor about local property values and how they relate to the public school district. Your Realtor is prohibited by law from telling you whether a school is good or not, and cannot not steer you to one district over another. However, he/she may be able to give you the benefit of his/her personal experience, and can certainly put you in touch with other families in the area who have children in the school district, as well as local district officials, principals, teachers, athletic coaches, and past and current clients.

Fiona Dogan is a Licensed Realtor® in the Rye office of Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty. She is a Westchester Five Star Real Estate Agent, Platinum Award winner, and an Accredited Buyer Representative. For more information, please contact Fiona Dogan at: or visit her website at

Advice for Foreign Buyers Purchasing a Home in the U.S.

By Fiona Dogan

Today’s international homebuyers who settle in the U.S. come from the far corners of the globe, from as far away as Russia and Australia, and just across the border, from Canada and Mexico. According to the National Association of Realtors, foreign buyers purchased an estimated at $104 billion in U.S. residential real estate from April 2014 to March 2015, in all 50 states. Property sales to foreign buyers amounted to roughly 4 percent of the total U.S. home sales during that time period. Whether seeking a primary residence, real estate investment, or vacation home, international buyers can find purchasing a home in the U.S. to be a daunting and experience. That’s why you will want to work with a Realtor who is skilled in helping clients navigate the complex, time-consuming, and what often seems to be the overwhelming world of international real estate.

Here are some tips to help you define your needs and embark on a search for property located in the U.S.:

1. Determine how your property will be used. Before you begin your search, take into consideration how you plan to use your home. This might be as a vacation home, investment, residence to stay in while doing business in the U.S., home for your children while attending U.S. colleges, or primary long-term residence. By knowing the principal use for your property as well as how long you plan to own it, you’ll be able to provide valuable information to your Realtor that will help guide your search.

2. Learn how the U.S. real estate market works. The way U.S. real estate transactions are carried out may differ from those in your native country. In the U.S., each state has its own set of rules regarding the purchase of real estate, including the type of purchase contract used, the method of closing the sale, and duties and titles. In the U.S., real estate listing information is shared by Realtors using a multiple listing service (MLS). Consumers can access that same information using such online real estate information sites such as Zillow and Trulia. In many other parts of the world, real estate is much more disjointed, with buyers having to go from Realtor to Realtor to find a suitable property. While in some countries it is typical to pay a fee to the Realtors who are scouting and showing you properties, in the U.S. buyers are not obligated to pay such a fee; the sales commission is paid by the seller. In addition, in the U.S., Realtors need licenses to operate, with each state having their own licensing laws.

3. Work with local real estate professionals. Foreign buyers should take the time to find qualified and experienced professionals to guide them through the real estate purchasing process. If you are not fluent in English or would feel more comfortable speaking your native language, select Realtors, as well as attorneys, inspectors, and bankers, who are conversant in that language. While it may be possible to get translated copies of standard real estate documents, it’s likely that you will have to sign the English versions when it comes time to close the deal.Assembling an experienced, qualified team will take some time, and it’s best to ask friends, family, and colleagues for referrals. You can also do website searches or find local Realtors in real estate directories, but make sure to check their references. In the end, the expertise these professionals bring should make the experience less stressful for you.

4. Get financing. Qualified foreign buyers with a 30 to 40 percent down payment usually can obtain financing for their U.S. real estate purchases. However, it’s important to note that many banks require foreign buyers to have a specific amount ($100,000 or more) on deposit with the bank, while others set loan limits of $1 million to $2 million. Foreign buyers may also be required to present a minimum of three months of bank statements. Before applying for a U.S. mortgage, a foreign buyer must first establish credit and earn a good credit score. You can begin building your credit score by opening U.S. bank and credit card accounts. You’ll also want to be sure to report all income on your tax return as lenders use this income information to determine how much money they’re willing to loan you to buy a home. Lastly, when you do apply for a mortgage, it’s best to consider major banks with global operations. These lenders have the experience necessary to verify credit established in other countries and to guide you through the process of getting a mortgage in the U.S.

Fiona Dogan is a Licensed Realtor® in the Rye office of Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty. She is a Westchester Five Star Real Estate Agent, Platinum Award winner, and an Accredited Buyer Representative. For more information, please contact Fiona Dogan at: or visit her website at

Let Fiona help you sell or find your dream home. Contact Fiona at 914-414-5147 or email her directly.