Milford, Conn.: A Pretty New England City That’s ‘Just Big Enough’

Less than two weeks after Alen Ilic moved into in the house he bought a block from the marina in Milford, Conn., he arrived home to find his mailbox filled with a fruit platter and an assortment of notes signed by his neighbors.

​“That pretty much sums up how people behave around here — they’re so welcoming,” said Mr. Ilic, 46, who was also surprised by the friendly greetings he got while walking his dog, Kane — something that rarely happened during the 20 years he rented in Woodside, Queens, before moving to Milford in early May. Now, he said, “It happens all the time. People say ‘good morning,’ and it’s so nice.”








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By The New York Times

​When he decided it was time to buy a home earlier this year, Mr. Ilic, a cyber security engineer, knew he couldn’t afford the sort of place he wanted in the city, so he began researching outlying areas. After ruling out New Jersey, as well as Westchester and Long Island, where the taxes were too high, he settled on Connecticut.

Like many others, he quickly discovered that simply by crossing into New Haven County, his savings would be substantial.

​“Milford is the first coastal town outside of Fairfield County, so the housing prices and taxes are much lower,” said Barbara Zink, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker, who grew up in Milford.

Mr. Ilic, who wanted something with character, decided on a 1900 house that previous owners had converted from three bedrooms to two, with stained-glass windows and built-in cabinetry. He paid $230,000, and his annual property taxes are just over $4,000. The house is in the Devon neighborhood, close enough to the city’s bustling downtown and to one of the many beaches that Mr. Ilic can walk to either spot in less than 30 minutes.

The 297-acre Silver Sands State Park has a broad beach, hiking trails and recreational facilities.CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

​Milford’s 14 miles of shoreline — the most of any city in Connecticut — is a big draw for its 52,500 residents. With five public beaches, seven private beaches and a beachfront state park, the city (and especially the neighborhoods adjacent to those beaches) has become increasingly attractive to second-home buyers, retirees and empty-nesters, like Ibett Aponte.

​Following a divorce, and nearing retirement after a 47-year nursing career, Ms. Aponte was ready for a change. So a year and a half ago, she left Westborough, Mass., for the Walnut Beach section of Milford, where her daughter had moved 11 years earlier. She bought a four-bedroom house with a yard big enough to accommodate her nine grandchildren, paying $320,000. The home is a five-minute drive from Walnut Beach, or a 12-minute walk to the three-quarter-mile boardwalk that connects Walnut Beach to Silver Sands State Park.

“It’s a pretty New England town that’s just big enough, but not too big,” said Ms. Aponte, 68, who attends the free summer concerts and weekly farmers market at Walnut Beach, and participates in programs at Milford’s senior center and the local YMCA. She is also happy to be closer to New York City, and makes frequent train trips there, taking advantage of Metro-North Railroad’s senior discount. Now she is hoping to talk her sons into moving to Milford.

“If any of my kids in Massachusetts were willing to move, I’d tell them to only consider Milford,” Ms. Aponte said.

Tucked beside the Housatonic River and hugging a long stretch of the Long Island Sound, Milford has a close relationship with the water. The beaches provide much of the city’s social fabric during the summer, as do the boat-filled marinas and busy harbor. Added to that are the many ponds, inlets and salt marshes, and a downtown waterfall that offers a picturesque backdrop for City Hall.


11 SMITHS POINT ROAD | A three-bedroom, two-bathroom house on the water in a gated community, built in 1998 on 0.14 acres, listed for $898,500. 203-623-9844CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

Beyond the shoreline, this 23.6-square-mile city extends north, bisected by I-95 and a highly commercial stretch of Boston Post Road, with several distinct neighborhoods and a highly varied housing stock. North of the Post Road are farmlands and two large housing developments built in the past 20 years, while the streets surrounding the downtown are lined with 19th-century homes. Sprinkled throughout the city are the hundreds of Cape Cod-style houses and split-levels built in the 1950s for returning World War II vets, as well as a number of condominium complexes.


222 OLD FIELD LANE | A four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom renovated Cape Cod-style house, built in 1951 on 0.21 acres, listed for $649,000. 203-590-0115CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

“It’s amazing the different types of houses we have here in Milford. You can get something for $190,000 or $2.2 million, so there’s something for everyone,” said Ms. Zink, who grew up in a mobile-home park owned by her family that once sat on the Post Road before moving in 2005 to make way for a Walmart. Now called Ryder Woods and under new ownership, the mobile park is home to about 200 families.

Residents can age through Milford’s various housing options without having to leave the city, said Stephanie Ellison, a broker associate with Re/Max Right Choice: “When people have kids, they want the larger properties in the north, with big yards. Then when the kids leave, they move to the beach, where there’s a very social vibe and everybody knows everybody.”


44 GOVERNORS AVENUE | A Victorian house with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and carriage barn in back, built in 1860 on 0.71 acres, listed for $639,900. 203-243-2423CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

As of May 20, Ms. Zink said, there were 249 homes on the market in Milford: 201 single-family houses, 37 condominiums and 11 multifamily properties. The most expensive was a 6,639-square-foot waterfront house built in 2006, with four bedrooms and six bathrooms, listed for $2.075 million. The least expensive was a two-bedroom, one-bathroom, stationary mobile home in Ryder Woods, listed for $64,900, while the least expensive condominium was a one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit in South Wind Village, built in 1970 and listed for $129,900.

​The market has softened a bit this year: Through the end of April, the median sale price was $275,000, according to Coldwell Banker Area Reports, compared with $298,500 for the same four months in 2018.


114 CEDAR HILL ROAD | A four-bedroom, two-bathroom upgraded Cape Cod-style house, built in 1941 on 1.15 acres, listed for $445,000. 203-464-2598CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

Shops and restaurants line the mile-long central green and spill into the harbor area, the site of the annual Milford Oyster Festival, which is held in mid-August and features big musical acts and 30,000 oysters. (Milford was once a major oyster fishery.) Most of the beach communities have their own town centers and events, like the pie-eating contest on Woodmont Day in late July.

For big-box stores, car dealerships and furniture shopping, there is the Connecticut Post Mall and other commercial centers on Boston Post Road. Bird-watchers gravitate to the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center at Milford Point, where 315 species have been sighted in the adjacent 840-acre Charles Wheeler Salt Marsh and Wildlife Management Area.


The SBC Restaurant and Beer Bar, near the Wepawaug River, offers outdoor indoor and outdoor dining, and has more than a dozen beers on tap.CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

Milford’s public school system includes eight elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools (both of which have about 900 students), plus the Academy, an alternative education high school.

Average SAT scores for students at the Jonathan Law and Joseph A. Foran public high schools in 2017-18 were 529 in English and 521 in math, compared to state averages of 516 and 503.

Kaliegh Garris, an 18-year-old competitive dancer and student at Joseph A. Foran High School, was crowned Miss Teen USA in April.


The intersection of River and Broad Streets, in downtown Milford.CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

Private schools include Lauralton Hall, a Catholic girls high school with about 400 students.

Driving the 70 miles to New York City on I-95 or the Merritt Parkway takes about 90 minutes to two hours, depending on traffic.

The Metro-North New Haven Line offers direct service to New York City from a station in downtown Milford. Trains take 90 to 115 minutes; a one-way ticket is $15.75 to $27, depending on the time of travel and method of purchase, and a monthly pass is $449.


The congregation of the First United Church of Christ has been around since the founding days of the city, in the early 17th century.CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

Sailing along the Connecticut coast, Captain William Kidd and his pirate crew stopped in Milford in 1699, and are believed to have buried some of their stolen treasure on Charles Island before continuing to Boston, where they were captured.

During low tide, treasure hunters walk out to the island, now a nature preserve and part of Silver Sands State Park, hoping to uncover his booty, and occasionally get caught in the returning tide’s currents. The city celebrates the legend with an annual Pirate’s Day in June.

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Published at Wed, 29 May 2019 09:02:08 +0000