When Oyster Bay came in at No. 34 on Money Magazine’s best places to live in the United States this September, Bryan McMillen wasn’t surprised.
“You have so many wonderful outdoor amenities, [like] the Theodore Roosevelt Park,” said McMillen, who manages the Sea Cliff and Glen Head areas for Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty. “Sagamore Hill recently reopened. There are parks, softball fields, tennis courts and plenty of parking. There are a lot of getaways.”
Perhaps Glen Head, another area McMillen has noticed becoming increasingly attractive to home buyers, will make next year’s list. Whether you’re looking to buy a home or simply find the best grub in town, let McMillen guide you through the best of Oyster Bay and Glen Head.
What did you do before getting your real estate license?
I had two careers before real estate. Out of college, I was an actor and I did that for about 14 years and then I moved home to Long Island in 2002 and I taught locally at a private school in Locust Valley for three years before getting my real estate license with Daniel Gale.
What inspired you to go into real estate?
My Aunt Jane Hayes was a very successful real estate agent in the 80s and 90s in Locust Valley. If I had known then what I know now, I would have done it sooner. I have a lot of pride about Long Island, the North Shore, Locust Valley and the surrounding areas. I have an appreciation for the history, lifestyle, the amenities and the parks.
What is the best part of your job?
Showing people new to the area around. I’ve put a lot of new folks into homes around the area. [I watch] them get engaged in the community and their kids go to the area schools. Then they come up to me and tell me their happiness factor has improved. That’s job satisfaction.
What are some common mistakes people make when buying a home?
A lot of people begin their search without fully investigating their buying power. The very first phone call they need to make is to a mortgage professional. They need to get a real sense of their buying power.
Why is this so important?
If you don’t know what your buying power is you can spend quite a bit of time wasting your time looking at wrong price points. Then you start making offers and realize, “I can’t actually afford this.” You don’t want to be house rich and cash poor.
What are up-and-coming areas on the North Shore?
Sea Cliff is extremely popular right now. We can’t seem to keep a lot of inventory on the market. It offers a very walkable, pedestrian lifestyle. Everything is sidewalks and they’ve done a phenomenal job maintaining history. You have multiple beaches. There are nice restaurants. It’s quaint and a bit off-the-beaten-path so it’s not highly trafficked. I think the best way to put it is there is a lot of pride and ownership of the community.
What makes Glen Head special?
Glen Head is very diverse. It’s unique in that it has a commercial business feel aside from the walkable communities and strong school district. There’s a lot of local business and that’s primarily because there are a couple of main streets. Everyone knows the local baker, the guys and gals at the sandwich shops. The residential areas are nicely sequestered from all these business.
What are some things you do for fun in the Oyster Bay and Glen Head areas?
Oyster Fest [in Oyster Bay] is really big and the Mill Neck Manor Apple Festival at the School for the Deaf & Blind in Mill Neck are really big [in the fall]. Planting Fields Arboretum is a magnificent arboretum where people can walk.
Which of the areas’ eateries and watering holes should be on everyone’s bucket lists?
You have the Oyster Bay Brewing Company, Wild Honey, Canterbury’s Oyster Bar & Grill and Taby’s Burger House. People line up for a hot dog from the Bonanza Stand. In Glen Head, Heirloom and Jack Shack, which is a cool organic place.
What is something you can’t live without?
My children. I have a 7-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy.
What do they love about LI?
They’re really happy in their school and there are so many things for them to do. My daughter does swimming lessons at CW Post, ballet and gymnastics at Glen Head and lacrosse in Locust Valley. My son, he does swimming, a little lacrosse [and is] learning tennis. There are all kinds of opportunities for children.