I Need to Find a House

After 10 years with my company, I have been the chosen lucky one that is being relocated. I have been given a housing allowance, a moving allowance and a couple of weeks off with pay to settle in. Problem is, I have to move clear across the country from California to New York and I simply can’t afford to fly out every weekend to try to find a place to live. I have to move in two months and I desperately need some advice on finding apartments and houses. I am kind of on the fence about this because I will only be able to fly out once to check on places and make my decision. This is quite a big move for my family and me and I am hoping to never have to do it again.

I have a wife and three small children so I need to find something in a good neighborhood with good schools and a low crime rate. I will be working in the Manhatten area so any neighboring cities or villages that I would have to commute from would be fine. I have tried doing some of my own research but there are just so many places to look and not being from the area really hinders me in my search. I have no idea where anything is, what is close to where I need to be or what kind of area it is. We have quite a hefty housing allowance, so I am not really wound up in the price. It just has to be a safe, healthy environment for my children. I would also prefer something close to a park and a pet friendly area. We also have 2 large dogs that are a part of our family and will be coming with us. This is not negotiable. Any help or advice would be really appreciated.