CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. (AP) _ It's the American Dream: After years of living in public housing, President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton have found a home of their own.

The Clintons have signed a contract to purchase a $1.7 million house in this quiet Westchester County hamlet. The decision, announced Thursday, ended a months-long guessing game over where the Clintons finally would put down their post-White House roots, while providing the residency Mrs. Clinton would need to run for the Senate.

The president and first lady will close on the house Nov. 1, and a White House spokesman said they planned to spend plenty of time in the white, three-story wood frame house _ a prospect that was greeted with a mixture of dread and delight by some of their neighbors-to-be.

``The Clintons will continue to live in the White House,'' Joe Lockhart said. ``As with other presidents, this house will be their private home and they will spend as much time there as they can.''

Lockhart said the Clintons will borrow $1.3 million from Bankers Trust Co. to make the purchase. The loan will be guaranteed in part by Terry McAuliffe, the president's friend and one of his chief fund-raisers.

``I'm just proud that as of today, Bill Clinton and I are the newest homeowners of the state of New York,'' Mrs. Clinton said at a fund-raiser Thursday night in Syracuse.

The house was built in 1889 and features a swimming pool, five bedrooms, four bathrooms and two fireplaces. The top floor contains an exercise room. The lot, just over an acre, is screened by evergreens at the end of a cul-de-sac.

At $1.7 million, the Clintons agreed to pay slightly more than the list price of $1.695 million for the house.

The Clintons, who earned $504,109 last year, will pay about $26,000 a year in property taxes on their new residence, according to tax records. This should prove to be a relatively novel experience for the Clintons, who have lived in public housing for 18 of the past 20 years _ for 12 years when Clinton was governor of Arkansas and the past six as president.

Under terms of the mortgage, McAuliffe _ a close friend of the president and his chief campaign fund-raiser _ will put up $1.35 million of his own money as collateral. The Clintons will make a down payment of $350,000, drawing on money from the blind trust established at the start of their presidency.

Residents were of mixed minds about the new celebrity status sure to attach to this small community when the Clintons move to the house on Old House Lane.

``I think the Clintons will bring a little bit of excitement,'' John Priscantelli, who said he lives about half a mile from the Clintons' future home. ``I think it's going to add some charm.''

Zyrafete Osmani, whose family has lived on Old House Lane for 12 years, said she did not mind the sudden influx of media and gawkers. ``It's been too quiet around here,'' she said. ``When we first moved in it was like a desert.''

Ms. Osmani, who is a Kosovar Albanian, added that Clinton ``did so much for our country. We could never have enough words to thank him.''

``It's a disaster,'' said Carol Thorsen, whose home is separated from the one the Clintons have picked by a wooded area. ``This town is too small. This is going to destroy the intimacy of the town.''

Others said the Clintons' residence would depend on Mrs. Clinton's political life. She hasn't declared her candidacy for the Senate seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, but it is widely presumed she will run. The couple has been spending their vacation fund-raising.

``If she wins, she'll move in,'' Susan Spar, 30, said of Mrs. Clinton as she ate dinner in Chappaqua's downtown area. ``If not, maybe they'll sell the house.''

Chappaqua, part of the town of New Castle, was originally settled by Quakers in the mid-1700s, said town historian Richard Neale.

To this day, the hamlet is mostly residential and there are few multiple-family dwellings.

Neale said he thought the Clintons will like living in Chappaqua.

``The only problem is, is the site they picked big enough to handle the operation?'' he asked. ``It's next to a main road, a handsome house but by no means a mansion.''

The Clintons' purchase of a home in New York won't sever their ties to their home state since the president will spend considerable time in Arkansas when he leaves office, developing his presidential library.