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Could I Live Here? The Upstate New York Edition

Checking out the vibes amongst the mountains with Sheri Radel Rosenberg. Many New Yorkers are moving Upstate, but could Sheri live here?

As a water sign, the beach has always been my happy place. But with the post-pandemic era ushering in new norms regarding flexibility and expansiveness, aka space, I wonder about life beyond the beach or Brooklyn. And like many New Yorkers, Upstate New York is a great option for a very specific type of living.

What was once the Borscht Belt is now the new Brooklyn, as city folks went upstate to seek greener pastures to go with their kombucha. It starkly contrasts my beach affinity, brimming with lush forests, serene lakes, and charming (but chic) small towns. It’s the antithesis of my life by the sea: more green than blue, more rustling leaves than crashing waves. But with the influx of dearly departed city folks, could I become a mountain gal? 

Let’s talk specifically about the Hudson Valley and the Catskill Mountains regions, whose natural beauty and inspiration for centuries of artists is legendary. It has amazing restaurants, Pilates studios, farmers’ markets on steroids, and top-notch shopping. There is also reportedly a Soho House bastion coming to Rhinebeck, and I adore towns like Tivoli (the artist Brice Marden resides there) and Red Hook, which are close to Bard College. 

Sunset over the Ashokan reservoir during autumn in New York’s Hudson valley
Ashokan reservoir during autumn in New York’s Hudson Valley.

You’ve got fabulous art at the DIA Beacon, the excellent outdoor sculpture garden at Storm King, and world-class farm-to-table food at Blue Hill Stone Barns. Cold Spring, Kingston, and Hudson towns have great shopping and cool vibes. Woodstock is adorable, and my favorite diner on Earth is close by in Phoenicia. It has the best breakfast on Earth. Oh, and the vintage throughout the area is a big thumbs up. Huge bonus for that.

Known for its scenic mountains and vibrant arts scene, it’s a haven for those seeking tranquility with an edge. The area boasts a mix of old-world charm and new-age conveniences. Think cozy cabins painted black with midcentury style house numbers and farm-to-table dining experiences juxtaposed with art galleries and high-end boutique shopping. All of that aside, you still see plenty of Trump stuff, so this liberal lifestyle destination also has a conservative edge that can feel a little odd amidst all of the clogged boots and hand-knit hats. Plus, I can attest to some decent hospitals. One was in Rhinebeck, and one was in Kingston, where we had to take my father-in-law on a recent trip when he contracted the flu and received excellent care within a ten-minute drive from where we were staying.

In terms of cost, upstate New York real estate is more affordable than the city or the Hamptons. According to Zillow, the median home value in the Catskills hovers around $300K — starkly contrasting Margate City’s $1.8M. The living costs are lower, and the pace of life is slower, offering a reprieve from the constant buzz of city life. My friends who have homes there live beautiful chic lives with their dogs and other halves. 

The community aspect is intriguing, too. These areas are known for their tight-knit communities, where neighbors know each other and life revolves around local events. It’s a different social scene, less about the hustle and more about connection.

However, there’s a seasonal aspect to consider. Much like the Jersey Shore, many of these towns transform with the seasons. The winters can be long and harsh, contrasting to my beloved beach. But perhaps there’s a charm in the snowy landscape in learning to embrace the quiet of winter to learn something like mastering French cooking, much like I’ve fantasized.

The Verdict

While I’ve always been a creature of the coast, living amidst the tranquil hills and serene lakes of Upstate New York holds a certain appeal. It’s a chance to connect with a different element of nature and embrace a quieter, more introspective lifestyle. 

So, could I trade my sought-after ocean waves for the rustic charm of the mountains and lakes? Not a chance. Upstate New York offers a canvas for a different kind of dream that’s quieter but equally fulfilling. But for me, the pitch black nights and extreme quiet feel more like Stephen King than serene, and I’m not one for bears or hawks who will (heaven forbid)  treat my four-pound dog like a snack. The serene call of nature will not hold up for this city/beach gal. I guess that coq au vin is going to have to wait.

Plus, there are a lot of folks whose views don’t align with mine. Many Trump flags are flyin’ amidst all the Teslas and fermented foods. According to Wikipedia, “often attributed to the region’s semi-rural to rural character, there is more conservatism in culture and politics than found in the more urban downstate area. Plus, I’m not hearty in the mountain gal way. My idea of hearty is surviving a Proenza Schouler sample sale without a martini first, so there’s that. 

But what do you think? Could you trade the city’s pulse for the calming embrace of Upstate New York? Talk to me in the comments. XO

See medical disclaimer below. ↓

12 COMMENTS

  1. ha! i grew up in the catskills (monticello) and didn’t even know alot of the little villages that are now hip and happening. friends that still live there barely know what is going on around them. i did appreciate the beauty and serene atmosphere. couldn’t live there again, altho did consider it for a second. did flee los angeles for santa fe:-D

  2. Hi Sheri,

    I love living upstate. I live in Shandaken, near Phoenicia. We bought our house years ago as a weekend place, I still have apartment in the city, but spend more time at my house. I am a widow of two years and while this life change has been so difficult, being upstate has definitely helped the grieving process. There is a vibrant, diverse community, locals, weekenders and transplants that make it fun and interesting. And the natural beauty is astounding, so inspiring in every season. I feel fortunate to call upstate my home.

    Best,
    Maria

    P.S. I love the Phoenicia Diner too.

    • Love Phoenicia Diner! Kind miss those bourbon milkshakes. I’m glad you have such a lovely community there. We were neither locals or from NYC, we were very much outsiders. Loved visiting all the towns around us.

  3. Girlfriend I could write a book about living “upstate”.
    Lived in Peekskill for 4 years, then went further up and over to a tiny village called Franklin.
    It’s quite idyllic. If you can handle snow storms where you have to jump out of your bathroom window to clear and shovel out your back door, cool.
    The volunteer fire dept carrying around the confederate flag, even cooler.
    We did have a lovely bit of property with an apple orchard, barn, chicken coop(yes we had a menagerie of chickens and a duck-oh and rescued fighting chickens).
    Love visiting Phoenicia, and Andes and if you really want the romanticism of the glorious Hudson Kingston is a great trip. We had to get out, too cold for us but the summers sure were fun.

  4. I grew up in a small hamlet called Walker Valley. It was nestled at the base of the Shawangunk Mountains in Ulster County NY. For a young boy growing up it was perfect. A pond to fish and ice skate on. Hills to sleigh in the winter. Trees to climb and farm field to play baseball in. Later in life the Navy would take me all over the world. Although I would live in many places, the Hudson Valley of New York has always felt like home. It’s where I left to see a broader world and it’s where I’ve come back to live.

    I’m getting on in years now but still enjoy walking country roads. Watch the night sky darken and stars put on their show. I’m a painter and like the Thomas Cole’s and Frederic Churches of the Hudson River School era, around every turn there is always another scene to try and capture. It all has a familiarity to it. A homeness. I guess in many ways living in the Hudson Valley has been my Norman Rockwell experience. An experience that’s thankfully and gratefully lasted a lifetime.

  5. The word ‘Upstate’ scared me! It took me 2-3 years to realize what a great place I now live in. We have everything we need here! Left Queens 20 years ago , I wished I left sooner.

  6. You poor woman having to see some Trump signs. We can all live together but the left it’s a one way or no way. I did enjoy your article. It was well written and brought back a lot of great memories. I definitely understand the draw of the city and beach. I love them too. Thank you!

  7. Thank you for the amazing article!

    I am taking the plunge in the next year to the Woodstock/Saugerties (Saugertiestock!) area. I will build modern of my own design. I am in Tampa (downtown) for the past 10 years. It is great here – but the summers are getting hotter and longer (I am talking 110º heat index for weeks on end). Plus, the inevitable Cat 5 (or 6) will hit here at some point. Those who forget this history of storms in this area (there have been massive ones in the past) do so at their peril.

    I am not republican, but all of my close friends down here are. We respect each others opinions and get on just fine. Mutual respect. They are not militant, nor am I – so that helps!

    I am a former NYer – lived on “Lawng” Island and commuted to NYC for about 25 years.

    The connection you write of is critical, living in the country without those connections would not be good for most. For me, I would wither.

    As far as staying in the Hudson Valley long term, the jury is out. After visiting Portugal a couple of months ago I long to go again – and to stay as long as possible. Who would not want to stay there?

    The Ashokan area is staggeringly beautiful – even in lousy weather – a true barometer!

    I love, love the beach as well. Maybe the Hamptons is the next design/build project. I do love some me some Wolffer and North Fork oysters! Yummy.

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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

Sheri Radel Rosenberghttps://unapologeticstyle.substack.com/
Sheri Radel Rosenberg is a Philly-born, Brooklyn-based writer who explores style, beauty, culture, and midlife with wit, warmth, and wisdom. Her story includes successful forays in the worlds of trend forecasting, ad agency photo production, ghostwriting, and strategic messaging development for fashion and beauty brands - all while amassing a slip dress collection that would make any Gen Xer proud. At the dawn of social media, Sheri launched her personal blog–which combines her passion for writing with her style obsession–and she hasn’t looked back. As Style Editor for the AGEIST, she’s inspired by the styles of the 70s and the 90s, along with all the beautiful people she sees daily in NYC.

 

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