Something is luring New Yorkers 120 miles outside of the city.
Why are people leaving New York City? Though more and more people continue to move to the Big Apple, others are choosing to opt out of apartment living and making their exits. This is a coming-of-age chapter as millennials near and pass age 30, start families and tune into the home market. And prominently placed on their to-do lists is finding somewhere with a bit more headspace and a bit more home space.
Given often-prohibitive city prices, there is a renewed focus on less expensive fringe cities that still offer access to Manhattan.
Essay writer and copy director Deenie Hartzog-Mislock recently chose Hudson for these very reasons.“We wanted space, nature. We knew we wanted a lifestyle that was a little quieter and easier,” says the writer, who is currently working on a collection of essays. A leisurely and pastoral two- hour jaunt on the Amtrak’s Empire Service drops newcomers like Hartzog-Mislock off in Hudson. This stop is now known as “the downtown of upstate,” a name the new contingent of Greenwich Village-hopping expats inspired.
The rusty red A-frame on the Hudson train station greets its new residents with farm-fresh food, offbeat antique décor and affordable 1800s farmhouses. The station provides relatively quick access from the big city to Hudson Valley towns close to NYC.
Hartzog-Mislock liked the idea that she could equally tap into the town’s local community and these like-minded newcomers. To start, she already knew a watercolor artist and a rep from her magazine days working at Condé Nast who lived in Hudson. “I thought, ‘Oh, if these people are there, then they’ll attract other people like them I would like. I could find community.'”
COST OF HUDSON, NY REAL ESTATE & HOUSING
In the seat of Columbia County, this two square-mile hotbed serves up four times more square footage than NYC expats may be used to. Hartzog-Mislock says, “When we looked here, it was more affordable. It was the same to rent a house here as a railroad apartment in Williamsburg.”
A Zillow.com search reinforces this. An available four-bedroom home in the area shows a cost of $493,256 for 2,000+ square feet, while the same money could barely buy a Brooklyn studio under 500 square feet. Meanwhile, the median home value in Columbia County is $221,800.
This explains the Hudson, NY real estate market’s noticeable growth. According to a New York Times article from last year that looked at how the housing market has changed between 2014 and 2017, the area has experienced a 45 percent increase.
Hartzog-Mislock and her husband are currently renting a home on 10 acres of land while they watch the market. “We’re not opposed to buying,” she says. Given the upsides and the ability to score more space for the same price, many are eyeing Hudson as a worthwhile real estate investment. “If we’re going to stay, then we should buy now even if we’re only here two or three years. It’s just unwise to not make that investment,” agrees Hartzog-Mislock.
As the Hudson housing market expands, nearby cities are also enjoying more attention from city escape artists. While the house Hartzog-Mislock calls home these days has Hudson as its mailing address, it’s technically in the neighboring town of Claverack. Still, she enjoys all the amenities Hudson provides.
For Hartzog-Mislock and her husband, this includes a long list of cultural to-do’s. It’s easy to amble about in Hudson and take in a smattering of the contemporary art scene via a half-mile DIY gallery walk. All of which can be easily done without leaving Warren Street.
First, start at John Davis Gallery, then swing by SEPTEMBER and end at Concepto Hudson. A block before arriving at Concepto, many passersby take a peek at the homewares and accessories at Hawkins New York, a landmark Hartzog-Mislock calls “a beautifully curated shop.” This gem is nestled among other antiquing and interior design hotspots such as Arenskjold and foley&cox home.
The arts and culture scene in Hudson is enough to keep most people entertained, both for those seeking a little diversity, there are also a number of neighboring communities — for example, Athens or Catskill — that are just a short drive from Hudson.
WORK AND COMMUTING
The 120-mile journey into NYC is equally doable and dreadful for a daily commute. Just ask anyone who’s lived in the Hamptons for the summer and trained into work.
That said, fewer millennials and even Gen Zers have to do daily commutes. According to statistics compiled by GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, 50 percent of American workers have jobs that would permit remote work at least some of the time, and between 20–25 percent of the U.S. labor force actually does some telework. The continued growth of gig economy may mean less need to physically be in the city in order to work.
“Me being full-time freelance, I like the idea that I could get into the city,” says Hartzog- Mislock, who recently completed a contract in midtown Manhattan. She became accustomed to going on-site one day every other week for $72 round trip.
Most of her new contacts also work remotely, including a public relations consultant, a cookbook author, a woodworker, a media sales rep, a painter and her guitarist/composer husband, Tim. They’ve even started co-working with friends at their home given how much everyone has in common: A past life in the food, fashion and culture industries; mutual friends; and an appreciation for a change of pace.
COST OF LIVING
This more relaxed pace comes with being in a place with 440 times fewer people than their previous home in NYC. There are fewer people to compete with for land, schools and healthcare. In fact, the cost of living in Hudson is 2.9 percent lower than the national average, according to Sperling’s Best Places.
Meanwhile, when it comes to expenses such as food and gasoline, people in Hudson can expect to pay less. Hartzog-Mislock recalls recent expenses such as filling up her gas tank for $34 and buying a bag stuffed to the brim with salad greens for $3.99 at the local Chatham Berry farm. A single bunch of kale at Union Market in Brooklyn would have cost the same.
When they’re not cooking in their ample kitchen, Hartzog-Mislock and her husband frequent the foodie scene on main strip Warren Street. Their favorite Hudson, NY restaurants and bars include the city charm of Rivertown Lodge and easygoing airs of Back Bar. All of Warren Street continues to get a boost from out-of-towners looking for indie Hudson Valley distillers, hot new restaurants and a developing scene that, dare it be said, rivals Bedford Avenue.
This influx of wealth marks a moment of change, and with that change brings a quiet but noticeable tension between the “Old Hudson” and the “New Hudson.” Some may worry about getting priced out, and others hope to move quickly to make their investments worthwhile. As the landscape shifts, everyone in the small town has an eye toward creating their best future.