Thanks to the combination of technology and transit, it’s possible to enjoy a high quality of life in an affordable, beautiful place like Esopus, and still be able to maintain an existing career in places like New York City and Los Angeles.
We interviewed four Esopus residents who are proof; they live full-time in town, but commute at least semi-regularly to New York City, which is less than 90 miles away. Here’s what they have to say:
Home Location: Rifton
What they do: I am a production designer and set designer. I primarily work on still photography shoots. It’s typically advertising and can be anything from fashion to smartphones to pharmaceuticals to other technology. Now I’m typically working remotely. I have assistants in New York and Los Angeles who are on set and doing the styling and the building.
How they ended up in Esopus: New York is a place that, like a lot of cities, is a wonder and a horror all rolled in together. You have access to wonderful things there, but it’s almost a brutal sort of place to live. As someone who likes nature, likes being outside, likes peace, I started realizing I needed to figure out my escape routes. I decided I would stay in the city only if I could make enough money to eventually buy something elsewhere.
Fast forward to a year and a half ago, I had twins and living in Brooklyn was a whole new challenge. I never really wanted to raise kids in the city. The rent was increasing in Brooklyn, and it just didn’t make sense anymore. We knew we liked this area because of coming up for the hiking trails.
We aligned with a realtor and met him up here twice. We literally spent four hours total looking at houses. The one we wanted was in Esopus and the deal happened quickly and easily.
Hudson Valley Life: We’re still figuring out our favorite spots but it’s amazing. The people, the scenery and the lifestyle are all great. We’re a CSA member at the amazing Taliaferro Farm and like going to the farmers market in Kingston on Saturdays and grabbing lunch at Kovo afterwards. There is so much great stuff to do with the kids, and we already have a wonderful community of other families to gather with.
Getting to the city: Being freelance, I don’t have any set schedule for when I go into the city. I still keep a workspace in Brooklyn. If I’m going into the city, my preferred method is Trailways from New Paltz.
Moving forward: This is the best decision I’ve ever made. If someone is thinking about moving upstate, this area is far enough to be like another world altogether but still close enough that getting in and out of the city isn’t outlandish. I like that it’s not as developed as a town like Hudson, for example. For me personally, I want to be in the country, I don’t want to be in what feels like an extension of the West Village. We have a really private, beautiful property, and my payment is $500 less than my rent was. If you’re renting anything in the city, you can be buying here for that price.
Location: West Park
What they do: I am an author and the founding partner of Proteus, a coaching, consulting and training firm that focuses on leader readiness.
How they ended up in Esopus: I moved here with my family in 1996. We had been living in Colorado, and my business was developing largely in New York. For the first eight years, we lived out near Woodstock, then we were in Kingston for four or five years, but I was in love with the Hudson River. I wanted to design and build my own house and have it overlook the river.
We weren’t looking further north than Kingston. The moment I stepped on this piece of land in West Park, I fell absolutely in love with it. I could see the Hudson through the trees in the wintertime. I designed the house so that almost every room has amazing views of the Hudson. We love the fact that we can walk out of our door and go for a hike.
Hudson Valley Life: A lot of our habit trail is in Kingston, because Patrick’s brewery (Great Life Brewing) is there.
I think of us as living in a triangle. We really enjoy New Paltz as a town, we love Kingston, and there’s shopping in Poughkeepsie. If we want to go out to eat or go shopping, they’re all easy to get to within 15 or 20 minutes.
I have this wonderful balance of spending part of my time working in the city, with all its energy and diversity and mental stimulation. The rest of my time is spent in this absolutely gorgeous area. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth. We call our house the castle on the hill. I come here, I’m immediately relaxed, it’s so quiet and peaceful and beautiful and lovely. We see lots of birds and foxes and a bear down at the pond, we can have a big garden. We have some fruit trees. All the things you can’t do in a city for sure.
There are a lot of great local people of many different sorts. There are NYC refugees, and there are solid salt of the earth people who’ll pull you out of a snowdrift. We’ve met so many interesting local folks who come to the brewery tasting room.
Getting to the city: If you want to have easy access both to the city and to an unspoiled natural environment, this area is ideal. We absolutely love living here.
My drill is, my company has an office in NYC, and I have an apartment two blocks away from that. I’m in the city 4 days a week and up here 3 days a week.
To get there, I use the Poughkeepsie train station. It’s perfectly situated… 15 minutes to the train station, an hour and 40 minutes to the city. It’s easy. I didn’t want to get too far away from that train station.
Moving forward: A lot of people live in convenient places that suck. To be able to live in a place that’s really convenient for both of u, where we can come home at night and build a fire in the fireplace, it just can’t be beat.
Location: Ulster Park
What they do: I work as an onsite construction superintendent for a construction management firm in NYC.
How they ended up in Esopus: I grew up in Port Ewen and lived there until I was 18. I joined the service, moved down to Texas and eventually ended up in Virginia for a few years. If you have spent any time in the south, the terrain is very flat. I was always thinking about the mountains, the hills, the river and the hiking trails back home.
I moved back to the northeast but lived near Manhattan for a few years. My wife and I always found ourselves coming back up to Ulster County to hike, fish, bike, and just relax. I wanted to move back up here, and was able to work that out with my wife. We built a house in Ulster Park about 15 years ago and I have never looked back. After traveling numerous places, I ended up where I started.
Hudson Valley Life: My wife often asks me if I want to move closer to the city again for my job, but everyone is in such a rush down in the city. I go home at night and sit on my porch, listen to the crickets and look at a sky full of stars. You can’t do that down there.
I love being able to take my kids fishing; there’re ten places I can choose to go fishing every weekend. I fish Sturgeon’s Pond all the time, it’s right off of 213. We live just minutes away from the Shaupeneak Ridge hiking trails and often take the family-friendly hike around Lake Louise.
We’re big Kingston Stockade FC fans and love going to the games at Dietz Stadium. We also love the restaurants in this area. Having the Culinary Institute of America right across the river means that we have NYC quality restaurants right in our backyard.
Getting to the city: I’ve commuted for over 20 years to either Peekskill or NYC. We have the train, we have the bus, so depending on where I move around in my job, I have the flexibility to take the Trailways bus, take the Metro North train, or drive in. I’ve done it all.
Moving forward: I like the peace and quiet in Esopus, I like the country. The commuting costs are reasonable, a lot better than people would think. It’s worth it. But my favorite thing is watching my kids run barefoot and carefree in the yard, just enjoying being kids while my wife and I sit by the fire, have a glass of wine and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Location: Port Ewen
What they do: I’ve always liked technology. When Windows 95 came out, I started playing with html. I moved to where my wife is from, in Iowa, and I ended up working for a marketing firm. I was their first web developer. I just kept learning, and I ended up working for an ad agency out of Iowa for the last 15 years. I work in post production, so that’s editing, motion graphics, delivery to different platforms. The other half is IT consulting for creative shops.
How they ended up in Esopus: We moved out here to do some volunteer work at the Watchtower Education Center two years ago. We started out living in Rosendale, and I negotiated something with work back in Iowa to keep working remotely. When we saw this area (Port Ewen), we saw this is actually a neighborhood, like we were used to in Iowa. There’s a grid, there are houses, and there’s comfort in that to us.
Hudson Valley Life: The infrastructure in Port Ewen is consistent, which is important for working from home. There’s municipal water and sewer, and I have the max Internet package that Spectrum has. We’re not seeing random outages. It’s a reliable place that way, if you’re looking to set up your home office.
We make a lot of trips to Stewart’s, and Mario’s Pizza gets a lot of our money. Unlike in Rosendale, people would visit from the mid west… where’s Walmart, where’s the mall. It was always it’s 15-20 minutes away. Here it’s 10 minutes or less, you hit Kingston, you have amenities, you have options for shopping and dining.
Getting to the city: When I need to get down to the city, I use the park and ride in Rosendale, and I’ll take Trailways down to the Port Authority. It’s a really convenient, business-grade travel option.
Favorite Local Businesses: The Port Ewen Diner is really good… Mario’s Pizza also gets a lot of our money.