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Old 05-19-2020, 06:44 AM
 
5,918 posts, read 5,967,279 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irish Eyes View Post
It's great that you'll have longer stretches to spend. It makes it so much more worth it. Right now rentals will be hard as well. PA has put a stop to short-term rentals right now. I would imagine other vacation areas have as well. They will restart eventually, but it's not part of the early stages of the reopening plan in PA.

We've had our house for about 16 years now and we still love it just as much as the day we bought it. We have a ranch house so the maintenance is a little less, and so are the utilities.
I agree having longer stretches would be better.

One of my relatives has a property in Sullivan County, which is also within the OPs driving threshold of two hours or so. Every other weekend they would be going up and working on projects instead of relaxing and enjoying being upstate. Eventually they got tired of that and now the property looks not-so-great. They still go up but now I see a lot of maintenance being deferred and the house is starting to look a little rough.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MH718 View Post
I am currently looking to purchase weekend/vacation house, outside the city, but not too far from Brooklyn.

This is not inspired by COVID - my fiancee and I have been talking about getting a weekend house for a few years, but for practical reasons, decided to look for a co-op here in Brooklyn. We looked for over a year, and found nothing we liked. In fact, we were still looking when COVID struck, and I was looking forward to some fresh listings hitting the market, because I was getting so frustrated with our search up until that point.

There is literally nothing available now in Brooklyn, so we have decided to shift our plans, primarily because getting a weekend place would be both more affordable, and a better investment in our mental well-being. The past few months working from home in a tiny one-bedroom has really changed our mindset on the matter.

We are considering the following places:
Areas of Orange County, NY (around 1.5 hours from where we live now)
Poconos, PA - not sure if the driving time is too far, but these seem the most affordable
Northern NJ - Highland Lake area or other lake/rural areas (right near the NY border)
Connecticut - not sure where, since this is the area we know the least about

Our main criteria is a commute from here that will not exceed about 2 hours. Because of COVID, I think it's hard to estimate normal traffic/commute times at the moment.

Does anyone have any experience with these areas, or experience with dealing with a weekend/vacation home, in general?

Thank you!
Like most other people stated, get rid of the Poconos. I think you can expand another county or two. But keep in mind many areas upstate are also economically depressed. Be prepared for a lot of regular maintenance. Traffic is definitely worse on the weekends, when everyone else is also going away for the weekend. The further away you get from the beginning of 87, the better.

My husband and I toyed with the idea of buying something upstate and then possibly renting it out when we weren't there. We decided there's still too much of the world to see and we'll spend our money on traveling and buying our primary home. Maybe twenty years from now we'll get a second home. But if you're serious about buying, spend a lot of time in the area. Get a good sense of what your bills will be. (Taxes, electric, garbage removal, cable/internet, etc.) Check out the downtown.
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Old 05-19-2020, 08:06 AM
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MH718 View Post
Thank you for this detailed post!

I always wondered why the Poconos is so much cheaper than other places in NY/NJ, etc.
I've seen some really nice places listed online in the under 200K range, but I'm not sure if its just because it is more rural over there, or for other reasons.

Did you find traffic to be really bad when driving at a normal time (such as Sunday afternoon/evening, or Friday evening to head up there?)
You do understand that many people commute daily to the city from the Poconos, right? Just bear that in mind when looking for a weekend house. The places closest to the NJ border will be higher priced because they attract commuters who want a nice house and yard and are willing to deal with the two-hour commute.

You also have to be careful in the Poconos because maybe 25 years ago, a slew of lowlifes started moving in from areas like the Bronx and brought their gangs with them. My niece was in high school (Monroe County) up there at the time, and started carrying a knife to school because she didn't feel safe. She ended up coming down to NJ to live with my mother. In other words, if you see something unusually cheap, check out the area first. There are some high-crime places in which you don't want to risk having a house that sits empty most of the time. You'll come back to find it even emptier, lol.

There are still nice places in the Poconos, but the lovely rural vacation home atmosphere I think you are imagining was what it was like back in the 60s and 70s when my parents bought lots and built their vacation homes. You can still find good vacation properties with nice amenities, but don't fool yourself into thinking that you're going to get that cheaply unless you have a time machine.

Yes, of course on a Friday evening in summer Route 80 will be heavily trafficked with regular commuters from that part of western NJ as well as the Poconos. You would have to expect that.
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Old 05-19-2020, 08:09 AM
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reppin_the_847 View Post
Well for one thing, the Poconos area (PA) lacks rail access to NYC. Not that folks are clamoring to ride trains these days or anything. Speaking more about normal times.
Yes, I know there have always been "plans" to run a rail line up there, but I've been hearing that for 30 or 40 years, and I don't see any rail yet. The regular Poconos commuters to the city I've known either drive down to a commuting point in New Jersey or take the bus into the PABT.

I think the OP needs to be a little more flexible with the "not more than two hours to Brooklyn" bit. Two hours is still pretty much commuting-to-Manhattan distance, not vacation-home distance. Maybe 50 years ago, but not now.
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Old 05-19-2020, 08:16 AM
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irish Eyes View Post
Our exit near 80 is Blakeslee. It's in the area of Lake Harmony, JFBB ski hills. Not far from Jim Thorpe which is probably better known than the other things!
Hehehe. We spent our summers in the Poconos when I was a kid (1960s and 1970s). Their last house was in Emerald Lakes. I have a sister who went back up to the area to live as an adult and still does.

At one point, years ago, she was friends with a guy named Blakeslee who was running for mayor of Blakeslee against the current mayor--who was his grandfather.

The area has changed somewhat since then.
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Old 05-19-2020, 08:52 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mightyqueen801 View Post

I think the OP needs to be a little more flexible with the "not more than two hours to Brooklyn" bit. Two hours is still pretty much commuting-to-Manhattan distance, not vacation-home distance. Maybe 50 years ago, but not now.
We are trying to flexible but the distance is important, as we will likely be traveling with our cat. We are trying to find places that are a little less than 2 hours "normally," as they will likely be closer if not over 2 hours when accounting for traffic.

We actually went up to see a few places in the Warwick area recently, and it was literally about 95 minutes door-to-door. However, I know that traffic patterns can't really be trusted right now, since many people are still working from home, and therefore, not on the road.

At this point, I think we have ruled out Poconos, and I think other areas in PA may also be too far overall.
Also, I had not previously considered how inaccessible by public transportation PA is - we would be driving but that definitely will have an impact on the general traffic, overall.

Is anyone familiar with Livingston Manor and Parksville - just about 2 hours, maybe a little more, but I saw a few very nice and affordable places there (online).

We are also thinking about Carmel, Hopewell Junction, Putnam Valley area, if anyone has any feedback or experience with those.

Also, Highland Lakes, NJ, seems like there are a number of cute, affordable properties, but I'm wondering why they are so much cheaper than surrounding areas.

Thanks again for the input, it has really been incredibly helpful.
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Old 05-19-2020, 08:59 AM
 
Location: Staten Island, NY
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A lot of these areas you are mentioning are really not "second home" locations. People commute from them daily, meaning full time residents with full time costs reflected in your tax bills.

I got married in Livingston Manor. I go fishing there a few times every year with my father by the covered bridge. It's very small, but much more to your goals in my opinion. It's recently become a very artsy town with transplants tired of Brooklyn and such. Some good restaurant choices now, but still not on Walmart's radar.

Stay away from the river, it has flooded with disastrous results over the years.
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Old 05-19-2020, 11:17 AM
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
66,987 posts, read 62,645,891 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MH718 View Post
We are trying to flexible but the distance is important, as we will likely be traveling with our cat. We are trying to find places that are a little less than 2 hours "normally," as they will likely be closer if not over 2 hours when accounting for traffic.

We actually went up to see a few places in the Warwick area recently, and it was literally about 95 minutes door-to-door. However, I know that traffic patterns can't really be trusted right now, since many people are still working from home, and therefore, not on the road.

At this point, I think we have ruled out Poconos, and I think other areas in PA may also be too far overall.
Also, I had not previously considered how inaccessible by public transportation PA is - we would be driving but that definitely will have an impact on the general traffic, overall.

Is anyone familiar with Livingston Manor and Parksville - just about 2 hours, maybe a little more, but I saw a few very nice and affordable places there (online).

We are also thinking about Carmel, Hopewell Junction, Putnam Valley area, if anyone has any feedback or experience with those.

Also, Highland Lakes, NJ, seems like there are a number of cute, affordable properties, but I'm wondering why they are so much cheaper than surrounding areas.

Thanks again for the input, it has really been incredibly helpful.
Sussex County (where Highland Lakes is) is the one place in NJ that I think might work for you. While Sussex County isn't REALLY a vacation area anymore, it's also not a big choice for commuters because there's no rail service as there is in most other parts of northern NJ and no major Interstate runs right through it. It's much quieter and still has a lot of great natural areas. My sister lives in the Hamburg/Ogdensburg area, and she loves it. She commutes to Bergen County, which she doesn't love doing, but to her it's worth it to be near some great parks and hiking trails plus better housing prices.

I think that it being an onerous commute to the city is probably what is keeping the prices lower. If I were you, I'd continue to check that out.

Warwick was once very rural. I think it's gotten built up, but might not be too bad yet. The Jehovah's Witnesses, who sold their big Watchtower building in Brooklyn, moved their headquarters to Warwick. Call them. Maybe they can give you some tips.
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Old 05-19-2020, 11:26 AM
 
Location: NYC
221 posts, read 200,709 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MH718 View Post

Does anyone have any experience with these areas, or experience with dealing with a weekend/vacation home, in general?

Thank you!
We have a place in Sullivan County just inside the Catskills so it's a little outside your 2 hour limit (110 miles from our apartment). Like others have mentioned, it's maybe 900-1000 ft higher in elevation but that makes a big difference in the winter. The summers are a bit cooler and breezy also, which is really nice. Not the place to be if bugs and snakes and deer giving birth in your front yard freak you out though.

It's in a little hollow and what was not such a big deal when we built the place in 2001-2002 but a big deal now is that there still isn't any cell or decent broadband service. The cell situation has improved somewhat in that I only have to drive 3 miles instead of 10 to pick up a strong enough signal. The only broadband option is satellite which is pretty much useless for the level of use we would need it for. So it's not a place I can work from. Besides that I don't mind the disconnection but now that my daughters are well into their teens it's less desirable for them. They still like going up there, but not for too long.

Sometimes we come home down 208 and the area between, say, Washingtonville and Monroe looks really nice.
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Old 05-19-2020, 12:24 PM
 
Location: Northeast states
11,906 posts, read 9,808,326 times
Reputation: 3494
Everyone from NYC taking break from the city now
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Old 05-19-2020, 03:36 PM
 
Location: Central, NJ
2,541 posts, read 5,393,944 times
Reputation: 3723
Quote:
Originally Posted by MH718 View Post
We are trying to flexible but the distance is important, as we will likely be traveling with our cat. We are trying to find places that are a little less than 2 hours "normally," as they will likely be closer if not over 2 hours when accounting for traffic.

We actually went up to see a few places in the Warwick area recently, and it was literally about 95 minutes door-to-door. However, I know that traffic patterns can't really be trusted right now, since many people are still working from home, and therefore, not on the road.

At this point, I think we have ruled out Poconos, and I think other areas in PA may also be too far overall.
Also, I had not previously considered how inaccessible by public transportation PA is - we would be driving but that definitely will have an impact on the general traffic, overall.

Is anyone familiar with Livingston Manor and Parksville - just about 2 hours, maybe a little more, but I saw a few very nice and affordable places there (online).

We are also thinking about Carmel, Hopewell Junction, Putnam Valley area, if anyone has any feedback or experience with those.

Also, Highland Lakes, NJ, seems like there are a number of cute, affordable properties, but I'm wondering why they are so much cheaper than surrounding areas.

Thanks again for the input, it has really been incredibly helpful.
We used to joke that we bought our vacation house for the cat. We wanted to ski, but we didn't want to leave him home alone He got used to the ride and he loved being on vacation. His fire escape view was nice mos of the time, but in the mountains the moths were more exciting to watch while he sat by the fire!
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