House Vs. Home: Where Should I Live?

I spent the weekend in Boston, a city that always inspires the same response from me: “It’s lovely and affordable. Why don’t I want to live here?” This time, we tooled around a bit in some of the ‘burbs and small towns surrounding the city — Waltham, Wayland, Newton and Belmont — and I felt myself drawn to the houses in a way that I’ve never been before. I mean, gorgeous places — tudors and craftsmans and some Greek revival farmhouses, some of which felt like they were far out in the country even though they were five minutes from the T. I felt that itch to wriggle out of the confines of my apartment. I mean, what I really want is a house.

We started this site because there are so many folks like us, folks who absolutely love city life but don’t have an extra two million bucks to upgrade their housing. Like you, we want to know what the alternatives are, and if a country house will satisfy that craving of home ownership while allowing us to continue to be, for the most part, urbanites. Or, in another scenario: are there upstate towns that we can move to permanently, that will offer us some of what we love about Brooklyn but give us a house, a yard and a parking spot? (By the way, there’s a great yahoo group for those considering the same things, Brooklyn vs. Burbs).

It’s gonna take us a while longer to answer it, a few more years of combing through upstate New York real estate and venturing into new towns and cities. But after this weekend, I’m thinking harder about choosing house over town. My kooky college had us all living in houses instead of dorms, places you had to interview to get in. I got into two: one with really great folks and a crummy house, the other a big house with big rooms and lots of light, and a strange assortment of folks. I chose the house, instead of the people, and I’ve always thought it was one of my biggest mistakes. But, hm, I’m starting to think I might make it again. At least there are lots of great people upstate. They’re just more spread out!

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About lisa

I'm a freelance writer (and thus, not a homeowner), specializing in real estate, urban planning and sustainability. Also, I just like looking at pictures of houses.

Posted on October 3, 2011, in Second Homes, upstate new york. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. That’s a charming country home! I love the stone structure, as well. The walls are probably quite thick, too, creating desirable, interior windowsill depth, besides the natural, insulation potential. I wonder what the age would be? Enjoy your contemplating!

  2. Don’t I understand! I’ve dealt with many of the same issues. Long ago I decided that finding a place to live where you’re really happy is of cosmic importance. And the feeling of a house is oftentimes more important than any other factor. I even joined a synagogue on the basis of architecture once! I am a longtime Brooklynite who got great joy out of our first country house, a cabin in the woods in northern Dutchess Cty, bought in 2002. When my husband and I split in ’06, I stayed in the city, he got the country place. By ’09, I decided I really really missed & needed a country place again, and started a blog about my search http://casaCARA.wordpress.com The search ended in 3 short months; the blog continues to this day, with different emphasis. I bought a 1940s cedar-shingled cottage in Springs, a hamlet north of East Hampton, out on the end of Long Island (I had been looking on the North Fork of L.I., but found this instead), paying 320K. It needed a lot of work, of which I’ve accomplished quite a bit. Because of the expense of the new place (I’m a freelance writer, too, by the way — all the more reason to have some solid real estate investments!) I lived here full time for a year-and-a-half, through a long, dark, cold winter — but actually I loved every minute of it! Still, I decided last fall to take a pied a terre in Brooklyn again, and now I have the best of both worlds, though I think I’m just a bit happier in the country — communing with nature and all that. Lisa, I’m sure you’ll find just the right place if you go with your gut. And if you can hedge your bets and keep a city pad as well, that could be the ultimate solution.

  3. How do you leave the city of Poughkeepsie off of your radar? It has some of the most beautiful streets with some of the most majestic, and affordable, houses I have seen. It also has the urban and diverse side you desire as well as the cultural sources such as the colleges. Seems like a glaring hole in your “city” list.

    • Oh, it’s not off our radar. We just haven’t gotten to it yet. Our city list is based on what we’ve already covered. If you have some expertise about Poughkeepsie to share, by all means send it to us and we’ll fold it into the town of the week. Of course, it was mentioned in that New York Magazine article about crime in Newburgh as being very troubled on that front, as well. It’s another place I’ve always thought had so much potential–great housing stock, on the train line, on the river–but seems like it has a long way to go. If I’m wrong, by all means, educate me!

  4. where is this house is it for sale?

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