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A Country Home for $2,000/year*

As our readers (3,000 so far–thanks, everyone!) have probably figured out by now, I don’t necessarily want to be alone when I head up to country houses in upstate New York. So when I met 65-year-old Harley-driving Rennie in a Ditmas Park Coffee shop today (and his Pomeranian, Moxie, who rides in a pink basket in the Harley), I was intrigued by his description of his “country house”–a trailer permanently parked in Hunter Lake Campground in Palenville, N.Y, in the western Catskill Mountains.

Rennie describes the place as family-friendly but not overrun by kids–fair representation of folks in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s–and surprisingly private considering the layout of the place and the 94 campsites. If you set up shop there and are hungry for new faces, there are always the weekend campers–in tents, not trailers. Rennie himself is a fisherman, so he’s all about the lake, but there’s entertainment in the rec hall, air hockey and ping-pong, playgrounds and soccer fields. It’s like an upstate new york bungalow colony, but without the bungalows. To rent a seasonal spot, with water, electric and sewer hookups, it’s about $2,000–*camper not included!

For Rennie, the appeal is not only the Hunter Lake Campground itself, but the portability of his upstate New York country house–it doesn’t have to be in upstate New York if he doesn’t want it there! As he said this morning, “If you wanna vacation in Florida, you just unhook everything and go.”

Hunter Lake Campground
Distance to NYC: 123 miles; 2 hours, 37 minutes
Transportation: Trailways Bus to Palenville; car recommended

When We Say Depressed Real Estate Market…

An abandoned bungalow, a mile from the photographer's home

Since one of us bought a house up here, and the other one devotes far too much time to investigating the purchase of an upstate house, it’s clear that we believe there are deals to be had in the current Upstate real estate market.

Another ex-New Yorker, Raymon Elozua, believes the same, and moved up to Mountaindale, N.Y. to live among the ghosts of buildings that he found around him. (Mountaindale, by the way, is part of that same general area covered in yesterday’s Bungalow Envy post–the Sullivan County stretch that still has plenty of functional, happily inhabited places, as well). His project is Vanishing Catskills, a pictorial map of abandoned Borscht Belt buildings within 10 miles of his home. Sadly, there are a lot of them.

He sees them as ruins, as testaments to Sullivan County’s heyday and decline, but also as interesting on a sculptural and architectural level. We see them as full of potential. We truly believe that in these tough times, folks are searching for economical getaways, and that reviving the bungalow colony is a great way to do it. We’re going to come back as developers in our next lives.

Another interesting thing about Vanishing Catskills: you can buy Elozua’s photo books directly from Apple. Definitely worth having as a coffee table book if you’re joining the ranks of Upstaters.

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