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The $26,500 Bungalow

Upstate New York bungalow colonies offer some of the most affordable second homes in the Catskills, but this one has got to be the deal of the decade. I first saw it advertised last year for $30,000, when the owners, a Park Slope couple, were relocating to Vermont. It still hasn’t sold, and they’re now far away, so the price for this 700-square-foot one-bedroom is now reduced to $26,500. Taxes are $2400/year, payable in three installments.

It’s part of a community of 12 bungalows called “Fiume Bello”–beautiful river–that began in the 1950s. It was essentially rescued from ruin by a co-op of families in the 70s, and the children of that wave of settlers now inhabit the bungalows, which are spread out over eight acres in Spring Glen, N.Y. They have a pool and a big field and big group dinners and bonfires if you want to participate in the group activity. Read the rest of this entry

Check Out This Sweet, Cheap Greene County Farmhouse

I fell in love with this eighteenth-century farmhouse when I was house hunting last spring, and it looks like it’s still on the market. I vaguely remember it was somewhere around $175,000 then, and the price has tumbled even further, to $159,000. It’s a lot of house for not much money, or at least a lot of bedrooms at a sweet price. There are five upstairs and one down, and the layout is a bit odd throughout: bedrooms opening up onto more bedrooms, a teeny bathroom under the front stairwell, an oddly situated servants’ staircase in the back.

While the upstairs was impracticable for privacy-loving twentieth-first century families, this house seemed like a blast for kids (and not surprisingly, the longtime owners had a bunch).  The tiny rooms, nooks and crannies, and endless wrap-around porch fit all my Anastasia Krupnik childhood fantasies of a creaky, beloved, bohemian old home.

We ended up deciding it was just too much house for us at this point in our lives, and we had reservations about Durham being too far from things to do, especially as we wanted year-round rentals. But I hope this house finds a family who can fill it. What would you do with this one?

Another Fabulous Upstater: Susan Orlean

I love Susan Orlean so much I can’t even be jealous of her bucolic-literati lifestyle. She seems so above trendiness that reading about her Columbia County home in the New York Times made me even prouder to be a part-time Upstater. I get the sense that she’s not a follower of fashion, just a person of good taste.

The article is in promotion of Orlean’s new book, “Animalish,” which is a fine excuse for all of us to salivate over her petting zoo. Her 55 acre property is home to “one dog, three cats, eight chickens, four turkeys, six guinea fowl, one fish and two snow-white ducks.”

If you had the space, what sort of farm animals would you adopt?

Who Wants To Share This Place With Me?

Here’s an idea we’ve been batting around: buy a spectacular, slightly unaffordable place in the Catskills with, say, three other families. Each of us gets it for 13 weeks a year, with the option to rent it out any of those weeks to cover the mortgage. Yes, we know it’s rife with possibility for disaster, not to mention surfing the complications of tenancy-in-common. And who gets it for Christmas and Labor Day weekends?

All those details aside, this place is dreamy (sorry you can’t see much of it without registering on the site, but we’ll describe it for you here). It’s right at the bottom of the Shawangunks, south of Ellenville. Seven bedrooms, 7,000 square feet and 28 acres, all for $335,000. Did we mention the part about needing a fairly serious renovation? Well, yes, that complicates things, but even with $165,000 of work, it’s a fairly reasonable deal for four families. I mentioned the idea to several folks who said having it 13 weeks a year meant they wouldn’t feel guilty about occasionally vacationing elsewhere. We’re curious if other folks have tried this, where, and how it’s working out. Let us know.

Oh, and, right: wanna split this place with me?

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