More City Slickers Are Moving to 'Rural Hamlets'

December 14, 2018
Ball of yarn and book on deck chair in forest
Photo: Unsplash/Nick Casale

John Muir is famously quoted as saying "in every walk with nature one receives far more than [one] seeks." This is proving to be a major driver for homebuyers looking to leave their city dwellings behind.

Along with the allure of closeness to nature and greater affordability, the rise of telecommuting is encouraging urban dwellers to move out to the country for the ultimate in green, walkable space. Jessica Fields, a real estate agent for Compass in Park Slope, N.Y. tells The New York Times, “If you want to live on five acres, that’s never going to happen in the suburbs, so some people are looking farther." Fields has also founded her own company to help Brooklynites find their country home. 

Real estate agent Megan Brenn-White, based in Ulster County, N.Y., says that 90 percent of her clients are from Brooklyn. “Everyone wants the same things: to be within two and a half hours from the city, to have a cute town with a coffee shop less than 10 minutes away,” adding, “Sometimes they’re looking for a weekend house and sometimes — about 20 percent of the time — they’re looking for the reverse: a ‘full-time’ move where they’ll still go a few times a month to the city for work.”

When Casey Scieszka, a freelance writer, and her husband, Steven Weinberg, a children’s book writer and illustrator, decided to leave Park Slope, Brooklyn, they didn’t consider the New York suburbs, where the yards were too small and the property too pricey. Instead, they moved to a house five miles down a dirt road — in the Catskills.

If you’re surprised to hear that two city-based creatives gave up their urban roots for life in the country, so were their families. Perhaps no one was more shocked than Mr. Weinberg’s grandmother and her friend. “The Catskills are over,” the friend said with concern. Mr. Weinberg, 34, politely responded: “But you haven’t been there in 40 years. It’s different now.”

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