Author Sari Botton on Kingston’s Good, Bad, and Ugly Sides

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Kingston resident and author Sari Botton penned this piece for The Billfold, entitled “Welcome to Kingston. Now Leave,” and it just might be the best pros/cons list for living in the Ulster County city that we’ve read so far. Botton, a former East Villager, moved to Kingston for the same reason many NYC residents head upstate: She got priced out. But will the alleged influx of downstaters, in turn, price out long-time residents? Possibly. Why are they coming? As Botton writes, it’s kind of like the Goldilocks of the state around here, with “the perfect balance of city and country, with nature a fifteen-minute drive in just about any direction. And of course the considerably lower cost of living in houses, apartments, and loft spaces much larger than anywhere in the five boroughs, usually for less than half the rent.”

Let’s face it, though. We like to cast a hazy, rose-colored hue over this area. But the fact of the matter is, it’s not all Skittles and beer up here, as a good friend of mine used to say. Specifically, Botton sites numerous downstate-to-upstate trade-offs, such as unreliable public transportation, a preponderance of deer, ticks and Lyme Disease (Ulster County has the third highest number of Lyme Disease cases in the country), icy roads in the winter, home heating costs (this is a truly valid concern for homeowners in upstate NY), less employment opportunities/lower wages, crime rates, and a lack of good take-out and karaoke. All valid concerns. But we noticed that high property taxes was not included, most likely because Botton is a renter. While housing prices in Kingston are usually lower than other parts of Ulster County, the taxes can be unbearable. I’ve seen many-a 3 bed/2 bath single family home on less than a quarter acre with taxes reaching up into the five-figure range. Something to keep in mind when fantasizing about your escape to the Hudson Valley.

So if you’re a Kingston resident and chewing your nails over an influx of NYC ex-pats, just keep telling everyone that comes here to expect high taxes, cold floors, and a case of Lyme Disease or two. That should do the trick.

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