There’s a certain magic about the Hudson Valley
A travel editor says she found arts, culture, and community in her new home of Beacon
For travel editor Maria Hart, there’s always been “a certain magic about the Hudson Valley.” So when she and her partner, David, started thinking about moving out of New York City, she found herself thinking about “how the light hits Mount Beacon feels like a painting come to life.”
Her search for the right town focused on the towns easily reachable by Metro-North, especially along the Hudson River Line. Tarrytown and Wappingers Falls were on their short list, but the couple fell head-over-heels in love with Beacon. They bought their dream home in 2022.
We asked Maria about what she learned during her house-hunting process. She also gave us some great tips for people who are currently looking for a place of their own in the Hudson Valley.
You always seemed so content living in the city. Why did you decide to move to the Hudson Valley?
I love NYC. But my partner was never 100 percent sold on it. Even early on when we were dating, he was trying to figure out other options, other places to live. And I get it! There’s a lot to love (arts, culture, world-class dining). But there’s also plenty to hate (subway platforms in August). It was a long debate. We were those people that on every vacation were looking up real estate listings.
Then, like so many people, the pandemic hit and pushed us from debating into action. We were both working from home and wanted the things Hudson Valley could offer: more space, a garden, nature close at hand, and the breathing room we couldn’t get elsewhere.
How did you decide which towns you would consider?
I still wanted to keep the city, and our friends there, close enough for frequent visits, so we focused on towns connected via Metro-North. Work was also a consideration. (We were working remotely but weren’t sure if that would change in future.) So I would study the rail lines and plot the walk to the train station on Google Maps to see how doable it was. We also knew we wanted to join a community with a thriving Main Street. The hope was that we’d find arts, culture, and community in our new town—not have to run back to the city for that. Walkability was also something I didn’t want to lose.
What did Beacon have that caught your attention?
Beacon was on my radar before I ever considered moving. It was a popular day-trip destination for city folks, and I was one of them, coming to tour Dia Beacon, shop boutiques on Main Street, eat brunch at Homespun, hike the mountain, browse the farmers’ market. When we were house hunting in earnest, Beacon was my top choice. I always say I really like our house, but I fell in love with Main Street. It’s so charming with the little shops, restaurants, and coffee spots surrounded by greenery. I’m so grateful it’s just a few blocks away. I joke that I’m walking distance to a cat cafe and an artsy movie theater, so all my needs are met!
What was the house-hunting process like? Any surprises along the way?
It’s so emotional! You try to approach it like a rational human being with a budget and a checklist of needs and nice-to-haves. But when you fall in love with a place and picture your life there in detail, that rational part gets short-circuited. It really is like swooning over a person. We put in an offer with another house that was verbally accepted but got outbid in the 11th hour. I was so heartbroken, you’d think I was dumped.
But that turned out to be a lucky thing! I was so blinded by how darling the house was in appearance, I was overlooking how it was too small to meet our needs. A good realtor will help you from losing your head and will pick you up and get you back in the game after a loss. In a competitive market, heartbreak is practically a given.
What’s the best thing about Beacon you discovered after moving there?
One thing that was a nice surprise was how much my NYC life transferred over to Beacon. I still walk to my local coffee shop, hit the farmers’ market, meet neighbors for brunch. It’s not radically different on any given day from the life I had before, which was really reassuring to discover. I was worried that leaving the city would mean suburban isolation and needing a car for everything, but that hasn’t been the case at all!
Do you have a favorite local eatery (or other kind of establishment) that you’d care to share?
So many! I’ve already shouted out the cat cafe, which we visited so many times we finally adopted a cat and brought it home. And I love that we have a beautiful movie theater down the street — The Beacon — that shows the perfect mix of art-house and blockbuster movies. At the farmers’ market, there’s a sweet queer-owned bakery called Little Loaf that makes the best croissants. There are some great vintage and thrift shops like Blackbird Attic that have fun collections. And I love the chocolatier Hakan because I have a raging sweet tooth.
Do you still work in the city? What is the commute like?
I’m very lucky in that I still work remotely. I’ll admit the commute would be a bit much for me if I had to do it every weekday. These days, I do end up going to the office in the city about twice a month or so. That’s just enough that I appreciate it and it feels like an excursion. I still love the train ride along the Hudson, which grows more beautiful mile by mile. And I appreciate catching up with friends after work or tacking on a trip to see something cultural while I’m in town.
What advice would you give people thinking of making the move to the Hudson Valley?
Do a drive-by for all the towns and neighborhoods that you're considering, or even better, get out, walk around, and spend the day there. Some of the houses we saw were stunning on Zillow, and then when we drove past them in person, we realized they were out in the country a good mile away from a gas station. (A big deal-breaker for me.) Also, the neighborhood can shift so much depending on whether you're outside of town, right in town, or parked by the train station! Knowing the towns you like is just a starting point.