Doug and I had been living and working in NYC for about 20 years when we first started looking for a place in upstate New York. They city attracts the most ambitious, driven and remarkable people and it was also the home of our studio, our friends, and most of our modern memories. But as we traveled for projects and for fun, we started to realize that we had been missing an important aspect of human life–a connection to nature.
So beginning back in 2013, we started by looking for unique short-term rentals up in the Catskills to get a sense of the area and if it was a place we might like to spend more time. Since we work together it’s a little easier to take our work on the road with us, so that’s what we did.
“After decades of living in apartments in the city with no views, we both agreed that a view was our number one goal.”
A few of our favorite spots are still up on Airbnb. This was one of them and it’s only about 20 minutes from our place now (that’s really close in Catskill distances!).
And below is the beautiful Floating Farmhouse, where I took Doug for his birthday back in 2013.
Between the house rentals and staying at some friends places in the area, we knew we wanted to start looking for something of our own.
But we weren’t sure if we wanted…
– something old to fix up
– something new that was ready to go
– a piece of land where we would be starting from scratch
– or something in between.
There are a number of other factors we were considering as well… price, distance from city, the condition of property, neighbors, schools, etc. But after decades of living in apartments in the city with no views, we both agreed that a view was our number one goal. Whether that view came with anything else was TBD, but ideally it would be within 2.5 hours of the city and we could start using it fairly quickly.
It’s not like buying a place up in the Catskills is anything new, but there did seem to be some new momentum picking up. So I thought that if we were really going to do this (and not have our search take years) we might have better luck starting at the very end of winter.
The theory was that sellers may be just starting to list new places as things begin to thaw, and people from the city may not yet be making the trip up since the weather would still be wintry.
We started looking seriously in February/March of 2015. What I wanted to avoid was having to make multiple trips upstate to get taken around to a bunch of properties we already knew we wouldn’t really like.
So I used the realtor.com app (which even in 2015 had a great feature where you can search by current location) so when we were in an area we liked the feel of, I could just bring up the app to immediately get a sense of pricing and availability, or look up the listings at that location later when we were back in the city.
That’s how we found our place. It was the second place we looked at.
Since the last bit of road up to the cabin was still unplowed and completely covered in untouched snow (it was a summer cabin) we were pretty sure we were some of the first people to look at it.
In the next post we’ll show you more of what the cabin looked like when we first saw it, and give some details about the buying process…