Should I Buy a House in Sullivan County, New York?

Kids in fieldAny time someone begins a question with “be honest,” you know you’re in for it. For a real estate agent, maybe this would have been an easy one.

“Be honest, should I buy a house in Sullivan County?” is a no-brainer if you have properties to move. But I’m just a website editor. It wasn’t easy for me.

I had too many questions to ask. “Do you have children?” “Do you plan to live here year-round?” “Are you looking to sell in a few years, counting on casinos to turn your investment into a gold mine?”

Her answers were yes, no, and no. I breathed out. “OK,” I told her. “Yes, yes, you should buy a house in Sullivan County.”

I may be a little biased — OK, a lot biased — but I’ve always thought of Sullivan County as one of the most beautiful places in the country. Our rolling hills. Our lush greenery. Our rivers. Our small towns. There may be similar spots in other corners of the world, but none are home to me and thus none are quite as good.

And yet, it’s as someone who was born and raised in Sullivan County and called it home for most of my life – aside from short stints out of the area for college and when I was first married — that makes that question so hard to answer. Because I know that buying a second home in Sullivan County is world’s away from making it your primary residence.

Time for a little disclaimer: it’s been said in this newspaper more than once that I bear a grudge against folks who come to the county from elsewhere, and in an effort to clear up the misconception, I must note that I am not only married to an out-of-towner but also the child of one. My daughter and I are both mixed — children who have one “native” parent and one carpetbagger.

I don’t now, nor have I ever, hated out-of-towners. But I do tend to look at life from the side of the folks who have built this county and who live here year round, from the perspective of the members of the working class trying to eke out a living in Sullivan County.

It’s not the easiest of existences. Our taxes are high. Our salaries low. The winters are tough. The health of the citizens fairly poor. We live in a corner of the country where — in 2015 — there are still areas where there is limited to no access to the world wide web.

I love our county. I love that I am raising a child in our county. I have no plans to move out of our county. But ask me if you should buy a house here, and I can’t give you a simple answer.

As a second home owner? Sure. Yes. Absolutely. Come here and enjoy the beauty, give your children the advantages of country life, from the ability to ride their bikes down dirt roads unsupervised to the chance to see animals every time they step outside. Come and bask in the peace and quiet. Come to eat good, healthy food grown in a place where the land is still clean and undeveloped.

As a full-timer? Well, that’s more complicated.

If you’re coming here thinking you need to fix the place, you’d best turn the car around. Sullivan County needs improving, sure. But first we need people who love what is already here, who can embrace its imperfections in order to enhance them.

If you want to buy a house in Sullivan County and live here full-time, you need to know that we’re so much more than what you see on the surface. But if you’re both willing and able to look deeper, you’re going to like what you see.


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