More Space, and More Projects, in a Place Upstate


Last winter, acquaintances went on the hunt in the Hudson Valley, which gave them the resolve to do the same. They aimed for a place within a two-hour drive of the city, with a price range of $150,000 to $250,000. “Ulster County was our bull’s-eye,” Mr. Melcher said. They enjoyed hiking there in the Shawangunks, and were married at the Benmarl Winery in the town of Marlborough three years ago.

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POUGHKEEPSIE Low ceilings, not seen in listing photos, meant stooping and crouching.

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Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Inquiring about one listing, they encountered William Bergin, a salesman at ReMax Benchmark Realty Group in New Windsor, N.Y. “They were looking for a farm-style house, not just your average colonial or split level,” Mr. Bergin said.

The first place they saw was a pretty four-bedroom on an acre in Marlborough, with two bathrooms, listed at $199,000.

“We asked Billy, ‘Are we stupid to put an offer in on the first house we saw?’ ” Mr. Hanna said. But the issue was moot. The owner quickly took it off the market.

In Poughkeepsie, over the border in Dutchess County, the couple saw an older three-bedroom house for $150,000 that was charming in the photographs. But the low ceilings were a surprise.

“It was an example of, when you show up, it’s not what it looked like,” said Mr. Melcher. At 6 feet 4 inches tall, he nearly grazed the living room ceiling. He hit his head on a light fixture.

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ACCORD A fixer-upper, which was in foreclosure, was way too much of a project.

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Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

“I could barely stand,” he said. “Many of those older properties aren’t built for tall people. That wasn’t an issue we planned on.”

It had only one bathroom, and needed some repair. The location was close to the road. “It definitely had a charm to it, an upstate Hudson Valley feel, but, practically, it would not work,” Mr. Hanna said.

Back in Ulster County, they liked the remote location of a large three-bedroom in Accord with two bathrooms and nearly five acres. They didn’t know what “fixer-upper” meant until they actually saw one.

The house, which was in foreclosure, had sat on the market for more than a year and a half. It was originally listed at $220,000, with the price steadily dropping. “You would be better off knocking the house down and building a new one,” Mr. Hanna said. It later sold for $86,500.

In Ellenville, though, they found a house that looked like its listing photos in every way. The seller, an architect, had redone the interior, which had three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a combination laundry room and office. The asking price was $160,000.

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ELLENVILLE A house in great shape, inside and out, had been renovated by the seller, an architect.

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Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

The property was well over an acre. Annual taxes are in the mid-$3,000 range.

The street was calm. “You go on that road only if you live on that road,” Mr. Bergin said. “There were no other offers, but there were plenty of showings. We knew we had to act quickly.”

The couple bought it in the spring, paying $164,000.

Back in Astoria, they did not need as much space. With their rent about to hit $2,200, they decided to downsize to a one-bedroom and move the extra furniture to the new house. On Craigslist, they found a one-bedroom listing in their building for $1,850, so they moved there.

They also leased a car, a necessity for an upstate house.

“We can’t wait to go up, and we always want to stay up there longer than the weekend,” Mr. Melcher said. “We are both discovering domestic sides to us that we didn’t know we had. I enjoy mowing the lawn way more than I thought I would. I think it is the sense of pride and ownership.” He has also discovered that he likes bird-watching.

The house and yard generate endless small projects. “We have a running joke,” Mr. Hanna said. “‘Add it to the list.’”

The great outdoors, they find, is not entirely benign. The two are constantly pulling dog ticks off Rookie.

Mr. Hanna planted a vegetable patch and flowers. Hungry deer and groundhogs abound. “They eat all my sunflowers, which is kind of a bummer,” he said, “but that’s upstate life.”

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