The Hamptons were so last season!
Bonkers asking rents and historically low inventory mean that would-be East Enders are priced out this summer.
The number of listings in the Hamptons dropped 40.5% in Q1, the fastest decline on record, according to Douglas Elliman. During the same period, home sales between $1 million and $5 million leapt 92%.
Unable to compete, loads of summer renters are now hunting down alternative escapes, igniting once sleepy markets from Long Island to the Catskills.
“We thought about the Hamptons, the North Fork and the Hudson Valley,” said Megha Chopra, 33, an employee for the city who lives in Williamsburg with her 33-year-old husband Rahul Sevani — together they set out on a search for a dreamy country home rental for the month of June.
“After COVID, we were desperate for a place to escape,” she said.
But the first-time summer home renters quickly realized that they had to scrap their initial picks.
“The prices in the Hamptons are crazy expensive, and there wasn’t a lot to choose from,” said Chopra. “We ruled out the Hudson Valley because we wanted a beach.”
Their alternative? Bellport, New York.
Located on Long Island, about a 90-minute drive from Manhattan, the quaint village offers many of the same diversions as the Hamptons including beachgoing, boating and fishing, but in a much more laid-back setting.
Chopra and Sevani, who works in private equity, settled on a three-bedroom house with a pool. At $15,000 for the month, the property isn’t lavish, nor inexpensive, but it was within their budget.
“We’ve stayed with friends there who have a house and we like how it doesn’t have a scene,” said Chopra. “We wouldn’t have gotten anything in the Hamptons for that price.”
Despite some high-profile residents — Isabella Rossellini, Nicky Hilton and formerly Anna Wintour (who decamped to nearby Mastic, New York) are a few — Bellport has largely stayed under the radar as a summer rental destination. That’s changing.
“We’re welcoming more and more newcomers,” said Monica Schleede, a salesperson with Bellport’s Eileen Green Realty, noting that in July or August renters can expect to pay $50,000 a month for a large four-bedroom home with a pool, compared with just $35,000 last year. “A couple of years ago, prices were even lower, but Bellport is by no means an exorbitant rental market.”
Besides relative affordability, the town boasts a charming downtown with locally owned restaurants, stores and the Gateway Playhouse, which is currently offering drive-in movies. It’s also just a 30-minute ferry ride across the bay from the beach parties of Fire Island.
David McInerney, 52, the CEO of FreshDirect, grew up in Bellport and spends his weekends there in his childhood home. He’s also a fan of the easy-breezy village vibe.
“It’s totally relaxing, there’s tons to do, and everyone is incredibly friendly,” he said.
Leaving Long Island, the tiny hamlet of Narrowsburg, New York, in the Catskills is driving the upstate region’s transformation from kitschy 1970s has-been to hip.
“The nature is a huge draw,” said Jennifer Grimes, the owner of Red Cottage, an upscale rentals brokerage in the Catskills. “You can go to the river with your friends, sit in an inner tube and sip a locally brewed craft beer while eagles are soaring overhead. That’s pretty hard to beat.”
While outdoor activities are the main attraction in Narrowsburg (a two-and-a-half-hour haul from Manhattan), its petit downtown is full of eye candy and lined with stores like Sunny’s Pop, a quirky home goods shop owned by actor Mark Ruffalo’s wife Sunshine, and the Velvet Maple, which sells stylish accessories. This month, the now-shuttered New York wine spot, Bar Veloce, will open a permanent location in town.
It’s no wonder that Grimes has witnessed demand for summer rentals in Narrowsburg explode over the last year.
“All of a sudden, people are discovering the town and wanting to be here. Tuesday rentals are almost as hot as Saturdays,” she said, adding that her business is up more than 250% percent from last year.
Homeowners who rent out their properties report the same interest.
Dwayne Brown, a 53-year-old psychotherapist, and his partner Shin Miyamoto, 47, who works in merchandising, live in Hell’s Kitchen full-time, but also own an 1891 farmhouse in Narrowsburg — renting out a portion of it through Airbnb.
“We used to mostly rent it on weekends, but now people want monthly rentals, and we’re already more than halfway booked for the summer,” Brown said.
Prices for a weekly rental for a modern two-bedroom home run around $1,900 a week, according to Grimes, while a 3,000-square-foot property with a pool and possibly a tennis court averages $7,000.
“Two years ago, the range was $1,100 to $4,000,” she said.
Ane Salerno-Mori, a 45-year-old chef, and her husband Mike Mori, 48, a music agent, rented Brown’s and Miyamoto’s property for a month last summer and loved their experience so much that they’ve since been back for a long weekend and plan to rent again this summer.
“We heard about the town through friends, and it stuck in our heads,” said Salerno-Mori. “It offers this perfect combination of great shopping, food and outdoors.”
Over in Ulster County, NY, about a 90-minute drive from the city, the vibrant town of New Paltz is drawing New Yorkers to the foothills of the rugged Shawangunk Mountains.
Attractions include world-class rock climbing, mountain biking and hiking. The main thoroughfare is replete with destination-worthy restaurants and bars such as Main Street Bistro — where locals line up around the block for poached eggs with pesto at breakfast — and Huckleberry, a buzzy bar with creative cocktails.
New Paltz is a big hit with families, especially those with young children — after all, it’s home to the legendary Mohonk Mountain House, a rambling, turreted resort of the Gilded Age.
But until recently, visitors mostly came for short vacations in the summer or leaf-peeping weekends come fall.
This year, local real estate agents said that a new stream of summer home renters is changing the trend.
“Last summer, there was an influx of renters who weren’t there before,” said Keith Woodburn, owner of the New Paltz-based Church Street Realty Services.
Instead of hotel stays for two or three days, city renters are snatching up homes for several weeks or even months.
A four-bedroom property in a secluded setting with a pool and a view of the mountains is going for between $20,000 and $30,000 a month this the summer, Woodburn said, an increase of 25% from two years ago.
“Weekend renters were the standard for us, but that’s not the case anymore,” said Rebecca Remmey, 35, a Williamsburg resident working in social media, who owns a 2-acre home in New Paltz that she rents out.
Meanwhile, Barbara Stirewalt, the general manager of Mohonk Mountain House, said that they began reserving long-term summer bookings as early as last fall.
“We have a lot of repeat guests at Mohonk, but many are new visitors telling us that they’ve never been to the area before,” she said.
Lucia Rozborova, 44, a Midtown West resident who works in advertising is part of the trend. She rented a four-bedroom home in the area this spring.
“Normally, I would go to Killington or Stowe for a similar experience, but now I’m onto New Paltz,” she said. “This summer, I’m renting again.”