The heart of the state’s Capital District, Albany County ranges from farms in the west to the urban busyness of the city of Albany on the eastern Hudson River side. Of all the Hudson Valley’s counties, the city of Albany (chartered in 1686) is the focal point of Empire State government. The region has also been dubbed Tech Valley due to an influx of high-tech businesses and research centers. Historical sites — like the Schuyler Mansion — are sprinkled throughout the county, and nature lovers adore the Albany Pine Bush Preserve and Thacher State Park. Other favorite spots include Cohoes Falls, the second-largest waterfall in New York State, and Rensselaerville Falls in The Huyck Preserve.
Median Home Value: $222,500
Median Household Income: $66,252
Median Property Tax: $3,755
Hugging western Massachusetts and the Berkshires on the east and bordered by the Hudson River on the west, Columbia County offers variety — from rolling hills and hiking trails to art and music hubs and more than 50 public heritage sites including Olana State Historic Site, the estate of landscape artist Frederic Edwin Church. For those seeking a cultural scene, the former industrial city of Hudson is one of the top destinations within the Hudson Valley’s counties for artists, musicians, and shoppers. It is home to many art galleries and centers — including Hudson Hall at the historic Hudson Opera House — and some of the best restaurants, bars, and boutique hotels in the Valley.
Median Home Value: $233,600
Median Household Income: $66,787
Median Property Tax: $3,605
Dutchess County was established in 1683, ranking it among the first of New York’s 12 counties. It’s an invigorating mix of cities, including Poughkeepsie and Beacon, juxtaposed with quiet villages such as Millbrook and Pawling. Southern Dutchess tends to attract NYC transplants, while much of the northern and eastern region is still comprised of working farms. Dutchess is home to acclaimed colleges including Bard, Marist, and Vassar; and foodies flock to study and dine at the Culinary Institute of America. The county is also well-known for destinations such as the Vanderbilt Mansion and the FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Sites.
Median Home Value: $282,000
Median Household Income: $81,219
Median Property Tax: $4,873
With a splendid rural setting among the Hudson Valley’s counties, Greene County attracts lovers of nature and tranquility; its diverse population includes full-time residents and second-home owners. Much of the south is occupied by the Catskill Forest Preserve, boasting gorgeous scenery (Kaaterskill Falls is a favorite). At approximately 4,040 feet, Hunter Mountain is among the tallest peaks south of the Adirondacks. Skiers also flock to other Greene County resorts such as Windham in winter; hikers love to explore the area throughout summer. The village of Catskill, also the county seat, features Victorian houses, dining, and shopping; Greene County is also home to the home and studio of Thomas Cole, who launched the world-renowned Hudson River School of Art in the 1800s.
Median Home Value: $176,300
Median Household Income: $53,601
Median Property Tax: $2,584
Founded in 1683, Orange County spans the past while looking to the future. It’s home to notable spots, including the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, and the Storm King Art Center. Middletown, Newburgh, and Port Jervis offer urban energy, while outdoor aficionados savor its many hiking trails, as well as the Hudson and Delaware Rivers that hug each side of the county. The nation’s third Legoland theme park is due to open soon in Goshen, and the county’s location as a highway transport hub attracts numerous businesses. (Stewart International Airport is also based here.) Residents say another big Orange County draw is a do-able commute — it’s about 70 miles to New York City.
Median Home Value: $271,200
Median Household Income: $79,944
Median Property Tax: $5,586
There’s plenty in Putnam, including fascinating spots to visit like Boscobel House & Gardens in Garrison and the Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, which houses the largest indoor Buddha statue in the Western Hemisphere. An active arts culture, thriving commerce, and the great outdoors all define this county that dates back to 1812. Its nearly 12-mile Putnam Trailway — part of New York’s 750-mile Empire State Trail — winds past bucolic lakes, woods, and hills. Clarence Fahnestock State Park and the Thunder Ridge Ski Area attract residents and visitors alike. Carmel, the county seat, offers eateries and shops; a quaint main street marks the village of Brewster, while Cold Spring, on the banks of the Hudson River, remains a popular destination for dining, shopping, and antiquing.
Median Home Value: $358,500
Median Household Income: $104,486
Median Property Tax: $7,331
The northern-most of all the Hudson Valley’s counties, Rensselaer contains thousands of acres of parks, more than 500 lakes and ponds, plus a growing number of cutting-edge companies, research hubs, and entrepreneurial centers. Much of this influx was spurred by the proximity of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the renowned engineering school based in Troy; downtown Troy has also emerged as a regional shopping and dining center. The city of Rensselaer, another expanding residential and business area, lies on the east side of the Hudson River, directly across from Albany.
Median Home Value: $188,700
Median Household Income: $68,991
Median Property Tax: $3,529
Rockland County provides a vibrant mix of small-town living and suburban amenities. Even though it lies only about 30 miles north of Manhattan, there’s plenty of nature here — nearly a third of the county remains parkland (Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks are the best-known) thanks to the federal Preserve America program. Shoppers gravitate to The Shops at Nanuet and the Palisades Center Mall. Villages like Nyack and Piermont feature trendy shops, plus cozy cafes and splendid views of the Hudson River. Rockland Community College and St. Thomas Aquinas College are among the area’s educational hubs, and industry leaders in health, manufacturing, and research help keep the county humming.
Median Home Value: $443,400
Median Household Income: $93,024
Median Property Tax: $8,268
Roughly the size of Rhode Island, Ulster County is noted for the great outdoors. Hundreds of thousands of acres — including the Catskill Forest Preserve, and Minnewaska State Park Preserve — offer pristine, spectacular mountains, streams, and woodlands. The county is also renowned for its rich farmland, orchards, and wineries. Smaller villages like Rosendale and High Falls feature cute shops and mom-and-pop eateries. Settled by the Dutch centuries ago, New Paltz is an educational and social hub; and Kingston, with cafes, galleries, shops and a growing cultural and waterfront scene, is also rich in history — during the American Revolution, the city became New York’s first capital.
Median Home Value: $230,500
Median Household Income: $64,304
Median Property Tax: $4,208
Named after the city of Chester, England, 500-square-mile Westchester County is anchored by its bustling county seat, the city of White Plains. Everything from historic sites (some of which are also home to fantastic Halloween events) and a historic amusement park (Rye Playland) to quaint villages and busy suburban towns can be found in the county’s 48 municipalities. Bordered by the Hudson River and Long Island Sound, boating and other water-based sports are aplenty; Westchester also boasts more than 20,000 acres of parkland. A quick commute to Manhattan; top-rated public and private schools, as well as colleges and universities; world-class shopping, dining, and hotels; a lively arts scene; plus extensive medical and business services, all add to Westchester’s allure.
Median Home Value: $540,600
Median Household Income: $96,610
Median Property Tax: $9,003