When it comes to finding a place to live, the Hudson Valley has something for everyone. Yes, the region boasts estates, mansions, and even a castle or two to fuel your billionaire dreams. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending upon how you look at it), the area north of New York City has options for the rest of us, too. As buying a home gets to be more of a challenge (hello, seller’s market!) and renting becomes an increasingly popular alternative, select Hudson Valley towns shine as affordable contenders.
To narrow down the best wallet-friendly hometowns in the Valley, we considered average rental and home costs, referring to Realtor.com, Rent Café, Trulia, and Zillow. We also weighed factors like crime rate, location, attractions, and area income to determine which cities deserve your real estate dollars. Read on to see the most affordable spots in the Hudson Valley.
As one of the northernmost points of the Hudson Valley region, Albany is an upstate metropolis with a little something for everyone. While it is a distance from prominent mid-Valley hotspots like Beacon and New Paltz, it boasts more than enough attractions to lure budding entrepreneurs and professionals who want to make moves in the increasingly creative business scene. For renters, Albany is apartment gold. While rent prices increased 11 percent in the past year from $1,299 to $1,441, that number is not nearly as high as other urban centers of the Hudson Valley (cough, cough…Poughkeepsie). Prospective homeowners have it pretty swell as well, with median home value running right around $254,600. Plus, with a number of suburbs surrounding the city, Albany is a great choice for families and individuals who crave the best of city living and suburban comforts all at once.
In terms of cultural to-dos, Albany is a mecca for arts and entertainment. The Palace Theatre is a must for top-billing performers and celebrity guests, while The New York State Museum is ideal for visitors who want to peek into the state’s iconic history. As for food, Albany boasts every cuisine under the sun, from Americana at 677 Prime to Southern fare at The Cuckoo’s Nest.
Located on the shore of the Hudson River, Cornwall-on-Hudson is a frontrunner on our list of value-for-money locales. The average cost for a rental is $1,146 (up less than four percent from last year), a price that will get you about 800 sq ft of space. Aspiring homeowners have it slightly less sweet, with a medium home value of $443,510. Home values have risen over 23 percent in the past year, making Cornwall-on-Hudson the most expensive place to buy a house on this list (although that price is still significantly lower than nearby cities like Tuxedo). To put things in perspective, in the 25 to 44 age bracket, $137,083 is the median income in town.
As for things to do, Cornwall-on-Hudson is a hop, skip, and jump away from some of the region’s top cultural attractions. Storm King Art Center is right next-door, as is Bannerman Castle and the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum. Residents can spend the weekend at any of the area’s numerous coffee shops before grabbing a slice at one of the local pizzerias for dinner.
Montgomery is a dream for renters who want a central location and bargain prices. With an approximate rental cost of $1,443 for an 893-sq-ft apartment, a one-bedroom is within reach in this affordable Orange County town. If you’re looking to buy a home in the region, houses are relatively affordable given the housing boom in the Hudson Valley, coming in at a median listing price of $369,000. Plus, while Montgomery is not as close to the Hudson River as, say, Newburgh, its inland location means homeowners can often secure more land than they would elsewhere.
As for things to do in and around town, there’s significantly more than you might think. City Winery is one of the hottest attractions in the whole Hudson Valley, and it just so happens to be right in town. There’s also a host of parks in the surrounding area, making it the perfect spot for nature lovers.
Thanks to its proximity to the Shawangunk Ridge, Ellenville is one of those Hudson Valley towns that lures hikers and nature lovers who dream of a Catskills escape. A small and charming locale, Ellenville is a dream for outdoor explorers in search of walks along the rail trail and weekend treks to Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Rent is competitive — a 962-sq-ft apartment here costs only $1,174 – although it should be noted that this is a 22-percent increase from the previous year. Homeowners should seriously consider Ellenville as a viable city to put down roots as well. Average home prices sit affordably around $223,965, and stock on the market often features a fair amount of land, too.
In terms of outdoor attractions, Ellenville is a paradise for weekenders and residents alike. The village is primely located next to Witch’s Hole State Park, Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Awosting Reserve, and the Shawangunk Ridge State Forest. It’s precisely the place to marvel the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley at its finest.
Hyde Park is one of those towns that is primed to blow up in popularity at any moment. For now, it lives in the serene intersection between Poughkeepsie and Rhinebeck. With nearby attractions, an abundance of dining options, and a proximity to some of the region’s top schools, the affordable town may or may not be the Hudson Valley’s best-kept secret. For potential renters, average rent prices have only gone up five percent from $1,389 in 2021 to $1,459. That price gets you about 762 sq ft, although you may be able to score more if you shop around. Homeowners have it fairly sweet, too, with median sale prices running around $329,000. As a bonus, the neighborhood boasts strong public school districts in a relatively safe community.
As for cultural venues, there are so many things to do in and around Hyde Park that it’s hard to know where to begin. The Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill is in the heart of the town, while FDR’s home, The Culinary Institute of America, and Marist College rest along the border. Locals are spoiled with dining options, thanks to their proximity to one of the top culinary institutions in the world. The Eveready Diner is a must, as is every single one of the restaurants on the CIA’s campus.
Have we mentioned what a gem Kingston is? With a prime location along the Hudson River, not to mention the too-cool Stockade District, it’s an affordable town in which putting down roots is a piece of cake. A one-bedroom averages about $1,352, a slight increase from the $1,205 sum in 2021. Just as apartment prices are up slightly, so too are home values, which are currently averaging a $320,000 listing price and a $256,800 sale price. Buy now, watch home value rise later?
Another perk to living in Kingston is the abundance of historic sites and hip eateries in the area. The Hudson River Maritime Museum and the Rondout Lighthouse are great picks for families, while PAKT and Diego’s Taqueria will satisfy everyone’s cravings.
Related: How to Spend a Day in Kingston
Walden may not be on the radar for Hudson Valleyites outside of Orange County, but it is a dream destination for renters and buyers of all ages. As a quieter, affordable town on the northern border of the county, Walden offers some of the most competitive rental rates in the Valley. Prices are on the rise, up 22.7 percent from last year, but an average space still ranks affordably at $1,268 for 563 sq ft. Anyone looking to buy a home in Walden should waste no time. The median listing price is $300,000, so you just may be able to find a deal if you keep your eyes on the ever-changing market.
Even though it’s located in one of the more serene corners of Orange County, Walden is a top spot for food and culture (did we mention Angry Orchard is the main attraction in town?). With a median household income falling just above $74,000, reasonable rates are the secret to this city’s success. As long as you’re okay with being slightly away from the riverfront, Walden is the place for you.
When it comes to affordable towns in the Hudson Valley, Menands is hot. The average cost for rentals, $1,248, will get you a reasonable 849 sq ft of space. Those looking for a home of their own can also score a deal in the city. For about $274,900, you can claim a house that is smack between Albany and Troy.
Property in Menands is an increasingly valuable commodity for Capital Region residents, who recognize the locale’s proximity to Albany International Airport and Albany’s thriving craft beverage scene. With Fort Orange Brewing and top-notch brunches nearby, Menands residents always have something exciting to look forward to each weekend.
Albany isn’t the only upper Hudson Valley city with a happening social scene. Don’t believe us? Just check out Troy’s thriving downtown. The riverside city leads the way with local tech, which is why coworking spaces are popular options for entrepreneurs and startups who want to work in a productive environment. On the rent end of things, now is the time to scoop up an apartment in Troy. Prices rose 6.5 percent to a still-affordable $1,320 between 2021 and 2022. As for home costs, they’re not too shabby either. Median home values currently rest at $236,474, which means purchasing your own property may very well be more affordable than renting in the long run.
In terms of attractions in this affordable town, there’s no shortage of things to do in Troy. Whether you explore the history at the Rice Building or catch a show at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, you’ll love wandering through the area’s hidden – and not so hidden – corners. As for food, upscale Americana bar grub reigns supreme at spots like The Ruck and Brown’s Brewing Company.
Related: What to Do on a Day Trip to Troy
Rounding out the list of affordable towns is Hudson, the Columbia County town that charms locals and visitors alike. In terms of living accommodations, a 971-sq-ft rental will set you back $1,501 per month. House prices are steeper, running about $329,000 per home sale and $389,000 per home listing.
Whether you choose to live in Hudson or visit for just a day (P.S. It’s very day-trippable), there’s no end of activities to add to the itinerary. Spend part of the day hopping in and out of the bounty of antique shops and art galleries in town, then pop over to Olana State Historic Site for history and views. For arts and music lovers, Hudson Hall is a delight, so check the website for the most up-to-date schedule.
Related: Follow This 24-Hour Guide to Hudson