Median Household Income: $67,642
Median Value of Owner-Occupied Housing Unit: $297,300
New Paltz’s dramatic setting, full of soaring cliffs, pristine lakes, and fields of basking sunflowers, has been drawing adventurers and peace-seekers for centuries. The area’s pastoral setting likely influenced the French Huguenots to purchase the land from the Esopus tribe in 1678, where they would set up shop to freely practice Protestantism. Today the mountains draw thrill junkies, looking to dig their boots into one of the most active climbing scenes in the country, and hungry students, distilling their worldviews through discussions in the town’s cafes and classrooms.
The anchor institution — if you can’t call Minnewaska State Preserve, Mohonk Preserve or Mohonk Mountain House institutions — is the State University of New York at New Paltz. The town manages to glean all of the cultural benefits of being a college town while avoiding the pitfalls — the students are more “intellectually curious coffee and craft beer drinker” and less “underage drunk set loose on society.” The young creative market sprouts restaurants and cafés ranging from casual to fine dining, while the college itself adds cultural flavor with offerings like the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art.
A good education starts early here, with more than half of New Paltz High School’s 2016 seniors graduating with a Regents with Advanced Designation diploma.
Among the relatively youthful scene, you would be hard-pressed to find a homeowner in the Village of New Paltz, as most rent even if they are in town well past the college years. Only 30 percent of the village residents are homeowners — that number goes up to 55 percent in the Town of New Paltz, which lies outside the most charming and walkable “Village” area.