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The Counties & Towns

Generalizations are only that, but each county we cover does have its own flavor. Columbia County? Rural charm punctuated by hipster chic. Greene? Wild at heart, more “finessed” along the river. Northern Dutchess County? Equal parts riverfront grandeur, quirky country and, with Bard, a tad collegiate. Finding a place to call home – even if only for weekends – is of course a very personal process. It’s a melding of mind (“Greek Revival, please”), heart (“I’ll know it when I feel it”), the non-negotiable (“If I wanted neighbors, I’d stay in the city”), and navigable (“Perhaps we can meet in the middle…”), apportioned according to a highly individual formula.

But if location, location, location is key, let’s define some terms before we go exploring:

  • Counties
    New York State, like all other states, is divided into Counties. The counties we specialize in are Northern Dutchess, Columbia, Greene, and Ulster.
  • Cities
    (i.e. Hudson, Kingston). These have their own charter and are not sub-divided (except into neighborhoods). We only have 2 cities in our specialty area, Hudson & Kingston.
  • Towns
    (i.e. Milan, Livingston, New Baltimore). If you don’t live in a city or on an Native American reservation, you live in a town, short for “township”. Each county is divided into multiple towns. These provide local government, varying degrees of municipal services, and may be subdivided into villages and hamlets. A town is sort of a mini-county within the county, not what most people picture as as town which is actually a village (see below).
  • Villages
    (i.e. Rhinebeck, Athens, Catskill, Tivoli, Germantown). Municipalities within towns, incorporated to provide some services. A village is what most people would (incorrectly) consider a town: A main street filled with stores, gas stations, banks, a post office, schools, restaurants, and surrounded by homes with a real neighborhood feel.
  • Hamlets
    (i.e. Barrytown, Old Chatham). Unincorporated areas that rely on the town/township for municipal services and government. These can be very charming areas, with a cluster of homes, a neighborhood feel, and perhaps a business or restaurant, but no real “village” center.

It can get a bit baffling in places like the riverfront Village of Catskill, which is located within the Town of Catskill, or the Village of Rhinebeck which is very different than the Town of Rhinebeck. But not to worry. Your agent will explain, if necessary. And after all, it’s about finding the house for you in an area that strikes your fancy…whatever its label.