There are 2 tiers of escape for wealthy New Yorkers who fled the pandemic

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Many wealthy New Yorkers have fled the city for the Hamptons. Joseph Trentacosti/Getty Images
  • You can tell how rich a New Yorker is by where they’re riding out the pandemic.
  • The “old elite” fled to the Hamptons, wrote New York Times columnist Ben Smith, and the “second tier” headed for Hudson Valley.
  • The two rivals have long attracted the wealthy, but more have been favouring the Hudson Valley for its affordability and lack of pretense over the Hamptons’ excess in recent years.
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Wealthy New Yorkers fled a locked down city when the pandemic hit, but where they took refuge says a lot about just how rich they are.

As New York Times columnist Ben Smith wrote in a recent piece on class divisions in media, “When the lockdown arrived, most who could get out of New York did so – to the Hamptons for the old elite, to the Hudson Valley for the second tier.”

The Hamptons, a series of beach towns dotting the southeastern end of New York’s Long Island, has long been a second home mainstay for the ultrawealthy and New York’s “it” crowd. Many of the rich and famous own homes in the seaside escape, from Drew Barrymore to Jennifer Lopez.

The highest median property sale price is $US6.85 million in Sagaponack, according to real estate site Out East, but homes have sold this year for as much as $US45 million.

But young money has been turning away the Hamptons in recent years, reported Lawrence Lewitinn for Yahoo Finance. Data compiled by Foursquare in 2017 showed that millennial travellers in their 20s, who tend to look for “experiences,” increased their trips to Hudson Valley, Lewitinn wrote. Meanwhile, those aged 55 and over increased their Hamptons trips.

Hudson valley new york
Hudson Valley in upstate New York. Getty Images/sandiegoa

Hudson Valley, about two hours north of Manhattan, has long attracted New Yorkers for what the Hamptons lack: affordability and a laidback vibe, The New York Times’ Julie Satow reported in 2019. The Catskills, a nearby area, has also had an up-and-down history as a hotspot for wealthy New Yorkers.

In recent years, Satow wrote, Hudson Valley has undergone a “Hampton-ification” as more city dwellers look to buy a second home there. Developers have responded by building more million-dollar homes in the area. The highest median property sale price in the area is $US1.85 million as of 2018.

“Home buyers have discovered that their dollars go much further here than in other areas that are a similar distance from New York City,” Jeff Seouya, an associate real estate broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hudson Valley Properties told Satow.

The coronavirus pandemic seems to have revived a rivalry between the two New York getaways in which the younger, less affluent crowd hit up the Hudson and the 1% flocked to excess of the Hamptons.