Information for gay and lesbian real estate buyers considering Sullivan County

Some info for g/l/b/t real estate buyers in Sullivan County NY

Sullivan County, New York – two hours northwest of New York City in the Catskills – is a welcoming, friendly and affordable location chosen by many gay and lesbian New Yorkers for their second home. Rolling hills, quiet country roads, hiking trails, lakes, rivers, exceptional beauty and clean air have made the Sullivan County Catskills a recreational choice for generations. Sullivan County’s unhurried, small town atmosphere is a plus for gay people wanting an alternative to the hectic social whirl of the Hamptons. the scene of Fire Island or the congestion and expense of the Berkshires. Sullivan County has no huge shopping malls or traffic jams, and no place where anybody will care if your jeans are $40 Levis or $150 Hudsons.

Here are answers to some of the common questions gay men and lesbians have when considering Sullivan County. If you have any other questions, feel free to call me, David Knudsen – Sullivan County’s full time gay Realtor® at 845-468-5710 or drop me an email at

Are there lots of gay people in Sullivan County?

Any estimate of numbers is highly speculative. But clearly gay and lesbian singles and couples have been settling in the county in increasing numbers. The ‘gay discovery’ of Sullivan County has been prominently featured in the local papers since the early 2000’s as well as a number of New York City-based magazines and newspapers, including “W”. An active group, The Gays of Sullivan County, plan a number of events throughout the year, from cocktail get togethers to theater evenings at the Forestburgh Playhouse along with the annual Day To Be Gay in the Catskills Festval. Every summer, a group organizes a highly anticipated outing, Divas Down the Delaware, a day of rafting on the Delaware River. SAGE (Services and Advocacy for g/l/b/t Elders) holds a large benefit every August in Sullivan County. So there are plenty of ways to connect with other l/g/b/t folks here.

What types of gay people choose Sullivan County?

A wide range of gay people live here full time or have second homes here. The average age seems to be mid 40’s, with quite a few f g/l/b/t folks in their mid 30’s as well as g/l/b/t elders. I estimate about 80% are couples and 20% singles. Most people coming here are looking for a quiet retreat from the city, and social life tends to be low key. There are no gay bars, so folks looking for lots of night life don’t tend to come this way. This is not the place to buy a second home if you plan to have waves of house guests who want to go out for cocktails at 5, then dinner and dancing ’til dawn. The breakdown on second-homers seems to be 70% men and 30% women, and quite a few couples have children. Professional backgrounds vary.

If I’m not on the “A” list, will I be happy in Sullivan County?

Absolutely! If anything, Sullivan County is “anti A list”. People come here because there isn’t a rigid social hierarchy. One of the most delightful aspects of Sullivan County is the social fluidity and possibility of meeting so many different kinds of people. Conspicuous displays of wealth are frowned upon here and social exclusivity is considered gauche, if not downright rude. Sullivan County is a place where you can relax and shed the weight of social obligation. It really is a throwback to a ‘kinder, gentler’ time. I’m continually amazed that this beautiful place, so close to New York City, lacks the ‘hype’ so common in other vacation areas around New York.

Is it easy to meet people here?

A hearty, but qualified, ‘yes’! A whole lot of folks up here are ‘rah rah’ Sullivan County boosters. We’re very proud of the place and the fact that we chose it. We’re very excited with each new person that chooses to come here — and like to make newcomers feel welcome. Become part of the “Gays of Sullivan County” Facebook group. You’re sure to get a few cocktail or dinner invitations, and that will probably lead to a few parties, and, well, you’re on your way. The Gays of Sullivan County also have get togethers throughout the year.

Is there any particular place in the county where gay people settle?

That’s a question I can’t answer. Why? G/l/b/t people are now a protected class in New York state under New York Fair Housing Laws, similar to other racial, ethnic or religious groups. Real estate licensees are prohibited from indicating that a member of a protected class should settle or might be most comfortable in any particular area. That’s considered “steering”. If an Asian person went to a real estate broker and that broker only showed them property, or indicated they should look in, heavily Asian neighborhoods, that broker would be committing a fair housing violation. It’s the same now with g/l/b/t people in New York. If a g/l/b/t person is looking for an apartment in New York City, for example, a broker is prohibited from saying that this neighborhood or that neighborhood is particularly ‘gay’ or ‘gay friendly’. The same applies here in Sullivan County.

Is there cultural life in Sullivan County?

Yes, but it’s lower key than the highly produced offerings in other areas. The Delaware Valley Opera in Narrowsburg is one of the only community opera companies in the country, and stages three productions every summer. The Forestburgh Playhouse is more traditional ‘summer stock’ featuring popular Broadway musicals. The Shandelee Music Festival is a three week classical festival in August in a lovely mountaintop setting. The Delaware Valley Arts Alliance nurtures local visual and performing artists and a number of new galleries have opened in the county. The Settler’s Inn, just across the Delaware River in Hawley, PA, has a regular jazz series. And every weekend, particularly in the summer, there are a number of other performances throughout the county.