Living Small in the Hudson Valley



Biking on the Walkway over the Hudson

As a minimalist, I believe the true value of our possessions is in the service they provide. After all, the majority of the things we own are tools—a means to an end, not an end unto themselves.

That being said, we in the Hudson Valley are uniquely positioned to avoid the clutter that can bog us down in our homes and lives. We have so much available to us without having to take on the expense and maintenance of keeping extra stuff. Let’s consider some common possessions that have eco-friendly, social-friendly and just overall life-friendly alternatives right here in the Hudson Valley.  

Swimming Pools

I often see them when I’m out bicycling in the Poughkeepsie suburbs, yet I rarely see anyone actually using them. When I consider all that goes into maintaining a pool, I can't help but think it's not worth the time, energy and money.

The good news is you don’t have to own a pool to enjoy one. There are plenty of community pools in the Hudson Valley, many of which are free. Taking advantage of facilities like Tallman Beach and Pool Club, Hudson Valley Community Center and Spratt Park is a more efficient alternative.  

Property/Yard

Also during my frequent bike rides, I see large, well-manicured lawns that are not being used—nobody barbequing, nobody playing sports, nobody even lounging on a hammock. I see lawns being mowed, but not used. Large properties come with a higher mortgage, a higher land tax and the need for maintenance. Yet people still want a yard for the few times a year that they might host a barbeque or a kickball game.  

The alternative to this scenario is to take advantage of the scenic parks that can be found all over the Hudson Valley. You can reserve space at many of them for parties, barbeques and such. Even if you have to pay, it’s probably still more cost and time efficient than owning property of your own. Bowdoin Park, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Fahnestock State Park, James Baird State Park and Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site are just a few of the many beautiful public parks in our area.

Exercising

How many of us have a weight bench collecting dust in the garage, or a treadmill being used as a coat rack in the living room? There are cheaper and more efficient ways to work up a sweat or build strength. Many of the public parks have running/hiking trails, or you can go for a walk or run on the HV Rail Trail or the Walkway over the Hudson. Too cold outside, or not much of an outdoors person? There are gyms throughout the Hudson Valley, and many offer low monthly rates.  

Computer/Internet Access 

Students, sole proprietors or video game enthusiasts may use their computers daily, but many people use theirs just once or twice a week. While our consumerist mentality has convinced most of us that we need to own a computer and pay for internet, nothing could be further from the truth. One of the biggest untapped resources is our public library system. Nearly all the public libraries in the Hudson Valley have free-to-use computers with full internet access. What's more, library membership is free.  

Just think of the benefits: no computer maintenance, no internet fee, less clutter and a more purposeful use of our computer time. Also, since we can handle most digital tasks on our smartphones or tablets, the necessity for actual "sit-down" computers is diminishing. Many businesses and public spaces now offer free Wi-Fi, and as this trend grows, the necessity for home internet service will diminish further.  

Reading

The practice of lining the walls with bookshelves is getting hard to defend in the digital age. There are many clutter-free alternatives, from borrowing library books to using an e-reader, which can store more literature than most people can fit in their homes. Many e-books are available for free, and you can also get digital subscriptions to newspapers and magazines.

Several e-readers have a special display that minimizes eyestrain, and most can sync directly with a smartphone or other mobile device.  

Transportation

Another thing our consumerist mentality tells us is that we must own a vehicle, no matter our transportation needs. Again, nothing could be further from the truth, particularly for people who are retired or work from home.     

If you regularly commute more than 15 minutes to work, possessing a vehicle is likely the most viable option for you. I use the word “possessing” rather than “owning” here because leasing a vehicle is often more cost-efficient than owning one. Ownership is highly overrated, especially when it comes to vehicles, which decline in value the moment they’re driven off the dealer’s lot.  

If your commute is less than 15 minutes, or if you rarely commute to work at all, there are excellent alternatives for transportation when you do need to travel:

  • For short distances, and if you don’t have much cargo, a bicycle or motor scooter will work just fine. Both are fuel efficient, and cycling is better for your health.
  • Every county has its own public bus service with multiple routes. All major shopping centers and highly populated residential areas have bus stops. Details can be found online.
  • Uber is a great option for those one-offs and is usually more affordable than a taxi (another one-off option). Just download the Uber app to your mobile device and call a ride from there.

We live in a resource-rich community. Before you make any purchase, consider the service you’re really looking for and then see if there’s a more efficient way to get it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

Anthony Foppiano is the author of Living Better Small: A Better Life through Minimalism. To read more from him or to sign up for his mailing list, visit LivingBetterSmall.com.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

News Briefs

Dog Walk and Pet Fair Benefits SPCA

Dog Walk and Pet Fair Benefits SPCA

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 4, at FDR State Park, in Yorktown Heights
Birds of Prey Day at Green Chimneys

Birds of Prey Day at Green Chimneys

Visitors will have a chance to get “up-close and personal” with eagles, hawks, owls and falcons.
Holistic Expo Will Raise Funds for ‘Zen-Tuary’

Holistic Expo Will Raise Funds for ‘Zen-Tuary’

10 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 2 at Fable: From Farm to Table, in Ossining
Inner Harmony Expert Brings ‘Empowered Self Relating’ to Rhinebeck

Inner Harmony Expert Brings ‘Empowered Self Relating’ to Rhinebeck

At the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck June 21 to 23.
The Temperance Center Plans New Classes and Workshops

The Temperance Center Plans New Classes and Workshops

Services include yoga, meditation and special workshops and trainings.
Stress-Fighting Tools Can Preserve Physical Health

Stress-Fighting Tools Can Preserve Physical Health

Reiki I class on May 6 and 7
Golden Prana Is a ‘Wellness Oasis’ in Katonah

Golden Prana Is a ‘Wellness Oasis’ in Katonah

Designed to enhance peace, promote healing and cultivate self-awareness.
Science

Science

7 p.m., May 17, at First Unitarian Society of Westchester, in Hastings-on-Hudson
Light Therapy Can Have Emotional and Visual Benefits

Light Therapy Can Have Emotional and Visual Benefits

“Light therapy is a means of bringing the nervous system into balance."
Sleep Apnea Often Treatable with Oral Appliance Therapy

Sleep Apnea Often Treatable with Oral Appliance Therapy

“If you or your bed partner snores, please call me and ask about a sleep apnea consultation.”
Ayurveda Can Improve Women’s Health

Ayurveda Can Improve Women’s Health

“The key, from the Ayurvedic perspective, is living in balance so that the body’s intricate systems can function properly.”
Integrative Medical Pioneer to Disburse His Document Collection

Integrative Medical Pioneer to Disburse His Document Collection

"I would like to pass this on to an institution, a clinic or a few individuals who will cherish them."
Elizabeth Pasquale Achieves Certification in Neuro-Hypnotic Repatterning

Elizabeth Pasquale Achieves Certification in Neuro-Hypnotic Repatterning

“Now I have another valuable technique to help people reach their goal of health, vibrancy and happiness even faster.”
Centenarian Master Yogini to Teach Briarcliff Workshop

Centenarian Master Yogini to Teach Briarcliff Workshop

1:30 to 4:30 p.m., June 8, at Club Fit, in Briarcliff Manor
Lucky Orphans Hosts Faces of PTSD Gallery

Lucky Orphans Hosts Faces of PTSD Gallery

noon to 5 p.m., May 18
Meditation Helps Massage Therapist ‘Listen’ to the Body

Meditation Helps Massage Therapist ‘Listen’ to the Body

“I assess where the client is emotionally, listening to what their muscles have to say."
Micro-Business Training in Pleasantville for Adults with Autism

Micro-Business Training in Pleasantville for Adults with Autism

Through hands-on training, participants can learn skills like order processing, packaging, marketing, distribution and customer relations.
Life Energy Arts Opening in Mount Kisco

Life Energy Arts Opening in Mount Kisco

Grand opening 2 to 4 p.m. on May 5
5Rhythms Family Dance Makes Hudson Valley Debut

5Rhythms Family Dance Makes Hudson Valley Debut

2 to 3:30 p.m. on May 4, at the Ascend Center, in Cold Spring
Holistic Group Holds Regular Networking Events in Yorktown

Holistic Group Holds Regular Networking Events in Yorktown

“We are a relaxed group of professionals offering a supportive community, networking events, many affordable marketing opportunities and fun.”
Local Heart Walks Happening This Year

Local Heart Walks Happening This Year

Heart Walks fund the AHA’s research and awareness programs.
Unique Therapy Effects Transformation through Movement

Unique Therapy Effects Transformation through Movement

“Change the Dance of Life healing reshapes emotional patterns of life and relationships at the cellular and conscious levels by physically moving subtle energy.”
Local Wellness Coaches Building a ‘Gym for the Soul’

Local Wellness Coaches Building a ‘Gym for the Soul’

“The center will be a hub for heart-centered collaboration, personal evolution and business growth—a spiritual home for healers and those seeking healing, alike.”
World Tai Chi Qigong Day: One Breath, One World

World Tai Chi Qigong Day: One Breath, One World

On April 27, In Balance Tai Chi Studio, in Brewster, will invite the public to celebrate the 20th annual World Tai Chi and Qigong Day (WTCQD) with a presentation.
Qi Revolution Comes to Danbury

Qi Revolution Comes to Danbury

The three-day training will be available in Danbury, Connecticut, from April 13 to 15 at the Amber Room Colonnade.
A Quarter-Century in Green Lawn Care and Pest Control

A Quarter-Century in Green Lawn Care and Pest Control

“I do a lot of research and testing of my oils; I even make a pet line and a human line. It’s all safe and natural."
Awaken Wellness Fair Returns to Tarrytown

Awaken Wellness Fair Returns to Tarrytown

April 28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel
Bethany Arts Community Accepting Applications for Artist Residencies

Bethany Arts Community Accepting Applications for Artist Residencies

The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. EST on April 30