Living away from the city has some considerable trade offs. What price are you willing to pay to live comfortably in the Poconos? There are some things you will be giving up and I want to address them in a series of articles called “Can I Live Without”.
We lived in Queens for about 7 years before moving to the East Stroudsburg region in the Poconos. Queens County, NY is known as the most diverse county in the U.S.. That certainly spills over many other aspects of that place, including the local cuisine. If we wanted to get Turkish food, we could drive 15 minutes to Metropolitan Avenue and get some. Peruvian food was available 10 minutes away in Jamaica. A Kosher burger? 5 minutes drive down Main Street. Korean? 30 minutes tops, and you didn’t have to go all the way to Flushing either. Oh wait, you drove all the way to Astoria for some tasty Greek food and the restaurant is closed? No problem, you can walk a bit further and choose from 3 or 4 other equally respectable Hellenic eateries. Not to mention the countless food trucks available anywhere you go. You never only have the one option, no matter where you lived.
And if you didn’t feel like driving (or didn’t have a car to begin with), no problem. There were quite a few services like Seamless.com that would make ordering food as easy and fun an activity as shopping for Christmas gifts at Amazon.
The New Reality
Here the situation is a bit different. If eating out every other night is your favorite hobby in New York, think twice before you come down to the Poconos. There are a couple Thai places in the vicinity, one Dominican restaurant and no Colombian food in a very broad radius. The nearest Brazilian steakhouse is a 20 or so miles away in Nazareth, or a 30 min drive down PA-33.
In terms of fast food and other popular franchises the options are mixed. We have a Panera Bread and a Five Guys in town, but no Chipotle and no Shake Shack. In terms of large fast-food chains we are well served from Burger King to Popeye’s. And there are plenty of other national restaurant chains with a presence in the region. Chili’s, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Ruby Tuesday and others are all a short drive away, no more than 15 minutes unless you live very far from downtown Stroudsburg. We do not have a White Castle in town though (this one might be a huge plus or a detractor, I’m not sure).
On the Plus Side
If you have children though, the city offers a big advantage: parking spots. Everywhere you go there is not any issue when it comes to parking space. NYC was not so kind with people with cars and that might make your nice weekend out a bit miserable, specially if your destination is somewhere in Manhattan. We loved taking family and friends that were in town to Katz, but just the prospect of trying to find parking around Houston St was depressing. Before you even got there there was the unpredictable but usually terrible traffic, which I managed by pointing to every famous building and landmark in sight and telling a story or two to distract the passengers in my soccer van. But then you get there and there are the multiple parking signs that you have to figure out, fire hydrants that may or may not be too close to your car and unevenly painted sidewalks. Lastly there are the large lines, rushed service and the very real possibility that the place in question will not take credit cards. That was the price of diversity.
Price is also on your side in Pennsylvania. Not only the sales taxes are lower, but the overall cost of living is much lower and therefore the price of eating out. Case in point: Everybody’s Buffet. This is a restaurant in Stroudsburg’s route 611 that has been open for a few months. This all-you-can-eat joint offers everything from a large variety of sushi to jumbo shrimp and lobster. The price? an unbelievable $20 per adult. You can probably go two nights in a row and not try everything they have to offer. And the price difference is similar on local pizza places and restaurants as well.
The Bottom Line
This is a divisive issue. My wife for example misses having a variety of places to go eat big time whereas to me that is only secondary, as long as there is no stress getting there or paying for it. But no matter what your personal take is, do take keep these factors in mind when considering moving over to this beautiful region. It may not be a big deal for most people, but for some it is definitely a deal breaker.