Stroudsburg Pa.: A Small Town at the ‘Heart of the Poconos’

Stroudsburg Pa.: A Small Town at the ‘Heart of the Poconos’

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The Monroe County borough has been welcoming city dwellers since long before the pandemic: “People come here and discover a new world.”

A little over a year ago, Charise Miller’s commute to work increased — a lot. It now takes her about an hour and a half to get to her office in New York City, instead of 10 minutes. But she’s fine with that, because it means she doesn’t have to spend two hours finding a parking space after work, as she did when she lived in the Bronx, near Yankee Stadium. In Stroudsburg, Pa. — a Monroe County borough 75 miles west of New York and just across the Delaware River from New Jersey — where she now lives, there’s plenty of parking. There’s also plenty of breathing room.

New Yorkers have sought open space in the Poconos for ages, but the Millers are among a recent influx of city dwellers settling in Stroudsburg, a community of about 5,900 residents that calls itself the “heart of the Poconos.” Stroudsburg is becoming hipper, if a bit more crowded. “But if it wasn’t for people from New York and New Jersey, we wouldn’t have the diversity and culture we have now,” said the town’s part-time mayor, Tarah Probst, a regional outreach coordinator at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. Ms. Probst, 49, is a Democratic candidate for a seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, but she said she won’t leave her position as mayor, a job she has had for more than six years, until she knows the borough is in good hands.

Stroudsburg now has a Starbucks, but that’s not such a bad thing, Mr. Schreier conceded. “They bring so much traffic into this town, and I’m very excited to poach off their customers,” he said. “I’m full. We’re all full.” Angela Sessoms, 68, a retired speech teacher, moved to Stroudsburg from the Bronx in 2004, so that she and her sister, Barbara, 70, a retired corrections officer, could adopt and raise special-needs children. She now has four adopted children, ages 18 to 23, and her sister has two, 17 and 20. The sisters have moved from one place to another in Stroudsburg, most recently paying $420,000 in May for a five-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom house seven miles outside the borough. The area is diverse, she said, and the residents are warm and friendly. “We kind of had to get used to people saying hello to us,” Ms. Sessoms said.

Stroudsburg covers just two square miles, with Interstate 80 running through its southern portion. It’s bordered to the east by Brodhead Creek and East Stroudsburg (which has less of a Main Street U.S.A. feel); and to the west by Tannersville, with the Crossings Premium Outlets. The borough is clearly undergoing a transformation. The marquee on the old Sherman Theater, which anchors Main Street, still touts concerts and shows, but the building that housed the nation’s first J.J. Newberry’s, a five-and-dime chain, is now occupied by the Renegade Winery. Big-box retailers have swept into the area, and many of the little mom-and-pop shops in downtown Stroudsburg have disappeared. But new independent businesses are also moving in — among them Pure Day Spa, Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop and the Cure Cafe.

Although Monroe County has the highest average effective property tax rate in Pennsylvania — 2.37 percent — taxes still tend to be lower than in the New York suburbs, and houses are generally more affordable at a variety of price points, Ms. Murray said. These days, those listed for sale don’t get 25 offers as they did at the height of the pandemic, he said, but they may still get three or four. “There are just a lot of things to do here,” she said. “And it’s pretty.”

On July 15, there were 83 properties listed for sale in the 18360 ZIP code, according to data from the Pocono Mountains Association of Realtors. That included homes in the borough of Stroudsburg, as well as the townships of Stroud, Hamilton, Jackson, Pocono, Smithfield and Chestnuthill. Prices in the area ranged from $200,000 for a ranch house on a “contractor’s dream” property on Sherwood Forest Road, with a foundation, frame, roof, septic and new heating system, to $2.399 million for a five-bedroom, five-bathroom 1824 farmhouse on 100 acres. Sales are down slightly in 2022, but prices are up. Through the end of June, 146 properties sold for an average price of $312,079, with an average time on the market of 39 days. By contrast, the first six months of 2021 saw 151 properties sell for an average of $285,786 — about 8 percent lower — and an average of 48 days on the market.

The Martz Bus company offers daily service from its terminal on Foxtown Hill Road to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan. With a few exceptions, Stroudsburg is the last stop en route to New York and the first stop on the way back. Nine buses depart for New York between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. on weekdays, and there are six to eight daily buses on weekends. The trip takes about 90 minutes. A one-way fare is $46; a book of 40 one-way tickets is $669. The Monroe County Historical Association is in the stately Stroud Mansion, a 12-room house on Main Street that was built in 1795 by Jacob Stroud, a Revolutionary War colonel who founded Stroudsburg in 1799. The house, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, remained in the family until 1893. For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.