Oh the places you'll go
January 15, 2015 12:45 PM   Subscribe

What can you tell me about living year round on Long Island's North Fork?

I'm loosely exploring a potential job opportunity out there. It's very appealing work, but I know little about the area except for some Great Gatsby stereotypes. What is social life like? Cultural events? Is summer horrible? Is winter crushingly lonely? What is the character of the different towns, particularly on the North Fork? What do people love or hate about it? Thanks in advance for any experiences you can offer at all.

I'm already based in a coastal part of the East Coast so I get the general vibe that comes with that, just never been to this part of NY or on Long Island ever at all. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think when I was younger it was a lot more rural than it is today. Winter is cold and sometimes extreme in terms of storms and such.

If the work is appealing, and you like the vibe of a place like Cape Cod in the winter, you will probably be in heaven there! I say go for it!
posted by jbenben at 1:07 PM on January 15, 2015


Never lived out there, but you'll be able to zip into the city easily enough, depending on how far out.
posted by vrakatar at 3:38 PM on January 15, 2015


Great Gatsby isn't the north fork at all. My family is from the south fork. Basically the area is formerly agrarian that is transitioning to a service/tourism based economy. The north fork still having lots of farms. That said its today a big summer community so the winter community is closer and small knit. There is going to be a pool of expats and a pool of locals. The expats will take you in quickly, the locals more slowly. The year round crowd is much less well off than the summer crowd.

Its a really lovely part of the world but move in March because February is tough.
posted by JPD at 5:04 PM on January 15, 2015


Summer on the North Fork is still nice as a year rounder. Winter would be a little lonely. Most of the culture during the winter will be on the south fork but that's increasingly changing
posted by JPD at 5:06 PM on January 15, 2015


My parents live in Cutchogue and I grew up on the island just a little further in on the north shore. These responses are hilarious to me. I don't know how old you are, but my parents have a lively community that involves night life as well as social activities ranging from theatre and book clubs to music jams and parties. Winter is not "lonely" and the tone is far, far, far from Great Gatsby. The area is beautiful, there's a ton of great food thanks to the influence of weekend and summer residents as well as the continuing farming (particularly boutique and organic farming, but also ordinary family farms) alongside the wineries/vinyards. The community is fairly diverse for Eastern Long Island, and although the year-round population skews older, there's really nothing notably weird about it. The only reasons I didn't stay there were logistical: I am an academic and there's no university on the north fork :)

I'm pretty hippie, and so are my parents. The person who said "most of the culture will be on the south fork" is sort of right (we go down there for anything out of the mainstream, movie-wise), but mostly wrong, in the sense that the south fork is heavily invested in replacing culture with high-end retail and similar awfulness. My/our approach to the whole Hamptons thing is very stealth-operation "get in, take what you need, and get out." So I think you have to gauge yourself: do you like rich-people, urban culture? Then the east end is not for you. Do you like the outdoors (even in winter, it is breathtakingly beautiful), family life, and community-oriented social activities, with great restaurants, fresh local food and wine, and have patience with tour buses full of drunk south forkers in the summer? Then you'll like the north fork.

I am happy to talk endlessly about how much I adore the north fork (even though I live across the country, I have a NoFo sticker on my car bumper), but I will be the first to say that if you love city life, you will think it is hell.

Also, if you act even remotely like a normal, polite human being, the "locals" will be just fine. This isn't some alien territory from the 1870s, this is two and a half hours away from the most iconic city on earth, for crying out loud. We are you, you are us. The only time we make fun of commuters is when they act like they're better than we are, or like we've never been into the city (because OMG surely if you have stepped foot on Manhattan Island you'd realize you could never live anywhere again, right? Except Manhattan smells like pee and garbage, while the north fork smells like the salty tang of freedom and space).
posted by obliquicity at 6:47 PM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


I love it out there. Greenport is a fantastic small town, the spring and fall are beautiful, summer is busy without being obnoxious, and winter has it's charms. There's water everywhere you look too. Go for it!
posted by karst at 8:22 PM on January 15, 2015


Maybe DeMille's Plum Island is a more updated fictional representation of the area?
posted by Pax at 5:27 AM on January 16, 2015


The housing can be pricey. I wouldn't call it a bastion of culture, but it's a train ride away from NYC so it's hard to complain too much. Sort of a weird small-town rural/rich NYC/tourist mix. Having a car is necessary if you want variety, but Greenport at least has a nice, walkable city center with restaurants, a theater, and a grocery store. I'd very happily live in Greenport again.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:29 AM on January 16, 2015


2nd obliquicity completely.

grew up off of exit 68 on the LIE (the main highway on and off Long Island) and have been so impressed with the way the North Fork has blossomed in the twenty years since I moved away for college (and life).

put all thoughts of west egg out of your mind. riverhead is the gateway to the north fork. it has all the big box stores you could ask for, a great arts district (that my mom was a patron of before moving away last year), and easy access to the airports (the one on the island and the ones in queens).

i love the wine country, the farm to table mentality that's decades strong, and the ferry from orient point that takes you up to connecticut (then boston) without having to drive across a bridge or through the bronx. Oh! and shelter island! man, there are times when i miss living 3000 miles away from there. i miss devil dogs and sicilian pizza and breakfast sandwiches made on a roll. and friendly's. i should stop.
posted by ovenmitt at 10:14 PM on January 17, 2015


ugh, was too tired when i wrote this. not trying to compare west egg to riverhead! just wanted to say there's no need to think about gatsby when thinking nofo and then separately to say that it's not crazy boonies and you'll find malls (including an outlet center), target, warehouse stores, and a swim park there.
posted by ovenmitt at 7:49 AM on January 18, 2015


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