It looks like you’ve gotten good answers to most of your questions. Here’s my weigh-in, as someone who lived in Newburgh for the past 13 years (and only recently moved to Santa Fe):
– Newburgh is really not much worse than any large city for crime. My husband and I lived there for 13 years and never encountered any (though a person was mugged around the corner once, a long time ago). That said, the closer you live to the rougher parts of the city, the rougher it is. Our house is right on the ‘edge’ between the good and bad parts of the city, where there are a lot of rentals, and I wouldn’t buy there again. I would, however, look at the Heights (lots of really nice, working class families in single-family homes) or Grand or Montgomery Streets. Also, get a good house alarm and monitoring system, and you’ll be fine.
– Regarding concerns about being the “only gay in the village:” This cracked me up b/c for 13 years we were literally the only straight couple on our side of the block. Trust me, you won’t be the only gay in the village. In fact, the gay community was really the first wave, as they often are, to discover how amazing the place is.
– Commute: My husband and I both commuted into midtown and downtown for many years. It’s very do-able if you don’t have kids. Once you have children it becomes a different story (but then, everything is). Also, I lived on the Upper East Side for a decade before moving to Newburgh, and the commute to midtown took me a good 45 minutes, so even if you live in the city (unless you’re within walking distance of work), you’ll be traveling. We figured we could live in an 800 square foot apt. in the city and commute 45 mins. or double it, and live in a space five times that size.
You will love the community – there are a lot of really cultured, interesting people coming up from the city, across from Beacon, and other parts of the country who are turning Newburgh into a Brooklyn outpost. It’s a really interesting time to be there, b/c for the first time in many years, the tide seems to be truly turning for this beautiful place. Good luck!