For development I have a separate vm for my postgres database, but by default connections to postgres can only come from localhost.

To allow connections to postgres other than from localhost you need to do two things: (1) Modify pg_hba.conf and (2) modify the postgresql.conf file. NOTE: these settings are for local development only and should not be used in production.

These files can be found in /etc/postgresql/9.5/main/.

For pg_hba.conf change the IPv4 address from to:

# IPv4 local connections:
host    all             all                  md5

And for postgresql.conf file set the listen_addresses to '*':

listen_addresses = '*'

Also I didn’t have a password set for the user I was using. To set the password for a pg user you can use this command:

ALTER USER username WITH PASSWORD 'password';

To connect to the database from node:

var pg = require('pg');
var connectionString = "postgres://username:password@";