5 Best Places to Live in New York

January 15th, 2022

5 Best Places to Live in New York

5 Best Places to Live in the State of New York

What are the best places and cities to live in New York?

Do you have an empire state of mind? With miles of beautiful terrain, breathtaking natural wonders, and magnificent historical architecture, it is no surprise that over 20 million people call New York State home. Even though the COVID-19 Pandemic may have forced residents to seek more affordable living options, it seems that now more people are deciding to move to New York State than ever before. From giant cultural hubs to smaller and more relaxed cities, New York State is certainly one of the most diverse states in the country. With no shortage of business opportunities and higher education institutions, living a life that is happy and successful is a common occurrence among young professionals and families.

With a lifestyle that balances a perfect mixture of work and play, it is easy to see why New York State is such a desirable place to live. If you are one of the many that have decided to adventure to the Empire State then you have come to the right place. By factoring in safety, affordability, and overall quality of life, our team has comprised this city guide to help you decide where you belong. While there may be many cities to choose from, it is important to first consider what you desire most in a new home and community.

Read on to learn more about the 5 Best Places to Live in New York State (No particular order)!

Albany, NY one of the best places to live in New York

Albany

As the state capital, the city of Albany certainly has a lot to live up to. Found only 150 miles away from the popular New York City, Albany is situated on the west bank of the Hudson River. Ranking in the top 50 among the largest metropolitan areas in the United States for its high quality of life and strong job market, Albany is definitely one of the top cities in the state to call home. Its ability to maintain an exciting and fun downtown district alongside a commercial center is one of its most impressive qualities. Plus, even though it is known as a large and progressive city, the area is not as expensive or as crowded as other similar areas.

Albany is often referred to as the Tri-City area since it is separated into smaller areas including the cities of Troy and Schenectady, New York. The average age of residents in Albany is around 40 years old which means that the population is aging and more established. Since the community is friendly and tight-knit, this is also a great place to raise a family and retire. For those that work, Albany is known to have a higher average income than the national average.

Local Albany Favorites:

  • New York State Museum: Located on Madison Avenue downtown, this museum faces the state capital building. This is one of the oldest and largest state museums in the country.

  • Empire State Plaza Ice Rink: Ice skate outside during the winter at this free ice rink. This is an awesome place for a family night out. Skate rentals are only $4 for adults and $3 for children.

  • Albany Institute of History and Art: Founded in 1791, this is one of the oldest museums in the United States. This museum houses the history and art of the Upper Hudson Valley region.

  • USS Slater: This destroyer ship served in World War II for the United States Navy. Now it sits on the Hudson River as a museum. Visit today for tours to learn about this destroyer ship’s history.

  • Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail: This 9.8-mile trail is a popular spot for residents to walk, run, jog, or bike.

Syracuse, NY is one of the top places to live in New york

Syracuse

For those that do not know, the city of Syracuse receives more than 120 inches of snow per year. If you are moving here from a warmer climate then you need to invest in a heavy-duty snow shovel and warm winter clothing. While New York State may be no stranger to snow, Syracuse often gets more than it bargained for. Even though the snow may be one of the most distinguishing features of the city, it is also one of the most affordable places to live in the state compared to other similar areas. Due to its lower cost of living, young adults, families, and retirees make up a good portion of the population. In fact, 24.9% of residents are under the age of 20 and 27.7% of residents are between the ages of 45 and 64.

As the fifth most populous city in the state, Syracuse provides the perfect mix of urban and suburban living to its residents alongside safe and sought-after neighborhoods. Plus, with access to the great outdoors, spend the day at an award-winning winery, try out a new hiking trail, or put the snow to good use by skiing and snowboarding. Not only is this a great place to live with many things to do, but its location in central New York makes it only a four-hour drive to New York City and a three-hour drive to Buffalo.

Local Syracuse Favorites:

  • Erie Canal Museum: Founded in 1962, this is a cool place to learn about the history of Syracuse and the foundation of the Erie Canal which is located in the city.

  • Onondaga Lake: Found west of Syracuse, this 7.5-mile greenway borders the lake and is a great place to walk the dog or watch the sunset.

  • Green Lake: This meromictic lake has some of the cleanest and clear water in the city. This lake is found 9 miles east of downtown.

  • Clinton Square: Located in downtown Syracuse, this town square is home to retail stores and restaurants. There is even a popular outdoor ice skating rink here in the winter months.

  • Lakeland Winery: Opened in 2005, this local winery is the first custom winemaking facility in the state of New York. Visit for a wine tasting, learn about the art of winemaking, or host a private event at this facility.

One of the best cities to live in New York is Buffalo, NY

Buffalo

Buffalo is the second-most populous city in New York State and remains an industrial hot-spot. Located on Lake Erie, Buffalo is a prime waterfront destination that is only 20-miles away from Niagra Falls and is considered to be the best town to live in upstate New York. Even though this industrial city took a major hit during the Great Depression back in the day, the area has been making a comeback over the years as more businesses decide to call Buffalo home. While this may be a major city, the small-town and welcoming feel that it provides its residents is one of the major draws to the area. Plus, housing costs, utilities, groceries, and health care costs are all below the national average which makes this an affordable place to live in New York State.

One of the main things that the locals love to do is watch and support the local sports teams. Even if the weather calls for ice and snow, residents can be seen cheering for The Buffalo Sabres National Hockey team and The Buffalo Bills National Football team. There are also many awesome cultural attractions, historical sites, and outdoor activities that keep residents busy. While the median age in Buffalo is 40.8 years old, there is a large number of students that live here due to the number of families that can be found living in the area.

Local Buffalo Favorites:

  • Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House: This National Historic Landmark was designed by this infamous architect between 1903 and 1905. This is an amazing example of fantastic architectural design and detail.

  • Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens: Found in South Park, these gardens are a nice retreat from the cold weather. This is a great spot to rent out for events or weddings.

  • Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site: After the assassination of President William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office at this building in 1901. Visit today for a tour to learn more about this historical moment in American history.

  • Canalside - Buffalo: This recreational spot near the Erie Canal Harbor is a cool place to hang out and relax. There is even an outdoor ice skating rink here in the winter.

  • The Buffalo Zoo: Learn about animal conservation at this zoo in Buffalo. More than 400,000 people visit this attraction every year.

Rochester is one of the best areas to live in the state of New York

Rochester

Found in Monroe County in northwestern New York, the city of Rochester is the third most populous city in the state. Located on Lake Ontario, Rochester is a unique city that is steeped in history and culture. While many residents tend to gravitate towards the suburbs instead of living in the downtown area, many single-family homes that are available are over 100 years old. Since most buildings are undergoing recent massive renovations, the city is witnessing a spike in growth and interest in innovation.

The residents of Rochester are known to be kind and friendly to neighbors and are always willing to lend a helping hand. With a cost of living that is affordable and below the national average, Rochester is considered a great place to raise a family. In fact, much of the population is made up of children that are under the age of 20. Since the area is famous for its long and cold winters, it is recommended that you like snow before making the final decision to move here.

Local Rochester Favorites:

  • George Eastman Museum: This is the oldest museum in the world that is solely dedicated to the art of photography. As of 1966, this museum also became a National Historic Landmark.

  • Susan B. Anthony Museum and House: This was the home of Susan B. Anthony, a prominent figure in the women’s rights movement. Public tours are available throughout the week.

  • Ontario Beach Park: This park and beach on the shores of Lake Ontario feature a pier and carousel. There are lifeguards on duty.

  • Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse: This lighthouse was built in 1822 and stands at 40-feet tall. Not only is this lighthouse active, but it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

  • Turning Point Park: Featuring a beautiful walkway and stunning views of the river and waterfall.

New York City skyline at sunrise on a beautiful morning - downtown New York City buildings

New York City

New York City is the city that dreams are made of. Nicknamed “the city that never sleeps,” New York City is always moving and running forward. Home to the countries tallest skyscrapers and highest cost of living, living in New York City is not for the faint of heart. A leader in business, fashion, trends, and culture, New York City is truly the land of opportunity. From Wall Street to Grand Central Station, there is never a dull moment in the most populous city in the United States. Separated into boroughs, residents have learned to classify each borough based on certain characteristics. Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island are all unique places to live within the city. We put together a list of the best places to live in New York City as well for those looking for help deciding on where to live. More than half of residents are single and the median age of residents is 38 years old. Plus, more than one-third of residents were born outside of the United States which makes New York City a culturally diverse hub and international destination.

Local New York City Favorites:

  • Times Square: This entertainment center and well-known tourist attraction is a busy intersection of businesses. This is one of the world’s busiest pedestrian areas and more than 50 million people visit Times Square each year.

  • Brooklyn Bridge: This famous structure and icon connect the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

  • 9/11 Memorial and Museum: This memorial and museumwere built to commemorate the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

  • Radio City Music Hall: Located in Manhattan, this entertainment venue is the home of the Rockettes.

  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral: Built in 1858, this cathedral is located directly across from the Rockefeller Center.

Best Cities in New York - The Bottom Line

No matter where you decide to live in New York, there is no wrong answer. Whether you choose to live in upstate or downstate only depends on personal preference but both are good places to live. The cities that made this list are considered the best in New York State and range in price points. Even though New York City is the most expensive city, there are still cheaper and affordable options available. Once you have decided which place in New York State is best for you, reach out to one of our Realty Specialists to help you find the home of your dreams. Contact us today!

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.