Moving to New York? The Empire State frequently ranks among the top five most expensive states in the U.S., with the average house price in New York around $420,000 and average monthly rent about $1,300. But if you’re willing to live outside of New York City, it’s easier to find budget-friendly living! Check out these nine most affordable places to live in upstate New York.
- Population: 98,425
- Home Price: $172,700 median purchase price; $875 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 9% of New York cities
- Unemployment Rate: 4.6%
Located along the banks of the Hudson River, Albany is one of the best places to live in New York! Once a fur trading post, New York’s capital city is now the epicenter for jobs in technology, healthcare, commerce, and transportation, drawing professionals from all over due to the presence of the Capital District. Local colleges like the University at Albany and The College of Saint Rose also see a steady influx of students, pushing Albany to develop more business and entertainment districts to retain talent and grow the city’s young population!
Things to Do in Albany
Take a tour, marvel at the original 19th-century architecture, and see the state’s legislative chambers at the New York State Capitol. Walk among over 100,000 tulips, listen to live music, and shop talented craft vendors at the Albany Tulip Festival, one of the Northeast’s most-loved events. Get tickets to see comedy acts, dance performances, and music shows of all kinds at The Egg. Sign up for golf lessons or play a round of 18 holes at the Capital Hills at Albany golf course. Grab a seat on the garden patio and enjoy breakfast favorites like the John Denver, Farmhouse Hash, or Gluten Free Pancakes all day at Iron Gate Cafe. Experience traditional Turkish and Mediterranean cooking with Carrot Tarator, the Kofte Kabob Platter, or a Chicken Gyro Wrap at Spinning Gyro. Order from a wide selection of wines to accompany a Wagyu NY Strip or Coq Au Vin with Triple Butter Potato Puree on the side at 677 Prime. Or make a reservation to indulge in Pollo Parmigiana or Pasta All’arrabbiata, with a Sicilian Cannoli for dessert, at Villa di Como Ristorante.
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- Population: 258,989
- Home Price: $72,600 median purchase price; $710 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 3% of New York cities
- Unemployment Rate: 5.8%
Recognized as one of the most affordable cities in the U.S., Buffalo is the place to plant roots if you’re looking for inexpensive living in New York. Singles, young professionals, and families moving to Buffalo will be happy to find the cost of living is 37% lower than the New York average, and housing is 18% lower than the national average, making Buffalo one of the best cities for real estate investment in the U.S.! Also, as the second-largest city in the state, it’s easy to find great educational opportunities with many fantastic public schools and private schools in the area—as well as great higher education at the University at Buffalo.
Things to Do in Buffalo
Cheer on the Buffalo Sabres (NHL) as they take on their rivals at KeyBank Center. Attend fun events like Zoomagination, meet bison and rhinos, and see hundreds of other animals like polar bears, red pandas, and giraffes while visiting the Buffalo Zoo. Explore outer space, dive into your senses, and say “hello!” to Stanley the Albertosaurus at the Buffalo Museum of Science. Stroll through the Peace Garden and The Everglades exhibits and take horticulture classes at the Buffalo Botanical Gardens. Relax with a fine meal of a New York Strip Steak, Oysters on the Halfshell, or Jambalaya Pasta at Hutch’s. Enjoy contemporary Southern cooking such as House Smoked Sausage, the Hilly Billy, or MawMaw’s Gumbo at Toutant. Dine in or find their food truck to order an El Camino Bowl or Party Time Rolls with an Aztec Brownie for dessert at Lloyd Taco Factory. Or fill up on the best BBQ in Buffalo with Catfish Fingers, Brisket + Ribs, or a Pulled Chicken Sandwich at Fat Bob’s Smokehouse.
- Population: 8,400
- Home Price: $65,900 median purchase price; $609 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 76% of New York cities
- Unemployment Rate: 5.6%
If you’re looking for a small, quiet town, Hornell might be for you. Nicknamed The Maple City due to the abundance of maple trees that used to grow in the area, this town is a peaceful town off the beaten path. Hornell is a great place to raise a family due to its excellent safety rating and all the green spaces and waterways nearby, providing plenty of outdoor fun. If you’re thinking of moving to Hornell, you’ll be happy to know that it’s one of the most affordable places to live in New York—the cost of living is 34% lower than the state average!
Things to Do in Hornell
Explore Hornell’s railway past with a memorial, mementos, and art at Hornell Erie Depot Museum. Get some unique stress relief by smashing objects and splattering paint around at Smash & Paint Hornell. Practice your swing on the driving range, try virtual golf, or play a game of the real thing at Hornell Golf Club. Go boating, tent camping, or rent a cabin for the weekend at nearby Kanakadea Park. Start your day with a Chocolate Chip Scone, Dark Knight coffee, or Pineapple Paradise at Brandy’s Cup of Joe. Grab a Beef & Cheddar Sub, BLT Salad, or Taco Dog at Andy’s Sub Shop. Relax in a homey atmosphere to enjoy a Shepherd’s Pie or a 12 oz. Delmonico while sipping one of the 30 beers on tap at Paddy’s Pub & Grill. Or sample the Dark Rails, Kolsch, or Spiced Red Ale brewed in-house at RailHead Brewing Company.
- Population: 6,549
- Home Price: $183,100 median purchase price; $749 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 37% of New York cities
- Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
Along the Hudson River, 40 miles south of Albany, you’ll find the aptly-named city of Hudson. Not only does the area have a quirky arts scene and stunning Colonial architecture, but it also has a budding LGBTQ community. Jobs here are plentiful, with tourism and retail being the major contributors to economic growth—thanks to the wide range of antique shops and the restoration of historic homes throughout the Hudson area.
Things to Do in Hudson
Go boating, fishing, or take a walk at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park. Peruse vendors selling fresh produce, baked goods, flowers, and more while listening to live music at the Hudson Farmers’ Market. Stroll down mile-long Warren Street to browse unique shops like FINCH Hudson and Nikki Chasin. Stop in to see diverse paintings, sculptures, and photography at Carrie Haddad Gallery. Try a wood-fired, all-natural pizza with uncommon but delicious toppings like walnuts, apricots, meatballs, dried figs, and more at Baba Louie’s. Try a seasonally rotating dish like Fettuccine with Broccoli Rabe and Ricotta or Welsh Rarebit—with Blueberry-Lime Semifreddo for dessert—at Cafe Mutton. Grab garden seating to enjoy Italian recipes such as Bistecca Alla Griglia, Ravioli Della Casa, or Rigatoni Bolognese at Ca’Mea Restaurant. Or sip craft beers such as the Woodstock IPA or Wolfer’s Dry Rose Cider while flipping through your next read at The Spotty Dog Books & Ale.
- Population: 7986
- Home Price: $81,300 median purchase price; $553 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 34% of New York cities
- Unemployment Rate: 8%
Near the center of New York state is the historical village of Ilion, named after the Greek word for the ancient city of Troy. Around 1825, Ilion resident Eliphalet Remington II perfected the rifle and built an armory that supplied guns to the Federal Army and Navy throughout the Civil War. Today, Remington Arms Company is still one of the largest employers in the area, supporting Ilion and nearby villages. Families in particular love living in this suburban town for the quiet atmosphere and friendly, helpful neighbors.
Things to Do in Ilion
Spend some time at the driving range or play nine holes while enjoying the lovely views at Doty’s Golf Course. Leave flowers and pay your respects to those who served at the Silent Sentinel Civil War Memorial Statue. Show off your acting skills or attend shows like Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Steel Magnolias, and Barefoot in the Park at The Ilion Little Theatre. Go for a bike ride, walk your dog, or have a picnic with friends and family at Russell Park. Have a breakfast of Handmade Muffins, Blueberry Pancakes, or Henrietta’s Special at Farmhouse Restaurant. Relish slices of Gluten Free or Upside-Down Pizza with Bosco Sticks at Sorrento Pizzeria & Restaurant. Relax with a Hamburger Sub, Rachel Sandwich, or Buffalo Chicken Salad at Crossway’s Bar and Grill. Or enjoy Chicken Francesca, Stuffed Haddock, and House Made Lasagna at Cacciatore’s Restaurant and Banquet Hall.
- Population: 10,937
- Home Price: $68,000 median purchase price; $591 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 35% of New York cities
- Unemployment Rate: 4.6%
Separated from Canada by the Ogdensburg–Prescott International Bridge, Ogdensburg is ideal for families and retirees due to all the green spaces, convenience of many water activities, and fun events like the annual Ogdensburg International Seaway Festival. Young professionals will also appreciate the employment opportunities in healthcare, education, and public administration—where they can work for Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Madill Elementary School, the City of Ogdensburg itself, and more. Ogdensburg is beautiful with its water views and has plenty of people and businesses without feeling like a large city.
Things to Do in Ogdensburg
See paintings and bronzes from Frederic Remington along with rotating exhibits like Art Teacher’s Choice and Gregory Fedchak: The Paintings, A Retrospective at Frederic Remington Art Museum. Go camping, canoeing, and have a barbecue at nearby Eel Weir State Park. Play a nine-hole game and admire the sweeping views of the St. Lawrence River at close-by St. Lawrence State Park Golf Course. Rent a boat to take out onto the Oswegatchie River, buy fishing supplies, and visit the Smuggler’s Cafe at Hosmer’s Marina. Enjoy live entertainment with a dinner of Pork Shank Ossobucco or Margherita Pizza with Grand Marnier Creme Brulee for dessert at the Gran-View Restaurant, located inside The Inn at Gran View. Unwind with warm plates of Deep Fried Shrimp, the Hot Beef Sandwich, or a Boom Boom Burger at family-owned Phillips Diner. Try fresh Mexican eats such as a Balsamic Chicken Quesadilla, Peach Bourbon Tacos, or Beef Enchiladas at The Dirty Gringo. Or sit down for a delicious Turkey Bacon Ranch Panini, The Royale Burger, or a Chicken Philly at The Bayside Grill.
- Population: 13,991
- Home Price: $72,200 median purchase price; $608 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 62% of New York cities
- Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
Olean is a hub for finance, business, and entertainment in Cattaraugus County. All kinds of young professionals live in Olean for the low unemployment rate and jobs in industries like healthcare, manufacturing, and education. Families flock to this city because of its high safety ratings and good public schools like Washington West Elementary and Olean High School. Olean is also within 40 minutes of several beautiful natural areas like Allegheny National Forest, Golden Hill State Forest, and McCarty Hill State Forest—and you can easily take a day trip to the big city of Buffalo for even more entertainment!
Things to Do in Olean
See the giant rock formations of the world’s largest quartz conglomerate, hike the trails, and visit the museum at Rock City Park. Go bowling or join a volleyball league at Good Times of Olean. Play roller hockey, go ice skating, or swim in the pool at Olean Recreation Center. Take a guided tour, sit in quiet reflection, or attend mass at the historical Olean landmark, Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels. Have a tea party or just enjoy Apple Crisp Waffles or a Sweet Turkey and Ham Sandwich with your choice from dozens of teas at Union Tea Cafe. Call yourself a carnivore and fill up on the Beefeater’s Julienne Salad, Chargrilled Chicken Breast, or a Porterhouse Steak at Beef ‘N’ Barrel. Savor Duck A L’Orange or Smoked Mac-N-Cheese while sipping on an Italian Mule at the Prohibition Bar at The Old Library Restaurant. Or learn about the process of brewing beer while sampling a Green St. IPA, Maple Brown Ale, or Polynomial Pale Ale at Four Mile Brewing.
- Population: 144,350
- Home Price: $89,900 median purchase price; $737 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 10% of New York cities
- Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
If you want to live in a larger but still affordable New York city, consider Syracuse! Located in the heart of Upstate New York, Salt City has become a popular area for students, singles, and young professionals who want to build careers and raise families. Syracuse University and nationally-recognized liberal arts school Le Moyne College both call this city home, which is perfect for those interested in pursuing a degree. There are loads of fun annual events in Syracuse as well, including The Great New York State Fair and Syracuse Winterfest!
Things to Do in Syracuse
Shop ’til you drop at over 200 stores, many of them small and local like Larger Than Life Toys & Comics, Rainbow Zen, and Syracuse Posters at Destiny USA. Interact with penguins and elephants, visit the aquarium and wildlife trail, and see amazing animals such as Amur leopards, blue poison dart frogs, and fennec foxes at the 43-acre Rosamond Gifford Zoo. Admire the collections of ceramics and paintings, attend Artist Talk events, and take art classes at Everson Museum of Art. Find fun nightlife, wonderful restaurants, and interesting things to do like the Museum of Science & Technology in Armory Square. Wake up to a warm breakfast of Shortcake Waffles, Elvis B-Side Pancakes, or Canadian Gold Poutine at Modern Malt. Pick up Stretch Rolls or Asiago Focaccia, or have an Italian meal of Chianti-Braised Short Rib or Baked Manicotti at Pastabilities. Indulge in Bar-B-Que Chicken Wings or a Prime Brisket Sandwich with sides of Mac & Cheese and Simmered Greens at the original location of the popular New York chain, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. Or enjoy a vintage atmosphere with comfort foods such as Chicken Pastina Soup, a Brooklyn Burger, or the Chicken Parmesan Sandwich at Stella’s Diner.
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City statistics from AreaVibes