Considering moving to New York? The Empire State frequently ranks among the top five most expensive states in the U.S. And with the median home price around $380,000 and average monthly rent around $1,120 for a two-bedroom apartment, you might feel discouraged. Fortunately, if you’re willing to live outside of New York City, it’s a bit easier to find budget-friendly living. Check out these eight 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 11% 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, the capital of New York is now the epicenter for jobs in technology, healthcare, commerce, and transportation, drawing professionals from all over to work in the Capital District. Local colleges like University at Albany and State University of New York have also seen 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 of the New York State Capitol to look at the original 19th-century architecture and see the state’s legislative chambers. See performances from the Albany Berkshire Ballet or get tickets to see a comedy act or musical performance at The Egg. Immerse yourself in over 150,000 tulips, listen to live music, and eat amazing food at the annual Albany Tulip Festival. Sign up for lessons or play a round of 18 holes at Capital Hills at Albany Golf Course. Grab a seat on the patio and enjoy breakfast favorites like Avocado Toast or French Toast at Iron Gate Cafe. Make your way to New World Bistro Bar for Grilled Swordfish, Fried Chicken, or Veggie Burger. Or experience traditional Turkish and Mediterranean cooking at Spinning Gyro with the Beef Gyro Sandwich or Stuffed Grape Leaves.
- 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 America, Buffalo is the place to plant roots if you’re looking for inexpensive living in Upstate New York. Families, singles, and young professionals moving to Buffalo will be happy to find that the cost of living is 30% lower than the New York average and housing is 50% lower than the national average, making Buffalo a great place to buy a home in New York. Not to mention, as the second-largest city in the state, it’s easy to find great educational opportunities with many fantastic public and private schools in the area, including University at Buffalo.
Things to Do in Buffalo
See gorillas, otters, or rhinos while visiting the Buffalo Zoo. Explore the world of dinosaurs and learn about weather and gravity at the Buffalo Museum of Science. Cheer on the Buffalo Sabres (NHL) as they take on their rivals at the KeyBank Center. See the modern works of Picasso and Warhol at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Fill up on St. Louis Pork Ribs or Sliced Beef Brisket with homemade sides like Hush Puppies and Mac n’ Cheese at Fat Bob’s Smokehouse. Chow down on Crispy Fish Tacos, a Skinny Thai Burrito, or Tricked Out Nachos at Lloyd Taco Factory. Or grab a bite to eat at Ashker’s Juice Bar and Cafe, which is known for its Cinnamon French Toast and Fusion Smoothies.
- Population: 13,136
- Home Price: $91,000 median purchase price; $709 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 61% of New York cities
- Unemployment Rate: 4.0%
Looking for a quiet place to live in New York? Nestled in the Finger Lakes on the northern end of Seneca Lake, you’ll find the beautiful city of Geneva. This quaint New York city has transformed from a hidden gem to a culinary hot spot due to the growth of wineries, breweries, specialty food stores, and farm-to-table restaurants—all thanks to the area’s rich agriculture. But farming isn’t the only claim to fame here! Higher education, manufacturing, healthcare, and research at New York State Agricultural Experiment Station all provide jobs in Geneva!
Things to Do in Geneva
Take in a live concert, watch a classic film, or attend a local performance at Smith Center for the Arts. Attend Geneva Night Out, a celebration of all things art, music, and culture that takes place on the first Friday of every month. Spend the day at Seneca Lake State Park, where you can have a picnic, go boating, or hike and bike the trails. Order the signature Beef & Brew Stew, Ribeye Steak, or Fish & Chips at Beef & Brew. Sip on a craft cocktail like the Hip Hop Anonymous while enjoying Country Chicken Sandwich, Pasta Fu Jour, or Grilled Flatbread at Kindred Fare. Or enjoy Japanese dishes like Sushi Pizza, Rainbow Rolls, and Miso Soup at Ichiro.
- Population: 6,549
- Home Price: $183,100 median purchase price; $749 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 42% of New York cities
- Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
Along the Hudson River just 40 miles south of Albany, you’ll find the aptly-named city of Hudson, one of the cheapest places to live in the state of New York! 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, too, with tourism and retail being the major contributors to the 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
Pack a picnic for the whole family or go kayaking at Henry Hudson Waterfront Park. Walk along Warren Street and stop in at art galleries like Caldwell Gallery Hudson, September Gallery, and Carrie Haddad Gallery. Peruse the Hudson Farmers Market to pick up fresh produce or purchase handcrafted goods while listening to live music. Sip on a craft beer like Ball Lightning Pilsner or Liquid Sorcery IPA while browsing for a new book at The Spotty Dog Books & Ale. Visit Ca’Mea for Italian favorites like Penne Pesto, Spaghetti Cabonara, Pollo Parmigiana, and Tiramisu for dessert. Head to popular brunch spot Grazin’ Diner for farm-to-table dishes like Challah French Toast and Breakfast Burger. Or take your taste buds on an adventure at Baba Louie’s, where they serve pizza with unique toppings like sweet potato, figs, smoked gouda, guacamole, and more!
- Population: 2,639
- Home Price: $219,300 median purchase price; $758 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 75% of New York cities
- Unemployment Rate: 5.9%
Known as America’s Olympic Hometown, Lake Placid is the city you want to call home if you’re looking for outdoor fun, a relaxing lifestyle, and one of best places to raise a family in New York. Homes in Lake Placid range from rustic condos and townhomes to luxurious lakefront single-family homes with spacious yards. The Lake Placid education system also has a combination of quality public and private schools where families can send their kids, such as Lake Placid Elementary and Saint Agnes School.
Things to Do in Lake Placid
Explore the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum to see the history of the Winter Olympics and visit the Herb Brooks Arena where the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” hockey game took place. Play a few rounds of golf with friends at the 45-hole Lake Placid Club. Spend a day at Lake Placid Beach to swim in Mirror Lake or rent canoes and standup paddleboards. Make your way to Whiteface Mountain to go cross-country skiing or snowboarding. Fill up on delicious barbecue classics like Loaded Burnt Ends and Pulled Pork at Smoke Signals. Have brunch any day of the week at The Breakfast Club Etc, where you can get French Toast Fondue and the Big Bacon Waffle. Or visit Lake Placid Pub & Brewery to sample a variety of craft beers.
- Population: 30,935
- Home Price: $109,200 median purchase price; $665 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 73% of New York cities
- Unemployment Rate: 5.3%
Not many places can say they’re neighbors with the beautiful Niagara Falls and among the top for cheapest cities in New York, but North Tonawanda can! Situated along the Niagara River, residents love the city of North Tonawanda for its walkability, pleasant summers, and outdoor activities. With great community events happening throughout the year, housing options ranging from cozy condos to upscale estates, and short commutes to Buffalo, it’s easy to see why people love living in North Tonawanda!
Things to Do in North Tonawanda
Ride antique carousels, learn how paper music rolls are created, and play on interactive exhibits in the Kiddeland Testing Park at Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum. See a comedy show, watch classic movies, or listen to tribute bands at Riviera Theatre. Head to Pinewoods Park to play a game of volleyball with friends, have a cookout, or take your four-legged pal for a walk. Take a quick road trip any time of the year to capture breathtaking views of Niagara Falls State Park. Enjoy Stuffed Clams, a Haddock Po Boy, or the Fish Fry while dining along the water at The Dockside Bar & Grill. Indulge in oysters on the half shell, crab cakes, lobster tails, and more delicious seafood on the waterside patio at Remington Tavern & Seafood Exchange. Or catch local bands at Dwyers Irish Pub while sipping on a pint of Guinness.
- Population: 27,447
- Home Price: $332,800 median purchase price; $1,069 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 56% of New York cities
- Unemployment Rate: 4.2%
Outdoor recreation, dog-friendly restaurants, thoroughbred horse racing, and having fun is what one of most affordable cities in Upstate New York is all about! For over 200 years, Saratoga Springs has been a popular spot for tourists visiting the mineral springs, as well as people who want to reside in a location that has all the amenities of a big city but with a bit more green space. Because so many people love coming to Saratoga Springs, tourism is a large local industry. However, plenty of residents also commute to Albany for work since it’s only 40 minutes away.
Things to Do in Saratoga Springs
Watch dancers leap across the stage and The Philadelphia Orchestra perform at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Head to the Saratoga Spa State Park to play a quick 18 holes at Saratoga Spa State Park Golf Course, splash around in the Peerless Pool Complex, or walk the trails. Spend the day learning about cars new and old at the Saratoga Automobile Museum. Dine at 15 Church, a modern American restaurant serving dishes like Burrata, Sesame Crusted Tuna, and Rabbit Ragout. Feast on classic comfort food with a twist like Open-Faced Hot Turkey, Cran-Apple Turkey Panini, or Prime Rib Dinner at Olde Bryan Inn. Or get your Mexican food fix at El Mexicano and order Tacos Al Carbon or Pollo Poblano with your complimentary quesadillas and dessert.
- Population: 144,350
- Home Price: $89,900 median purchase price; $737 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 8% of New York cities
- Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
Want to live somewhere that’s ranked among the best cities to live in New York for cheap? 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 who are interested in pursuing a degree. There’s loads of family fun in Syracuse as well, with community events like the Bacon Festival and Syracuse Winterfest happening every year!
Things to Do in Syracuse
Shop til’ you drop at Destiny USA, where you can browse over 200 different stores like Macy’s, Pottery Barn, Steve Madden, and more! Put on some sunscreen and head to Onondaga Lake Park to get in a quick jog, go rollerblading, or cross-country ski in the winter. Explore the 43-acre Rosamond Gifford Zoo to see snow leopards, monkeys, and armadillos. Have lunch at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, a local chain that will leave you feeling full with Dino Poutine, Drunken Spicy Shrimp Boil, and Bar-B-Que Pork Ribs. Order the famous Spicy Hot Tomato Oil, Wicky-Wicky Chicken Riggies, or Pasta’s Creamy Mac and Cheese Bake at Pastabilities. Or enjoy a breakfast feast of Oreo French Toast or Lobster Benedict at Modern Malt.
Moving to Upstate New York? Extra Space Storage has convenient storage facilities throughout The Empire State, so we can help with your transition. Find a storage unit near you!
City statistics from AreaVibes