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 at $429,000 and median monthly rent around $3,500, finding your forever home without breaking the bank can be tough. Fortunately, if you’re willing to live outside of The City That Never Sleeps, it’s a bit easier to find cheaper, more spacious housing. Check out these eight most affordable places to live in Upstate New York!
- Lake Placid
- North Tonawanda
- Saratoga Springs
- Population: 98,425
- Home Price: $172,700 median purchase price; $875 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 6% of cities in the U.S.
- 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 when the 13 original colonies were established, the capital of New York is now an Upstate epicenter for jobs in technology, healthcare, commerce, and transportation, drawing singles and young professionals from all over to work in the Capital District. In addition, the steady influx of students coming to the University at Albany each year has pushed 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 and see where major bills have been passed since the 1880s. Get a few pictures in front of The Egg before heading inside the performing arts venue of the same name to see a touring comedy act or the Albany Berkshire Ballet. Immerse yourself in over 150,000 tulips, listen to live music across multiple stages, and eat amazing food at the Annual Albany Tulip Festival. Make New World Bistro your new favorite brunch spot and order some Legendary Latkes or Bananas Foster Waffles. Try Crab & Pork Soup Dumplings or Fish Head Casserole without having to travel across the world at Ala Shanghai. Or have a fun weekend out with some friends at The City Beer Hall, which has 18 rotating beers and free pizza with every drink purchase.
- Population: 258,989
- Home Price: $72,600 median purchase price; $710 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 4% of cities in the U.S.
- 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 a high quality of living in one of the cheapest cities in Upstate New York. Families, singles, and young professionals moving here will find that the cost of living is 29% lower than the New York average and housing is 50% lower than the national average, so Buffalo is a great place to buy a home. Not to mention, the second largest city in the state of New York is home to fantastic public and private schools, as well as premier research university, the University at Buffalo.
Things to Do in Buffalo
Observe baby gorillas, otters, or rhinos at the Buffalo Zoo. Explore the world of dinosaurs, weather, gravity, and much more at the Buffalo Museum of Science. Cheer on the Buffalo Sabres (NHL) as they as they shoot slap-shots at 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 their Cinnamon French Toast and Fusion Smoothies.
- Population: 13,136
- Home Price: $91,000 median purchase price; $709 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 46% of cities in the U.S.
- Unemployment Rate: 4.0%
Not sure where to live in New York where you can find lots of amenities and a slower-paced lifestyle? Nestled in the Finger Lakes on the northern end of Seneca Lake, you’ll find the beautiful city of Geneva. This quiet area has transformed from a hidden gem to culinary hot spot due 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 the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station are also great opportunities for locals.
Things to Do in Geneva
Take in a live concert, watch a classic film, or attend a local theatre performance at the Smith Opera House. Attend Geneva Night Out, a celebration of all things art, music, and culture that takes place 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 and Brew Stew, Polish Kielbasa, and Beer and Cheddar Soup at Beef & Brew. Sip on a craft cocktail like the Hip Hop Anonymous while enjoying the House Pasta with pork shoulder and cocoa pasta 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 10% of cities in the U.S.
- 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 paddle around in kayaks at Henry Hudson Waterfront Park. Walk along Warren Street and stop in at art galleries like Caldwell Gallery Hudson, September, and Carrie Haddad Gallery. Peruse the Hudson Farmers Market to pick up fresh produce and bread, listen to live music, or purchase handcrafted goods. Sip on a craft beer like Surf Wax IPA or cider like Brooklyn Cider House while browsing for a new book at The Spotty Dog Books & Ale. Get Elotes de Mercado, Baja Fish Tacos, and Flan for dessert at Mexican Radio. Visit brunch spot Grazin’ for farm-to-table dishes like Challah French Toast and Breakfast Burger. Or give your taste buds 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 72% of cities in the U.S.
- 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 at an affordable price. 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 through artifacts, photos, and the Herb Brooks Arena where the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” hockey game took place. Play a few rounds of golf with some friends at the 45-hole Lake Placid Club. Spend a day at Lake Placid Beach and go swimming in Mirror Lake Rent or canoes and standup paddleboards. Make your way to Whiteface Mountain to go cross-country skiing or snowboarding. Fill your stomach with delicious barbecue classics like Brisket Burnt Ends, Pulled Pork, and Baby Back Ribs with a side of Buttermilk Cornbread or Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese at Smoke Signals. Have brunch any day of the week at The Breakfast Club Etc, where you can get French Toast Fondue and Big Bacon Waffles with a Bloody Caesar drink. Or go on a brewery tour at 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 64% of cities in the U.S.
- Unemployment Rate: 5.3%
Not many cities 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 this friendly spot for its walkability, pleasant summers, outdoor activities, and housing options ranging from cozy condos to upscale estates. Not to mention, North Tonawanda is only a short drive to Buffalo, so commutes to work or a fun-filled weekend with the family is a breeze!
Things to Do in North Tonawanda
Visit the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum and ride two antique carousels, learn how paper music rolls are made, and play on interactive exhibits in the Kiddeland Testing Park. 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 Greek dishes like Chicken Souvlaki and Salmon Oscar with Greek potatoes at Olympia. Indulge in oysters on the half shell, crab cakes, lobster tails, and more delicious seafood on the waterside patio at Remington Tavern. 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 cities in the U.S.
- 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 to enjoy. Because so many people love coming to Saratoga Springs, tourism is a large local industry; however, many people commute to Albany for work since it’s only 40 minutes away.
Things to Do in Saratoga Springs
Watch dancers leap across the stage, world-famous singers put on a show, or The Philadelphia Orchestra perform Disney film scores 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 learn about cars new and old at the Saratoga Automobile Museum. Dine at 15 Church, a modern American restaurant serving dishes like Burrata, Lobster Fra Diavolo, and Mike’s Rabbit Pasta. Feast on classic comfort food with a twist like Open Faced Hot Turkey, Roast Prime Rib of Beef, and Ale Braised Pull Pork Sandwich 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 10% of cities in the U.S.
- Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
Want to live somewhere with strong economic growth, excellent bars and dining, and 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 with community events like the Bacon Festival and Syracuse Winterfest, too!
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 baby snow leopards, patas monkeys, and hairy armadillos. Have lunch with coworkers at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, a local joint that will leave you full on Dino Poutine, Carolina Pork Sandwiches, and Jumbo BBQ Chicken Wings. Order the famous Spicy Hot Tomato Oil, Wicky-Wicky Chicken Riggies, and a slice of Peanut Butter Pretzel Pie at Pastabilities. Or enjoy a breakfast feast of French toast covered in Fruity Pebbles or buttery lobster on top of a poached egg at Modern Malt.
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City statistics from AreaVibes