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18 Things to Know About Living in Albany

Thinking about moving to Albany? The capital of New York is full of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, job seekers, and patrons of the arts. With so much to offer, it’s no wonder Albany has been ranked the best place to live in New York! Here are 18 things to know about living in Albany.

Live in Affordable Upstate New York

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If you want to move to New York but you’re nervous about the price tag, relocating to Albany is a great option! Albany is one of the most affordable places to live in New York, thanks to its affordable real estate prices and overall cost of living. Home seekers will have several options when it comes to finding safe, affordable neighborhoods in Albany. With a median sales price of around $247,500 and an average monthly rent of $1,600, housing in Albany is more affordable than both the national and state averages. Cap City residents also have the benefit of affordable transportation, which is around 12% lower than the national average. Plus, eligible residents can apply for various New York property tax exemptions.

Find Employment in a Robust Job Market

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With employment opportunities across a wide range of industries, jobs in Albany are abundant! Government jobs are among the most common in the area and start at the local level with opportunities in the City of Albany government. Albany is also located in the heart of Tech Valley—the Northeastern hub for technology careers—so those in tech can work at companies like CommerceHub, GCOM, Rational Enterprise, and more. Teachers and other workers in education can find employment at top colleges and universities, or with local school districts like the City School District of Albany and South Colonie Central School District. If you’re looking to start your career in the healthcare sector, you can find job opportunities with industry leaders like St. Peter’s Health Partners, Albany Medical Center, and Attentive Health Care. Or you can start a career with Fortune 500 companies that have offices in the Albany area, like IBM, Northwestern Mutual, and 3M.

Enroll in Albany Universities

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Albany is home to several public and private colleges and universities, giving you plenty of options for higher education. Attend the University at Albany—the Albany branch of the State University of New York (SUNY) system—to earn your degree in biology, psychology, or computer science. Enroll at Albany College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, a small-scale private university with majors in pharmaceutical sciences and lab technician work. Pursue a degree in marketing or political science—or apply to the pioneering Albany Medical College Program—at Siena College, a Catholic university. Dive into programs like architecture, biomedical engineering, and supply chain management at technological research university Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Explore your passion for forensic psychology, childhood education, criminal justice, and more at The College of Saint Rose. Choose from programs like nursing, occupational therapy, and liberal arts at Maria College, a private school offering associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Learn about accounting, electronic engineering technology, and medical services management when you enroll at Bryant & Stratton College. Or travel just 30 minutes outside of Albany to find your passion at the first liberal arts college in the U.S. to offer an engineering degree, Union College.

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Travel Around New York’s Capital Region

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Albany’s location in the Capital Region means you have access to tons of nearby fun! Utilize Albany public transportation to travel by train from the Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak station to popular stops like New York City, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and even Montreal. Find local nature preserves for hiking and scenery by hopping on the seasonal Nature Bus. Ride all over the Tri-City Area via the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) bus system, which now includes eight eco-friendly electric buses in its network. Travel in and around Albany with rentable e-bikes from CDPHP Cycle. Support the Albany Bicycle Coalition—an advocacy group for safe biking laws—and join them for a monthly ride through the city’s many accessible bike lanes and shared roads. Venture out on foot in highly-walkable areas like Central Square, Central Avenue, and Downtown—or join Walkable Albany to advocate for pedestrian safety and increased walkability throughout the city!

Make the Most of the Winter Weather

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Want to find fun ways to take advantage of snow in Upstate New York? With an average annual snowfall of 52 inches, Albany winter weather provides the perfect space for winter activities! Ski resorts like Willard Mountain, Maple Ski Ridge, and other nearby skiing destinations pull in visitors from the Tri-City Area and beyond. Before you shred some snow, shop for the right gear at the Adirondack Sports & Northeast Ski Expo. Test out your ice skating skills at the outdoor ice rink at Empire State Plaza. Take on the winter chill with a less conventional winter sporting event, the annual Santa Speedo Sprint—an 800-meter race for charity with an unusual dress code. Or enjoy seasonal entertainment in Albany as you check out the light show at the Altamont Fairgrounds during Capital Holiday Lights!

Relax or Play in Albany’s Green Spaces

The otherwise mild Upstate New York weather is ideal for outdoor activities, and the people of Albany take full advantage of the local climate! Check out the beautiful greenery, well-maintained paths, and incredible statues surrounding the lake in Washington Park. Escape the city and visit The Discovery Center for a closer look at local plants and wildlife at Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Find excellent hiking paths or go rock climbing just 30 minutes outside of Albany at Thacher State Park. Visit one of the Capital Region’s many farmers markets, orchards, and farms. Pack the car for exciting day trips or weekends near Albany, where you can explore Lake George, Windham, and the Adirondacks. Take in the scenery as you follow the old Delaware & Hudson Railroad Line on the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail. Go mountain-biking at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve or John Boyd Thacher State Park—or sign up for the challenging 400-mile Cycle the Erie Canal Bike Tour, which starts in Buffalo and ends in Albany.

Sail the Albany Waterfront

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Because the city is located near the junction of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, residents can take part in a ton of Albany waterfront activities! Spend a day on the Hudson River with a public or private cruise from Dutch Apple Cruises & Tours. Rent a kayak or canoe from the self-serve Upstate Kayak Rentals hub and set off from the Corning Preserve Boat Launch. Try your hand at rowing or watch an official regatta at the Albany Rowing Center. Paddle through the locks of the Waterford Flight or take the water trail—a set route comprised of 450 miles of interconnected canals, lakes, and rivers—at the Erie Canalway. Take in the grandeur of Cohoes Falls and the Mohawk River at Overlook Park & Falls View Park. Hit the beach or go boating while camping at the Thompson’s Lake Campground in Thacher State Park. Go fishing, have a picnic by the water, and see amazing views of rapids and waterfalls at Peebles Island State Park. Or join Albany’s chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club to go kayaking, canoeing, and more.

Explore Downtown Albany

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Despite the city’s nickname of “Smallbany,” Downtown Albany has tons of local attractions to explore. Walk through the Empire State Plaza for stunning city views of the architecture and reflecting pool. Tour the New York State Capitol to learn more about Albany’s history and local government. Enjoy outdoor yoga during the free State Street Yoga series or the YogaPalooza festival. Catch comedy shows, ballet performances, and concerts from touring artists like Loreena McKennitt and Andy Grammer at The Egg. See the breathtaking panorama from the Hudson River Valley to the foothills of the Adirondacks on the Corning Tower Observation Deck. Play with your pup at the Olde English Downtown Dog Park. Bike, boat, or attend events at the amphitheater at Albany Corning Preserve – Jennings Landing. Or view art exhibits and take advantage of great deals during the monthly 1st Friday in Albany, NY event.

Spend a Day on Lark Street

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Albany’s Lark Street—also called the Greenwich Village of the Capital Region—is a hot spot for local shopping and dining, with over 80 unique businesses. Start your day with coffee and Alice in Wonderland-themed breakfast favorites like the Cheshire Flatbread and Hatter Breakfast Sandwich at Stacks Espresso Bar. Shop for unique jewelry at Elissa Halloran Designs, handcrafted wood art at Yamaguchie, or vintage vinyl at Lark Street Records. Head over to Lark Street Poke Bar or Healthy on Lark for a healthy Albany lunch. Get new ink at Lark Street Tattoo. Buy a new board or other skateboarding equipment and apparel at Seasons Skate Shop. End your night with a drink and live entertainment at Lark Street Tavern. Or show up to support local artists and small businesses in Albany at the Art on Lark festival in the fall!

Check Out Albany Museums & Galleries

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People with a passion for art and history will love the galleries and museums in Albany, many of which offer free admission! Explore exhibits on everything from paleontology and biology to history and Native American ethnography at the New York State Museum—or attend special programming during Native American Heritage Month. View a variety of art pieces created by regional, national, and international artists at the Morningside Gallery. Check out the gallery exhibits or take classes in drawing, pottery, photography, printmaking, and more at The Arts Center of the Capital Region. View the last World War II destroyer vessel still floating today by visiting the USS Slater. Experience the history of Colonial America while taking a guided tour of the Georgian-style Schuyler Mansion. Immerse yourself in the art, history, and culture of the Upper Hudson Valley at Albany Institute of History & Art. Support upcoming and established artists, attend public events, and see contemporary local art at the Albany Center Gallery. Stop by the Albany Barn to take a peek at the passion projects of live-in resident artists. Or find murals throughout the city, created through the Capital Walls initiative—a partnership between Albany Center Gallery and Albany Barn.

Find Family Fun in Albany

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You don’t have to worry about the kids getting bored, since there are plenty of family activities in Albany, NY! Take the kids to Huck Finn’s Playland for a day of rides at a park that’s been a local favorite for over 50 years. Check out hands-on learning activities at New York State Museum’s Discovery Place—like looking at bugs through a magnifying glass, examining real fossils, and completing mastodon skeleton puzzles. Enroll your kids in the Youth Climbing Club, get a group together for an Overnight Climb, or sign up for Summer Climbing Clinics at Albany’s Indoor Rock Gym. Enjoy all kinds of outdoor fun and games, including mini golf, go-karts, and bumper boats at nearby FunPlex Fun Park. Find programming and events for all ages at the Albany Public Library—or make use of resources like the Albany Made Creative Lab. Test out your skating skills at Rollarama Skating Center in nearby Schenectady. Travel an hour outside of town to ride the Comet and take a swim in Hurricane Harbor at The Great Escape, a Six Flags amusement park. Or celebrate Christmas early by taking pictures with Santa, decorating cookies, and going on a sleigh ride at Christmas Land.

Root for Albany Sports Teams

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Sports fans living in Albany, NY, will have no shortage of entertainment! Though Albany no longer has a pro hockey team of its own, appreciation of the sport is still strong, with residents supporting nearby NHL teams like the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Buffalo Sabres. Plus, there are plenty of other local sports teams to root for! Watch the RPI Engineers (NCAA D-I) skate for victory during a men’s or women’s ice hockey game. Support the Union Garnet Chargers (NCAA D-3) as they compete in volleyball, tennis, basketball, and more. Take yourself out to the ballgame to see the Tri-City Valley Cats (Frontier League) at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium. Buy tickets to see the Albany Great Danes (NCAA D-I) compete in football, soccer, and more. Root for the Albany Firebirds (AFL), Albany’s recently restored professional arena football team, or cheer on the Albany FireWolves (NLL), a pro lacrosse team at the MVP Arena. Or head to the Saratoga Race Course to watch horse races like the Saratoga Derby Invitational, Travers Stakes, and Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Support Albany’s Performing Arts

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Theatre is a New York staple—but you don’t have to go all the way to Broadway to experience high-quality performing arts! See performances from the Albany Symphony Orchestra, Albany Berkshire Ballet, famous comedians, touring bands, and more at the Palace Theatre. Take part in film festivals, lectures, concerts, dance nights, and more at The Linda WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio. See shows like Shakespeare: The Remix and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at Capital Repertory Theatre—the only member of the LORT association in the Capital Region. Give the kids a chance to try out their performing skills at The Steamer No. 10 Theatre. Attend the only local short play festival, Confetti Fest, at Confetti Stage. Or enjoy the nice summer weather with free outdoor performances of shows like Legally Blonde at Park Playhouse, hosted by the Playhouse Stage Company.

Attend Albany Festivals

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In Albany, there’s always something to celebrate! Hit up the famous Albany Tulip Festival, a city-wide celebration of Dutch culture that features Tulip Tours in Washington Park, ceremonial Dutch Street Scrubbing, and the crowning of the Tulip Queen. Enjoy live music, food trucks, and a classic car show while you show your dad some appreciation at Dad Fest in the summer. Join the Pride Center of the Capital Region for one of the largest celebrations of the LGBTQ community in the area at the Capital Pride Parade & Festival. Celebrate Scottish culture with traditional sports tournaments, Highlands dancing, unique vendors, and plenty of bagpipes at the Capital District Scottish Games. Fill up on delicious food, sip wine, and appreciate art from various cultures at the annual Albany Chefs’ Food & Wine Festival. Snap your fingers to live performances, sample delicious food, and end the night with a fireworks show at the Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival.

Enjoy Live Music in Albany

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With all of the performing arts and music festivals in the area, it’s no wonder live music in Albany is another favorite among locals! Check out Albany’s free summer concert series—which has featured both local up-and-comers and Grammy winners for over 30 years—at Alive at Five. Enjoy a free day-long music festival that takes place on the streets of Downtown Albany at PearlPalooza. Picnic at the Rockin’ on the River summer concert series. Catch a live show at Empire Live. Attend free workshops or rock out to performances from acts like the Lost Radio Rounders, RaeLynn, and Kaleidoscope at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Or get a front-row seat to a packed schedule of musical performances like orchestral works, chamber music, Latin jazz, and more at the Massry Center for the Arts.

Taste Endless Albany Food Options

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Looking for good places to eat in Albany? Enjoy breakfast fare like Elvis’ Memphis Scramble, Raspberry Brie French Toast, and Gluten Free Pancakes on a garden patio at Iron Gate Cafe. Order brunch dishes like the Cheeseburger Omelette, Cinnamon Bread French Toast Stacker, and Eggs Beni at Cafe Madison. Check out the family-owned and operated Capital Region favorite Ted’s Fish Fry, serving great seafood options like Fried Scallops and Homemade New England Clam Chowder. Try Cajun-style seafood in Albany like Crawfish, Raw Oysters, and Voodoo Shrimp at The Boil Shack. Listen to live music while eating elevated pub meals like The Hollow Burger, House Dry-Rubbed Brisket, and Kale Caesar Salad at The Hollow Bar + Kitchen. Fill up on the Athos Goat Cheese Salad, Lamb Chop Lollipops, and Chicken Curry at Athos Restaurant. Make reservations for fine-dining options like Faroe Island Salmon, Veal Tenderloin Wellington, or the Porterhouse for Two at 677 Prime.

Follow the Capital District’s Beverage Trail

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The Capital Craft Beverage Trail is a collection of local breweries, wineries, and distilleries throughout the entire Capital Region—and it features quite a few Albany favorites! Order unique brews like the Golden Rule Blonde, the seasonal Fist of Karma, and the Uncurious at Druthers Brewing Company—which customizes glasses for each beer. Bring your dog along to Albany’s largest taproom, Fort Orange Brewing, and sample fare from local food trucks while drinking a Fort Orange IPA, Cherry Wheat Ale, or Big Hop Energy. Stop at the historic Albany Pump Station for a taste of the Common Roots Lager, Ditch Digger IPA, and Great Vibes at C.H. Evans Brewing Co. Looking for a cider tasting in New York? Try the New York Apple, Lavender Lemon, and Cider Sangria at Nine Pin Cider Works, which uses only locally-sourced fruits. Meet the adorable resident cats on staff while sipping great cocktails like the Mango Tango, Paloma Twist, or Pomegranate Cosmo at the Albany Distilling Company. Or drive 15 minutes outside of town to taste the Empire Red Ale, Bravo Whiskey Sour, and Liberty Cream Ale at The Real McCoy Beer Co.

Dive In to Albany Nightlife

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If you thought Smallbany would be a sleepy town at night, think again—nightlife in Albany is exciting and diverse! Check out The City Beer Hall for local craft beer, handcrafted cocktails, and a cozy fireplace. Watch a drag show, sing karaoke, or put your trivia to the test at LGBTQ-friendly bar Rocks. Find beer, cocktails, and a great scratch kitchen at Savoy Taproom on Lark Street. Experience a bit of Irish, English, and Dutch culture at the Olde English Pub & Pantry, located in the historic Quackenbush House. Sign up for the annual pool, golf, and darts triathlon or competitive dart league at Lionheart Pub. Munch on the Steamed Ham or Pizza Logs with Marinara while drinking a Toasted Lager at Excelsior Pub. Experience the atmosphere of a big-city club or quiet pub at the oldest gay bar in Albany, Waterworks Pub. Or immerse yourself in Albany nightclub culture and dance the night away to alternative music at Fuze Box.


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About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.