5 Great Cities to Move to in Upstate New York

Jon Fesmire | October 22, 2018 @ 8:00 AM

When most people think New York, they think New York City. However, if you’re looking for a great place to live in New York state, consider checking out these places in upstate New York.


Albany’s population is just 10% of that found in New York City, but it’s still huge by most standards. How huge? Try 880,000 people. While that puts it firmly in big city territory, you’ll find there’s a sense of the country as well, as Albany has farmers markets everywhere. You’ll also find a lot of old USA charm, with buildings that date back four centuries.

People here make a decent living, too. The average annual salary in Albany is $51,000, while the median cost of a house is $175,000. That’s an incredible ratio you won’t find in most places. The unemployment rate is reasonable at 4.8%. You’ll also find plenty of unique things to do. Check out the Albany Institute of History and Art, The Irish American Heritage Museum, or the enormous New York State Capitol Building after you’ve settled in.

There’s also a big coffee culture and plenty of unique restaurants, line Yano’s or Barcelona Restaurant-Wine Bar.


The city of Brighton is rather small with its population of 37,000, but if you’re looking for somewhere to make a good wage and to be able to afford a home in upstate New York, you can’t overlook this place. The median home value is $171,000, while the median household income is $67,000.

Plus, Brighton is just ten miles from Rochester, where there is always something to do. Check out The Strong Museum, with its toy and game exhibits, the Seneca Park Zoo, or hop on a ride at the Seabreeze Amusement Park.


To the west of the Brighton and Rochester area, near Niagara Falls, you’ll find Buffalo, with its population of 1.14 million. Residents here have an average annual salary of $45,000, and the median price for a house is $145,000. Serious development is happening along the Buffalo waterfront, meaning new jobs as transportation improvements, environmental work, and more are in the works.

Some sites you’ll enjoy include The Buffalo Zoo, which dates back to 1876, serene Delaware Park, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

One downside to Buffalo is that the unemployment rate is higher than the national average at 6.7%. If you’d like to live here, have a job lined up first.


Now, we come the small city if Ithaca, with its population of 30,000. Along the southern tip of Cayuga Lake, this is the home of Cornell University, making this one smart, and classy, college town. Be warned, though. The median household income of Ithaca is only about $30,000, while the median housing price is $244,000.

However, Ithaca includes one highly-desirable neighborhood, the village suburb of Cayuga Heights. This area has a median household income of $85,000, making the median home value of $330,000 not so intimidating. The 4.3% unemployment rate means finding a job shouldn’t be too difficult.

Ithaca has some great places to visit as well. Scenic areas include Stewart Park, Cornell Botanic Gardens, Ithaca Falls, and Buttermilk Falls State Park.


Another place with a small population, Guilderland is a town sharing a border with Albany. This community has about 4,800 residents with a median income of $73,000. This shouldn’t be too surprising, since 75% of the adults here has a bachelor's degree or higher. The median price of a home is also reasonable at $266,000. Also, the unemployment rate is just 3.6%. This is a youthful place where the median age is 31.

Of course, you’ll have access to all those place we mentioned in Albany. A few others include shopping at the Crossgates Mall, checking out a show at The Egg, or heading to Schenectady Gardens to visit the Central Park Rose Garden.

We hope this list helps you find your niche in New York.

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