5 Cities in New York With a Low Cost of Living

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  • New York State has a reputation for being expensive, but this is largely due to NYC real estate costs.
  • There are affordable cities in other parts of the state, including Western NY, Central NY, and the Southern Tier.
  • Check out cities like Buffalo and Rochester to get more bang for your buck.

New York offers more than just costly big city living.

Have you ever wanted to live in the Empire State? New York has a reputation for being expensive, but as research from The Ascent shows, the average single-family home value for the state as a whole is $375,719. That's 12% lower than the typical home value for the U.S. as a whole, which is $428,700. Per Zillow, New York City's home prices continue to rise, with the average coming in at $778,733 as of Aug. 31, 2022.

While NYC is full of excitement and is truly "the city that never sleeps," if you're looking to buy an affordable home and enjoy a lower cost of living than average, New York has other vibrant cities worth considering. You'll find rich history and diverse industries, and the surrounding metro area communities often boast excellent schools. And if you're into winter sports, a few of these cities will not disappoint, due to the copious amounts of lake effect snow they get thanks to proximity to the Great Lakes. Conversely, summers are beautiful, and often without the high heat and humidity found in much of the rest of the country. Let's check out five affordable cities in New York State.

1. Binghamton

Average home price: $164,359

Percent of U.S. average: 38%

Binghamton is the largest city in New York's Southern Tier region, which is located just above the southern border of the state. It's situated at the junction of the Chenango and Susquehanna rivers. The construction of the now-defunct Chenango Canal connected the city to other points of interest and industry via NY State's Erie Canal. If you decide to live in Binghamton, you'll have easy access to other Southern Tier cities such as Ithaca, Elmira, and Corning. Healthcare and education are the largest industries for employment in the area.

2. Buffalo

Average home price: $214,151

Percent of U.S. average: 50%

New York's Queen City of Buffalo is the second-largest in the state, and gives residents easy access to the Great Lakes and the beauty and majesty of Niagara Falls, as well as proximity to Canada just to the west. Buffalo has both an NFL team (the Bills) and an NHL team (the Sabres). The area was economically impacted by the loss of heavy industry in the mid-20th century, but has bounced back with the addition of information technology companies. So if you're in the tech sector, Buffalo might be a fit for you and your career.

3. Rochester

Average home price: $218,117

Percent of U.S. average: 51%

Rochester is located in Western New York, positioned between Buffalo and Syracuse. Its importance to the abolition and women's suffrage movements cannot be overstated (it was once home to Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony), and the city offers a mix of historic architectural landmarks. Rochester is also where legendary grocery chain Wegmans is headquartered; along with the University of Rochester and healthcare companies, it is among the largest employers in the area.

4. Syracuse

Average home price: $165,667

Percent of U.S. average: 38%

The largest city in Central New York, Syracuse is legendary for its winters, which average 127.8 inches of snow. It's home to Syracuse University, a private college with almost 17,000 students and a notable NCAA Division I presence in basketball and football. The university is one of the larger employers in the area, but Syracuse is also a bastion of the healthcare industry, and four hospitals operate in the city.

5. Utica

Average home price: $174,102

Percent of U.S. average: 41%

Utica is in the Mohawk River Valley, and boasts beautiful scenery and a small but lively downtown. Like other Rust Belt cities, Utica struggled in the mid-20th century with the decline of domestic manufacturing, but has bounced back with the introduction of new industries, including healthcare and higher education (are you seeing a pattern among NY cities?). Its F.X. Matt Brewing Company, the maker of Saranac beer, is a notably successful craft brewery, and the city is also known worldwide for its annual Boilermaker 15K Road Race.

If you're dreaming of making a move to the Empire State, give these five affordable cities a look for low housing costs and high quality of life.

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