Find out where you can put down roots in the Empire State without breaking the bank.
If you’ve ever dreamed of living in New York but assumed it was just too expensive, this list is for you. While the state definitely includes its share of pricey places, it’s also home to budget-friendly cities that happen to be packed with fun things to do.
Want to learn more? Below you’ll find the five most affordable cities in New York, but please keep in mind: These cities aren’t necessarily just the cheapest places in the state. Instead, we looked at the average cost of living, as well as key components such as transportation, housing, dining options and utilities. From this, we looked for cities that offered a nice balance between affordability and quality of life. Check ‘em out:
Located just 20 miles from Albany, Schenectady lays claim to New York’s first historic district and the oldest residential neighborhood in the country: the Stockade Historic District. The neighborhood includes more than 40 homes that are more than 200 years old, in such architectural styles as Dutch Colonial, Georgian, Federal and Victorian.
Residents also have easy access to top arts and entertainment destinations, thanks to the city’s many venues. For example, Proctor’s Theater draws major Broadway shows, comedy acts and film festivals, while the Museum of Innovation and Science’s interactive exhibits captivate both kids and adults.
Fortunately, Schenectady’s many advantages and amenities come at an affordable rate. The city’s median home value is $116,700 – well-below the state average – and the median household income is $38,916.
Even closer to the state’s capital city is Troy, which is known as the Home of Uncle Sam (yes, that Uncle Sam). Samuel Wilson, who lived in Troy from 1789 until his death in 1864, is believed to have been the inspiration behind the nickname that’s become synonymous with the U.S. The community celebrates their unique claim to fame while honoring Wilson during the annual Uncle Sam Parade and Celebration, held in September.
Troy’s tight-knit community also comes together during events like the Troy Pig Out, a barbecue festival in the downtown area, and Troy River Fest, where attendees can sample local cuisine and discover handmade goods created by area artisans.
The city’s median home price of $142,900, coupled with its median household income of $39,526, means living in Troy is a feasible option for most people. Plus, it’s ideal for those who crave a slower-paced lifestyle but still want to be close to the action in Albany.
Albany’s reasonable cost of living proves that living the good life in a capital city is possible. The median home price is $173,500, and the median household income is $41,099 – not bad, especially when you consider the city’s thriving nightlife and entertainment scene, as well as its many historic attractions and recreational opportunities.
Residents can catch concerts and theatrical performances at venues like the Palace Theatre and the Madison Theater, and the community’s dozens of walking and biking paths, including the 20 miles of marked trails at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, make it easy to get active.
Albany is also a favorite destination for history buffs as it’s home to sites like the Albany Institute of History & Art, the oldest museum in the state. In addition, the Watervliet Shaker Historic District – the first Shaker settlement in America – is just a few miles away.
Kingston’s location at the point where the Rondout Creek and the Hudson River meet makes it a top spot for folks who enjoy activities like boating and kayaking, and it’s a big reason the community has such a storied history. The Dutch originally settled in the community in 1652 and established a trading post, and in 1777 Kingston became the first capital of New York. In addition, due to its proximity to both canal and railroad connections, the city was an important transportation hub in the 19th century.
Several of Kingston’s early structures still stand today, including nearly two dozen original pre-revolutionary stone houses, and its downtown waterfront area, known as The Rondout, is filled with historic charm and artsy attractions.
Thinking about making a move to this picturesque community? The median home value is $178,000, and the median household income is $41,719.
1. Saratoga Springs
Although the median home price in Saratoga Springs is higher than that of any other city on this list, coming in at $310,200, so is the median household income ($67,303), and that’s why it scored the No. 1 spot.
The community comprises popular destinations like the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Saratoga Performing Arts Center and the Saratoga Spa State Park, which covers more than 2,000 acres and is filled with historic buildings, museums, golf courses and restaurants.
See where Saratoga Springs ranked on our Top 10 Winter Cities list.
The park also includes the mineral springs that helped put Saratoga Springs on the map; because of the springs’ supposed healing powers, the city was a must-visit place for the wealthy during the 1800s and early-to-mid 1900s. Downtown Saratoga Springs has a bath house with mineral springs, too, and both locations are still open to the public today.