Moving To New York? (The Truth About Living Here)

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The Empire State ranks among the most famous places around the globe. It is heralded for the sprawling metropolis of NYC and breath-taking Niagara Falls, its impressive landscapes outside the city, and forward-thinking business community.

New York state is home to some of America’s most spectacular scenery and natural landscapes, as well as having a wealth of culture outside its tourist hotspots. The northernmost reaches of the state are a renowned paradise for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts alike, and are home to a beautiful stretch of the famed Appalachian Trail.

Autumn scene of waterfalls and gorge at Letchworth State Park

The state is also steeped in history; it is one of the original 13 colonies and was once (and still is) home to some of America’s wealthiest families, with no shortage of historic landmarks and impressive homes to excite those interested in history and architecture.

New York, as you know, is home to NYC, also known as the “Big Apple” and one of the world’s most impressive cities. This bustling international metropolis is overflowing with exciting culture, cuisine, nightlife, art and theatre that would take a lifetime to experience. From the buzzing bright lights of the city to the picturesque Hudson Valley and the wild landscapes of upstate New York, there’s truly something for everyone here.

But if you’re thinking of relocating to the Empire State, there’s quite a lot to consider before you make the move. From housing to career options and price of living, this guide was created to take you through the ins and outs of the state. We’ll cover the good and the bad, helping you to make the right choice for you or your family.

So grab a cup of coffee, crack a beer, or pour yourself some wine. We’re about to take a deep dive into New York and all it has to offer those considering making a move to the state.

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Where Are The Best Places To Live In New York?

 

This was an admittedly difficult list to put together. There are no doubt countless towns and cities in the state deserving of mention. However, we tried to provide an overview of some of the most popular areas in the state.

Which may (or may not) be the right fit for you or your family is a decision you’ll have to weigh on your own.

In no particular order…

Tribeca, Manhattan

Starting off our list in the Big Apple, Tribeca is an upscale neighborhood with a surprisingly residential feel (considering it’s in the heart of Lower Manhattan). Around 17,000 people live here, with a mixture of families, young professionals, and wealthy retirees making up its inhabitants.

Alley in the Tribeca neighborhood in New York City.

Tribeca is considered a safe area with a crime rate that’s incredibly low for Manhattan, and it’s often touted as one of the best areas to raise a family in the city.

However, living in the heart of one of the most exciting cities in the world comes at a steep cost; homes and condominiums here average at around $1.8 million! But that isn’t a big concern for those who live there. The average household income in Tribeca comes in at $879,000, making the zip code the 5th richest in the entirety of the United States (according to Bloomberg).

Astoria, Queens

The diverse Queens neighborhood of Astoria is located just across the East River from upper Manhattan. Astoria is home to around 97,000 residents.

Despite its smaller population, the area is packed with culture from around the world, and has a rich and varied food scene, with virtually any type of cuisine you could want not far from your doorstep.

Despite its urban feel and location, Astoria has a number of sprawling green spaces, making it an ideal place to live if you enjoy the buzz of the Big Apple but also want to the liveability of open spaces and a little room to breathe. Those with dogs or children will find the parks and open spaces especially appealing.

Best yet? The area is surprisingly affordable given its proximity to high end amenities, with the average home price sitting at around $620,000 – not bad for NYC.

Country Club, Bronx

This small NYC suburb is home to around 8,500 people and is located a comfortable 11 miles from Manhattan. This waterfront area has some great green spaces, parks and even beaches, and the streets are spacious enough hat car parking isn’t a problem- a real luxury in NYC.

It’s a popular area with families, with Country Club known for it’s fantastic school system and a relatively low crime rate.

Another huge draw to this area is the affordability- the average home price is a pretty reasonable (New York City reasonable) $500,000.

Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn

This quaint Brooklyn neighborhood is home to just 17,500 residents and is packed full of gorgeous historic homes and attractive tree-lined streets. Despite being in the Big Apple, there’s a suburban feel to this area, while also having all of the convenience and the excitement of living in the city.

Rooftop terrace in Brooklyn, no people

Windsor Terrace has some great schools, a low crime rate, fantastic diversity, as well as an incredible amount of nightlife and world-class cuisine right on its doorstep.

If this all sounds pretty great, you won’t be too surprised to learn that the average home price here is pretty high- $752k.

Massapequa Park, Long Island

Just an hour from Manhattan on the Long Island Railroad is the sought after area of Massapequa Park. It’s home to 17,000 people, many of them young families who move here for the high ranking public schools.

Homes in a Massapequa Long Island neighborhood on an overcast autumn day

It’s also popular with commuters into NYC, as taking the railroad eliminates the frustration of traffic on your way to work, and gives residents a little breathing space from the chaos of the city.

There’s a wide selection of housing here, from grand waterfront properties to affordable starter homes. The median average home here costs $463k.

Hastings on Hudson, The Hudson Valley

The beautiful and historic town of Hastings on Hudson sits right on the banks of the picturesque Hudson River. It’s just a 30-minute train ride from NYC, so it’s a very popular area for commuters and families who after spending years in the city and are looking for more space and a place to raise a family.

And just because they’ve left the city limits, it doesn’t mean they have to leave the old conveniences of the Big Apple behind; Hastings on Hudson has tons of great restaurants, bars, and coffee shops as well as a plethora of green spaces and parks.

Even though the town is outside of the Big Apple, prices are still on the higher side here; the average median home price is $686k.

Endwell, Broome County

Endwell is just outside the city of Binghamton, on the scenic banks of the Susquehanna River.

It’s a family-friendly area with one of the lowest crime rates in all of New York State. It’s also a haven for retirees who enjoy the relaxed pace of life and the friendly community atmosphere.

One of the best parts about this attractive neighborhood is the price tag- the median home price is an incredibly pocket-friendly $124k.

Kenmore, Buffalo

Kenmore is famed for being Buffalo’s first suburb and is regularly hailed as being one of the best places to call home in the Empire State.

There’s a great public school system, and the crime rate is low, so it’s a popular area with families. During the summer months, the area blossoms with life and people flock to the Niagara River which runs through the center of town.

Kenmore also has plenty of job opportunities, with a thriving science and tech industry and plenty of opportunities for career growth.

The median home price here is a million miles from that of NYC, just $111k.

Lancaster, Buffalo

Named after an English town across the Atlantic, Lancaster is an easygoing suburb of Buffalo with plenty of great restaurants, cafes, and shopping opportunities, as well as the beautiful Como Park and Elma Meadows, which are perfect for sledding and skating in the winter.

The school system here is one of the best in the state, and while this is a pretty sleepy suburban neighborhood, it’s just a stone’s throw away from the action of downtown Buffalo.

Property prices are also low, with an average home costing just $122k.

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How Is The Job Market In New York?

 

According to the New York State Department of Labor, the current unemployment rate is 4%, just slightly above the national average. The state’s job market has come a long way since its 2012 unemployment rate high of 8.5%.  The state is highly diverse, with industry spanning a broad range of verticals and enjoying the benefits of a recently (in the last decade) emerging technology scene.

interior of work room in modern coworking in loft style

Professional and Business Services

With over 547,000 businesses in the state employing over 8.2 million workers, business and professional services are always in high demand within the state’s borders. Professionals providing business services or professional services to individuals can expect ample opportunity to find a good job.

Trade, transport, and utilities

With New York’s rich history as an international trading port, it’s no surprise that there are ample jobs available in the import and export business.

Transport jobs are also abundant, from the extensive NYC subway network to highway maintenance; moving people around New York takes a heck of a lot of manpower.

On top of this, employment in utilities such as street light maintenance and waterboard management is a huge job sector in the state. These three industries combined employ more than 1,575,000 people.

Education and health services

Another huge job sector in New York State is teaching; there are over 207,000 teachers currently employed here, and there’s always a demand for more.

Healthcare is also a booming industry, with over 1.2 million people already employed across public and private hospitals, medical centers and private positions.

picture of medical professional making a heart with hands

Government

Government positions also make up a large percentage of New York State’s employment levels, with the state-wide government employing almost 1,500,000 people across a wide variety of roles.

Other Top Industries In The State Include:

  • Construction
  • Financial services
  • Technology

Top Employers in New York

The biggest company across the state is IBM, who have their headquarters and offices in the city of Armonk and employ over 380,000 people.  Multinational professional services company, Deloitte, comes in at second place; they employ over 286,000 people at their headquarters in the Big Apple. They are closely followed by PepsiCo, who has around 264,000 employees on their books.

Other Top Employers In The State By Number Of Employees:

  • JP Morgan Chase & Co (249,000+ employees)
  • Citi Group (219,000+ employees)
  • ABM Industries (110,000 employees)
  • Pfizer (96,000+ employees)
  • Carl Icahn (90,900+ employees)
  • Philip Morris International (79,000+ employees)
  • Omnicom Group (78,000+ employees)
  • PwC (60,000+ employees)
  • Alcoa (60,000+ employees)
  • Marsh & McLennan (60,000+ employees)
  • MetLife (58,000+ employees)
  • NBCUniversal (58,000+ employees)
  • American Express (56,000+ employees)
  • AIG (56,000+ employees)
  • Interpublic Group (49,000+ employees)
  • The Estee Lauder Companies (46,000+ employees)
  • Deloitte (42,000+ employees)·      Arconic (41,000+ employees)
  • Mount Sinai Hospital-Queen (38,000+ employees)
  • L3 Technologies (38,000+ employees)

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How Is The New York Real Estate Market?

 

New York State has a seriously polarised real estate market. On one hand, there are the sky-high property prices of NYC, where a square foot of land goes for an astronomical amount of money, and on the other, there are some serious bargains to be had in the northern reaches of the empire state.

In the Big Apple, the median home price is currently around $760,000, but once you get out of the city, things get a heck of a lot more affordable; the average cost of a home across the rest of the Empire state is $290,000, just a smidge above the national average.

As far as market outlook goes, local variations will rule the day, so always do your own due diligence in the specific neighborhoods you’re considering a purchase in. That said, the overall residential market in NY has decreased -1% over the last year, with a projected drop of another -3.3% potential in 2020. This may represent a value market for buyers looking to move to the state, in what is a normally HOT and high-priced market.

nyc neighborhood

When it comes to renting, the pattern is pretty similar. NYC is a city with a huge proportion of renters rather than homeowners, and the median cost of an apartment is just under $3,000 a month. Certain districts, especially Manhattan, are even more expensive.

Once you get out of NYC, rental costs diminish pretty quickly. For example, renting an apartment in the state capital of Albany will cost a much more affordable $1280 per month, and in Buffalo, it’s even cheaper, at just $1080 per month.

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How Much Does It Cost To Live In New York?

 

The cost of living is a major consideration when debating a move to any state. Like the housing market, the cost of living in New York varies wildly depending on where in the state you plan on living, with NY having a wide range in living costs from the city outward to rural areas.

Starting in NYC, it will come as no surprise that living here is much, much more expensive than the vast majority of the rest of the nation; 148% more costly than the national average. When we look at the state as a whole, the average cost of living comes in at a lower (yet still quite high) 87.5% higher cost than the national average across the board. It’s not just housing that’s driving up the cost of living in the Empire State. Consumer prices for goods are around 24% higher, and restaurant prices are almost 30% higher than in comparable cities such as Chicago and Philadelphia.

The good news is that living in NYC means you probably won’t need a car, so at least that’s one expense spared.  When we look at the rest of the state, things are a little more affordable, but depending on where you live, you may still have to be pretty strict with your budget. For example, in Poughkeepsie, a family will need an average of $117,800 to live comfortably for a year, yet the median income is just $90,600.

The same can be said for Ithaca, where the total cost of living for a year for a family of 4 is $112,000, but the median salary is $78,000. The good news is that outside of NYC, groceries tend to cost just as much as anywhere else in the country.

People shopping in the supermarket

Healthcare costs are also pretty close to the national average, and utilities, while being a little more expensive than elsewhere in the US, aren’t sky high either.

Look At The Cost Of Living Across Categories:

  • Groceries and Food: 16.6% above the national average
  • Health and Medicine: 12.6% above the national average
  • Utilities: 50.5% above the national average
  • Transportation: 81.1% above the national average
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Is New York A Good Place To Retire?

 

While New York is a relatively expensive state to live in during your working years, for those approaching (or in) their Golden Years, there are quite a few money-saving benefits to retiring in the Empire state.  For example, unlike many states, New York doesn’t impose any taxes on Social Security or any retirement account distributions. There’s also a state-wide program that reduces property taxes for those aged over 65.

picture of Group of retired friends support concept

On top of these benefits, if you choose to retire in an area with a lower cost of living, like Rochester or Buffalo, then you could be in a pretty good financial position for your retirement years.  This combined with the fact that living in the Empire State allows you easy access to one of the world’s most vibrant and exciting cities and an abundance of stunning scenery and nature makes New York a pretty good option for retirement.

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What Are The People And Culture Like In New York?

 

NYC is a global city and a melting pot for people from all over the world. Pretty much every type of culture is represented and celebrated in some way, through cuisine, nightlife, art, music, festivals, theatre and beyond.  In the further reaches of upstate New York, there’s an incredible amount of nature and wildlife, and the ability to live an off-the-grid lifestyle is that kind of thing appeals to you. Hunting is popular up here, with nearly 700,000 New Yorkers partaking in the sport, as well as around 50,000 non-residents.

The demographics throughout the state are fairly mixed both culturally and racially. There are even some Indian Reservations here, as well as some small communities of Amish people.  When it comes to politics, the empire state tends to lean pretty liberal, thanks largely to NYC and the surrounding areas in the south. That being said, upstate New York has a high percentage of conservative residents, and the Republic party tends to get a lot of votes.

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Some Of The Coolest Things To Do In New York

 

From the bright lights of the big city to the tranquillity of the forests and valleys, as well as the world’s most famous waterfall, New York has a heck of a lot to offer visitors and residents. If you make the move up here, here’s a few things you won’t want to miss…

New York City

It goes without saying that if you move to the empire state, you’re going to get acquainted with the Big Apple. Must see places include Central Park, Times Square, The Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge, but the list is endless.

Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, USA at dawn.

Thousand Islands & Alexandria Bay

The St. Lawrence River is filled with literally thousands of islands that can be viewed from the river banks, or better still, explored by boat. Boldt Castle is an absolute highlight here and looks stunning in the blazing colors of the fall season.

Niagara Falls

Another must-see world-famous attraction is Niagara Falls, and although it’s pretty touristy, the roaring power of nature is a true sight to behold. Take the necessary documents and visit both the US and the Canadian side on the same day for a full perspective of this natural wonder of the world.

Montauk, The Hamptons

During the summer months, there’s arguably no better place to be in the Empire state than lazing on the gorgeous beaches of Montauk in The Hamptons. The more adventurous types can enjoy kayaking, surfing and a whole range of water sports.

Atlantic ocean waves on the beach at Montauk Point Light, Lighthouse, Long Island, New York, Suffolk County

Saratoga Springs

This beautiful victorian spa town has a whopping 18 mineral springs, with some seriously luxurious spas dotted amongst the quaint tree-lined streets. The surrounding gorgeous scenery makes it a great place for a relaxing weekend break.

Finger Lakes Wine Country

There are more than 100 wineries, breweries, and distilleries in this region, with tons of tours to choose from including the ever-popular Cayuga Lake wine cruise where you’ll visit some of the many picturesque wineries that line the water’s edge.

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The Pros And Cons Of Living In New York

 

Now that we’ve taken a look at what New York has to offer, let’s examine some of the pros and cons of moving to the Empire State.

Pros of Making the Move

  • A cultural world capital on your doorstep – If entertainment, art, and culture is your thing, then what could be better than living in, or at least pretty close to, the Big Apple? You’ll also get plenty of visors wanting a tour of these world-famous sights.
  • A low crime rate – It might come as a surprise, but the state of New York has a lower overall crime rate than most other states, especially if you live outside of any of the major cities.
  • A full four seasons – If you love watching the seasons change, then you’ll love living in New York. From long, hot summers, to icy cold, snowy winters, and the gorgeous spring and fall in between, the weather is always in flux here.
  • It’s well connected – There are great rail connections to major cities around the rest of the north-eastern part of the US and major international airports with some of the cheapest possible connections to Europe and beyond. Living in New York gives you pretty easy access to the wider world.

Cons of Making the Move

  • The Cold Weather – Seasonal changes are great, but if you dislike the cold, and more importantly, snow, then living in New York state might not be ideal for you. Upstate areas receive well over 70 inches of snowfall per year.
  • The high cost of living – Of course, NYC is expensive, but much of the surrounding southern areas of the state also come with a hefty price tag. Taxes are also pretty high here, and during your working years, you’ll pay out a bigger chunk of your income than the majority of other states in the US.
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New York Fun Facts & Strange Laws

 

Strange Laws in New York State

Like any other state, New York has some pretty bizarre laws that date back hundreds of years. Let’s look at some of the weirder ones from the Empire State.

  • It’s against the law to carry an ice cream cone in your pocket on any state transportation on Sundays – The origin of this law isn’t clear, but many people think this is where the traditional ice cream sundae came from, as a way to skip the cone and bypass the law.
  • Groups of two or more must not congregate in a public place while wearing a mask that hides the wearer’s identities – This one dates back to 1845 when farmers protesting against the lowering of wheat prices dressed up in masks and attacked the police.
  • Owning or operating a pinball machine in Beacon, NY, is against the law – Even arcades are banned here, and if you’re caught with one in your home, there’s a max penalty of $1000 and possible jail time! Back in the mid 20th century, lawmakers thought that pinball was a waste of time for the youth and it even had an association with the mafia.
  • If you find more than $10 on the street, you’ll be breaking the law if you don’t hand it in – Bizarrely, police require that you hand in any sum larger than $10 to a local police station. If you fail to do so within ten days, you could be on the receiving end of a $1000 fine and even jail time.
  • In NYC, you need a license to dance in cabarets and public halls – Dating back to 1926, this law was put in place to control the up and coming jazz scene, but eventually effected entertainment venues of many types around the city.
  • In NYC, you need a license to dance in cabarets and public halls – Dating back to 1926, this law was put in place to control the up and coming jazz scene, but eventually effected entertainment venues of many types around the city.

Fun Facts About the Empire State

To wrap up our overview of moving to New York state, here are a few fun facts that may surprise you about the Empire State.

  • New York was the first state in the nation that required vehicles to have a license plate.
  • The first pizzeria in the country was opened in NYC way back in 1895.
  • The smallest church in the world, The Cross Island Chapel, is in the town of Oneida, New York.
  • 1 out of 24 people in NYC is a millionaire.
  • Around half of the residents in NYC have a native language other than English.
  • America’s first-ever railroad ran from Albany to Schenectady and was just 11 miles long.
  • The Empire State Building has it’s very own zip code.
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So, What’s YOUR Move?

New York is a state home to the Big Apple and majestic rural landscapes. It is a state with a thriving economy, a rock-solid real estate market, and unmeasurable opportunity. Despite its high cost of living, there are areas of value to explore, and the higher average salaries help offset the increased costs as compared to the national average. Is the state the right place to find a new home, plant roots, raise a family or explore a new career? Only you can answer that question, but one thing is certain, the state has a lot to offer.

 

Further Reading: Looking For More Moving To The State Of New York Resources? Check These Articles Out!

 

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