People move to Buffalo for school, work, affordability, or just a change of pace. Second only to New York City in population, Buffalo manages to offer many big-city perks with none of the downsides. With a delightful number of festivals, parks, and cultural resources, Buffalonians rarely complain about having nothing to do.
In addition to an array of historic architecture, Buffalo is also home to a diverse population. Expect to find excellent ethnic food and colorful neighborhoods scattered throughout the city. The population is trending toward a younger demographic, which means you’ll find a thriving nightlife and entertainment scene. Lovers of nature will enjoy one of the big benefits of the city – its massive waterfront on Lake Erie and numerous green spaces and parks. Welcome to your new hometown!
Living in Buffalo, NY: What to Know Before Moving to Buffalo
Home to 256,304 people, Buffalo is the second-largest city in the state, after New York City. What that means is that you’ll enjoy loads of big-city amenities in a place with a small-town feel.
Pros and Cons of Living in Buffalo
- Friendliness – The city slogan is “city of good neighbors,” which says it all.
- Affordability – Everything from homes to fine dining is less expensive than in larger cities.
- Arts and Culture – So much art, so much great architecture, so many festivals!
- Amazing Food – Rich cuisine, from award-winning chefs to ethnic cafes and – Buffalo wings.
- Weather – For seven months out of the year, the weather is pleasant.
- Waterfront – The city is snuggled right up to Lake Erie and enjoys a beautiful waterfront.
- Winter – It’s cold and snowy, but probably not as bad as you imagine.
- Losing Streaks – Buffalonians take their pro sports teams seriously, and they lose a lot.
- Taxes – For such an affordable city, property, income, and sales taxes are high.
- Poor Schools – The public schools in the city are not particularly strong.
- Earning Power – Incomes are less than in most big cities, but so are living expenses.
- Property tax: Primary residences in Buffalo are taxed at an average 1.88% of assessed fair market value. If you own a non-homestead property, expect a property tax rate of 3.27%. While this is one of the highest property taxes in the country, low property values are to blame.
- Sales tax: Buffalo residents pay a combined sales tax rate of 8.75%, compared to a 7.3% average sales tax for the US. Blame Erie county for that, because the county’s tax rate is 4.75%.
- State income tax: New York State income tax starts at 4% and goes up to 8.82%. The lowest rate applies to the first $8,499 of taxable income, and the highest rate applies only to those single taxpayers earning over $1,077,550.
While Buffalo has lured new residents for years because of an affordable cost of living, the housing market has become quite competitive. Homes are in short supply, and they tend to sell quickly for asking price or very close to it. The current trend is toward low inventory, slowing sales, and rising prices. The median list price per square foot in Buffalo is $81, a small fraction of the price in New York City. Only a third (34.46%) of Buffalo residents are renters, which speaks to the relative affordability of homes. Median home value, as of January 2020, is $104,015. The median home list price is $100,000.
Despite these low prices, home values have gone up 10% over the last year, and experts expect that they’ll continue to rise another 4.9% in the coming year. Median rents were sitting comfortably at $1,100 a month in December of 2019 and should hold steady. Rents in Buffalo are well below the national average, which is one of the selling points of the city. With such reasonable rents, you can pick and choose the best areas with the best deals, such as in neighborhoods like Central Park, North Buffalo, Parkside, and University Heights.
Cost of Living
The cost of living index in Buffalo – 79.5 – is well below the national average of 100. Low living costs are largely due to housing costs, which at 37, are just over a third of the US average. Bestplaces.net calculates the cost of living index based on a US average of 100. Not all Buffalo living costs are below the national average: transportation comes in at 102.4, and utilities are 107.1.
The median income in Buffalo is $20,276, about $8,000 less than the national average. Based on Economic Policy Institute calculations, a single person living in Buffalo can get by on $2,903 per month, but a couple with two children must earn at least $7,339 per month, or $88,071 per year, to enjoy an adequate standard of living. Bear in mind that these numbers are for the Buffalo metro area and thus skew quite a bit higher than Buffalo proper.
Weather & Natural Disasters
Buffalo is in the humid continental climate zone, typical of the Great Lakes region. Expect cold, snowy winters. However, thanks to the stabilizing effect of Lake Erie, Buffalo enjoys the sunniest, driest summers of any major city in the region.
January is the coldest month, with average highs of 31 degrees, and July is the warmest month with an average high of 80 degrees. Overall, temperatures range from 19 degrees to 80 degrees and rarely go below 4 degrees or above 86 degrees.
From late May to mid-September, daily highs are above 70 degrees. Fall brings exceptional foliage and comfortable sunny days with average highs in the 60s and cool, 40 degree nights. Heavy snowfall is a normal part of Buffalo winters, but it doesn’t phase Buffalonians. Average winter highs are just above freezing with lows in the low 20s. Snowfall can begin as early as October and you’ll get the odd flurry as late as May. June, July, and August offer up the best weather and Buffalo averages 155 sunny days per year, less than the US average.
Buffalo isn’t particularly prone to many natural disasters, but winter blizzards and flooding are potential threats. The Erie County government website has an abundance of emergency-related preparedness information.
Economy & Job Market
Buffalo has enjoyed steady job growth for almost a decade, but job growth has been stagnant for the last year, following national trends. The unemployment rate is 5.8% compared to the US average of 3.9%.
Strong local employment sectors include education, financial services, health care, light manufacturing, and high-tech. The growth sectors in the metro area include hospitality and skilled labor. The largest employers in the area are The State of New York, Delaware North Companies, Kaleida Health, General Motors, M & T Bank, Time Warner Cable, and the University at Buffalo.
Job seekers should look for jobs in tech, healthcare, hospitality, or education and can tap into some of the local resources such as the Buffalo News job finder, the Workforce Buffalo site, or the City of Buffalo website. Unemployment levels in Buffalo are at a historic low, and many employers are actively seeking to hire, so you should be able to find just the right job.
Traffic and Transportation
As much as people love to complain about traffic bottlenecks and rush hour, Buffalo is a disappointment in this area. Predictably, there’s a mild rush in the mornings between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. and then in the evenings after 4:30 p.m. However, Buffalo drivers’ number one complaint is the poorly-timed stoplights, which end up significantly wasting drivers’ time.
For a city its size, Buffalo has a surprisingly good public transportation system. The Buffalo Metro Rail, operated by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), is a 6.4-mile-long light rail system that operates between downtown and the University at Buffalo. Fifty-three different bus routes also run through the region, with major routes running every 15 minutes during peak hours. Rides on the bus or the train are $2 one-way or $5 for a day pass. Tickets and day passes can be purchased on the bus once you board, but they are cash only and you’ll need exact change. Unlimited monthly passes are $75.
The Buffalo walk score is well above average at 68, and the closer you get to the city center, the better the scores get – with some in the 90s. The city’s transit score is 49, and the bike score is 65; Buffalo remains high on the national list of households without vehicles.
What to Do in Buffalo
Buffalo is recognized nationally for its hot wings, snowfall, and laughably bad sports teams, but there’s so much more to the city than meets the eye.
The food scene in Buffalo is growing and evolving. The traditional comfort food you would expect is prevalent – hot wings, beef on weck, pierogis, and pizza. Meanwhile, locals see an emerging class of high-end fusion and ethnic offerings. The West Side Bazaar is a food court/incubator for immigrants and refugees, bringing international tastes to the masses. High-end cuisine is gaining traction in the city, but at a value that you won’t find in any other big city in the country. And for foodies who love to cook, there are more than two dozen farmers markets spread out across the city and on into the metro area.
Arts and Culture
Despite the perception of a post-industrial “rust belt” town, Buffalo is teeming with culture. There are literally dozens of museums and galleries spread out in the area showcasing everything from history to science, from the quirky Kazoo Company and Museum to the Buffalo Museum of Science. The abundance of museums is a necessity for long months of winter. When the weather warms up, you can be sure to find a seemingly endless series of festivals – at least one per weekend.
The Great Outdoors
Nature lovers will find much to love in Buffalo, starting with the extensive park system designed by landscape architect royalty Frederick Law Olmstead in the late 1800s. Inspired by the green spaces of Paris, the Cazenovia Park-South Park System and the Delaware Park-Front Park System bring world-class design by the man responsible for Central Park in NYC and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The Tifft Nature Preserve offers five miles of nature trails, marsh-view boardwalks, birding hotspots, and more in 264 acres of habitat – only five minutes from downtown. Plus, be sure to explore the expansive waterfront and many nearby hikes, waterfalls, and wondrous natural features.
Despite a reputation for miserable losses, sports fans in Buffalo are ardent supporters of their teams. Hockey enthusiasts can enjoy National Hockey League games with the Buffalo Sabres at the KeyBank Center, as well as National Women’s Hockey League games with the Buffalo Beauts at Northtown Center. The Buffalo Bills play New Era Field in suburban Orchard Park. Baseball fans will find some satisfaction with the Buffalo Bisons, an AAA International League Franchise. Other minor league sports teams include the Buffalo Bandits (indoor lacrosse) and FC Buffalo (National Premier Soccer League soccer).
Schools and Universities
Buffalo Public Schools serves around 34,000 students in almost 70 schools. The high school graduation rate is 64%, which is well below the national average but is a significant improvement over years past. The quality of schools is overall unimpressive, but there are some exceptional performers. The two top-ranked high schools in Western New York are in Buffalo: City Honors School and Nardin Academy HS (a private all-girls school). Other exceptional schools, as ranked by greatschools.org, are Frederick Olmstead 56 with 7/10, Mill Middle School 8/10, and Sheridan Hill Elementary School 9/10.
Buffalo is home to a handful of colleges and universities, including University at Buffalo, SUNY at Buffalo, D’Youville College, Trocaire College, Canisius College, and Erie Community College.
The crime rate in Buffalo is higher, 88% higher, than the national average. Violent crimes are 174% higher than the national average, with property crimes only 73% higher. Some parts of the city are quite safe while other areas have pockets of high crime, so you’ll want to do your research before you decide which neighborhood you choose to call home.
Buffalo residents rely on several providers for their utilities. If you’re lucky, your landlord will include water and sewage in your rent. However, whether you’re renting or purchasing a home, here are all the resources you’ll need to get connected:
- Electric: National Grid is the electric provider most Buffalonians rely on to keep the lights on. To start, stop, or transfer service, simply visit the web page.
- Gas service: National Fuel is the most reliable gas provider in Buffalo. To start, stop, or transfer service, visit the website or call 1-716-857-7654, and make sure to give at least a week’s notice
- Water: Buffalo Water is the primary water service provider in Buffalo. Setting up your account is as easy as downloading and submitting an online form.
- Trash collection and recycling service: The City of Buffalo takes out the trash in town. To pay your annual user fee, visit the online payment page.
- Internet and cable services: For internet and cable, there are several providers, but most residents choose between DirecTV, Spectrum, and Verizon. To start an account, click on any of the links above.
Best Neighborhoods in Buffalo, NY
Ready to become a Buffalonian? Here are some of the best communities to call home:
Less than a mile north of downtown, Allentown is one of the most beloved neighborhoods in the city. It’s bound on the north by North Street, to the east by Main Street, to the south by Virginia Street, and on the west by College Street and Wadsworth Street. With above-average schools, a welcoming community, and low crime, Allentown is well worth the cost for residents who can afford to buy here.
Adjacent to Delaware District, Allentown is the colorful, artsy, alternative neighborhood of choice. You’ll find a mix of charming Victorian cottages, contemporary apartments, stately mansions, and historic homes divided into apartments. The neighborhood is vibrant, diverse, and family-friendly. A majority of Allentown residents are renters –71% – and only 3% are families with children, which makes it a perfect place for singles and young professionals.
Brimming with art, entertainment, and restaurants, Allentown is an LGBT haven as well as an artist hotspot. Delaware Park is an escape for those seeking nature and public art and is home to countless festivals throughout the year. Allentown is well-served by public transit with over a dozen bus lines and the Metro Rail all passing through. Residents, however, find that they can run most of their errands within walking distance.
- Population – 2,216
- Home Price – Median home value $263,973
- Rent Prices – Median rent $784
- Employers – Alliant Capital, Amazon, Direct Capital, General Mills, InLighten, Kellogg Company, Northwest, SUNY Buffalo State, The State of New York
- Schools – PS 64 Frederick Law Olmstead, PS 67 Discovery School, PS 79 Pfc William J Grabiarz School of Excellence, PS 195 City Honors School, PS 156 Frederick Law Olmstead, PS 304 Hutchinson Central Technical High School, Middle Early College High School
Something to try: Attend the Allentown Art Festival in June to experience an Allentown tradition.
Merely two and a half miles from downtown, Delaware District offers one of the most desirable zip codes in the city. The area is bounded to the east by Main Street, to the north by East Delavan Avenue and Rumsey Road, to the west by Elmwood Avenue, and the south by East North Street.
Delaware District features many homes and architectural gems listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the central part of the neighborhood is a designated historic district.
71% of the residents in the Delaware District are renters, owing to the relatively high property values in the area. While you’ll find little by way of entertainment, what you will find is stunning Gilded-Age architecture, including the famed Millionaire’s Row – thus named back when a million dollars was a staggering sum. Families occupy most of the neighborhood homes, but the stately mansions of Millionaire’s Row are generally home to business headquarters.
There’s abundant green space adjacent to the residential area, with Delaware Park and Forest Lawn Cemetery within walking distance. A smattering of restaurants and cafes provide just enough amenity to residents who want to dine close to home. A few high-end galleries offer a bit of culture, and a half dozen bus lines, as well as the Metro Rail, serve the neighborhood.
- Population – 11,566
- Home Price – Median home value $196,543
- Rent Prices – Median rent $847
- Employers – Alliant Capital, Catholic Health, Delaware North Companies, Erie Community College, Federal Bureau of Investigation, General Motors, General Mills, M & T Bank, SUNY Buffalo State, Tesla, U.S. Department of Justice
- Schools – PS 64 Frederick Law Olmstead, PS 67 Discovery School, PS 79 Pfc. William J Grabiarz School of Excellence, PS 195 City Honors School, PS 156 Frederick Law Olmstead, PS 304 Hutchinson Central Technical High School, Middle Early College High School
Something to try: Visit the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, the Wilcox Mansion.
If you want to be right where the action is, Downtown Buffalo delivers. Bounded on the north by Goodell Street and Virginia Street, the west by Delaware Avenue, Seneca Street on the south and Michigan Avenue to the east, the area extends in a long finger two blocks wide to the east with Swan Street and Seneca Street on either side.
This district is the oldest segment of the city, having been central to Buffalo since its founding, but developers have reinvented it over the past decade to great effect. The housing in Downtown is a mix of apartments, lofts, and converted studios occupied by a diverse group of residents. A staggering 83% of folks living downtown rent, mostly due to the lack of real estate for sale in the area. With more than 100 bars and restaurants, craft beer hangouts, independently owned boutiques, live music venues, and diverse live theater all within walking distance, the appeal is obvious.
The abundance of museums, festivals, and art are almost overwhelming in Downtown. And while all of this is rather urban, you can still sneak away and enjoy a little nature at Canalside, Erie Basin Marina, or Erie Basin Marina Gardens. For a walkable neighborhood where you never run out of things to do, Downtown Buffalo is a perfect destination.
- Population – 4,477
- Home Price – Median home value $66,012
- Rent Prices – Median rent $827
- Employers – Amazon, Catholic Health, Compass Group, Geico, Kellogg Company, Northwest, Orion Capital Solutions, Servotronics, University at Buffalo, US Department of Veterans Affairs, VETRO Fibermap
- Schools – PS 64 Frederick Law Olmstead, Buffalo Academy of Science, PS 67 Discovery School, PS 195 City Honors School, PS 156 Frederick Law Olmstead, PS 304 Hutchinson Central Technical High School, Middle Early College High School, PS 212 Leonardo da Vinci High School
Something to try: Go to see “Buffalo Quickies” at the Alleyway Theatre.
Just under five miles northeast of downtown, the entirety of the Parkside neighborhood is a picturesque historic district designed by the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead. The crescent-shaped neighborhood is bordered to the west by Delaware Park along Amherst Street and Parkside Avenue, to the north and northeast by Linden Avenue, to the east by Fairfield Avenue, to the southeast by Main Street, and the southwest by the Humboldt Parkway.
Known for its diverse historic architecture, Parkside contains American Four Square, Arts & Crafts, Colonial Revival, Craftsman, and Victorian homes. The neighborhood is almost entirely single-family homes, including several designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Parkside has a long history of inclusiveness and collaboration and boasts the oldest neighborhood association in the city. It’s one of the best neighborhoods in the city to raise a family, and a quarter of the residents are families with children. The majority – 61% – of residents in the area are homeowners, which contributes to the strong sense of community in the neighborhood. The proximity to Delaware Park and the adjacent zoo is a huge boon to residents.
While there are fewer amenities than in other neighborhoods, you’ll find a handful of pubs, restaurants, and cafes within Parkside. But this peaceful, green corner of the city is celebrated for its curving tree-lined streets, significant architecture, diverse neighbors, and strong community.
- Population – 4,306
- Home Price – Median home value $218,016
- Rent Prices – Median rent $863
- Employers –Alliant Capital, Canisius College, Catholic Health, Eerie County Medical Center, Kaleida Health, SUNY Buffalo State, University at Buffalo, US Department of Homeland Security
- Schools – PS 64 Frederick Law Olmstead, PS 67 Discovery School, PS 79 Pfc William J Grabiarz School of Excellence, PS 195 City Honors School, PS 156 Frederick law Olmstead, PS 304 Hutchinson Central Technical High School, Middle Early College High School
Something to try: Visit the Buffalo Zoological Gardens at 300 Parkside Avenue.
About six and a half miles northeast of downtown, University Heights is a lively neighborhood known for its student population and walkability. Bounded to the north by Kenmore Avenue, to the southeast by Main Street, and west by Shoshone Park, the neighborhood offers a variety of housing types, with an emphasis on single-family homes and larger homes divided into apartments.
Proximity to UB is the major draw for the many students who call University Heights home, but most residents enjoy the down-home feel and affordability of the area. The neighborhood is highly walkable and enjoys vibrant commercial districts brimming with small local businesses. Just over half the residents here are homeowners – 57% – and almost a fifth of the households are families with children.
University Heights has a strong community focus, and residents have their own collaborative group dedicated to maintaining the quality of life in the neighborhood. Home to four Metro Rail stations and served by eight bus lines, access to public transit is another attraction. Countless shopping, dining, and entertainment amenities keep locals busy and well-served within walking distance of home.
- Population – 8,653
- Home Price – Median home value $114,029
- Rent Prices – Median rent $753
- Employers – Amazon, Buffalo VA Medical Center, Catholic Health, Elderwood, Erie Community College, Garden Gate Health Care Facility, Geico, Paychex Inc, SUNY Buffalo State, Regal, University at Buffalo
- Schools – Windermere Boulevard School, PS 64 Frederick Law Olmstead, PS 67 Discovery School, PS 195 City Honors School, Amherst Middle School, PS 304 Hutchinson Central Technical High School, Amherst Central High School, Middle Early College School
Something to try: Check out something handy by visiting The Tool Library.
Quality Moving Services from Buffalo Movers
As your move date approaches, you may be shopping around for the right moving company. Great Guys will help you find the best moving service in Buffalo for your relocation.
Moving from state to state takes considerably more planning than a short move. We provide free quotes from licensed and insured moving specialists who’ll make your long-distance move to Buffalo look easy.
Intrastate & Local Moves
For in-state moves, we’ll find you short distance movers to help you get moved across town or New York in as little as a day. Your intrastate move will be as stress-free as possible when you hire local Buffalo movers.
Small Load Moves
It can be tempting to take on a small load move yourself, but why would you when professionals can do it for you much faster and at a reasonable rate? Get free quotes from Buffalo movers who’ll get your dorm, loft, or studio apartment moved effortlessly.
Moving heavy furniture on your own is risky and unnecessary – one wrong move and you could throw out your back or damage your stuff. Save your back, and your time and trouble, by letting a professional furniture mover do the heavy lifting for you.
Piano moving is tricky and awkward, but professional piano movers make it look easy. The pros use specialized piano moving equipment to get your piano to its new home without scratching a key.
Art & Antiques
Moving priceless art and family heirlooms takes a special touch and careful attention. Our Buffalo art and antiques moving experts use specialized equipment and vibration-minimizing technology to make sure your antiques and art collection are transported safely.
When you can’t move everything at one time, sometimes you need temporary storage. We’ve vetted insured and licensed Buffalo moving and storage companies that can provide you with clean, secure short-term storage-in-transit.
When you need to move multiple vehicles, the logistics can get overwhelming. We’ll connect you with moving professionals who are experts at transporting cars, motorcycles, trucks, and boats. Using auto shipping services will take the headache out of this part of your move.
Packing is one of the hardest and most time-consuming parts of moving. Having a professional moving team take on your packing (and unpacking) allows you to focus your attention on more important things.
From a minimalist loft to a sprawling family estate, our movers take the same amount of care with all household moves. Our residential movers have the skill, experience, and know-how to get you moved into your new home without issue.
When you hire commercial movers to relocate your business, you know you’re in good hands. From corporate headquarters to warehouses full of inventory, our commercial Buffalo movers will get your business moved seamlessly so that you don’t lose any momentum.
Same Day/Emergency/Short Notice
When the unexpected happens, sometimes you need to move right now. In the event you need to move in a hurry, our short notice movers can help. They’ll get you moved ASAP, no questions asked.
Collecting all the supplies you need for packing is a pain. We’ll connect you with a moving company that will furnish you with all the boxes, bubble wrap, packing tape, and other supplies you need to get packed up to go.
* * *
You can count on Great Guys Long Distance Movers to help you find the best professional moving services in Buffalo. Hire licensed, insured Buffalo movers who will take all the stress out of your move. Get free quotes now!