10 Pros and Cons of Living in Upstate New York Right Now

Good Things To Know About Moving To Upstate New York

Today, I would like to go through the pros and cons of living in upstate New York.

Since there are some great benefits of living in upstate New York. And some reason not to move to New York state in the first place.

Whatever your reasons for moving. And becoming a New Yorker. We have it covered.

With the things you need to know before heading to “The Empire State”.

So, let’s not delay. And get on with the living in upstate New York pros and cons for today…

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Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Pros And Cons Of Living In Upstate New York

The top 10 advantages and disadvantages of living in upstate New York are…

  • Easy access to New York City
  • Natural beauty
  • Four season living
  • Multiple lifestyle options
  • Reasonable cost of living
  • High tax burden
  • Rough winter weather
  • Limited transportation options
  • Lackluster economy
  • Poverty and wealth inequality

Before we get rolling on each of these in detail. There is little housekeeping I would like to take care of.

First, one thing is for sure.

There is disagreement among residents. About what area is included within the boundaries of upstate New York.

So, right or wrong. I will take this matter into my own hands.

Thus, for purposes of this article. About the pros and cons of living in upstate New York.

I define the area as the entire state. Excluding the greater New York City metropolitan area. So, this rules out much of the Hudson Valley region too.

Second, allow me to take on the most important question right away…

Is Upstate New York A Good Place To Live?

No matter where you live. There are great things about every state. And not-so-good things too.

So, before moving to upstate New York. Make a good assessment of exactly what you are looking for out of life.

To help you out. Here are a few highlights to get your thoughts rolling…

Reasons To Live In Upstate New York

First of all, living here means having close access to two extremely different environments.

One is New York City. The other is the Adirondacks.

NYC is a concrete jungle. The other is a remote and wild landscape filled with natural beauty.

Furthermore, you can choose the lifestyle you desire here. Be it urban, suburban, small-town, or country living.

Where urban and suburban include some excellent mid-size cities. Specifically, Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Rochester.

And you can have it all here. Whatever lifestyle option you choose. At an affordable cost of living.

On the other hand, assessing the pros and cons of moving to upstate New York. Would not be complete.

Without speaking to a few of the not-so-good qualities of “The Empire State”…

Reasons Not To Live In Upstate New York

First, if you do not like paying taxes. You won’t like life in upstate New York.

Because of the income, real estate, and sales taxes. They are all extremely high.

Next, if you do not like long, harsh winter weather. Forget about it. Since this place will not be for you.

Furthermore, if you do not like driving. Especially on hit or miss roads.Difficult to navigate in winter weather.

Then I suggest, you think seriously about moving to a warmer southern state.

Finally, don’t come to upstate New York without your financial house in order. Since you won’t find a thriving economy. Full of available high-paying jobs to pick from.

This is partly responsible for a large wealth and income gap. That exists throughout the region.

With those highlights taken care of. Next, let’s go through each of the pros and cons of living in upstate New York. In a greater level of detail.

Ironically, our journey begins in what is known as downstate New York. As I have defined it. The greater NYC metropolitan area…

Easy Access To New York City

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As you already know. This article isn’t about living in New York City. But, “The Big Apple” is hard to ignore.

And one of the great things about living in upstate New York. Is the ease with which residents have access to a world-class city. Without the hassles of living there.

So, allow me to summarize with a few bullet points. Some of the positives of New York City.

Whether you desire to live there someday. Or, just want to visit. As part of your upstate New York life.

  • Rich culture and history
  • Many career options
  • Lots of fun things to do
  • Amazing Central Park
  • Great food scene
  • Plenty of diversity
  • Easy to be yourself
  • Great public transit
  • A city that never sleeps
  • Lower crime rate than you think

Okay. Enough about New York City.

But after moving to the state. Be sure to plan your first road trip. To explore the big city.

Moving right along. Let’s continue addressing the other perks of living in upstate New York.

And this next one. Couldn’t be more different than anything about New York City…

Natural Beauty

First of all, most of the state is rural farmland and wilderness. With tree-covered rolling hills as far as you can see. Creating vast amounts of green spaces.

Furthermore, the area has an amazing landscape of rivers, creeks, waterfalls, and mountains.

Finally, outdoor enthusiasts love living here. They enjoy the numerous campgrounds, trails, and parks. Plus lakes for boating, swimming, and water skiing in the summer.

Including the unique Finger Lakes region. Roughly bounded by the cities of Rochester, Syracuse, and Ithaca.

Then there is downhill skiing in the winter. With resorts dotting the mountain tops. Near the border state of Vermont.

Next, an article about the pros and cons of living in New York state. Would not be complete without mentioning…

The Adirondacks

Since a large portion of this state’s land. Consists of what is known as the Adirondacks.

A massive mountainous area. Composed of 10 regions. That offers thousands of lakes and hiking trails.

Also, there is great skiing. And other winter sports. Especially in the Lake Placid region.

Which has hosted the Winter Olympics. On more than one occasion.

Furthermore, nestled in the area are some unique and charming small towns. They are usually located near a natural attraction.

Such as the base of a mountain range. Along the banks of a river. Or, situated near a picturesque lake.

I have already mentioned Lake Placid. But there are other regions in the Adirondacks. For example, there is…

  • Lake George
  • Saranac Lake
  • Speculator
  • Long Lake
  • North Creek
  • Ticonderoga
  • Tupper Lake
  • Inlet
  • Cranberry Lake

It’s a beautiful place. No doubt about it.

So, what makes it even more special? Let’s explore another one of the best things about the upstate New York quality of life…

Four Season Living

New York State has an ideal climate for those who enjoy the weather. That is distinctly marked by the 4 seasons.

First, the annual spring thaw is a welcome event. With warmer temperatures. And seasonal rains that bring the lush forests to life.

Then summer temperatures can be quite warm. With higher levels of humidity too.

Making it a great time to enjoy the lakes and rivers. And the water sports they offer.

However, note that the summer climate is cooler in the Adirondacks. Due to the higher elevation. Perfect for exploring the thousands of hiking trails in the area.

Then the autumn season may be the most spectacular of all. With the turning leaves. Putting on an amazing color display.

Finally, winter blankets the area with cold temperatures. And plenty of snow.

It is a perfect time for getting out. And sharpening your skills on your favorite winter sport.

Next, I have another one of the good things about a potential move to upstate New York…

Multiple Lifestyle Options

Since this state offers multiple lifestyle options.

As a result, you can choose from a nice mix of urban, suburban, small-town, or rural settings. For your upstate New York lifestyle.

Do you desire to live in a small town? Then upstate New York has hundreds and hundreds. Way more than I can cover here.

Interested in settling down on some nice farmland? Then the state has more than 7 million acres to choose from.

Finally, there are some excellent mid-size cities too.

They are large enough to have a variety of arts, culture, and entertainment options. But small enough to have small-town charm. And a nice community vibe.

Here are several to consider…

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First of all, Albany is the state capital. And the area is typically referred to as the Capital Region.

As a result, the job market in Albany is dominated by the New York state government.

Furthermore, it is the closest launching point. For trips into New York City. Located only 150 miles away.


Or, head due west. Across nearly the entire state. Finding yourself in Buffalo.

It is the second-largest city. Based on population. And located on the shores of Lake Erie. Not far from the state of Pennsylvania.

It is home to the Buffalo Bills. One of the three National Football League franchises. That call New York state home.


Then there is Syracuse. The fifth-largest city. With a population of nearly 150,000.

It is home to Syracuse University. And several other institutions of higher learning.

Making the city a hub for education and business. Located in Central New York state.


Finally, we have Rochester. Nestled on the shores of Lake Erie. And located in the Finger Lakes region of the state.

The city is known for its research programs based out of several acclaimed universities. And a birthplace for many well-known businesses.

What do all of these cities have in common? That’s next. And another one of the reasons to move to upstate New York…

Reasonable Cost Of Living

If you are seeking a cheaper state to live in. Then consider the average cost of living in upstate New York.

Why? Because it is very reasonable.

To prove this out, I went to BestPlaces.net. And looked at the four cities in upstate New York. The ones we just talked about.

What I saw was a cost of living index that is about 20% cheaper. Versus the national average. In Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse.

Albany’s costs were a bit higher. Having only a 5% discount to the United States average cost of living.

Perhaps it is the proximity to New York City. Or, the presence of the state capital. With the higher-paying government jobs that come with it.

All, I know is this. The average cost of living in upstate New York cities. Is well below the national average.

And expenses will only go lower. If you are interested in settling in a small town. Or looking to enjoy country living in upstate New York.

What drives the upstate New York cost of living down? Mainly the median home price. As housing here is much cheaper. Versus other parts of the country.

Looking to save a little more money? Whatever your reasons to move to upstate New York happen to be?

Then there are a few additional money-saving tips. You should take advantage of…

Ways To Save More Money Living In Upstate New York (or anywhere)

First of all, maintain a high credit score. So you can get the best deal on a mortgage. Or, a new apartment lease.

Check your score for FREE. Using Credit Karma. Then get busy improving it.

Ready to buy a home? Then shop for the best mortgage rates online.

Do you want cash back from all of your online purchases? Including Amazon. Then sign up for the Rakuten cash rebate app.

Plus, get a bonus since Rakuten gives you 10 dollars in cash just for coming on board and making your first purchase.

Last but not least. Here’s another way to get your financial house in order…

Manage Your Money Better Living In Upstate New York (or anywhere)

It is important to get a handle on all of your finances.

When considering the pros and cons of moving to upstate New York. Or anyplace, for that matter.

Whether preparing a budget. Just checking your accounts online. Or managing your investments.

You can do all of this for FREE. By using the online tool from Empower.

So, save time. And make managing your money less of a chore.

Best of all. All of these money tips and tools work anywhere you choose to live!

Okay now. We know living in New York state has a lot of good things to offer.

But an article about 10 living in upstate New York pros and cons. Would not be complete.

Without addressing some reasons not to move to upstate New York in the first place.

Let’s do that right now. And unfortunately, I’m not done with your finances…

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High Tax Burden

Because upstate New York living means a high tax burden. Here’s why…

Income Taxes When Living In Upstate New York

The state has a progressive tax system. That’s just a fancy way of saying this: the more you make the higher your tax rate.

Rates start at 4% of income. And go all the way up to almost 11%.

That is a very high rate. Compared to other states in the country.

While most of us will never make enough to pay the top rate. Many families will pay 5-6%. Depending on income.

This is a lot. Considering you could move to New Hampshire nearby. And pay virtually no income taxes.

Continuing, the tax pain does not stop there…

Property Taxes When Living In Upstate New York

Since real estate taxes are high here too. Specifically, New York state has one of the top 10 highest average property tax rates in the country.

And it’s not because of New York City. As property taxes are collected on a county level.

Where each county in New York has a tax rate. And process of assessing and collecting the taxes.

For example, I looked up Onandaga Country. Where the city of Syracuse is located.

And found a rate of more than 3% of the assessed property value. That is extremely high.

The only good thing I can say about this. Is property values are generally reasonable. So, the high tax rates get applied to, on average, lower property values.

And the tax disadvantages of living in upstate New York continue…

Sales Taxes

Because sales taxes are high in this state too. As the state has a base sales tax rate of 4%.

Then local municipalities add on to it. Another 3-5%. Depending on location.

Leaving consumers paying one of the highest sales tax rates. In the entire country.

Once again, if you want to save on taxes. Consider moving across state lines.

By heading to the east into New Hampshire. Where you won’t pay a penny in sales taxes.

Next, I have another one of the drawbacks of living in upstate New York…

Rough Winter Weather

Let’s face the facts. Winters are cold and snowy in upstate New York.

Especially in the big mountains. And even in the low-lying places too.

As a result, the region as a whole has intensely cold winters. With daily temperatures well below freezing. And often below zero at night.

Furthermore, there is a vast amount of snowfall. Where some years as much as 200 inches of the white stuff comes from the sky.

Even more, there is the northwestern region. Where this state meets the Great Lakes.

Areas here get amazing amounts of snow. From what is known as the lake effect.

Where cold air coming down from Canada. Mixes with the warmer air rising off of the Great Lakes.

This creates huge dumps of snowfall. Starting as soon as early November.

As a comparison. Downstate New York experiences a much more temperate climate. Partly due to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean.

Next, when it comes to getting around the area. We have another one of the worst things about living in upstate New York…

Limited Transportation Options

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Outside of the cities, we have already discussed. Public transportation is limited.

And even in these cities. It is important to realize the limitations.

Since the transit systems are built for getting from place to place. Within the cities, they are located.

While inter-city public transit is minimal. If available at all.

So, for people who want to go from place to place with ease. This can be an obstacle.

What does this mean? Well, you probably need an automobile to get where you want to go.

Unfortunately, there are some issues with this mode of transportation too. Here’s what I mean…

First of all, winter driving conditions are less than ideal. When the roads get icy or snow-packed.

Plus the state uses tons of road salt. For better traction. And to encourage melt-off.

What’s the downside? Your car can start to rust. From the corrosive effects of the salt.

Furthermore, roads and highways can be pretty rough. With snow, ice, changing temperatures, and salt taking their toll.

These elements create potholes. And make for less than the safest road surfaces.

Finally, if you choose rural living in upstate New York.  It is sometimes necessary to drive at least half an hour to find a grocery store. Or someplace to grab a bite to eat.

Combining the bad winter weather. With hit and miss roads.

You will find that planning your trips is important. To avoid the worst conditions.

And I have yet another one of the worst things about upstate New York…

Lackluster Economy

When you take into account all of upstate New York. One can conclude that the economic situation is not that great.

Since traditional industries like manufacturing. That once contributed to the overall economic well-being of the region. And its people. Have largely gone by the wayside.

Be it automation, consolidation, or exporting jobs to foreign countries. Some areas have never recovered from industrial downsizing.

That occurred over the past decades. Hitting states like New York and Ohio in the Rust Belt hard.

As a result, job opportunities can be quite limited. On the other hand, folks that do the best tend to…

Make a good paycheck. By living here. And working remotely.

Stick to the largest cities. Like Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse. Or work for the state government in Albany.

Or, have good employment lined up. Before moving to upstate New York.

This leads me to the final item. In my list of bad things about living in upstate New York.

Then, I will wrap up. I promise!

Poverty and Wealth Inequality

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On one hand, many of the state’s counties have a serious problem with poverty. Where the rates are much higher than the national average.

Furthermore, some of the inner cities have pockets that are quite impoverished too. Featuring run-down neighborhoods. And many unemployed people.

On the other hand, you can find some extremely wealthy communities in upstate New York too.

Since it is possible to find towns in Schenectady, Tompkins, and Chautauqua counties. To name just a few.

Where the median household income is substantial. And often exceeds $100,000.

Thus, wealth and income inequality are quite visible. In upstate New York.

Okay. I think that’s enough for today. So, allow me to wrap up with a summary.

Pros And Cons Of Living In Upstate New York

My top living in upstate New York pros and cons include:

  • Easy access to New York City
  • Natural beauty
  • Four season living
  • Multiple lifestyle options
  • Reasonable cost of living
  • High tax burden
  • Rough winter weather
  • Limited transportation options
  • Lackluster economy
  • Poverty and wealth inequality

Hopefully, this discussion has helped you with some important questions. Such as:

1) What is upstate New York like?


2) Why should I move to upstate New York.

Most of all, best of luck. No matter where you choose to settle down.

More Reading About Upstate New York And Beyond

Money Tips For Living In Upstate New York (or anywhere)

In the article, I mentioned several great money resources. They are summarized here for your convenience.

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Author Bio: Tom Scott founded the consulting and coaching firm Dividends Diversify, LLC. He leverages his expertise and decades of experience in goal setting, relocation assistance, and investing for long-term wealth to help clients reach their full potential.

The Pros And Cons Of Living In Upstate New York Explained