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The best places to live in New York

US News & World Report – RE logo US News & World Report – RE 4/15/2019 Devon Thorsby
Albany, New York state capital, street view, USA © (Getty Images) Albany, New York state capital, street view, USA

When people think about moving to New York, they typically envision the Big Apple, complete with views of Central Park and the Statue of Liberty. But moving to the Empire State doesn't always mean you'll be close to the Empire State Building.

The state of New York is nearly 55,000 square miles and encompasses not only the most populous city in the U.S., but also small towns, mountain ranges and waterfront views. Depending on your preferences for job opportunities, cost of living and your average morning commute, you may find yourself considering a wider range of locales.

Of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S., New York is home to five. We've pinpointed the top destinations using the Best Places to Live in the U.S. ranking, which takes into account the local job market, cost of living, access to health care and desirability, among other factors, to help you decide which major New York metro area is the right fit for you.

Here are the Best Places to Live in New York:

  • Albany
  • Buffalo
  • Syracuse
  • Rochester
  • New York City

5. New York City

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 90

Metro Population: 21,139,370

Median Home Value: $386,862

Median Annual Salary: $63,079

The most populous metro area in the U.S. attracts new residents with its wide variety of job opportunities, from finance to show business, and that's not to mention the cultural attractions and nightlife that serve as a constant draw for people around the world. However, New York City is also one of the most expensive places out of the 125 metro areas on the list, as residents spend 29.69% of the median annual household income on housing costs.

4. Rochester

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 58

Metro Population: 1,080,653

Median Home Value: $135,042

Median Annual Salary: $49,570

Located along Lake Ontario, the Rochester metro area offers a completely different atmosphere than New York City. Rochester's top score in the overall Best Places to Live data is in quality of life, which includes high school education, availability of quality health care, the overall well-being of residents, crime rates and average commute time. Rochester ranks 14th out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for quality of life.

3. Syracuse

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 54

Metro Population: 659,262

Median Home Value: $132,500

Median Annual Salary: $49,850

At No. 54 on the overall Best Places to Live list, Syracuse receives its top score for affordability, with residents spending just 21.51% of the median annual household income on housing. Where Syracuse struggles, however, is in population growth due to net migration. Factoring in the number of people who both moved to and away from the Syracuse area between 2013 and 2017, the population shrank by 2.13%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Only six other metro areas out of the 125 that made the list saw a greater decrease in population due to net migration.

2. Buffalo

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 52

Metro Population: 1,136,670

Median Home Value: $144,300

Median Annual Salary: $48,180

An early 20th-century industry hub, Buffalo's job market is not quite the same as it was during its peak years. While the median annual salary is just shy of the national average of $50,620, the area's unemployment rate, at 4.7%, is 0.8% higher than the national average. Of the five New York metro areas on the list, Buffalo is the most affordable, ranking 11th for affordability out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S.

1. Albany

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 28

Metro Population: 881,862

Median Home Value: $201,533

Median Annual Salary: $52,770

The capital of New York is the state's highest-ranking metro area on the list, offering a lower cost of living than the likes of New York City, a higher median annual salary than most metro areas in the U.S. and an unemployment rate to match the national average at 3.9%. Albany ranks 16th of the 125 metro areas on the list for quality of life, with low property crime, low murder rates and multiple options for high-quality health care.

Copyright 2019 U.S. News & World Report

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