The 8 Cheapest Cities to Live in New York State

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From the Empire State Building to Niagra Falls, New York State is home to countless landmarks and natural wonders that draw millions of visitors each year. 

While New York City, the most populated city in the country, often symbolizes New York State as a whole, the beloved “Empire State” is more than just a concrete jungle. New York boasts four seasons and is simultaneously home to beautiful natural scenery. 

While many Americans associate the state with NYC’s steep rent and living costs, luckily, there are plenty of affordable cities outside New York’s urban core. 

Jamestown offers an inexpensive lifestyle and a vibrant community that embraces history, culture, and natural beauty. You’ll also find small-town charm and beautiful nature in Oswego, and entertainment options abound in Binghampton. 

Learn about these affordable cities and more in our roundup of the cheapest cities in New York state. 

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Elmira

Image courtesy of Elmira College 

Elmira is the perfect place to settle down. Located in Chemung County in the southern part of the state, this city offers a relaxed pace of life. There is a small downtown area with grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, and local shops. Popular restaurants include Lib’s Supper Club and Turtle Leaf Cafe

This city is home to several parks and recreational areas that offer a range of outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and running. The town also runs parallel to the Chemung River, where residents can go boating, swimming, or picnicking. 

Here are some helpful statistics on the city’s average living costs:

  • Average Home Price: Between $90,000 and $120,000.
  • Average Rent Price: Between $750 and $900 per month.
  • Average Household Income: Between $40,000 and $50,000 annually.

Jamestown

Image courtesy of Planned Wanderings 

Nestled in the southwestern region of New York State, Jamestown is a scenic city where cultural attractions sit alongside parks and thriving cultural centers. Not far from Chautauqua Lake, the city offers recreational opportunities and serene views. 

Learn about Comedian Lucille Ball at the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum and catch a show at the National Comedy Center. Residents enjoy local dining spots such as Labyrinth Press Company and La Cucina Della Nonna

  • Average Home Price: Between $70,000 and $100,000.
  • Average Rent Price: Between $700 and $800 per month.
  • Average Household Income: Between $35,000 to $45,000 annually.

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Utica

Image courtesy of NYup.com

Located in the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York, Utica is a charming city with an Italian heritage. The city is known for its rich culture and delicious Italian food, which can be sampled at Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse or Chesterfield’s Tavolo.

Popular attractions in Utica include the Utica Zoo, the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, and the N.Y. Energy Zone. Watch a show at The Stanley Theatre or hike through Roscoe Conkling Park

  • Average Home Price: Between $80,000 and $110,000.
  • Average Rent Price: Between $750 and $900 per month.
  • Average Household Income: Between $40,000 and $50,000 annually.

Rome

Image courtesy of The Urban Phoenix 

Adjacent to Utica in the Mohawk Valley, Rome is a historical city that served as an important transportation hub during the American Revolution. The city was also home to a military fort, the remnants of which can still be explored today. 

While preserving its history, Rome also boasts modern attractions, including Capitol Theatre, a performance venue, and Fort Rickey Discovery Zoo, an interactive zoo. Enjoy recreational activities at one of Rome’s beautiful parks, such as Delta Lake State Park and Rome Sand Plains

  • Average Home Price: Between $80,000 and $120,000.
  • Average Rent Price: Between $800 and $950 per month.
  • Average Household Income: Between $40,000 and $50,000 annually.

Oswego

Image courtesy of New York State 

Enjoy serene lakeside living in Oswego. Nestled on the shores of Lake Ontario, this charming town is also one of the cheapest places to live in the state. Attractions like the H. Lee White Maritime Museum display the city’s strong connection to its waterfront, while the Richardson-Bates House Museum preserves the area’s rich history. 

There are parks and recreational areas along the waterfront and dining options include casual lakefront eateries, like Rudy’s Lakeside Drive-In, and locally-owned sports bars, like The Press Box

  • Average Home Price: Between $110,000 and $140,000.
  • Average Rent Price: Between $800 and $1,000 per month.
  • Average Household Income: Between $45,000 and $55,000 annually.

Binghamton

Image courtesy of the City of Binghamton New York 

Located in the Southern Tier region near Pennsylvania, Binghamton boasts a vibrant community with easy access to nature. This affordable city is surrounded by rolling hills laced with hiking trails. The River Trail, a 1.5-mile paved trail through the city, is also a great place to go for a walk. 

Due to Binghamton University, the city is also a popular college town with many dining and entertainment opportunities. There are local festivals, such as Spiedie Fest and Wing Fest and there’s vibrant nightlife. Experience some Binghamton culture at the Bundy Museum of History and Art or the Roberson Museum and Science Center, or catch a show at the Broome County Forum Theatre

  • Average Home Price: Between $90,000 and $120,000.
  • Average Rent Price: Between $800 and $950 per month.
  • Average Household Income: Between $40,000 and $50,000 yearly.

Rochester

Image courtesy of Visit Rochester 

Located in western New York, Rochester offers an urban lifestyle with a lower cost of living. There are lots of family-friendly attractions, such as the Strong National Museum of Play, the Seneca Park Zoo, and the Rochester Museum & Science Center. Popular restaurants, such as Good Luck and Nosh, make up the downtown area.

The East End and Neighborhood of the Arts districts are hubs for art galleries, theaters, and live music venues. Art lovers can explore galleries like the Memorial Art Gallery, and Rochester’s music scene thrives at venues such as the Bug Jar and the Little Theatre.

  • Average Home Price: Between $120,000 and $150,000.
  • Average Rent Price: Between $900 and $1,100 per month.
  • Average Household Income: Between $50,000 and $60,000 annually.

Buffalo

Image courtesy of Visit Buffalo Niagara 

Buffalo sits in western New York along Lake Erie. This city provides an urban lifestyle with a vibrant community, all at an affordable cost. There are museums, like the Buffalo AKG Art Museum and The Buffalo History Museum, and the city hosts frequent events and festivals, such as the Allentown Art Festival.

Beyond its urban attractions, Buffalo boasts access to picturesque nature spots. Niagra Falls is only a 30-minute drive away, but residents can also enjoy beautiful parks within city limits. Popular parks include Delaware Park, Broderick Park, and MLK Jr. Park

  • Average Home Price: Between $120,000 and $160,000.
  • Average Rent Price: Between $900 and $1,100 per month.
  • Average Household Income: Between $50,000 and $60,000 annually.

Finding Affordable Housing in New York State

According to Zillow, the median home value in the state is $450,466, which is higher than the national average of $346,048. The median rent for all bedrooms and property types is $3,350, a figure significantly higher than the $1,995 national average. 

Given that the state isn’t known for its affordability, it can be hard to find cheap housing, but sticking to these eight New York cities is a great place to start. Here are a couple of tips and tools to help you find affordable housing in these cities:

Remember that downsizing and opting for a slightly smaller house or apartment is also a great way to save money and lower housing costs. If you’re concerned about having insufficient storage for your belongings, consider alternatives such as renting a unit at a nearby storage facility or a self-storage marketplace like Neighbor

Summary

If you’re gearing up for a move to a new state, be sure to make a pre-move checklist. That way, you don’t forget to update your address, gather important documents, and keep records of any tax-deductible expenses. This is especially important if you’re DIYing the move.

We wish you a safe and easy move, and a wonderful new life in New York state!

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