What Are The Pros And Cons Of Living In Albany, NY?

Paige Hanawalt
by Paige Hanawalt

The state of New York is known for many things— its sprawling metropolis of NYC, Niagara Falls, its gorgeous scenery, and its fast-paced, forward-thinking business community. With its proximity to the mountains and the ocean, New York State has a vast array of cities to draw new residents. One of those cities sits on the Hudson River.

Part of New York’s Tri-City area and located just 150 miles north of New York City is the state’s capital of Albany. Albany, NY is known for being just about as American as apple pie. In fact, the city has won the All American City award not once, but twice! Overflowing with historic brownstones and lush countryside, Albany is as postcard-perfect as it gets.

Home to just over 97,000 people, Albany offers plenty of things to do and see. Rife with history, overflowing with fine dining and shopping, Albany, NY is a great place to settle if you’re looking for that city feel without the overwhelming big city itself.

The pros of living in Albany, NY are its low cost of living, central location, plenty of entertainment opportunities, and all four seasons. The city also offers an overwhelming presence of art and culture. Unfortunately, there are a few cons to the state capital, including derelict property management, traffic and lack of parking downtown, and its harsh winters.

Wondering if Albany, NY might be a good fit for you? Read on to find out!

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What Are The Perks Of Living In Albany, NY?

Living in Albany, NY comes with charm in spades. If your intention is to pack up the car and move to the NY state capital, here are just a few of the benefits.

Low Cost Of Living

Compared to NYC, Long Island, or Boston, Albany is far and away more affordable. Your dollar is going to stretch a lot farther here than it would in some of the more urban areas around Albany. Rent is cheaper and homes are more affordable.

Many city-dwellers choose to move to Albany for the cheaper amenities. Utilities, transportation, healthcare, and even the median home cost are all less than the national average. Plus, you’ll be able to afford more spacious living in Albany than if you were to live in a bigger city.

Life doesn’t consist of a five-block radius. In Albany, you’re so close to so many exciting places the state of New York has to offer.

Central Location

One of Albany’s major draws is its central location. With the Hudson Valley to the north and the Adirondack Mountains to the south, Albany’s ideal placement will give residents easy access to the entire state. Plus, you have the popular Finger Lakes wine region bordering Albany to the west and the Massachussts’ Berkshire Mountains to the east. Albany is, quite literally, surrounded by beautiful places to visit and explore.

The Hudson River, Mohawk River, and the Erie Canal Locks create an experience for anyone looking to spend the day in nature. Water sports abound with opportunities to go canoeing, kayaking, rowing, and even tubing. All of these locations are easily reached with just a day spent in the car.

Close To The Big Cities

New York City, Montreal, and Boston are all within a quick and easy three-hour drive. Living in Albany allows you to experience all the magic of NYC without having to deal with all the cons of tight, city living. You can spend the day catching a show on Broadway, visiting the Empire State Building, or watching the Yankees play and still sleep in your own bed at night.

There’s even an Amtrak train that runs from downtown Albany to New York CityWhile not many residents commute to these bigger metropolitan areas, there are a few that happily make the commute every day.

Check out if Warwick, NY is a good place to live.

Surrounding National Parks

Albany is lucky to also be surrounded by quite a few National Parks. If you’re into hiking, cross country skiing, boating, snowshoeing, or biking, these National Parks have something for every outdoorsman:

  • Albany Pine Bush Preserve
  • Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area
  • Central Park Rose Garden
  • Tivoli Lake Preserve

Whether you’re looking to get away for the weekend or an evening, Albany’s surrounding areas will more than deliver.

Entertainment Opportunities Galore

Despite being 150 miles away from New York City, Albany itself has a lot to offer when it comes to entertainment. While some of the surrounding areas would have you think that Albany is quite dull in comparison, nothing is further from the truth!

Albany prides itself on its culture. Midtown Albany has, in recent years, been compared to NYC’s Greenwich Village. With its eclectic mix of restaurants, boutiques, and nightclubs, this area is one of the most diverse and welcoming in Albany. Their motto is, “Come as you are, whoever you are!”

Here are just a few of the top-ranked hot spots in Albany, NY:

  • Ted’s Fish Fry
  • Albany State Capitol
  • Palace Theatre (once the 3rd largest in the world!)
  • The Albany Distilling Company

All Four Seasons

In Albany, you’re sure to get all four seasons. If you’re someone who loves the outdoors, you’re sure to appreciate spring, summer, fall, and even winter in Albany.

New York has always been great at appreciating winter, filling the season with a plethora of activities to keep you out and about despite the temperatures. Cross country skiing, downhill skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing abound during the winter months. Ice hockey is hugely popular— especially since Albany became home to their very own pro team, the Albany Devils.

During the spring and summer, you’re sure to spend quite a bit of time on the river— or rivers! There’s plenty to do outside all year round in Albany. Check out What Are The Pros And Cons Of Living In Syracuse, NY?

What Are The Cons Of Living In Albany, NY?

Every city has its downsides, and Albany is no different. Below are a few reasons that may give you pause when considering whether or not you’d like to relocate to the New York capital.

Derelict Property Management

In Albany, there seems to be a rather large dividing life between the haves and the have nots. It is quite common to be walking through a neighborhood full of gorgeous, four centuries old brownstones lovingly maintained only to turn the corner and find yourself face to face with a derelict apartment building.

The quality of housing seems to be all over the map in Albany. Real estate prices are on the rise, but the supply of high-quality housing available has a hard time keeping up. Because Albany is a fairly old city, you’re definitely going to see a lot of problems with plumbing, electricity, and rodents in apartment complexes.

Traffic Jams And Lack Of Parking

Once you’re outside the city of Albany, highway driving is easy breezy. The traffic downtown can be a headache, however. The overall infrastructure is disjointed and confusing. Drivers are often stuck at a single light for several minutes, inching forward. You’ll definitely want to check a traffic app before heading out for the evening!

Parking is also an issue in Albany. The downtown area is easily congested and it can take a few laps to find a suitable spot. The National Parks are also going to present a problem when it comes to parking. Have those quarters ready and a pair of walking shoes!

Long Winters

In Albany, you’re definitely going to experience winter with a capital W. Snowfall, on average, is around sixty inches a year. Living on the East Coast, you can fully expect to have a few days a year where getting out of your driveaway is going to be a challenge.

You’ll want to invest in a four-wheel-drive vehicle and be sure to check the weather the night before. The winters can certainly seem harsh and unmanageable if you aren’t used to living in a colder climate where winter storms are fairly common.

Related Questions?

What Is Albany, NY Known For?

Albany is known for its extensive history. There are dozens of museums in and around Albany spotlighting not only New York history, but also U.S. presidents, women’s rights, and the Industrial Age of America.

How Safe Is Albany, NY?

Albany’s crime statistics are lower than the national average when it comes to both violent and petty crime. There are certainly areas of Albany you’ll want to avoid walking alone or at night, much like it is in every other large city.

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What’s The Verdict?

With its low cost of living, ideal locale, gorgeous weather, and bustling culture, Albany might just be the right fit for you and your family. You can easily jump to NYC or Boston, The Adirondack Mountains, or the Finger Lakes from Albany. Despite its pros, you’ll definitely want to think about those cons before packing up the car. Keep in mind its somewhat iffy housing options, traffic, and harsh winters before making the leap to call Albany home.

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Paige Hanawalt
Paige Hanawalt

Paige is an elementary school librarian with a passion for writing. Her hobbies include reading an exorbitant amount of fantasy, slowly teaching herself to draw, and home decor. While she isn't the most talented artist or interior designer, what she lacks in skill she more than makes up for in enthusiasm. When she's not curled up with a book, you can certainly find her curled over the keyboard.

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