With a long history behind it, the city of Buffalo, New York, is experiencing new beginnings and turning itself into a preferred destination for Millennials. The city, with a population of almost 260,000 people, has a median age of about 33 years, according to US Census data. That’s significantly lower than the median age of New York State’s residents, which is almost 39 years.
In other words, Buffalo is filled with a youthful spirit – enough for it to be designated a Millennial city. But what exactly makes Buffalo so attractive for this young age group, and what should you know about the city if you’re a Millennial on the move?
1. Millennials can actually afford to own a home here
We’re all familiar with the long-standing Millennial problem of not being able to get onto the first rung of the homeowners’ ladder, but that’s not an issue in Buffalo. In 2018, Millennials took out more than half of the mortgages in Buffalo, making it the country’s top market for this group age in terms of homebuying, according to a study by the National Association of Realtors.
Affordability is the main reason why so many Millennials are purchasing homes in Buffalo. The median home value in Buffalo is slightly under $100,000, while for the entire state of New York it is almost $315,000, as per US Census Bureau data.
Buffalo is affordable in terms of rent, also. The average monthly rent for an apartment in the city was $1,079 this May, significantly less expensive than the national average of above $1,400 per month, according to Yardi Matrix data. Renting a self storage unit in Buffalo costs $104 per month for a standard 10×10 locker, slightly under the national average of $112.
2. The job market is diverse, not relying on a single sector
Like many other economic regions right now, the job market in Buffalo has felt the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The unemployment rate increased from 5% throughout the first trimester of this year to an astounding 19.2% in April 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the latest number is probably not so relevant in the long term, as it reflects the effect of the pandemic-related lockdown on the economy.
Looking beyond the current state of affairs, Buffalo’s job market is healthy, diverse and not dependent on a single sector. Education, health services, IT and financial services are well represented on the local job market, and there are also manufacturing, trade and transportation jobs available.
Some of the city’s largest employers are aerospace and defense company Moog, global financial services company M&T Bank, which is headquartered right here in Buffalo, healthcare network Keleida Health, and insurance company Geico. Tesla opened one of its photovoltaic cell factories, Tesla Giga New York, in Buffalo just a few years ago.
Additionally, Buffalo is a great place for people who prefer freelancing or doing remote work, mostly due to the affordability of the housing market, good travel connectivity, and the great internet infrastructure. In fact, the 2019 Speedtest US Mobile Performance Report by Ookla lists Buffalo as having an average Internet speed of over 30 Mbps, a figure that puts it on a more than honorable 13th place among the country’s cities.
3. The downtown area features amazing architecture and art
If there’s something Millennials like even more than avocado toast and specialty coffees, it’s a city with character, personality and a cool downtown. Buffalo is all that, a treasure trove of historical places and really great architecture.
Canalside, a master-planned neighborhood, runs through Buffalo’s downtown and it’s a nice area where people can walk, bike or simply take in the view. The promenade includes a lovely park and adjacent shops and restaurants. Live events such as concerts, food festivals and fairs take place here in the summer. During winters, a skating ring operates nearby.
In terms of architecture, Buffalo prides itself on a host of 19th century public buildings, many of which are in the process of being restored. One of the most spectacular is the Victorian-style glass conservatory built in 1894 inside the city’s 155-acre South Park.
Modern architecture is represented by a number of Frank Lloyd Wright creations. The famous American architect built several houses in the area, such as the Martin House Complex, the Graycliff Estate and the Fontana Boathouse.
The top cultural landmark in the city is the Burchfield Penney Art Center, featuring the largest collection of paintings by American artist Charles E. Burchfield. The museum has a total of 16 galleries containing artwork in various mediums.
4. There’s beautiful nature and opportunities for outdoor fun
Buffalo is located a mere 20 minutes’ drive from one of the most spectacular natural attractions in North America, the Niagara Falls. And besides living right next door to this legendary landmark, Buffalo residents have plenty of other opportunities for outdoor fun.
Times Beach Nature Preserve, located on the shores of Lake Eire and right in Buffalo’s downtown, is a great spot for bird watching, and guided tours focused on biodiversity and urban ecology are also available here. Hiking through the nearby Chestnut Ridge County Park will allow you to admire the Eternal Flame Falls, a creek waterfall that contains natural gas leaks. When they are lit, the effect is quite striking, resembling a waterfall in flames.
The Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve, with its well-kept trails, is ideal for family hikes, allowing you to appreciate the variety of flora and fauna in the area. The dramatic Zoar Valley, located a little over 30 miles from Buffalo, contains old growth forests and offers spectacular vistas of the surrounding area.
5. The food scene is hot, and there are plenty of festivals and fairs
Buffalo is a great destination for foodie Millennials. Thrillist put it on a list of 15 American cities that secretly have great culinary scenes, and for good reason. After all, it’s where the now world-famous Buffalo wings emerged, so people here do know a thing of two about food.
Buffalo also has its signature sandwich, known as beef on weck, which comprises roast beef served on a bread roll with caraway seeds. The city’s own take on pizza, the Buffalo-style pizza, is a compromise between the Chicago deep-dish pie and the New York-style pizza. Hot-dogs grilled on charcoal are another local specialty, and the best place to get one is Ted’s Hot Dogs.
The city hosts some great annual festivals, such as the Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival, the Taste of Buffalo Festival, the Great Pumpkin Festival, the Eden Corn Festival, and the Buffalo Niagara Scottish Festival. The Allentown Art Festival attracts hundreds of vendors each year, selling beautifully crafted objects, while the Lewiston Jazz Festival and the Niagara Falls Blues Festival are dedicated to music fans.
Have you moved to Buffalo recently, or are you planning to? Let us know which are your favorite things about this Millennial-friendly city in the comments.