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What is one commodity that seems to be used all of the time but is somehow difficult to obtain? You guessed it: money. For those starting their careers or those thinking about changing careers, one worry is probably on your mind a lot, which is how will I afford the monthly expenses.
So how do you make your income last longer? Live in a cheaper place. Easy as that.
When you think of New York, you may not think of affordable. But that is likely because you are thinking of New York City, the city that never sleeps, not New York State, a place filled with mountains and cute towns and suburbia. New York State has many assets outside of the Big Apple. Ever heard of Niagara Falls? Yeah, that is in the same state as New York City.
If you want to live in Manhattan, you will probably find it difficult to find even a cheap broom closet to live in. However, if you live in suburb and commute in, you may find that your expenses plummet greatly. So the great secret to saving money is that it's not so much about where you work that matters, but rather where you live.
While most of the cheapest cities are located in Upstate New York, there are definitely some options near all the hubbub of NYC. But what were the cheapest of the cheap?
The 10 Most Affordable Places To Live In New York
We looked at the 166 largest cities in New York and ranked them based on several factors of "affordability." That is, how far does your income go in each city, in terms of rent and housing prices?
What place is the cheapest place to live in new york? The big winner is Ilion, a city determined to keep their winning spot. Ilion is a city near Seneca Falls and en route to Niagara Falls. Who wouldn't like being able to visit another country on the weekends or swim in some beautiful lakes?
But if that doesn't seem interesting to you, New York has many amazing places to offer, including other top affordable cities Ilion and Hornell. Interested to see how your favorite city in New York stacked up? Read on for more information about our top-ranked cities and our methodology.
And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about New York and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In New York For 2020
Ilion thinks that their NY pizza is the best, we just think they're the best because they are our most affordable city in New York for 2020. Ilion residents are all about celebrating one of their most notable people: Billy the Kidd. We think they should also be celebrating the fact that they're our second most affordable city in terms of home price to income ratio.
Once Great Lakes region manufacturing powerhouse, Ilion's residents now find themselves working in healthcare, logistics, and engineering to offset their cost of living. So do yourself and your wallet a favor, and get-a-movin' to this affordable Herkimer County city.
The median household income in Ilion comes in at $48,963 and the median home value is $79,600 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 8.7%.
Head northeast from Hornell, towards the Canadian border, and you will run right into our second most affordable city in New York: Ogdensburg.
This city in St. Lawrence County is the third most affordable city in terms of home to income ratio and it is the 38th cheapest for rent to income ratio. Up two spots from last year, we're pretty sure the residents in border city know a good deal. More importantly, those numbers scream buy, don't rent.
We're pretty sure this is also why Ogdensburg is one of HomeSnacks' best places to retire in New York for 2020. Either way, seems like they're keeping their townies happy and their city affordable.
The median household income in Ogdensburg comes in at $42,144 and the median home value is $69,900 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 6.6%.
With the economy doing so well, people are moving now more than ever. Might we suggest New York's third most affordable city for 2020: Olean?
O-town scored an 8/10 for education on our snackability scale. And since a good education helps you make money, and money makes people happy, we're pretty sure you'll want to call the affordable Olean home.
According to our data, they should be New York's poster city for affordability, housing, and safety. And you know what else Olean's residents know? Apparently a good deal when they see it, because they are the fourth most affordable city for home price to income ratio.
The median household income in Olean comes in at $42,024 and the median home value is $72,900 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 6.3%.
If you give us a New York minute, we'll tell you why Hornell is the Empire State's fourth most affordable city for 2020. Maple City is first when it comes to home price to income ratio. We're not surprised it's so affordable. And we definitely think it's because they have such a strong economy.
Jobs in manufacturing, healthcare, and waste management support Hornell's economy. H-Tizzle's $41,861/year median income provides stability, affordability, and some extra cheddar for a Lake Ontario beach trip or two. And if you're looking for a side hustle to make Hornell even more affordable, we hear they're always hiring dealers at the local casino.
The median household income in Hornell comes in at $41,861 and the median home value is $66,900 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 8.4%.
Wouldn't be cool if Kenmore, New York is where Kenmore appliances were produced? Well it's not, but it is our fifth most affordable city in New York for 2020. Located just South of Niagara Falls, Kenmore had one of our highest snackability scores with an emphasis on jobs and education. Not to mention, Kenmore is sixth cheapest in terms of rent to income ratio. We suggest you rent while you get to know what affordable Kenmore neighborhood home you want to call home.
So if you are looking for an affordable New York city with safe, small town charm and smart people, hurry on over to Kenmore
The median household income in Kenmore comes in at $65,197 and the median home value is $126,600 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 3.0%.
Just North of Kenmore, also along the Erie Canal, is our sixth most affordable New York city for 2020: North Tonawanda. North Tonawanda is nothing like New York, NY. This city in Niagara County has great affordable neighborhoods, nice people, and it's safe.
The Jewel of Niagara County is home to one of the greatest percentage of young folks (25 to 44) concentrated into one city on our list. And if we've learned anything about Millenials, they know a good deal. North Tonawanda has a lot of great amenities like the Herschell Carousel, the Gateway Harbor Park, and lots of great biking trails. North Tonawanda is a staycation waiting to happen.
The median household income in North Tonawanda comes in at $56,737 and the median home value is $117,800 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.6%.
Located just south of the Canadian border, Massena is the seventh cheapest place to live in New York. Home prices in Massena are the 12.0 lowest in the state, about eight times lower than the statewide average. The median home price in Massena is $78,200 and the median income is $43,821, giving the town the sixth best income to home price ratio in the state. Rent is a little steeper in Massena, but if you keep your hobbies to free outdoorsy things like hiking at Robert Moses State Park, you should still have plenty left for your savings.
The median household income in Massena comes in at $43,821 and the median home value is $78,200 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 10.1%.
New York may have the highest rent in America, but you wouldn't know it in Albion. The median rent in Albion is only $658; I bet folks from the Big Apple would drool over that price. The median home price is also cheap at $77,900, and with Albion residents earning a median income of $40,162, the village has the 11th best ratio of income to home price in New York.
Albion is located about 30 miles west/northwest of the city of Rochester.
The median household income in Albion comes in at $40,162 and the median home value is $77,900 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 4.8%.
Located about 45 minutes northwest of Albany, Johnstown is the ninth most affordable place to live in New York. At $89,100, Johnstown is a bit pricier than some of the other cities, but folks in Johnstown also earn a median income of $50,027, so it's not so bad. In fact, it's the fifth lowest home price to income ratio in the state. If you decide to move to Johnstown, you'll be wondering what people are talking about when they say that New York is second most expensive state in the country.
The median household income in Johnstown comes in at $50,027 and the median home value is $89,100 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.0%.
Wrapping up our list of most affordable places in New York is Tonawanda, a city in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metro area. While affording a home in Tonawanda can be a bit harder than some other places on this list, it really shines with a median rent of $710. Combine that with folks earning a median income of $49,605, and you've got an impressive income to rent ratio.
Use all that extra money to have a ball at Tonawanda's Canal Fest, an eight-day, event-filled annual summer festival.
The median household income in Tonawanda comes in at $49,605 and the median home value is $104,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 3.8%.
How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Empire State For 2020
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:
- How much do money do I make?
- How much do I have spend to live there?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.
For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it's actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.
With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 around incomes and costs. They are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
- Median Home Price
We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).
You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in New York to figure out which is the least expensive.
What you are left with is a "Cost of Living Index" by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.
So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 166 places in New York that have more than 5,000 people.
The place with the lowest cost of living in New York according to the data is Ilion. You can download the data here.
There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. New York Cheapskate
If you're looking at the cost of living numbers in New York, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in New York for 2020.
Here's a look at the most expensive cities in New York according to the data:
- Sleepy Hollow
For more New York reading, check out:
The Most Affordable Places To Live In New York
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