What's it like to live in Buffalo, NY?

Paul Cumbo

Profile written by local expert:

Paul Cumbo

In the early 1900s, Buffalo was a beacon of industry; located on Lake Erie, Buffalo was a hub of transport for goods between the East Coast and the Midwest. The Great Depression sparked the slow decline of Buffalo's lofty economic status, but the region is now once again on the rise.

Today, a rapidly developing waterfront and one of the nation's most advanced medical corridors, located in the heart of downtown, are just two signs that this Rust Belt area is experiencing a renaissance. An increasing number of new businesses are benefitting from partnerships with the local government. Also, the region has seen increased development including the waterfront HarborCenter hockey center.

Buffalo has a neighborly feel to it. Residents can gather in local pubs or top-tier restaurants. Tree-lined avenues connect residents to each other, and traffic is more manageable in the region than in larger metro areas like New York City. And Buffalo is only 20 miles away from an international tourism destination: Niagara Falls. As for those long winters, there's excellent skiing less than an hour from downtown. 


U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Buffalo, New York is ranked:

#52 in Best Places to Live

#87 in Best Places to Retire




Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
  • Value
  • Job Market
  • Quality of Life
  • Net Migration

Read how we rank places

Buffalo, NY Quick Stats

  • 1,135,503

    Metro Population

  • $46,390

    Average Annual Salary

  • 56.3° / 40.2°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 40.8

    Median Age

  • $132,333

    Median Home Price

  • 40.5 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 5.2%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $738

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 21.3 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Buffalo, NY?

Buffalo's housing costs are lower than the national median, putting home ownership well within reach. And while income and property taxes are high in New York state, everyday expenses like groceries, utilities and health care costs are also below the national average.

Value Index

Index Score: 7.8 /10

How we calculate this.

Buffalo offers a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs this Year



Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Buffalo, NY.


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What's the weather like in Buffalo, NY?

Buffalo enjoys warm summers, mild springs and colorful autumns. While lake-effect snow (caused by cold air hitting the Great Lakes) does pile up, Buffalo has the municipal equipment, manpower and experience to handle it. Snowfall that might cripple other metro areas barely impacts daily life in Buffalo. 

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)









Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

3.9 in


3.5 in


3.7 in


4.0 in


Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Buffalo, NY?

While there is a reliable bus system, most Buffalonians rely on cars. The region has a basic metro rail service, but its usefulness is limited given its fairly short range and few stations. Buffalo has some very walkable neighborhoods, including the Elmwood Village, Allentown and Hertel Avenue.

The new Buffalo Niagara International Airport is 15 minutes from downtown and is serviced by eight airlines including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and OneJet Plus. Amtrak serves Buffalo, as do several charter bus companies.

Commuting in Buffalo, NY

Means of Transportation
Above national average

Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Public Transit
Equal to national average
Average Commute Time

21.3 minutes

4.8 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Buffalo, NY?

Buffalo's population is relatively young, thanks to a large number of students and millennials. The area also has a large number of families. 

Buffalo remains a diverse immigrant region. There is a de facto Little Italy, for example, in North Buffalo, and signs are printed in Gaelic and English in historically Irish South Buffalo. The metro area is religiously diverse with nearly 1,000 active congregations, though Catholicism has the strongest following.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

More single people in Buffalo than
national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Buffalo, NY?

If there's one thing that can bring Buffalo residents together, it's sports. Locals are passionate about their teams, braving snowy weather to cheer on their beloved Bills (football) and Sabres (hockey).

The metro area also has much to offer those who enjoy outdoor activities. The Holiday Valley Ski Resort sits less than an hour from downtown, while nearby Allegheny National Forest and Letchworth State Park feature hiking trails.

Residents also enjoy the area's cultural attractions, like Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin D. Martin House and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Nearby Niagara Falls also offers plenty in the way of entertainment, including casinos and shopping.

Find out more about what there is to see and do in Buffalo, NY