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


Marcia Layton Turner

Profile written by local expert:

Marcia Layton Turner

Rochester, New York's third-largest metropolitan area, features a unique blend of history and innovation. Many of the homes and commercial buildings in downtown Rochester are original, dating back a century or more, while others are undergoing renovations to become modern lofts and workspaces. Former home to pioneers and independent thinkers like Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, Rochester has worked hard to preserve and honor its landmarks.

For decades, Rochester-area residents have opted to live in the suburbs rather than the city proper. However, with several developers now aiming to provide luxury housing downtown, the tide may be turning.

Ultimately, Rochester's biggest asset is its people. Residents are generally considered to be warmer, kinder and more welcoming than their downstate brethren. Maybe it's due to the region's family focus or maybe it's because residents spend a lot of time inside together during the long, cold winters. But whatever the reason, Rochester is largely a welcoming and friendly place. 

Rankings

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.

Rochester, New York is ranked:

#58 in Best Places to Live

#59 in Best Places to Retire

6.6

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    5.4
  • Value
    7.0
  • Job Market
    6.4
  • Quality of Life
    7.4
  • Net Migration
    5.3

Read how we rank places

Rochester, NY Quick Stats

  • 1,080,653

    Metro Population

  • $49,570

    Average Annual Salary

  • 57.1° / 39.3°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 39.9

    Median Age

  • $135,042

    Median Home Price

  • 34.3 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 4.4%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $848

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 21.3 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

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

One of the reasons many people choose to live in Rochester is its affordability. The cost of living is significantly below the national average, which is likely why families choose to move to the area and stay. The only downside is that Rochester's property taxes are among the highest in the nation.

Value Index

Index Score: 7.0 /10

How we calculate this.


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

Housing Costs 2018


Rochester
$135,042

USA
$227,025

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 Rochester, NY.

What's the weather like in Rochester, NY?

When the winter forecast calls for 12 to 18 inches of snow, some places close up shop. Not Rochester. Rochester averages nearly 90 inches of snow a year, but school is rarely called off. The summers, however, are glorious, with weather that is warm but not too hot.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)

27.0°F


Winter

45.9°F


Spring

68.8°F


Summer

51.0°F


Fall

Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

2.6 in


Winter

2.9 in


Spring

3.5 in


Summer

3.4 in


Fall

Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

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

Residents have three main sources of transportation in and around Rochester: bus, taxi or personal vehicle. Rochester does not have a subway system and is not much of a pedestrian area, so local residents rely heavily on their cars for transportation. Residents think nothing of driving 20 miles to a great restaurant or 500 yards to Wegmans for groceries.

Regional Transit Service operates extensive bus routes throughout downtown Rochester and into surrounding communities like Greece, Webster, Henrietta and Pittsford. However, the farther away from the city center you go, the more spread out the routes become.

New bike lanes are being created to keep cyclists safe and encourage green transportation. But given the harsh winters, biking is really only a weather-dependent option.

To get to Rochester, travelers can fly into the Greater Rochester International Airport, ride Amtrak or hop aboard a bus that arrives in the area's new transit center.

Commuting in Rochester, NY

Means of Transportation
Driving
89%
Above national average

Bicycling
0%
Equal to national average

Walking
3%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
2%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

21.3 minutes

5.1 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 Rochester, NY?

Thanks to its low cost of living, great schools and available jobs, Rochester is a great fit for families. About a quarter of the population is under 20 years old.

As home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology, one of the leaders in higher education for deaf students, Rochester has the nation's largest per capita population of deaf and hard of hearing people. 

Just under half of Rochester's population is religious, with around a quarter of residents identifying as Catholic.

Despite the low cost of living, Rochester's poverty rate is rather high at nearly 33 percent. 

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


About the same number of single people in Rochester as national average

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

What is there to do in Rochester, NY?

During the warmer months, outdoor festivals celebrating local artisans, different cultures or even fruit (the AppleUmpkin festival in nearby Wyoming, New York, for example) are a weekly phenomenon.

The warmer months are also prime times to bring the family to the Seabreeze amusement park, baseball games at Frontier Field and the Buffalo Bills' training camp in Pittsford, New York (about 10 miles southeast of the city). Rochesterians enjoy more than 3,500 acres of nationally recognized parks. And with Lake Ontario, many residents spend warm days out on the water sailing, boating or fishing.

During the winter, residents bundle up and head to nearby ski slopes and sledding hills.