The Best Places to Live in New York

Syosett, Albany, and Country Knolls are a few of the best places to live and buy a home in New York.
Written by Claire Beaney
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Superb schooling, lower costs of living, and (more) reasonable home prices make cities like Syosett, Albany, and Buffalo some of the best places to live in
New York
New York is heralded as one of the nation's top three places to live based on its economy, quality of life, and safety. The Empire State is a beautiful state to call home, with rich cultural and entertainment scenes and many family-friendly communities. However, finding your perfect place to live amongst the New York State's 933 towns and 61 cities can be challenging. 
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What makes a good place to live? 

It can be difficult to know where to begin when looking for a place to live. After all, everything from groceries and gas prices to the weather and local activities factors into making where you live a home. Then there's personal preference: after all, an idyllic small town isn't necessarily the best place for a city slicker to settle down.
To help you out, we've gathered all the info for eight New York towns: Great Neck Gardens, Syosett, Albany, Buffalo, Geneva, Country Knolls, Clarence Center, and Chappaqua. We've put both cities and small towns on our list and kept track of the following variables for each location: 
  • Median household income
  • Median home price
  • Cost of living
  • Quality of schools 
  • Crime rates
  • Healthcare
  • Average commute times
  • Comfort Index rating (weather)
We divided the best areas to live in New York into three groups based on those metrics: the best places for families, the most affordable places, and the best places to purchase a home and truly settle down.

The best places for families to live in New York

Education, crime rates, and community life are among the most important considerations for families when shopping for a new home. When those characteristics are highlighted, two New York cities leap to the front of the pack.

Great Neck Gardens

Location: Nassau County
Population: 1,150
Median household income: $218,603
Median home price: $954,300
Great Neck
Gardens has ranked as the 10th best place to live in the U.S., and it’s New York’s top city for families. It’s home to some of the state’s best schools, including
Great Neck South High School
, which has a 97% graduation rate.
In terms of safety, Great Neck Gardens’ crime rates are 89% lower than the national average and it’s considered safer than 92% of other US cities. So even with its proximity to New York City, Great Neck Gardens is a safe haven outside the Big Apple.
The quiet peace of Great Neck Gardens is one of its biggest strengths. You can bring the family down to
Great Neck Steppingstone Park
for a day enjoying the coast or
Village Green Park
for the perfect picnic spot. There are countless other gardens, parks, and even a few
escape rooms
that make for great family fun activities!


Location: Nassau County
Population: 19,453
Median household income: $163,589
Median home price: $663,400
Another suburb of New York City,
is home to some of the best schools in the state, including
Syosett Senior High School
, one of the top 250 STEM high schools in the nation!
One major draw for families to settle in Syosett is their low crime rates. They received an A+ rank from
, with a total crime rate 69% below the national average. In Syosset, there are 0.6989 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, making it a good area for families.
There are also tons of things to do in and around Syosset with the kids—from the
Bounce! Family Entertainment Center
, to
Island Rock climbing gym
, to the nearby
Stillwell Woods Preserve
. Here there's always something for the entire family.

The most affordable places to live in New York

The cost of living is a major consideration when looking for a nice place to settle down. New York is the second-most-expensive state to live in, behind only Hawaii, so finding a town with a lower cost of living can make all the difference.
These communities were highlighted as the most affordable places to live in New York. We base affordability on two major factors: overall living costs and typical travel times (which decide fuel costs).


Location: Albany County
Population: 98,425
Median household income: $41,099
Median home price: $172,700
, New York's capital, is an epicenter for jobs in technology, healthcare, commerce, and transportation, attracting individuals worldwide to work and live. The cost of living is 94.6, far below both the national average and New York’s high average of 120.5
In Albany, car-related expenses are usually low. The average commute time is 18.6 minutes, shorter than the U.S. average of 26.4 minutes, so you won’t have to spend as much on gas every month. Car insurance expenses per month are also below the state average at $267, and those costs can drop lower thanks to
Albany has access to great healthcare thanks to Albany Medical Center and St. Peter’s Hospital, and is also home to excellent secondary schooling through the
University at Albany
Bryant & Stratton College


Location: Erie County
Population: 258,989
Median household income: $55,305
Median home price: $72,600
is among the most affordable cities in the state, so if you're looking for a cheap place to live in Upstate New York, Buffalo is the place to be. 
Families, singles, and young professionals relocating to Buffalo will be pleased to learn that the cost of living is 79.5, around 30% lower than the New York average, and housing is 50% less expensive, making Buffalo an excellent area to purchase a home in New York.
Not to mention, as the state's second-largest city, it's easy to find excellent educational opportunities, with several superb public and private schools, including the
University at Buffalo
. A commute time of 20.9 minutes also helps reduce travel-related costs in the area.


Location: Ontario County
Population: 13,136
Median household income: $59,778
Median home price: $91,000
Are you looking for a peaceful neighborhood in New York? Nestled in the Finger Lakes on the northern end of Seneca Lake is the lovely city of
. In Geneva, employment opportunities are available in higher education, industry, healthcare, and research at the
New York State Agricultural Experiment Station
Geneva’s cost of living is 81.6, with affordable housing contributing to this low average. And with an average commute time of 18.9 minutes, residents here are spending less on gas and travel expenses.
Another main contributor to Geneva's low cost of living is its relatively low car insurance rates. Drivers in Geneva pay around $2,677 annually, which is $1,332 less than the state average!
was absolutely worth it. I saved $150, which might not sound like a lot, but really helps me as a New York City resident.” —Jameson T. 

Best places to buy a house in New York

If you want to actually settle down, you need to think about your future city's housing market and climate. To pinpoint those factors, we examined's home market summary and the
BestPlaces Comfort Index

Country Knolls

Location: Saratoga Counties
Population: 2,119
Median household income: $116,875
Median home price: $288,100
Country Knolls is a densely populated suburban community located in Clifton Park. It’s chocked full of parks and trails that make for the perfect afternoon outdoors, including
North Woods Nature Preserve
and Peter Desrochers Memorial Trail.
With a more significant percentage of four- and five-bedroom homes and a buyer's market, Country Knolls is also one of the best places in New York to buy a home. As a result, finding a bargain may be easier here than in more competitive property markets.
The annual BestPlaces Comfort Index for Country Knolls is 9.1 (where 10=best), indicating that it is more comfortable in terms of climate than other communities in New York. For homeowners, this means fewer repairs and generally lower insurance premiums.

Clarence Center

Location: Erie County
Population: 2,661
Median household income: $111,310
Median home price: $404,200
Just outside of Buffalo lies
Clarence Center
, which itself is a small hamlet inside
. This is a great place to buy a house thanks to its modern housing developments on nicely spaced lots, providing the perfect balance of community and privacy. 
Clarence Center’s Comfort Index rating is 9.3, and the chance of severe weather hitting the area and destroying your home or property is relatively low.
The community's center is the more densely populated neighborhood near the intersection of Clarence Center and Goodrich Roads. This area is also known as "the four corners" or simply "the corners." Every corner has a business, including a
Clarence Center Coffee Co. & Cafe
, a bank, a daycarecenter, and a tiny cluster of
gift shops


Location: Westchester County
Population: 1,294
Median household income: $101,016
Median home price: $1,016,000
The smallest town on our list, Chappaqua, is located just outside New York City and is considered the best place to buy a home. Chappaqua is loved for its close-knit community, accessible location, and numerous things to do and see, including the ever-popular
Chappaqua Farmers Market
While Chappaqua is currently a seller's market, most properties go for slightly less than the asking price, so you have a chance to get a decent deal. It has three public schools rated good and higher by GreatSchools, which is good news for homeowners in Chappaqua, as higher quality education increases the value of homes.
Chappaqua sees more rain and snowfall than the U.S. average, but their overall Comfort Index ranking is still a solid 9.1. As well, its
FEMA Risk Index
rating sits at 11.35, below the New York average of 11.42.
The pure aesthetic draw of homes in Chappaqua makes it a great place to buy a house—with classic 20th-century colonials, farmhouses, and sprawling lots abound.

How to find affordable homeowners and car insurance in New York 

No matter where you choose to settle down and take root, the
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Jerry users save over $800+ a year on car insurance. That’s nearly one-third of the average annual cost of insurance in New York!
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