Looking for a city with a low cost of living, where a $60,000 paycheck allows you to live like a king? Look no further than Buffalo. This was a sentiment that I was trying to relay to a Boston couple just yesterday. A longtime friend told me that his best best buddy was looking to possibly move to Buffalo, so I readily agreed to grab coffee with him, his wife and their young son, to discuss the city. Of course they had heard all of the preconceived notions about why ‘not’ to move to Buffalo, but they were open minded enough to not believe the hype. So we met up over at Five Points Bakery, which is where I take all out-of-towners who are contemplating a move to Buffalo.
To my surprise and good fortune, when I walked in, the couple’s young son was happily playing with a number of other youngsters in the corner, where there is a designated play spot for children (brilliant!). I hadn’t even thought of that hook. While the youngster played, we settled into coffee and toast (from the toast bar) in the far corner. The first thing that they told me was that they had been out house hunting and were shocked at not only the incredible housing stock, but the bidding wars that ensued. The property values were much more than they had anticipated, which I felt was actually a big boost for the city’s image in their eyes.
While talking about the potential difficulties of finding a house in the city (in areas that they found desirable), the husband mentioned that he was willing to extend the amount of money that they were planning on spending in order to secure a house, if and when the time came. First he needed to make sure that the job that he was being recruited for was right for him, and vice versa. When he told me that he would be willing to stretch his wallet to purchase the right house, I told him that in the end, he would recoup that money because, for the most part, living in Buffalo is cost effective (if you want it to be).
If you pick the right neighborhood, and you’re into walking and biking, getting around this city is a breeze (and cheap). There are a ton of things to do that are virtually free, and when there is a cost associated to something, it’s usually pretty affordable – sports games, theater, boating, restaurants (depending on where you go), etc.
I also mentioned that while most Buffalonians have a car, it doesn’t mean that you will ever get stuck in traffic. A couple of my friends recently moved home from DC, and they told me that one of the main reasons that they are so happy to be home is the absence of traffic jams that they were constantly stuck in. Once again, while our public transportation system is lacking (for now), it’s still easy and affordable to get around the city if you live anywhere near where you work.
Getting back to the family that I was meeting up with, before I knew it, the mother was exchanging contact information with the other parents at the café. That alone was the best sight to see, because I had just finished telling the father that Buffalo is such a warm and welcoming place – and it’s the type of city where you can walk into a party and find CEOs, artists, and everyone in-between, all palling around because of their insatiable appetite to make Buffalo a great city once again.
To my surprise, as I was about to take the couple over to Connecticut Street to have a late lunch at Lait Cru Brasserie, the mother opted to stick with with one of the women that she had just met. I asked where they were all going, and it turns out that the new friend worked at a farm around the corner, and they were all going to see the place. I asked if ‘the farm’ happened to be the $2 million MAP Farmhouse that was currently underway, and the young lady confirmed my guess.
As I walked back home, I thought about everything that had just happened and thanked my lucky stars that, once again, Five Points Bakery had come through. I also thought about the lack of housing in Buffalo, and how unfortunate it is that we can’t accommodate everyone that is looking to move into the city. We need to build more housing, and that is going to come in the form of converting empty lots downtown into residential. That would help to free up some of the housing stock, as some home owners would surely opt to try out the condo life. I also thought back to our conversation about cost of living in Buffalo, which is quite funny because no sooner did I get home that a friend on the West Coast sent me note with the following attachment:
Now how is that for perfect timing?