While the idea of living in New York may make you think of skyscrapers, subway stations and the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle, there’s actually a lot more to New York than the city that never sleeps. In fact, there are many cities in New York that are downright sleepy — meaning if you’re looking to settle down, enjoy the great outdoors and raise a family, there are plenty of options available within state lines.

Buying a home is a big deal, but if you already narrowed the state you want to live in down to New York, you’re off to a great start. To make sure you settle down in the right city, we’ve taken a deep dive into the home values, ROI, walkability scores and other statistics of the 100 most populated cities in New York to discover the best places to live, work and invest in property. You can learn more about our methodology here.

And the best part? Hippo will soon offer state-of-the-art home insurance throughout New York, meaning no matter where you end up buying, we’ll have your back.

Below, we’ve highlighted the top ten best (and worst) cities to buy a home in New York. But for a more complete breakdown of some of the top cities, keep reading!

where to buy a home in New York state

Five best cities to buy a home in New York

If you want to live in an area that experiences all four seasons, has plenty of outdoor activities year-round and top-notch entertainment on practically every block, New York is a great place to buy a home. However, some cities in New York stand out from the pack when it comes to home value, cost of living and other important factors.

  • 5. Syracuse

    Birdseye view of buildings in Syracuse, New York
    Average home value $150,641
    Property value gain (over 10 years) 52.8%
    Percent of property crimes compared to the population 4.57%
    Comfort index (average of summer and winter scores) 6.35
    Cost of living (national average is 100) 101.7
    Walkability 60
    Bike score 50
    Number of dog parks 3
    Pet-friendly businesses 9
    Pet-friendly restaurants 33

    Whether you love to tear down a mountain packed with fresh powder or want to spend your weekends perusing the oldest state fair in the United States, Syracuse is the place for you. With an average home cost of just over $150K (in sixth place for the most affordable home value out of all cities studied) and a property value increase of 53% over the past ten years, you can rest assured that you’ll love settling down in the fifth most populated city in the state. Another bonus? Syracuse is extremely pet-friendly, with dozens of businesses and restaurants opening their doors to your furry friends.

  • 4. Kingston

    Birdseye view of buildings in Kingston, New York
    Average home value $343,847
    Property value gain (over 10 years) 70.22%
    Percent of property crimes compared to the population 3.06%
    Comfort index (average of summer and winter scores) 6.9
    Cost of living (national average is 100) 110.4
    Walkability 57
    Bike score 53
    Number of dog parks 1
    Pet-friendly businesses 3
    Pet-friendly restaurants 15

    At a stone’s throw away from New York City lies Kingston, a small town nestled on banks of the Hudson River. Known for its stunning landscape and storied past, Kingston was actually the first capital of New York back in 1777. With high property value gains and a downtown packed to the brim with shops, restaurants and entertainment, Kingston is a great spot for families and young professionals alike.

  • 3. Niagara Falls

    Birdseye view of buildings in Niagara Falls, New York
    Average home value $135,077
    Property value gain (over 10 years) 85.83%
    Percent of property crimes compared to the population 5.96%
    Comfort index (average of summer and winter scores) 6.45
    Cost of living (national average is 100) 100.6
    Walkability 49
    Bike score 55
    Number of dog parks 1
    Pet-friendly businesses 4
    Pet-friendly restaurants 12

    A small town with plenty of charm, Niagara Falls is the third cheapest city to buy a home in New York (out of the 100 cities studied). But there are plenty of other reasons to move there outside of the home prices. With a relatively low cost of living, plenty of natural wonders to take in and a diverse population to boot, you’ll never be bored living in Niagara Falls. It’s worth noting, though, that Niagara Falls has the highest property crime rate of all cities studied, so if you do choose to settle down here, you’ll want to make sure your home insurance covers theft.

  • 2. Rochester

    Birdseye view of buildings in Rochester, New York
    Average home value $194,665
    Property value gain (over 10 years) 54.49%
    Percent of property crimes compared to the population 4.90%
    Comfort index (average of summer and winter scores) 6.6
    Cost of living (national average is 100) 102.3
    Walkability 65
    Bike score 61
    Number of dog parks 3
    Pet-friendly businesses 21
    Pet-friendly restaurants 66

    The pandemic has changed a lot of our priorities. While some are packing up and moving to business-friendly cities to start their own venture, others may be moving to small towns with lower price tags. Luckily, Rochester offers the best of both worlds, as it was named the best place to live in the northeast post-pandemic by Business Insider and boasts an average home price of just under $200K. Need more convincing? Rochester is also home to over 65 pet-friendly restaurants, meaning you and your best friend can chow down on Rochester’s famous garbage plate any time you please.

  • 1. Buffalo

    Birdseye view of buildings in Buffalo, New York
    Average home value $195,767
    Property value gain (over 10 years) 136.97%
    Percent of property crimes compared to the population 4.91%
    Comfort index (average of summer and winter scores) 6.4
    Cost of living (national average is 100) 101.4
    Walkability 68
    Bike score 65
    Number of dog parks 4
    Pet-friendly businesses 16
    Pet-friendly restaurants 75

    Even though it’s the second-most populated city in New York, Buffalo’s main claim to fame is the fact that it’s the birthplace of the world-famous Buffalo wings. But outside of their chicken wing acclaim, there are a lot of little-known facts that make Buffalo the best place to buy a home in New York. Not only does Buffalo have an average home price of less than $200K, but it’s also seen property values soar an astronomical 137% over the past decade. In addition, it’s a pretty walkable and bike-friendly city, making getting around town a breeze — when the weather’s nice, that is.

    One downside of Buffalo is the snowfall, as the city experiences the second-highest average snowfall rate of any city in the country. However, if you’re down to cuddle up in front of the fire and love to hit the slopes, Buffalo is a perfect (and affordable) city to call home.

Think twice before buying in these three NY areas

While it’s true that every city in New York has its own unique charm, some cities are home to more pitfalls than others. If you are looking to buy a home in NY — whether it’s your first home or a vacation home — it’s best to get to know the area before buying.

  • 3. Melville

    Birdseye view of buildings in Melville, New York
    Average home value $865,132
    Property value gain (over 10 years) 31.67%
    Percent of property crimes compared to the population N/A
    Comfort index (average of summer and winter scores) 7.25
    Cost of living (national average is 100) 156.5
    Walkability 20
    Bike score 31
    Number of dog parks 1
    Pet-friendly businesses 1
    Pet-friendly restaurants 4

    Listen, we aren’t saying Melville doesn’t have its perks. With a fairly high public school rating and more temperate weather than its inland neighbors, it’s not a bad place to call home. That being said, the average price of a home in Melville is $865,132, an 135% increase over the state average of $367,731. The area also has a high cost of living and isn’t super walkable, so it might be a good idea to look elsewhere when beginning your home search.

  • 2. Harrison

    Birdseye view of buildings in Harrison, New York
    Average home value $725,632
    Property value gain (over 10 years) 30.27%
    Percent of property crimes compared to the population 0.73%
    Comfort index (average of summer and winter scores) 7
    Cost of living (national average is 100) 156.9
    Walkability 37
    Bike score 31
    Number of dog parks 1
    Pet-friendly businesses 0
    Pet-friendly restaurants 2

    Coming in at number two in our cities to skip is Harrison, due to its high home prices, cost of living and minimal ROI on most homes. Though the city has plenty to do, such as visiting The Neuberger Museum of Art, you’ll be spending a lot more on necessities in a city like this than you would in Buffalo or Rochester, for example. Plus, it’s not super pet-friendly, which can be a bummer when you’re looking to take your pup to the park after work. However, the area is known for its school system, so the high price may be worth it if you’ve got young kids in the family.

  • 1. Dix Hills

    Birdseye view of buildings in Dix Hills, New York
    Average home value $918,218
    Property value gain (over 10 years) 35.03%
    Percent of property crimes compared to the population N/A
    Comfort index (average of summer and winter scores) 7.15
    Cost of living (national average is 100) 155.5
    Walkability 12
    Bike score 25
    Number of dog parks 0
    Pet-friendly businesses 0
    Pet-friendly restaurants 1

    Unless you have a cool $1 million lying around to pick up a home in Dix Hills, it’s best to cross this off your list of potential cities to call home. Dix Hills took the second spot for the highest home prices (Garden City, NY, was number one). It also has the lowest walkability score of all cities studied, meaning you’ll definitely need to buy a car to get around, which isn’t a huge deal but it’s something to consider. In addition, these homes haven’t grown in value much over the past decade, meaning it’ll be hard to get a good ROI when you do decide to sell.

Where to move in New York if you…

When deciding where to buy a home in New York, your priorities will likely be on the price and features of your home. But there are a lot of other considerations to take into account before buying, such as how dog-friendly the area is or how walkable and bikeable the city is. Below, we break down the best cities to buy in if you never want to leave your bike — or pup — at home.

Have a dog

Best cities in New York for dog lovers

There’s no denying the joy that some dogs feel when visiting the dog park. Seeing their wagging tails, zoomies and overall excitement is enough to make dog owners smile from ear to ear. Now, imagine moving to a city where your dog sees excitement around every corner. With dog parks, pet-friendly restaurants and business aplenty, cities like New York City, Buffalo, Albany, Rochester and Syracuse are sure to keep your dog’s tail wagging for years to come.

Love to hike and bike

Best cities in New York for walking and biking

Another list with NYC at the top are the best hike-and-bike-friendly areas in New York. Whether you don’t want to pay for parking or you prefer to get your exercise while commuting to work, all these places are perfect for your lifestyle. With plenty of sidewalks, bike lanes and business around every corner, you’re sure to love breaking a sweat in NYC, Lynbrook, Ithaca, Buffalo and Hempstead.

Want to get the most out of your home purchase

most affordable places to buy a home in New York state

Are you surprised that the top two cities are also on our best cities overall list? You shouldn’t be! After all, nothing’s more important than the price of your home and how your investment will fare over time. All five of these cities have low home prices and have seen huge gains in property value over the past decade, meaning you’re likely to get all your money back (and more) when selling down the line. If Niagara Falls and Buffalo aren’t feeling like a great match, consider Utica, Rome or Lockport to ensure you buy a home that’ll be valuable long term.

No matter where you buy a home — you’ll need home insurance. After all, you’ll be spending a pretty penny on this property, so it deserves top of the line protection. Give us a call or get a quote online to learn more about our home insurance policies with a modern twist, helping you protect your dream home from Montauk to Buffalo and everywhere in between.

Methodology: This study was conducted throughout September and October 2021. To identify the top cities to buy a home in New York, the team at Hippo pulled the following data sets for the 100 most populous cities in the state of New York:

  • Average cost of a home (Source: Zillow) | Weight: .21
  • Property value gain over 10 years (Source: Zillow) | Weight: .13
  • Comfort index — average of summer and winter scores (Source: BestPlaces) | Weight: .07
  • Cost of living (Source: BestPlaces) | Weight: .10
  • Property crime percentage compared to population (Source: FBI) | Weight: .15
  • Walkability score (Source: Walk Score) | Weight: .13
  • Bike score (Source: Walk Score) | Weight: .11
  • Number of dog parks (Source: BringFido) | Weight: .05
  • Number of pet-friendly businesses (Source: BringFido) | Weight: .02
  • Number of pet-friendly restaurants (Source: BringFido) | Weight: .03

We then assigned a weight out of 100 to every data set, based on the most important factors for those shopping for a home in New York. Each city was then given a score based on these factors and assigned an overall ranking. The cities with the highest scores were deemed the best cities for home purchases.

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