Upstate New York: the advantages of a more provincial real estate market

Aerial view over a bridge in Westchester county in a wooded area during Fall; The trees are orange and a red brick house appears in the middle of the picture.

New York State is huge in size, and mostly famous for the most iconic city in the US, the symbol of liberty and the American Dream: New York City. However, there is a lot more to New York than the Big Apple. Upstate New York consists of the entire area lying north of the New York City metropolitan area. The area is obviously a lot more rural and representative of the northeastern countryside. There are many advantages to buy a property in Upstate New York, especially if you like quiet and calm environments to recharge.

Beautiful landscapes for those who like nature

Due to its vast areas of rural lands, Upstate New York also supports a strong agricultural industry, and is notable for its maple syrup, dairy, and fruit production, as well as famous winemaking. It is split from from north to south by the the Hudson River, and is bordered on its northern and western edges by the Saint Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. Upstate New York is home to several popular tourist and recreational attractions, including the Niagara Falls, as well as the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains. Beautiful landscapes are thus all around Upstate New York, and will suit you if you are a fan of nature.

Most of Northern New York State is characterized both by agricultural and forested rural communities, and by small and medium-sized cities and their surrounding suburbs located along major transportation corridors. The real estate market in Upstate New York can vary a lot, from single-family houses to condos in the bigger cities, or villas on lake shores.

A few important cities


Buffalo is the second-largest city in New York State (after NYC), with a population of 254,290 people. It is located on the eastern end of Lake Erie, close to the Canadian border with Southern Ontario. The city has historically been an important economic center for the Western New York region, thanks first to the use of the Erie Canal, and later the implementation of several big companies headquarters in the area. The city is divided into five districts, each composed of several neighborhoods, with various recent redevelopments and the establishment of mixed-use projects. Buffalo is also home to performing arts and music facilities, including over 20 theater companies, as well as cultural institutions and famous festivals. For sports fans, Buffalo has two major professional sports teams: the Buffalo Sabres (National Hockey League) and the Buffalo Bills (National Football League). There are also over 180 parks and recreational centers in the area. The University of Buffalo is the largest public university in New York, bringing a young and active population to the city.


The city of Rochester, northeast of Buffalo, is at the core of a large metropolitan area with a population of around 1 million people, spread across six counties. It is known for its culture, in particular its music culture, multiple major festivals every year and several world-famous museums. The Rochester metro is ranked highly in terms of quality of life and is often considered to be one of the best places in the US for families. You will also be able to try some food specialties local to Rochester, like the “white hot”, a variant of the hot dog, or the mouth-watering “garbage plate”. Rochester is an enjoyable city, and offers many houses and homes in its affluent, well-educated southern suburbs.


Syracuse is the fifth-most populous city in the state, and the economic and educational hub of Central New York. Major crossroads between the Erie Canal, its branch canals and the railway network, Syracuse is home to the most renowned university campuses, as well as museums and art galleries, festivals… In Central New York, the median existing-home price for all housing types in April 2021 was $341,600, up 19.1% from April 2020 ($286,800), proving that there is still room for a growing market in the area. Syracuse is a comfortable place to live, and the metro area continues to enjoy more improvements. Convenience is a major advantage of life in the city, with a city center accessible within 20 minutes from desirable suburbs, including places like Manlius, Baldwinsville and Liverpool. Single-family detached homes are the most common housing type in Syracuse, as expected in middle-sized cities that offer more space than big megalopolis like the Big Apple. But there are also many more apartments than would be expected in a city this size, mostly thanks to the demand from students from Syracuse University.


Albany, on the west bank of the Hudson River, benefits from being New York State’s capital, meaning it is an important government city that constitutes the economic and cultural core of the Capital District with many amenities like parks, museums, culture, higher education… Albany is famous for its specific architecture, incorporating many Dutch, and later English influences. Albany hosts a relatively young population, and a strong, stable job market thanks to the Tech Valley, a marketing name for the eastern part of New York State, encompassing Albany, the Capital District, and the Hudson Valley to promote the area as a high-tech competitor to regions like the Silicon Valley. It is a fairly walkable city. Some of the best neighborhoods in Albany are Pine Hills, Campus Area, Delaware Avenue, Delmar, and many more! There are a total of 36 neighborhoods in the city, leaving plenty of room for you to find the perfect location for your home.

A strong real estate market

The real estate market is strong in Upstate New York. If we take the example of Dutchess County, located in the Mid-Hudson Region of the Hudson Valley, north of New York City, median sales prices went up 24% year-over-year, with an average sales price that went from $320,371 during the first quarter of 2020 to $418,455 during Q1 2021, a 30.6% increase.* Single-family units and condos showed that same positive trend and an optimistic perspective for the months and years to come.

*Miller Samuel Report: Q1-2021 Dutchess County, NY Sales

BARNES New York is at your disposal to help you in your real estate project to buy a property in Upstate New York, thanks to a strong team of experts to assist you in all aspects of your real estate or lifestyle ambitions.

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