This spring marked nine years since my husband and I relocated to upstate New York. At the time that we moved, we were childless, but looking to find a place to settle down. This is how we chose to settle here in upstate New York.
Where We Came From
Both my husband and I grew up in places that were not rural, but not quite suburban, either. He grew up in northwestern New Jersey, and I grew up in southern upstate New York. (Read how I define “upstate New York” here.) We each grew up in houses on more than an acre, and that backed up to woods. This is what felt normal to us, and played a large role in what we were looking for in a home.
At the time that we moved, we were living in Jersey City, New Jersey, which is just across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan. We moved there after living for several years in the Battery Park City neighborhood of Manhattan. We had both gone to graduate school in New York, and worked there for several years afterwards.
After three years in Battery Park City, we moved to Jersey City to save on rent, without increasing our commutes by much. It was a good move, but about fifteen months later, we were ready to buy a house. If you know anything about the cost of real estate in the New York City suburbs, you know that it’s pretty astronomical. Not only that, but our commutes would’ve increased – potentially by a lot of time – and become more expensive. (This is a great article about some of the extreme commutes people have taken on to minimize their cost-of-living, while still working in New York City.)
Rather than spend hours each day on a train, we decided to relocate outside the New York metro-area entirely. We knew we’d need to be near a city for my husband to have job opportunities, and we knew we wanted to be someplace that wasn’t too built-up, and also had some sophistication. We wanted a walkable downtown, with non-chain restaurants and shops. And of course we wanted our housing dollars to go farther.
Smallbany It Is!
We ultimately decided on Albany – or “Smallbany”, as some of our downstate friends called it – as the city around which we would center our search. When thinking about where to live, though, I was reminded of a brief stop in Saratoga Springs, many years before, on the way home from a family vacation in Maine. I was in high school at the time, but even then I loved Saratoga – the beautiful, historic homes, the walkable downtown and main street, and the small-town feeling that permeated it.
Depending on where you are in Albany, the drive can take 35-45 minutes from Saratoga, as long as you’re not driving in rush hour traffic. There’s a set of bridges that span the Mohawk River, connecting Saratoga County to Albany County, officially called the Thaddeus Kosciusko Bridge, but referred to by locals as “the Twin Bridges”. Many people warned my husband about the rush hour traffic at the Twin Bridges when we first moved to the area. This always made us chuckle and think, “You don’t know rush hour traffic until you’ve been stuck trying to enter the Holland Tunnel!”
We also researched housing prices, and were just amazed at how much more house we could get for our dollar in the Capital Region, (as the Albany area is called), even in Saratoga Springs, one of the most expensive markets in the Capital Region. And when we researched apartments to live in immediately after we moved, I became giddy at how low the rents were. I actually said, “That’s it?!?”, to a leasing agent at one complex. (My husband, who was hoping to negotiate the rent down even further, was not amused.)
Home Sweet Home
Ultimately, we opted to buy a house in the next town over from Saratoga Springs. We could get even more house for our money just outside Saratoga’s border, and most houses in Saratoga come with much less land than we were looking for. But we can be in downtown Saratoga in ten minutes, so it feels like we have the best of both worlds.
I’m a huge fan of Saratoga Springs and our town, and very happy that we’ve chosen to live and raise our daughter here.
Do you live where you grew up? If not, how did you choose where you live?