As excited as I am to be moving to Buffalo this year, there are some valid pros and cons when it comes to relocating to this new city.
#1 – Public transportation: Although not without its problems, DC has a pretty efficient Metro system. Both Paul and I use it to get to work (for my route, I pay $4.60 per day — $2.30 each way). While Buffalo has the Main Street rail line, I assume many residents don’t use it very often simply because it’s not convenient for them.
Paul and I like not having to drive to work, but we know that option might not be available once we move. We’ll definitely keep our commutes in mind when choosing a place to live.
#2 – Proximity to my family: When we move, we’ll be much farther from my family and much closer to his.
#3 – Access to a global city: Right now, Paul and I live in southwest DC, not far from the National Mall, U.S. Capitol, and other fine sights which people travel from all over the world to see. While these things aren’t enough to make us stay, we do recognize that we have access to a wide variety of things to see and do.
Paul, especially, will miss attending Washington Nationals games; the stadium is only about a mile from our place and we’ve walked there for games many times over the past few seasons. On the bright side, he’ll be able to support the Bills and Sabres on a much more regular basis than he does now, so hopefully it will all even out.
#4 – Employment: While Buffalo does have employment options, they may not be the type of jobs you’re looking for. I’m hoping this won’t be an issue for us, but I realize it’s a factor for a lot of people. As an Executive Assistant, I think it’s easier for me to find a job with a wider variety of potential employers. Paul does business development for a large law firm, so his options are a bit more specific than mine.
#1 – Traffic: Buffalonians have it much easier than people living in the DC area, which consistently ranks high on The Worst Places to Commute in America rankings. Although I take Metro to work (and tend to avoid driving during times I know traffic will be awful), I haven’t always been able to take public transportation to my workplace. It’s frustrating not knowing how long it will take you to get home from one day to another — traffic is always unpredictable.
I recently read that Buffalo is ranked #11 in the Top 100 Best Cities for Commuting, determined by “the number of commuters in their respective cities that can drive or walk to work in 15 minutes or fewer.” Now that’s what I’m talking about!
#2 – Proximity to Paul’s family: I’ve hung out with my future in-laws on multiple occasions (including hosting them twice at our place in DC last year), and I always enjoy having them around. They’re interesting conversationalists, witty, and they compliment my cooking. What’s not to like? I look forward to instituting regular visits with them once we move.
(This is me with Paul and his parents, July 2012. We’re sitting outside Station 4 restaurant in DC.)
#3 – Housing affordability: I hate that we pay almost $2000 a month for our two-bedroom apartment. It’s not a luxury building! We have a galley-style kitchen with ugly white metal doors on the cabinets. The bathroom tile is small yellow and white blocks. The sad thing is, $2000 is considered a good deal for where we live and the amount of space we have (around 850 sq ft).
When I was a teenager and looking to buy a car (this was after my dad’s hand-me-down brown Chevette died for the last time — he let me have it for free, so I couldn’t really complain), I’m pretty sure my entire budget for a used car was the same as what we pay every month for rent.
Another factor is, of course, that we’d like to own a home one day. Buying a house in DC is prohibitively expensive. Many people choose to move out of the city to the suburbs where home prices are slightly more affordable, but doing that — which means dealing with a much longer commute, and not being able to walk to things as easily as we do now — isn’t worth it to us. Home prices in Buffalo will allow us to have both.
#4 – The weather: Usually the first reaction to my news about moving is some version of, “But it snows a lot there!” Yes, Buffalo is colder and gets more snow than DC. However, it’s also not nearly as humid in the summer. And oh man, do I hate the heat. I’d rather deal with colder weather in the winter than spend another stifling summer in DC.
#5: The cost of childcare: We don’t have kids right now, but there’s a good chance we will in the next few years. DC is a very expensive place to pay for childcare, and my family doesn’t live close enough to provide a helping hand. In Buffalo, in addition to being more affordable, Paul’s parents won’t be far away. I have a good feeling they won’t mind watching their grandchild on occasion if Paul and I need a night out to ourselves.
#6: Things to do: I have an ever-expanding list of stuff I want to do, places I want to see, and events I want to attend once I move to Buffalo. I save all the information in a Google Doc and whenever I come across a new idea, I put it in there. At this point, my list is pretty lengthy.
I’ve never compiled a list like this for DC. You’d think that — given all the options of stuff to do in DC — I would have done something similar while living here, but I’ve just never been inspired to do so. I think it must baffle Paul sometimes as well, my interest in his hometown. I can’t explain it. I just feel like Buffalo is where we’re supposed to be and there are so many things I want to experience and explore.