Young People Still Long to Move to New York. They’re Just Going to Buffalo Now


Looking for the young, fabulous people ready to make their mark on the big city?

Forget Brooklyn. It’s all about Buffalo now.

At least, that’s what this City Observatory report, picked up by the New York Times, suggests. Since 2000, Buffalo has seen a 34 percent spike in the number of recent college grads moving to the Queen City. Buffalo’s growth rate for 25- to 34-year-olds came in seventh, after cities like Houston, Nashville, and Portland. Sister cool cities Baltimore and Pittsburgh have seen 32 percent and 29 percent increases, respectively.

And New York? The capital of the hip, the creative, the hungry?

This city’s college-educated 25- to 34-year-old population has increased by just 25 percent over the same amount of time.

Why do the kids love Buffalo? “That’s the story we’ve been doing for a long time,” says Colin Dabkowski, an arts reporter with the Buffalo News. He’s seen the city’s influx of young people, which started in about 2006, get accelerated by the recession. He says people choose the upstate metropolis for one big reason: It’s cheap.

“Being able to eat is more important than saying you live in Williamsburg,” Dabkowski says. “Where you can afford to have studio space and one job instead of two, you’re more likely to create something interesting…the conditions for creativity are much better here than in New York.”

But this is hardly New York City’s death rattle. The Big Apple already has the largest share of college-educated 25- to 34-year-olds in the country, which means that the 25 percent growth in the last 14 years still included a ton of people.

By 2012, Buffalo had about 15,000 more people in that youngish-smartypants demographic than it did in 2002. New York City, on the other hand, had more than 255,000 more.

“The percentage gains of other cities are calculated on a much lower base of young people, and therefore look large,” says one spokesperson for the city’s planning division in an email. “NYC is starting out with a healthy base of young people attracted to our universities, diverse economic opportunity, and cultural offerings that appeal to young people as well as many other age groups who are choosing to make NYC home.”

Anyway, New York City may be far from over. But it’s nice to know that if we ever need to plot our escape, there’ll be a cheap hipster paradise with more than enough buffalo wings for everyone — and it’ll be ready to welcome us with open arms.