Tell me about Buffalo
June 25, 2017 6:51 PM   Subscribe

Moving to Buffalo to attend grad school at UB. I have never spent an extended amount of time in Buffalo and I have many questions, largely about apartments/neighborhoods/commutes/the two (three?) campuses. Please help.

Okay, so I know what the good neighborhoods are--Elmwood/Allentown seem to be best, but Parkside, Hertel area.... some other places seem nice? Riverside? Delaware Ave seems to be part of Elmwood village area I think? Kenmore seems nice. Uh?? I know I DON'T want to live in University Heights because from what I understand it's a lot of undergrad fraternities and I'm not feeling that. I still want to be near bars and restaurants and music and stuff, so if I live in a suburb I at least want to have access to decent nightlife. I think that rules Tonawanda out but I'm not sure. The other thing to contend with is budget: mine is low. I want to live alone. At this point, I know no one in Buffalo so I'm not willing to compromise on that.

I'd like to spend no more than 675 on a place, inluding all utilities but NOT cable and internet. I found a place in Elmwood village that's so affordable it's blowing my mind: easily under 650 for everything, AND it's a one bedroom. It's probably small. I can deal with that. I was there today and I fell in love with the Elmwood area. It's beautiful, it has so much personality and culture... it looks like a phenomenal place to live. It's also within walking distance of a grocery store and laundromat! I thought it would absolutely be too expensive for me, so to find a place that's so affordable just seems so incredibly lucky, if I can get it.

HOWEVER, I'm concerned about the distance from North Campus. I have four years of school, and the last three years will largely be spent on South campus, but it looks like I'll be spending a lot of time on North campus next year. It's across town, over 20 minutes away. It's not awful but my car is ten years old and I'm concerned about putting too much wear on it. I'm also concerned, because I'm REALLY going to try and meet people, but it's far enough that if there's a club meeting in the evening it would be really inconvenient for me to drive up. I'm guessing a lot of students live in the Elmwood area? So I can meet people there?? But I'm really not sure. Meeting people is really important to me. I don't want to make friends, then discover they live across town.

Basically my undergrad was a really small town that had one campus and was super easy to get around. This is so different it's really overwhelming me. I live in a mid-size city now, so it's not like I'm a stranger to cities, but there are just so many students and multiple campuses and so many places to live. I'm thinking I can drive to South campus, then shuttle to North campus to avoid having to park and save miles, but would that be really inconvenient?

Advice/experiences welcome. TIA.
posted by Amy93 to Travel & Transportation around Buffalo, NY (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I lived in Elmwood and would commute to North Campus. It was not bad at all and will only get better when you start going to South Campus.
posted by munchingzombie at 7:38 PM on June 25, 2017

Buffalo really isn't that spread out so driving between campuses won't be that much of a hassle, in my opinion. The traffic really is never that bad, although I'd avoid Main Street at rush hour. Doing the shuttle you describe sounds like a hassle to me -- the north campus seems to have more parking that the south campus, so I'm not sure how much easier that'd actually feel to park at the south campus and shuttle up. During the winter, driving definitely isn't fun but that's something you just have to deal with. They are very good about plowing and salting the roads, but it will be annoying anyway.

Buffalo is also very affordable so I think your budget will be fine. I'd say Elmwood and Allentown are good, or if you want to be a little more suburban, somewhere in Amherst is probably your best bet. It's a nice town and Amherst is comfortably close to the city. I have a feeling a lot of the people at grad school are themselves going to be as little spread out between the city and the suburbs that I'm not sure it'll really hold you back. You can get anywhere in Buffalo in 20 minutes or less, and I can safely say that is not the case in many cities around the country. I think you should view it as a positive.
posted by AppleTurnover at 2:38 AM on June 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Buffalo is a wonderful, mid-sized city; if you already live in one, Buffalo won't be much different. (OkayokayIGive and I are both imports, and love it here.)

I don't know much about the various transit options available between campuses, but the overall transit system is OK, as long as you aren't trying to go to far abroad.

Elmwood Village is a great area, but also VERY popular, especially in the summer. Expect a lot of people and noise, and next to no parking. (See if you can find a place with off-street parking, it's a life saver in the winter.)

Delaware & Elmwood Aves. extend past EV, and into North Buffalo, which is a different neighborhood/vibe. (It's roughly divided by the 198) I live in the Parkside/Hertel area and it's fantastic. We're having a hard time finding a better area, other than possibly the fringe of EV. Not quite as walkable as EV, but there are always a ton of buses, and still plenty walkable if you don't mind dealing with some street traffic. Plus, Delaware Park is right there, and it always has many things going on. Overall, much quieter than EV as well (plus for us, we're mid-30s and introverts), plus more likelihood of off-street parking.

Kenmore is a separate village (ie: not part of the city of Buffalo) and tends to be expensive and a little insular. Car is hit or miss.

Amherst is VERY suburban, not walkable at all, and the public transit is iffy. Plus, I feel like nothing ever happens in Amherst, you always need to go somewhere else to do anything. Car is absolutely necessary.

Rent is kinda all over the place right now, as there are some areas of gentrification going on :/. Just be prepared to move FAST. Real estate (both purchase and rental) turns over in about 2-3 weeks. Plan on signing for a place if you find one you love, because it won't be there a month later. Especially in the popular neighborhoods like EV and North Buffalo. While there are some rougher neighborhoods, there aren't really any BAD places to live in Buffalo, especially if you stick closer to the campuses. Plus there is a ton of new work going into living spaces. Depending on how soon you are moving to town, there may be brand new spaces available that aren't even on the map now.

Regardless, enjoy this great city. And yes, you can absolutely get anywhere in 20 min.

Feel free to MeMail with questions or if you need to just have a friendly (virtual) face in Buffalo.
posted by RhysPenbras at 5:22 AM on June 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a son who is a grad student at UB. He recently moved from University Heights to North Park. So far, he loves the new neighborhood. He mostly uses public transportation to get to school and work.
posted by maurice at 9:51 AM on June 26, 2017

Don't entirely rule out Buffalo west side, especially if you value diversity. I found a small 2 bedroom for $550+ last autumn, after some dead ends in Elmwood Village.
posted by ck49 at 1:53 PM on June 27, 2017

For the larger picture and future people ending up here on searches:

Amherst is VERY suburban, not walkable at all,

Mostly. We live in Amherst -- Snyder, a couple streets east of Harlem between Kensington and Main -- and can walk to Siena, San Marco, other restaurants, drug stores, a teeny Tops, etc. Likewise Williamsville village is very walkable.

However, both are more places to buy houses than rent apartments, though of course there are exceptions.

and the public transit is iffy. Plus, I feel like nothing ever happens in Amherst, you always need to go somewhere else to do anything. Car is absolutely necessary.

posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:35 PM on August 24, 2017

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