Possible move to Albany, NY
June 20, 2007 7:04 AM   Subscribe

Visiting and possibly moving to Albany, NY My husband has a job interview in Albany, NY. We would love some advice from people who have lived there on neighborhoods and places to visit.

The location of his prospective employer is here

or if you don't want to look at the google map, it's around Washington Avenue Ext and Columbia Circle.

Can anyone suggest some good areas to live around there? We are both kind of arty fun people, so places with fun and funky non-chain stores and restaurants within a pleasant walk but still be pretty safe and within a short commute of his (prospective) new job? Ok, I know that's pretty much a pipe dream, but if someone could tell me some areas to look in that have some of these things it would help.

I don't drive, but I might start again. We are a one car family, and living in an area where you can walk around, that has sidewalks and paths, is very important to me. We prefer older houses and neighborhoods to mc mansion type places. We are hoping to stay in Albany and not go to the suburbs so he has a short commute. It doesn't look like there's any public transit that goes to his work at all. We will have a car with us when we go down for his interview in July.

He's originally from upstate NY (Binghamton) so we kind of know what to expect from upstate in general. At least we won't be too surprised!

Thank you so much for any advice or comments. If you should wish to email me instead, it's in my profile.

I did search for Albany and just got one thread about places to visit. We are more concerned with neighborhoods.
posted by Melsky to Travel & Transportation around Albany, NY (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Just a reminder: property taxes are high - so be aware when searching for a house. We tried moving to NY last year (Syracuse area) but couldn't make it happen because of the taxes - it would tack on at least $500-$600 per month on top of the mortgage payment.

That's all I have to offer and I'm sorry it's not something more fun! Best of luck!!
posted by Sassyfras at 7:18 AM on June 20, 2007

If you're looking for the arty vibe, you're going to want to stay around Lark Street, Washington Park, and Center Square; basically staying in-between Central and Madison Aves, and in-between Lake and Swan Sts.

This is basically the art-and-indie-hub of Albany, but unfortunately comes with a bit of noise from the bars in the area. If you're looking for a quieter neighborhood that is within walking distance to this area, check out Pine Hills, which is just west of the aforementioned areas, bordered roughly by Madison and New Scotland Aves, and Lake St and Manning Blvd.

There are plenty of parks in the immediate area, and you'll be in walking distance to a supermarket, two independant movie theaters (the Madison Theater on.. well... Madison, and the Spectrum 8 on Delaware Ave). Plenty of independent boutique stores on Lark St. a good selectoin of restaurants all along the neighborhood, an independent coffeehouse (The Muddy Cup), and the more eclectic performance center of the area, The Egg.

You're just a short walk from Empire State Plaza, where a lot of the state-sponsored events happen during the summer, and a little further down the road (still within reasonable walking distance, maybe about 2 miles) from the riverfront/downtown area, which has a strip of bars along Pearl Street--which is not really my thing, so I can't vouch for any of them--as well as a few of the concert venues in the area (The Palace Theater, The Capital Rep Theater, and the Times Union Center). The Riverfront Park is host to a decent amount of free entertainment during the summer, such as Alive @ 5.
posted by coryinabox at 7:23 AM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

coryinabox has it right! If you really want to live in Albany...

You also might want to look at Troy - chuck full of artsy, creative people, and a lot of interesting housing. Although it is getting a bit more expensive in the last five years or so...

The very best deals on housing right now are in Schenectady. No, I am not kidding! The city has been through some hard times, but is on its way back. Plenty of interesting places to walk downtown - a movie theater, a theater-theater (Proctors), good restaurants at every price point, some (not enough, but it is getting better) art galleries, etc. A great place to live is the Stockade neighborhood - easy walking distance to downtown, but a very small-town feel; friendly neighbors, cheap real estate, gorgeous historic houses with a lot of architectural character. And a very pleasant commute for your husband (I work right around where he will - a minute or two on 890, then Kings Road and you are there). Property taxes are high, but you make up for it because your mortgage is so low...
posted by juliewhite at 7:44 AM on June 20, 2007

I definitely agree with looking at Troy. Most people think it is the armpit of the world, but I would happily live in downtown Troy.
posted by stefnet at 8:26 AM on June 20, 2007

I used to live in East Greenbush, which at the time (mid-late 80s) was suburbia, however I suspect that it's probably a lot closer to the "action" than it once was. It sounds a little like the type of neighborhood that you're looking for -- older single-family homes, not apartments but not McMansions either, sidewalks on the streets, good schools (at least, they were good).

Anyway, not really sure what it's like now but you might want to at least take a look. It was a nice place to live 15+ years ago.

It's on the opposite side of the river from Downtown Albany (it's near Rensselaer) but getting in and out was never a problem for me. (IMO, Rensselaer has the nicer waterfront area because it wasn't ruined by shoving an Interstate through it, although they seem to be rehabbing the Albany side.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:28 AM on June 20, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks! I should have mentioned that we will be renting for at least a year and know about the property tax issues.

We will look at all the areas mentioned. Thanks for the suggestions.

My husband's father went to Rensselaer, I hadn't realized Troy was that close to Albany, though we are still hoping to be as close to his work as possible. He's had an unpleasant commute for the last several years and I'm hoping we can minimize it as much as possible in the new location. Though driving in NY state is a lot easier than driving in the Toronto area!

Thanks again everyone, these were the types of answers I really wanted.
posted by Melsky at 8:44 AM on June 20, 2007

my fiancee, who grew up in rensselaer county, contributes:

Troy, Albany, Schenectady can all be pretty decent places to live---if you have low expectations.

In Troy, try Downtown (but there has been a significant drug problem in recent years, and she's had bad experiences in that area, like the time someone she knew almost got raped outside the county courthouse at 2pm....); South Troy can be similarly dicey, but has some nice blocks; the East Side, has some big beautiful houses (but she doesn't know how expensive anymore---15 years ago, an associate professor and an untenured adjunct could buy a house, but things may have changed).

In Albany try Pine Hills (I think that's the neighborhood's name), and some of the areas in or around Lark Street. Be careful where you end up, though---she knew a kid in high school who dropped out of high school due to always smoking crack, and moved in with a bunch of crackheads in the vicinity of Lark Street. The homes and streets bordering some of the parks are very lovely; however, they are mostly the province of super-rich doctor and lawyer-types.

In general, the entire Capital District is one of those places where if you don't have a car, you're screwed. There's very little public transit, and unless you're in that one section of Albany there's nowhere in walking distance worth walking to---or safe enough to. Grocery stores and such tend to be widely-spaced and hard to get to on foot---there are no sidewalks in a lot of the small towns, or the highways that connect them, or along the strip malls where the groceries and other stores are usually located.

And in the winter, nobody shovels the sidewalks, at least in Downtown Troy. Traveling anywhere on foot typically entails repeatedly scaling giant snowdrifts.

Rensselaer County administration apparently is pretty corrupt, too---they once lost all the paperwork pertaining to her father's ownership of his house, then tried to claim it didn't exist; when he brought in his own copy, the clerk tried to steal it from him. . . .

If she were going to move back---something she has no intention of---she'd try for one of the little towns out in the country. Lark Street is the biggest cultural hub you're going to get in the area, and it's about two blocks. If you move to Downtown Albany hoping to pin your cultural experience hopes on Lark Street, especially after Toronto, you're going to be disappointed.
posted by FlyingMonkey at 3:41 PM on June 20, 2007

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