With a quick glance, the title seems to point to another jab at Buffalo’s winter weather. I promise, I’m not dipping into some meteorological hobby. The city of Buffalo has gotten serious publicity recently as a place for young people to live, move to or remain. Drawing comparisons to Portland and Austin in their respective infantile stages, Buffalo has become a trendy place for people to look at. For some, it’s not really a surprise. For others, they might sit back and simply say “Why?”
I don’t thinks it’s easy to answer in one word or even one blog post. I think it depends on who you are. That’s a copout answer, but I really believe it to be true. Buffalo has a lot going for it, but it’s not New York or Chicago or even Portland and Austin. What we do have is something not seen or experienced in a long time – momentum. I don’t speak for anyone in particular, and certainly not for everyone, but I want to offer my perspective on what is making what some have called the “Buffalo Renaissance,” so cool.
I’ve lived here almost my entire life. I’ll admit, I cannot call Buffalo my birthplace. Born in Texas (near Austin coincidentally) I made my way to Western New York after my mom wanted to get closer to her birthplace (Amherst). Although I wasn’t born here, I know I can call Buffalo my home. Through middle school, high school and beyond, I’ve lived here and, most importantly, developed my personality here.
You’ve probably read a lot of stories in the past about expats who moved away and wish for the day they can return. Here’s one of the great changes in recent years! I’ve read and heard about people choosing to stay, actually moving back or finding a new home in this new city they don’t really know well. I fall into one of those categories. After college, I spent a quick year in St. Louis pursuing a job opportunity. Although I enjoyed my time there, and don’t have anything negative to say about the city, it just wasn’t home, and I made my way back east. I wanted to see what was out there. Maybe I gave up too quick. I’m willing to accept criticism for that. I’m not willing to accept that I moved back because I had to. I wanted to.
In recent years, I have had the privilege to develop a career, pursue new passions and begin my adult life all within the Buffalo area. To me, it’s what makes Buffalo the coolest place there is, and I think more people are catching on.
I see Buffalo as this untapped wealth of potential. It’s not just there for the rich land developer downtown or the eager medical student at Buffalo’s blossoming medical campus. I think it’s there for everyone. Here you can be who you want to be, when you want to be it. Buffalo doesn’t place many limitations on pursuit of passion. You have the opportunity to do something here, affordably. Unlike other major metropolises, costs here are cheap.
This isn’t a rant about cost of living, but I think to ignore it is a major flaw. Why not highlight one of the coolest things going in this city? I bought a house with my fiancé last December. I was 26 at the time. I know people younger than me buying multifamily houses in areas all around the city and using them to generate income and finance their mortgage. How many young adults can do that in New York, Miami or San Diego? Affordable housing and a low cost of living allows us to engage in new things, take risks and challenge ourselves.
The momentum continues to grow. Head down to Canalside, up Elmwood or over to the Medical Campus, and you’ll see parts of Buffalo left untouched for years all the sudden bursting with energy and potential. It’s not just the buildings going up. It’s the people filling them up.
Multiple breweries are opening up downtown and in other parts of Western New York. The idea fascinates me. The entrepreneurs behind Resurgence, The Big Ditch, Hamburg Brewing Company, Flying Bison and others are taking their big chances and it’s paying off for them. That’s awesome. It’s not because it’s a brewery that’s cool to me. Going after something, obtaining it and succeeding with it is the cool part. Buffalo is giving people that chance.
This momentum obviously stems from the continued growth of young professionals in the area, but I think one of the best things about Buffalo is the growth of other endeavors. If you’re an artist, a chef, an aspiring musician, actor or in search of something else, you have an opportunity here to go out and explore those desires. Sure, New York City has greater, bigger chances, but the competition is greater there and your opportunities become few and far between. Here you can actually go out and do the things you want to do without the overwhelming thought of, is this going to work? The culmination of young creative people all converging together at one time, along with the freedom to explore those outlets, is an awesome idea.
What can we all expect to come next? At this point, nothing would surprise me, and that is again, pretty cool.