While some people understand immediately when I tell them I’m leaving Washington, DC, there are some who question what it is that pulls me to Buffalo. After all, I didn’t grow up there. I don’t have family in the area. I’m not relocating for work.
I also can’t blame the moving decision on my fiancé. Although he grew up in Buffalo — he loves the city, knows the area well, and is looking forward to living there again — I was the one who suggested we move.
Here are 10 reasons why I’m moving from Washington, DC to Buffalo:
1) Buffalo needs us. I’m using a rust belt city as my example, but this could be applied to any city in the U.S. with a declining population. Chances are if you live in a large city, it doesn’t need you. It’s already a destination in itself and it will go on just fine without your presence.
For cities that could use a population boost, newcomers matter. I fully expect to be asked by those I meet why I decided to relocate, and I’ll be happy to tell them why I choose Buffalo.
2) Opportunity. It’s easier to make a name for yourself. I’m not talking about celebrity or wanting people to look up to you; I mean being recognized as someone who wants to be involved, someone who wants to help. Paul and I are behind-the-scenes people. He’s more outwardly social than I am, but he’s also extremely modest and self-deprecating when it comes to his talents.
While writing a city-centric blog may not seem like a very behind-the-scenes thing to do, I’ve always expressed myself best through writing. I’m not nervous about publishing online; I’ve been blogging on various websites since September 2002. However, while I intend to immerse myself in Buffalo events both large and small, I’ll have to get over my nervousness about talking to new people. Every single time. It gets easier but it never fully goes away.
If I can help Buffalo by highlighting my experiences on this blog, I will feel I have made a difference.
3) Strong communities. Many organizations and small businesses are doing fantastic things to revitalize and strengthen their communities. PUSH Buffalo. Massachusetts Avenue Project. Five Points Bakery. Buffalo ReUse. The Foundry. All of these were started by people who saw a need in their community and did something about it. I think that’s pretty darn awesome.
4) You can be a self-starter. While many great initiatives exist, there’s always room for more. If you identify a need, you can act on it. Who knows? You may even be the first to try.
5) Breathtaking buildings. Buffalo is well known for its architecture. From the large structures downtown (City Hall, Guaranty Building, Liberty Building), to the Darwin Martin House, to the Richardson Olmstead Complex and Central Terminal. There’s a lot to admire.
However, when it comes to the city’s architecture, my favorite examples are the homes. There are a ton of houses in Buffalo which are over 100 years old — they’re gorgeous. They have a history and character that’s impossible to find in newer structures. I don’t know what Paul and I will buy when we’re ready to become homeowners, but I strongly suspect it will be an old home.
Yes, there are also many houses in disrepair (entire streets, entire neighborhoods), but in my mind they represent a lot of untapped possibility.
6) The obvious. By which I mean those factors I’ve already mentioned, but which are hugely important and played a significant role in our decision to move. A smaller population means less traffic and lower housing costs (more square footage for less money). While salaries may be lower, so is the general cost of living.
When I asked Paul if he had anything to add to the list, these are the four examples he came up with:
7) Lower food prices. The cost of food/alcohol in restaurants and bars tends to be lower than what we see in DC, for the same quality. You also don’t have to deal with “absurd wait times” (his words) to get into a nice place.
8) Safer (in terms of not being the site of a large-scale emergency). Buffalo is less likely to be the target of a terrorist attack. This isn’t a factor that weighs into my decision to move, but I realize some people may consider it. (Including my mother. She’s always been nervous that I live in Washington, DC and is appalled we don’t have a set plan in place in case of an emergency.)
9) Music. Buffalo is small enough that musical events are cheaper to attend, but the city is large enough to attract popular acts. (Paul gave the example of 1996 when Pearl Jam had recently released a new album. The band refused to play in venues that used Ticketmaster, so their U.S. tour consisted of only 14 shows in 12 cities — one of which was Buffalo. Paul wasn’t able to get a ticket because they sold out so quickly, but he did see them at a later date.)
10) Sports. Buffalo has professional football and hockey teams, as well as Triple-A baseball. Lower prices are a factor here as well — it will cost you less money to attend a Buffalo Bills home game than any other team in the NFL. (I’ve never been to a professional football game and Paul is a huge fan, so we definitely plan to attend a home game during the 2013 season.)
What else have I missed?