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Old 11-14-2007, 09:09 AM
 
9 posts, read 39,937 times
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Firstly, I have to comment on how pleasantly surprised I am at the quality and tone of the responses on this forum, for the most part. Kudos to all of you - this is a genuinely helpful resource.

I will be relocating to the Albany area this spring for work. I will be working in and around the hospital cluster near Holland and New Scotland ave. I am a little bit familiar with the city, as I grew up in the Catskills and my sister goes to UAlbany, so I am there from time to time. I live now in Buffalo, and am used to harsh winters, grey skies, etc. I am also no stranger to different types of living - I currently live in the Williamsville/Amherst area, but I've been all over - near South Campus, downtown, Elmwood, etc. I mostly try to keep the commute reasonable, especially in Winter.

I am seeking advice from those of you that know the Capital Region fairly well. I suppose I am the perfect example of the "young professional" - I am 23, have a good job in which I am very comfortable, am single, have no kids, and am extremely active. My age is actually fairly misleading, as I graduated from high school early and took a professional job straight out of college (never underestimate the value of networking and a good internship). I have been a professional for a little over four years now, and am well past the segment of male development that can be most accurately described as "twenty-something boyhood."

That being said, I am an extremely social person. Once again, I'm not a raging drunk, but I really do enjoy the "young professional" scene - coffee shops, mellow bars, meeting people my age, etc. I will not know anyone aside from the aforementioned sister in the area, which will be a new experience for me. I've always had high school or college friends in the area who sort of helped guide my social life.

I have more or less narrowed my choices of living down to Saratoga Springs or the Center Square neighborhood of downtown. Saratoga Springs seems gorgeous (I have never been there), and I've seen it posted on this very site that it has a social scene far superior to that of Lark, etc. I know it is pricier and am not too concerned about that (it still seems within my budget) - I am more concerned about the commute during winter to work. Center Square seems like it might be a bit too frat-ish, and the housing seems hit-or-miss. I don't mind Urban areas, but I certainly don't prefer run-down ones. I'd love to be able to walk to work, but I'd hate to feel unsafe walking home. I know Albany isn't bad crime-wise, but I have been lost before in the something-or-other hills area above downtown Albany, and it certainly is not somewhere I'd choose to frequent.

Does anyone who knows the area and social scene have any input for me? I'd like to be close to a gym or a safe area to run (I do about thirty miles/week during the summer), somewhere that I can meet and mingle with those my own age, etc. Also, I had someone tell me once "well, Center Square is pretty Gay..." as if that were a deterrent. It is most certainly not - so that feedback won't be necessary - I am straight myself but find predominantly gay areas (Allentown in Buffalo comes to mind) to be well-kept, and have a neat, artistic vibe to them. Certainlly not a downside to me. I have also heard parking in that area is atrocious - and that does concern me. I *hate* parallel parking.

Anyway, please chime in. I'm excited for my move, and just making sure I have my facts straight well in advance.

Much obliged -

jasil
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Old 11-15-2007, 04:01 AM
 
Location: Wellsville, Glurt County
2,845 posts, read 9,797,219 times
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I don't know about Center Square being a frat area. While there are plenty of UAlbany & Saint Rose students that live there, they're generally not the fratboy type at all. Most wouldn't touch it because, as you know, "Center Square is pretty gay". Outside of the college kids, it's a fairly diverse area between age, race and culture....you'll run into all types. The bars tend to cater a little more to the hipster crowd, but certainly not all of them...and there are plenty. There's coffee houses, bookstores, art galleries, record shops all in a very small area. Everything is walking distance to anything else. I dunno what housing you saw, but it's generally some of the nicest in Albany. All historic townhouses and 19th century apartment buildings well preserved with fine details. When I lived there I ran in Washington Park every night, it's gorgeous and if you don't know, it was designed by the same architects behind Central Park in Manhattan. Crime is not a big issue anywhere in the neighborhood, you can walk anywhere at any time of the day without worry....the biggest problem is parking, can be real tough to find a spot at times.

I can't tell you anything as far as Saratoga Springs vs. Center Square since I've only ever been to the one of them, but I do know it's a 2 minute commute vs. almost an hour!

Good luck!
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Old 11-15-2007, 11:28 AM
 
9 posts, read 39,937 times
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Thanks very much for the response. I don't think it was Center Square I was lost in, I am pretty sure I was in an area called Arbor Hill or something along those lines. It didn't strike me as particularly dangerous, just run down. It reminded me of parts of downtown Buffalo, especially east of Main Street.

I am very happy to hear that you were able to be out and about in that area. The pictures I have seen of CS seem gorgeous, although the buildings certainly seem to have an older charm. Running is important to me, and I'd love to be able to run in a park right near my house. I also think I've seen someplace that there is a YMCA downtown, which would be excellent.

I remain concerned about the commute time to Saratoga, but would love to live in a neat little village. I am also worried about there being people my age to mingle with, though I know there is a college in Saratoga that attracts an artsy crowd. I wonder if it is possible to rent a garage somewhere near Center Square to park my car during the evenings? As previously mentioned, I hate tricky parking situations and am deathly afraid of car vandalism - I'm very protective of my baby
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Old 11-15-2007, 02:36 PM
 
Location: On the water in Maine =)
454 posts, read 831,192 times
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Hello

I now live in Maine, but I grew up in upstate NY. I've lived in both Albany and Saratoga Springs, and I would definitely recommend Saratoga over Albany.

Albany has tried to clean up the "downtown" area, and in many ways it has worked...but the "element" still seems to be there, it's just not as noticable until you live it for awhile. The crime rate is higher than Saratoga, parking is harder to find than an honest politician, and will make you psychotic..

From how you have described yourself, Saratoga is definitely a better fit for you (IMO)...Saratoga has more of a "professional" crowd and a trendy/upbeat feel...where as (the better parts of) Albany are more "college cool" or "middle-class family friendly", and tends to cater to those crowds.

Saratoga is FULL of entertainment and activities for almost any taste. There are awesome blues and jazz clubs, fabulous restaurants, clubs, bars, cafe's, museums, great shopping, recreational sports opportunities.....and there is NOTHING like a morning jog through the "Avenue of the Pines" (seriously, look up images on google)

Of course there is the race track, and having a picnic breakfast while watching them exercise the horses is a great way to start the day

Saratoga is also home to SPAC (Saratoga Performing Arts Center), which is an amphitheatre featuring top concert performers (I've been to dozens of GREAT rock concerts there through the years), the NYC ballet, classic recording artists, and all aspects of performing arts.

Of course every place has a few gnats that nip...for Saratoga, during race-track season, there is a influx of tourists, and traffic along Union Ave leading into Broadway can take a bit longer from mid-July to mid-August. But I'd personally rather deal with that for a month, than deal with traffic after one show at the Albany Pepsi Arena...yikes! Besides, because they are fairly close to each other, you can enjoy everything Albany has to offer, and live in a more "single-friendly" city.

Now, don't get me wrong, Albany has great things as well, but as a young single professional male, you will become addicted to the "vibe" that is Saratoga Springs.

I strongly recommend you take a drive over for a weekend, and stay "in town", close to Broadway where a lot of the "action" is...maybe go when Saratoga has it's annual (Christmas) "Victorian Street Days". People dress in victorian clothing, the shops, restaurants and clubs along Broadway join in with specials, there are roaming musicians, carolers, and various "period" activites and parties....it's like stepping back in time, it's beautiful and a lot of fun!

As for winter and roads, I-87 (the "Northway"), is usually kept well, as is most main and secondary streets in Saratoga. Albany's main and secondary roads are another story, due to the parking chaos and plow operators who I SWEAR are offered a cash bonus for every car they cover with snow piles

...but overall, coming from Buffalo, driving in either area probably won't be as bad as you deal with now.
...And by the way, Saratoga really is not more pricier then the decent parts of Albany...

I hope this helped a little!
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Old 11-15-2007, 03:54 PM
 
80 posts, read 340,632 times
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As for the commute from Saratoga to Albany, it can be brutal. A lot of people do it but I don't know how they do. I work in Albany and have a coworker that lives in Clifton Park (A Saratoga County suburb about 15 - 20 miles closer to Albany than Saratoga Springs). A few weeks ago he said to me "I'm really regretting buying a house in Clifton Park". His reason was the rush hour traffic.

Last edited by Miker; 11-15-2007 at 04:07 PM..
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Old 11-16-2007, 12:39 PM
 
9 posts, read 39,937 times
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Thanks again for all the info. I am more worried about the weather on the drive than the traffic - I work odd hours and usually beat the traditional rush hour. I've heard clifton park is absolutely gorgeous, by the way.

Most of the posts I've seen on this thread really sum up the debate I've been having with myself: the potential for a tiring commute but in a neat, artsy city - or being close to work but in a more up-and-coming area. People seem very polarized on both, and it's tough as an outsider to get a good idea of what's best for me.

I really think what I will wind up doing is trying to visit both areas extensively before I have to choose for good. My employer will put me up in a hotel for a month or two to look around for housing while I decide, so I will take that opportunity to get a feel for the commute and the social scene. Unfortuantely, this will occur during the Spring, so I may not get a good chance to experience the winter commute.

The good news is that it seems neither choice is a terrible one - I just need to choose which set of pros and cons best fits my lifestyle.

I appreciate all the input, and once again thank everyone for being so helpful!
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Old 11-16-2007, 08:42 PM
 
80 posts, read 340,632 times
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Glad we could help. Your idea to spend some time in both areas is definitely the way to go.

I do have to laugh at your comment about hearing that Clifton Park is "absolutely gorgeous". Hmmm, maybe if strip malls, chain restaurants and cookie cutter subdivisions is your thing. It is nice but absolutely gorgeous just struck me as funny:-)

Good luck to you!
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Old 11-18-2007, 09:28 AM
 
Location: Old Forge, NY
585 posts, read 2,103,349 times
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I think he said Saratoga is absolutely gorgeous, not Clifton Park. I share your sentiments about CF. We lived there for a few months and hated it. It's convenient but it reminds us of the part of Colorado we hated, the malls, sprawl, suburban anonymity.

We live in Ballston Spa and the commute to Albany can be bad if you drive during the rush hour traffic. Otherwise, you can actually get to downtown Albany in about 35 to 40 minutes.

Downtown Albany isn't all that bad. The area around Lark Street is pretty cool too. Saratoga is nice but to us, it seems a little snooty and pricey. (BTW, can anyone list some affordable cool places to eat and drink that's not a sports or track themed bar?).

Troy seems to be showing some promise too. There seems to be an engineering/arts presence there. Good brewpub too.
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Old 11-20-2007, 06:49 PM
 
80 posts, read 340,632 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rumblebelly View Post
I think he said Saratoga is absolutely gorgeous, not Clifton Park. I share your sentiments about CF. We lived there for a few months and hated it. It's convenient but it reminds us of the part of Colorado we hated, the malls, sprawl, suburban anonymity.

We live in Ballston Spa and the commute to Albany can be bad if you drive during the rush hour traffic. Otherwise, you can actually get to downtown Albany in about 35 to 40 minutes.

Downtown Albany isn't all that bad. The area around Lark Street is pretty cool too. Saratoga is nice but to us, it seems a little snooty and pricey. (BTW, can anyone list some affordable cool places to eat and drink that's not a sports or track themed bar?).

Troy seems to be showing some promise too. There seems to be an engineering/arts presence there. Good brewpub too.

I don't want to seem argumentative but clearly, a couple of posts above, jasil was referring to Clifton Park as being "absolultely gorgeous".

I feel I also have to add...regarding the Saratoga scene being "snooty". I totally agree with that statement. However, I have found it is 80 to 90% trailer trash pretending they are highbrow just because they hang out in Saratoga. I always have a better time and meet a higher class of people in certain downtown Albany establishments.

Last edited by Miker; 11-20-2007 at 07:06 PM..
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Old 11-20-2007, 08:39 PM
 
2 posts, read 11,831 times
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I'm formerly from Buffalo and have lived in Albany the past 6 years for college. I would recommend living closer to downtown Albany. There are a lot of colleges (law, pharmacy, medical) so it makes for a good mix of young professional. As for commuting from Saratoga, I wouldn't do it. I relocated to Latham this past year from living near the colleges and the commute is terrible. No offense to the Capital Region, but they do not understand snow, Let's go Buffalo! Good Luck with you decision.
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