What Is Your Buffalo Story?

27 Feb

As we prepare for Buffalo Homecoming 2008 (nee Buffalo Old Home Week), I thought it would be interesting to perform a completely unscientific and anecdotal research project. Each year, I endeavor with my cohorts to celebrate Buffalo. In years past, I think we spent too much time accentuating what Buffalo was and what we hope it can be in the future. This year, it’s a celebration about what Buffalo is today.

Our event lineup will be a bit different and there will be a lot of details coming out in the next few weeks regarding organizational changes, sponsorships, registration, and a host of other issues.

Today, I want to ask you a question that someone posed to me when they discovered my involvement with Buffalo Homecoming, “Why did you leave Buffalo and why did you come back?”

I’ll get to my answers in a bit, but there are some other questions as part of this “research project” as well.

  • If you left, why did you leave?
  • Are you planning to move home or have you already taken the plunge? If so, why?
  • Did you move away and close the book on a future in Buffalo? If so, why?
  • If you are here and thinking of leaving, why?
  • If you are thinking of leaving, what has to change for you to consider staying?
  • If you never lived here before, why did you move here?

On to my Buffalo Story…
I left Buffalo in 1996 after college to make my own future. I joined the US Air Force and wandered the nation and the world. I wanted to live beyond the horizon of my youth and explore new experiences. I never really considered coming home, it was just a place to reference as where I was born.

After a decade of working and living around the country, we settled in Chicago and prepared to make it our permanent place of residence. After two years in Chicago, I was presented with an opportunity to transfer home. Why? Because my company couldn’t find anyone to do what I do locally and they knew I about the only guy in the company who would consider a move to Buffalo. We weighed our options, figured it was a unique opportunity and thought we would leave after a year or two if things didn’t work out.

In the ensuing three years, my love affair with Buffalo has been a cruel mistress. Filled with hope and excitement about pending change, getting involved with organizations that were making a difference in the community, discovering that the pace of progress would be incredibly slow, and finding myself troubled by the lack of career options in a shrinking city. It’s been a roller coaster ride and I often wonder if I made the right decision to move home. On the flip side, we bought our first home, grew closer to our families, had a child, and met dozens of people who I know will be friends for life. We’ve also grown despondent about the economic future of our hometown and often wonder if we’re “settling” by staying here. It’s conflicting and I think the schizophrenic nature of this blog over these three years has detailed that journey…

So, I stay in Buffalo because I am hopeful. It is a hope that is grounded in reality with a healthy dose of pessimism about those who would promise to deliver solutions to our troubled region. I am disdainful of those who believe we can simply wish our problems away or that the renaissance is upon us. After all, we’re a couple hundred miles drive from a renaissance and our car is burning oil and the engine is making a loud knocking sound…

I stay in Buffalo because I want my children to understand the context of their family and learn about their roots. I believe that children need proximity to their extended family and be grounded in an understanding that where you are from is a significant part of the person you become. I want to show them where I grew up and learn about life as I knew it. To see the humble beginnings of the Clan Geek and to learn many of the lessons that living in a town like this can teach.

I stay in Buffalo because I have a good job. If that job ever goes away, all of that which I described in the previous paragraphs will have to be pushed aside. See, there just isn’t a big market for senior level information system architects in this town and when openings do develop, well, the salaries are below market value and not sustainable for me. So, I’d have to scurry back to Chicago or Boston to make a living or start my own company in Buffalo which would require too much personal risk when one is supporting a young family.

So, I am a tenuous believer in Buffalo and stay while completely ignoring my potential for career growth. Am I crazy? Probably. But for some reason, this city is a part of who I am and it’s where I belong right now. I took the risk to move home and the rewards have so far outweighed the costs.

I’d love to hear your personal Buffalo story…

20 Responses to “What Is Your Buffalo Story?”

  1. jesse February 27, 2008 at 12:19 pm #

    We moved away 7 years ago because my wife didn’t like her job prospects and I could use the change in scenery. DC has been good to us, though with the housing crap now it’s going to be painful to get the hell out.

    But get out we are, with child #1 on the way and all the family back home. I’ve already accepted a job. Wife is going to telecommute for the foreseeable future. Assuming those two things work out as well as they appear, we’ll be back. I can afford season tickets for the first time!

    I disagree with the nervousness about the Buffalo job market. There doesn’t have to be a “big market” for what you do, or what you want to do. There just has to be 1. I’m taking a 25% cut to come home and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Buffalo is still super cheap compared to pretty much anywhere bigger. And I’m confident it’s hit bottom and is slowly making the turn.

  2. hank February 27, 2008 at 2:19 pm #

    Well Chris–Since you asked…
    In the winter of 1975-76, if you were to walk into the local Unemployment office–you would have found 6 lines RESERVED for GM employees, and ONE for everyone else. And when your unemployment runs out, and you’re 18 and live on your own,and there’s nobody hiring, you make the choice–become a parasite on society and go on welfare, or join the military. I took the latter route.

    In 1979–Chevrolet would hire you back if you joined the military, I believe it was in the union contract. But Gas had just gone from .50 cents a gallon to 1.10 in about 6 months. I saw heavy waves ahead for the Auto industry, and decided to stay in the Navy. In 1980 they laid off at Tonawanda everyone whose seniority date was before 1967. (I was 10 in 1967). Most of those guys were out of work for over 3 years. They lost their summer cottages, boats, motorcycles, and some their homes. They delivered pizzas, sold Tupperware, whatever they could do to hold together.

    Got married to a lady sailor who wanted to make the Navy her career.
    1997–Wife retires USN. No work in Buffalo for her (also in data systems) and not enough cash in Auto parts for me to make it up there.
    Transferred to Buffalo South instead. Wife working as Sr Report analyst, making more than Navy paid, plus retirement. I’m in Auto Parts still, making 4.00 more per hour than the top rate at the top paying parts chain in the US(NAPA).

    I’ve never ruled out the possibility of coming back. Buffalo never gets out of you. I come home once a year, and I’m usually moved to tears after driving around the city, as every year it looks worse. 300,000 people haven’t left the area because good jobs are on every bush. Government is the biggest employer, just like in Russia. But I keep hope that things will turn better.

    Reading the blogs and the online Buffalo Snooze doesn’t paint much of a rosy picture. The residents of Buffalo and WNY are the only thing left to move back for. Well, the food too.

    There are enclaves of WNY’ers all over the country waiting for things to turn around. But I just turned 51, and times running out for me. I’ve been gone for 33 years, but I still want to come back. Buffalo is still my home, NC is where I live. I’m still proud to tell people I’m from Buffalo.

  3. dave in Rocha February 27, 2008 at 2:23 pm #

    Can I answer the questions if I sub “WNY” in for “Buffalo”? Yes, I consider Rochester to be part of WNY.

    – If you left, why did you leave?
    As my screenname suggests, I haven’t left WNY.

    – If you are here and thinking of leaving, why?
    My wife is currently working on finishing her PhD in Rochester, so we’re here for the time being. We are however planning on leaving the area when she’s done. Why? Mainly to see someplace new. We both grew up close to Buffalo and came to Rochester for college, so we’re itching for something different. We’ve had siblings or family members in DC, Austin, Chicago, Bay Area, San Diego, NYC, Princeton, Atlanta and Boston, and we’ve enjoyed those places a lot when visiting (except Atlanta, screw that place). I also spent a summer co-opping in DC, and I enjoyed the “bigger city” and the “not WNY” aspects of it. If something were to happen such that we ended up not going anywhere it wouldn’t be the end of the world, but we’d really like to try out something new for a while.

    – Are you planning to move home or have you already taken the plunge? If so, why?
    Assuming that we do indeed go somewhere new upon PhD-completion, we do plan on someday moving back to WNY. We actually like our families and, despite the list above, most of them are in the area. We’ve seen how hard it is on some of our older siblings when they have kids living in other parts of the country. I also like the idea of buying a nice old house in the city for under $400k. And I hate echoing what sounds like a cliche, but Buffalo really is just “home”. Even Rochester, as similar and as close as it is to Buffalo, doesn’t have that certain “feel” to it.

    – Did you move away and close the book on a future in Buffalo? If so, why?
    Although our current plans call for a return, I guess I can’t say that it’ll happen for sure. Maybe we’ll fall in love with some other place enough to justify the distance. Assuming that we don’t, the only obstacles we foresee are, surprise, jobs. I won’t go into the specifics of what we do, but while there are DECENT chances we could both get good jobs in Buffalo, we know that we’d have a better shot in, say, DC. If the situation were to arise that the wife found a good gig in Buffalo but I couldn’t, there’s always a couple places in Rochester I could go to and we could live in Batavia or something (though that isn’t the ideal situation by any means).

    – If you never lived here before, why did you move here?

    So there you have it, mine and my wife’s “Buffalo/WNY” story. Hope it helps.

  4. Lildub February 27, 2008 at 4:36 pm #

    Dub-in-law and I were both born and raised here. We would love to stay here. The bulk of our family is here and I love having four actual seasons. Great for gardening. But with how things are looking, we are starting to think about leaving the area. Probably go to Nashville or Houston. But there would be a good chance of us coming back at some point. While Tennessee is nice only having a state income tax on certain types of incomes( not sure which but I know there is not state income tax for regular wages, think it’s only for things like capital gains and such), it’s not here. Sure they have sports teams but they will never compare to the Sabres or the Bills. And I’m sure that Dub-in-law would not be happy with an hour one way ride into work. Once the politicians and certain community groups get their heads out of their butts I’m sure things will start looking up. Till then we are going to see people leaving. When I look at Buffalo lately I keep thinking of Harry Potter.

    “…for without progress there will be stagnation and decay. There again, progress for progress’ sake must be discouraged for our tried and tested traditions often require no tinkering. A balance, then, between old and new, between permanence and change, between tradition and innovation…” – Professor Dolores Umbridge, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

  5. Jordan February 28, 2008 at 2:31 am #

    I grew up in Buffalo, went to Buffalo Public Schools, live in North Buffalo, played hockey and baseball in North Buffalo, and went on to go to UB. I decided while at UB to become a Marine Officer, and that is what I did. During college I lived near UB South, and in Allentown.

    Since getting commissioned I have live near DC for 1 year, in San Diego for 3, and in sunny Iraq for 7 months. I have considered myself to be in somewhat of an exile that entire time. San Diego has great weather, but the people are horrible, the commutes and prices are ridiculous, and no matter where you are, you will never be part of a community, its a horrible place to raise a family.

    I decided to get out of the Marine Corps and move home, but an opportunity came up where I can stay on Active Duty and work out of Buffalo, so that is what I am doing. The great thing is my pay will be the same as it was in San Diego and my expenses will cut nearly in half. My wife and I just bought a home in North Buffalo that would cost $1 million in CA (maybe a bit less these days) that is within 1.5 miles of where I, my father, grandfather, and great grandfather grew up. I love the idea of raising my kids in the same place as so many of thier family members, I belive that we are a product of where we come from, and I don’t want my children to be a product of San Diego, DC, the South, or any such place.

    The area of Buffalo I grew up in has never been in better shape in my memory (I’ was born in the early 80’s) and my other haunts of Allentown, Downtown, and the Elmwood Village have only gotten better in my life (or what I can remember of it). This all leaves me hopeful for the areas rebound. I keep track of local happenings, read the snews every day, and various websites (such as this, and the dreaded BR). I try to stay informed, and am known by my buddies as having a Buffalo obsession, maybe I’ll bring in a few visitors, who knows.

    I hope to do a few years here in the Marines, and then perhaps get out of the Corps and stay in Buffalo. I am not too worried about work, as jobs seem to be growing in the white collar world in WNY (and I am Blue Collar challenged). Hopefully I will be able to find something when the time comes.

    Anyways, I can’t wait to get home.

  6. Jack Mehoffer February 28, 2008 at 11:08 am #

    Earlier in the comment section, someone said “I disagree with the nervousness about the Buffalo job market. There doesn’t have to be a “big market” for what you do, or what you want to do. There just has to be 1. I’m taking a 25% cut to come home and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Buffalo is still super cheap compared to pretty much anywhere bigger.”

    I could not disagree with that sentiment more. The benefit of living in a bigger city is always having options. What if that one company that needs your services goes out of business? What if your boss is an abusive asshole? What if they decide to move? You are then stuck in a city that doesn’t offer you a lot of employment options.

    Also, taking a job under the national market rate for your skills and experience only hurts the efforts of people who want to move home and make good money. If you’re willing to take 25% less to move home to Buffalo, you are creating a hostile work environment for others who are not willing to take less. If a guy moves here from Boston to take a job, takes a 25% pay cut to do it, and then loses his job…when he goes to another city, he’s in a salary hole.

    I don’t live in Buffalo anymore, I left after college. I’m a SAN administrator with over 12 years of experience working in high pressure environments and make $145K per year in Pittsburgh. I shop the Buffalo job market occasionally and companies like M&T and HSBC are looking to pay half of what I currently make for a high level, mission critical position. Then they wonder why the jobs go unfilled for months on end. Pay people what they are worth!

    Pittsburgh has a similar cost of living to Buffalo and there are about 30 companies that can use my services. In Buffalo, there are maybe 5 who can use me and of those 5, maybe 1 would even consider paying me a market rate.

    When all of that changes, I’ll gladly move home. It’s simple economics. I’m not willing to sacrifice all I have worked for in order to eat better wings and live near my extended family.

  7. singam February 28, 2008 at 12:10 pm #

    After spending 29 years of my life in Buffalo, I decided it was time for a change. I grew up in the suburbs in a typical suburb family. I went to college at UB, just like many other WNYers.

    Immediately following HS, I started working for a Bank. I had to work my way through college full time. I capitalized on an opportunity to move to North Carolina when I turned 30.

    I spent two years managing national operations in 9 cities, making decent money and getting an opportunity to see the US. I enjoyed what I did, and well… never thought of returning to Buffalo.

    About this time last year, I accepted a position with a Global Bank (no not citi, or hsbc) and relocated to Singapore. Providing operational over site in 34 countries affords me the opportunity to experience cultures in all four corners of the globe.

    I would never be doing this If I had stayed in Buffalo. I credit the Charlotte economy and networking with allowing me to move to Asia. Singapore is one of the the most westernized countries in Asia, and one of the SAFEST in the world. The weather is a constant 88-92 and sunny every day.

    I’m building investment property in downtown charlotte, and come home to Buffalo every 6 months.

    Sure, when I come home I miss people, and places. I think we all tend to reminisce about where we grew up. After a few days in Buffalo I look forward to crawling into the big jet and heading back home.

    I most likely will not return to the US to reside until I’m nearly 40. I won’t hold my breath that Buffalo will improve so much in the next 8 years that I would consider moving back.

    Sometimes you need to change to achieve your goals. Professional networking doors don’t open as easily in Buffalo for some as it may in other cities.

  8. Rob February 28, 2008 at 11:52 pm #

    I’d have stayed in Buffalo, but I didn’t go to the right high school (Joe’s, Canisius, or Nichols) or the right college (Canisius) to utilize a professional network. I’m in marketing and I make a nice living in Boston, about $200K per year as a mid level exec. If I came home to work for one of the three reputable marketing companies in Buffalo, I’d make less than half of that.

    I’d rather just visit at Christmas and Easter. Maybe I’ll move home someday, but I doubt it. Buffalo has nice theaters, architecture, and food, but so does just about every other city in America.

  9. mary March 1, 2008 at 9:45 am #

    One grandfather was a linotype setter at the Courier, the other worked at Pierce Arrow. Me, born and raised in Kenmore by Irish-Catholic North Buffalonians, left after school because that’s what you do. Now moving back from the Adirondacks to help my parents, probably a temporary thing, but I can’t stop trying to picture what a life in Buffalo would be like as an adult.
    As for work, fantasies about going back to newsprint reporting (first experience was in college stringing for Riverside Review, police blotter and meetings), but those jobs are going the way of grandpas’.
    Even harder to picture is free time in Buffalo. Begin the weight gain, the slow descent into alcoholism, the drives by Ryan Miller’s house (ok, done this twice already)? I’ve outgrown the bars. Mostly. Maybe I lack imagination, but other than running in Delaware Park, watching the Sabres, Nietzsche’s seisuns, and birding with my brother and father on the river, there’s not much I look forward to doing in Buffalo. The Adirondacks have spoiled me for real winters, dark skies (when did night disappear in Buffalo?), ponds you can skate on, skiing and swimming at lunchtime. In the mountains if you leave your job you take your chances (see above “asshole boss” comment). But they offer other reasons to stay and scrape by.
    Still, Buffalo is in the heart. We’ll see.

  10. Jack's Stinging Sense of Disappointment March 1, 2008 at 10:11 am #

    In 2005, I lost my job as a web designer in NYC. I had been away from Buffalo for 10 years, recently divorced, and decided that maybe all this positive stuff I was reading online about Buffalo meant I could get in at the bottom. I moved home, rented an apartment in Elmwood Village, and decided to make a go of it back home.

    Fast forward to late 2007: Well, I won’t say that I hated Buffalo, but it certainly wasn’t the utopia that you guys were painting online. It’s not much different than when I left and I really have to wonder where all of this talk of a “renaissance” comes from. Is it all a marketing gimmick? Most of downtown is abandoned and boarded up, businesses open and close on Elmwood within one calendar year, Hertel seems like it’s trying real hard but is still kinda lame, and the suburbs are where everyone lives. I just don’t get it.

    It’s a decaying shell of a city with a few positive developments sprinkled in, but those positive developments are so small that they are not indicative of a greater sense of progress. Perhaps I should have done more research before I moved home, but everyone seemed so certain that the turnaround was happening.

    I had trouble finding work, was disappointed with the scene, and recently moved to Chicago. Buffalo will always be my hometwon, maybe I’ll move back when things are really turning around. Of course, I’m sure I’ll be smacked around for not contributing or making the turnaround happen, but I’m not cut out to be a community activist. I just want to live somewhere cool, have a good job, have a little scratch in my pockets, and go about my business. Does this make me a bad person? Probably, but only if I want to do that in Buffalo.

  11. Dirk March 3, 2008 at 12:00 am #

    I moved home to Buffalo after wandering the Earth for a decade or so. I left Buffalo in my rearview mirror and never intended to come home.

    I lost my job as a logistics manager in Orlando and decided to come back home and stay with my folks for a while. After a year living in the basement of my parents house, I rented an apartment in North Buffalo. Work was tough to find and I didn’t want to get back into my old career field. I worked as a security guard for a couple of months and then did my time as a collections agent downtown. Now, I work for the county as a clerk and tend bar at nights and on the weekend. All in all, ther ehave been some hits and misses, but I like being back here and living a quiet life. The pay, pension, and bennies for the governemtn job also are pretty solid.

  12. Kim Beldon Grant March 4, 2008 at 11:40 am #

    My husband Robert and I left Buffalo because I received a job promotion that required us to relocate to Columbus, Ohio.

    The timing was right, Robert was a stay at home “Mr. Mom” and our son was just one year old, so we picked up and went. Financially it was a great move. We bought a house twice as big and paid just about the same in real estate taxes as our Eggertsville home. We rationalized that New York had taxed us out of the state.

    That was eight long years ago. One year to the date that we uprooted our family and moved to the middle of Ohio, my position with Global Crossing was eliminated so they could go through bankruptcy. We were a one income family and poof, in an instant that one income was gone.

    So I spent the decade of my 30’s commuting home to Buffalo for every long weekend and vacation. There was a laundry list of people to see, places to go and a shopping list of essentials that had to last us until we could get home again. Incidentally, the closest Wegmans to Columbus, Ohio is in Erie, Pennsylvania.

    The minivan would be loaded up with Chef’s sauce, Bison dip, Sahlen’s hot dogs, Weber’s mustard, Pea Meal Bacon from Federal Meat Market and Rutabagas. Who would have ever imagined that they don’t sell Rutabagas in Ohio?

    At Easter, we visited the Broadway Market, to share the tradition with my son of getting pussy willows, a butter lamb and a poppy seed roll. In the fall, I loaded up on New York State apples, sponge candy and cheddar cheese! I had people in our neighborhood giving me orders for Labatt Blue and wine selections from Premier. Even though you can buy wine in the grocery stores in Ohio, it’s mostly California Chardonnay and Merlot.

    In July of 2006, I was in a car accident on the New York State Thruway going to my company’s’ biannual meeting in Rochester. There was a horrible rain storm in between Batavia and Leroy, and I hydroplaned next to an eighteen wheeler. I ended up in the median hurling 60 miles an hour and crashed into the Conrail bridge abutment.

    For years in Ohio, I had been trying to convince myself that I was ok. I was home sick for Buffalo, but I had a great job, was President of the elementary school PTA and Vice-President of our neighborhood association and yet I knew I was in the wrong place. We developed great friendships and amazing memories but Ohio never felt like home.

    After the accident I wasn’t ok. I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Three months of physical and psychotherapy and I knew it was time to make a change. I’ve always said, “If you’re not happy, you don’t get to complain about it, unless you are willing to do something to change your circumstances.”
    I had missed being by my friend Patti’s side when her father passed away, my friend Rebecca’s side when her father had a heart attack, my friend Joanne when she lost her father and then hearing all the stories of the October surprise storm and not being able to be there to help my mother in law. It was like watching the life I was supposed to be living as an observer instead of a participant.

    It was decision time.

    On April 8, 2007 we listed our house with a realtor. May 7, 2007 we both had job interviews in Buffalo. On May 14th we both had job offers. The Grant’s were moving home!

    I am forever grateful to my husband Robert for earning his MBA in Finance from Ashland University. It was because of this degree; Delaware North recruited him as a financial analyst and paved the way for our relocation back to Buffalo.

    I am also grateful to Don Hahn for introducing me to Paul Buckley at Applied Sciences Group. Every day I count my blessings that I get to be a part of the amazing work ASG does.

  13. Carpenters Son March 6, 2008 at 12:20 am #

    My ancestors came to Buffalo in the early 19th century, starting a business that lasted for 4 generations. My grandfather built houses all over WNY and his father and grandfather sold wood products that grace dozens of buildings and houses. My father saw Buffalo doomed and joined the Air Force to see the world. And we have. I’ve lived in the Far East, Europe, and half of the states east of the Mississippi. I always thought of Buffalo as home and came back to the extended family here regularly. I went to college in both Charlotte and the North Country of NY.

    After college, I moved to Buffalo in ’77, literally as the infamous blizzard melted. I had what was alleged to be a marketable computer science degree and a passionate interest in music. That’s right, I moved to Buffalo in part for the music. Back then there were progressive radio stations in Buffalo and Toronto (before commerce discovered FM) and WKBW-AM was still a legend. The classical, jazz, and rock scenes were active and world class. ‘Harvey and Corky’ rings a bell to those of a certain age: Harvey Weinstein, now of Miramax, started by promoting shows first at UB and then the Century Theater.

    So my first “computer” job paid wages that entitled me for food stamps – but there was enough competition in town that people regularly went down the street to get the raise they couldn’t get staying where they were. After the steel company folded I slid into banking and until the rug was pulled from under the S&L’s it looked like Buffalo would become a banking center.

    Of all the places I’ve lived I like the people in Buffalo best. The blindly ambitious have largely left for greener pastures. There’s a certain appreciation for qualities of life other than materialism. There’s less religious bigotry than I found further south. There’s appreciation for lifelong friendships and a sense of history – a few wisps of pride linger. There’s pride in making a living from hard work but also a sense of community based on shared hardship, difficult times and difficult weather, the well-kept secret of our flawless (if short) summers, water, ski-able hills, country living near a good-sized city.

    I wonder if I’ll be able to stay for retirement – taxes could eat up the benefit of relatively cheap housing. We continue to blindly vote in people who seem best at shooting us in the foot. We play games with Authorities and pretend as long as the ‘Indians’ are benefactors of a vice of ours it’s really OK (oh and we’ll be needing a ‘taste’, thank you). We give tax breaks/bribes to corporate entities who vaguely suggest “someone” will benefit from their business – someday, perhaps. Meanwhile we whine about taxes and a tiny cabal in Albany but vote them in again and again. Government is such a large part of our local economy that everyone is related to or knows someone getting a check from the taxpayers. Who wants to vote Uncle Fred out of a job?

    Buffalo’s the only place where I feel I have roots. The extended family is largely dispersed or deceased. But I can still see the family name on a window in a large church, see steets named after my aunts, and find some hope enough smart people remain here to build a sustainable economy. If my job is not transferred offshore to some bright young Asians, that is.

  14. Deech56 March 7, 2008 at 9:38 pm #

    * If you left, why did you leave?

    Left in 1983 to go to graduate school in Kentucky; since then have lived in suburban Philadelphia, suburban DC and now ex-urban DC. I’ve kind of specialized myself out of the Buffalo job market (with a scientific PhD and experience in biotech).

    * Are you planning to move home or have you already taken the plunge? If so, why?

    Kind of a dream by wife has. No plans in the immediate future. I have nice memories of growing up in what is now known as Elmwood Village but which was, back then, just the area with all the bars, but it seems that there are no longer grocery stores within walking distance of our old house. Even memories of the blizzard, and being stuck at work at the old Executive Hotel by the airport (do they still have the Club 747?) for 5 days.

    * Did you move away and close the book on a future in Buffalo? If so, why?

    The book is not necessarily closed, but prospects aren’t the same as the DC/Bethesda MD area.

  15. Justin March 10, 2008 at 7:44 am #

    Wow mine is way to long, I think it is 7 pages long. And that is the Readers Digest version.

  16. Doug March 12, 2008 at 4:20 am #

    Born and raised in the north towns, I left for my undergraduate education at RPI in Troy, NY (near Albany). I will be graduating in May with a dual degree in electrical engineering and economics. during my time at school I’ve had a internship in Watertown and later did a coop with AMD in Austin, TX for 7 months . Already I’ve accepted an offer to work a job that will have me in Woodstock, Long Island, London, UK and Boston over the next 3 years.

    To be honest I adore Buffalo; the people, the festivals, the general feeling of the area (oh the food too!). But it just can’t compete for skilled jobs. Thus those people leave and so do their tax dollars and the city and region die a bit more. I had job offers all over from silicon valley to Texas to DC to Boston. I even considered a good position in Cleavland. Unfortunately with out these jobs buffalo is doomed to loose thousands more like myself who get educated (many at UB) and leave not by choice but by necessity.

    If somehow startups emerged or more technical (non medical) businesses made the job market better I would be back home in a heart beat. Even after living in Austin, a city thats up and coming and full of interesting people, music, and opportunities theres always that something about buffalo and the lakes and the falls. Its hard to describe but everyone from there knows what I mean.

    I think Buffalo and the region needs to begin to work harder to utilize its resources better. These are the lakes, the international border, the university, and most of all the quality of people. Figure out how to do this…and well then you’ve got something.

  17. Martin April 17, 2008 at 11:11 am #

    I moved to Baltimore two years ago and can’t wait to move back to Buffalo. My wife has two more years of grad school and hopefully we’ll be back shortly after she graduates.

    After reading everyone’s comments, I am severely disappointed. Yes, the job market is not as promising as other cities, but do something about!! Don’t just leave and say you’ll come back when things are better. MAKE THINGS BETTER!!

  18. Jen May 20, 2008 at 3:00 pm #

    My husband and I left Buffalo about a year and a half ago because we were given an opportunity to expand a Buffalo business into the Atlanta market. We both welcomed the change, as we are both risk takers who like warm weather. “Would we miss Buffalo?” we wondered. Of course we did. However, at the time I think we reasoned that we could always move back if things in the south didn’t work out.

    The first 6 months in the Atlanta suburb we landed in were tough. I felt lonely and isolated being a stay at home mom with no friends or family around. In addition to that, we were completely out of our element, in this new place, which happens to be smack in the heart of the Bible belt. We weren’t used to te first question after introducing yourself to someone being, “What church do you go to?” In addition, we were a bit caught off guard at being offered a seemingly endless supply of sweet tea (that’s iced tea with a whole bunch of sugar in it) at every meal enjoyed in a restaurant. And booze? Well, let’s just say I cannot count the times I’ve been given a dirty look in the supermarket as I wheel my toddler around in the shopping cart (AKA buggy) filled with a 12 pack and a couple bottles of vino.

    For all of its differences, though, we genuinely are growing to like our new Southern home. As time has gone on, we have made friends and never feel at a loss for something to do or someplace to go. It seems that nearly everyone is a transplant in this town and so it’s easy to meet people and make friends. I do sometimes wish we could move back and be closer to family, mainly for the sake of our child, but that’s just not in the cards right now. See you in July, Buffalo….(when it’s hotter than hell in Atlanta and we’ll be happy to be home!)

  19. brianfending May 21, 2008 at 9:24 am #

    I left the area in the late 90’s to finish grad school in Ohio and then moved to DC to start my tech career, living in the Northern VA beltway ‘burbs until late 2001. Around the time that my (now) wife and I started thinking about a family, we considered a lot of cities but came back to family, friends, and quality of life as the key indicators. That meant Buffalo (me from NF, she from Roch) on all counts. It was sort of also right after 9/11 that we made the decision, spurred on by the whole “life is too short” mantra.

    I can’t say it’s been 100% splendid looking for work in a small market that will just never compensate me like a larger market can and would. (I often looked at job offers and said, “They tried to ‘Buffalo economy’ me! *&%$#^#$%^@!!!”) But I have had the good fortune of working for and with some great people/companies during my time here, and slowly built the experience that local employers *are* willing to pay for.

    The only regret I have about the last string of years is that I haven’t done more to change my surroundings. The whole “don’t whine if you don’t spend the time” response to complaints really resonates with me, and I’m taking more time this year in particular to join groups and get active as best I can.

    I do agree with other respondents that the whole “good things are happening! move here! we need more bodies!” sis-boom-bah isn’t enough. If you move here, you have to willing to (eventually) put in the time and contribute, and the avenues to do that are finally easier to find than ever.


  1. buffawhat.com - February 29, 2008

    Buffalo Homecoming: How I ended up here….

    As Buffalo Old Home Week Homecoming approached, BuffaloGeek is asking around to find out why the hell you’d wanna live in Buffalo, let alone come back. Here is my story.
    People ask me how I get around, seeing as I don’t own a car and stil…

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