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Expats to Repats: Big Apple pales in comparison to the Queen City

While Jessica Keltz had lived in Western New York off and on since 1997, it wasn’t until almost 20 years later that she realized it was where she wanted to settle.

The Bradford, Pa., native attended St. Bonaventure University for journalism and later the University at Buffalo School of Law for public interest law. She continued living in Western New York after law school, until losing her job in the recession of 2008. For the next eight years she found a home in New York City, but over time, she realized it wasn’t for her.

Burned out from living and working in the Big Apple, Keltz was looking to relocate, to somewhere she felt she could make a difference and not get lost in a crowd.

“It feels like you’re trying to fight people to participate,” said Keltz of charity events and fundraisers in New York City.

She had been working as a legal department supervisor for a Bronx-based affordable housing developer. She wanted to bring her expertise elsewhere, and that’s when she saw a job posting in the Queen City.

“The pace of life here is the pace of life I enjoy,” said Keltz.

•••

Name: Jessica Keltz

Age: 38

Current location: Buffalo (Allentown)

Previous locations: New York City; Bradford, Pa.

Love most about Buffalo: The overall quality of life improvement, living and working downtown, living near friends, feeling like you can actually make a difference here

Miss most about New York City: Some of the vegan restaurants, close friends

Jessica Keltz at the Law Office of Stephanie Adams on Grant Street. (Photo courtesy Jessica Keltz)

•••

She loved the idea of being back in Buffalo, close to family in Canandaigua and Pennsylvania, and back in the same city as her close friends. Unlike other cities, Keltz says, it’s much easier to make friends in Buffalo, and she looked forward to moving back to the City of Good Neighbors.

“I think people are extremely welcoming here,” said Keltz. “People are more generous with their time.”

So Keltz packed up her cat, Samantha, and headed to Buffalo in July 2017 to consult for Erie County.

“Back when Buffalo was not as well invested in as it is now, I still enjoyed living here,” said Keltz, “but the improved economy made it more realistic to come back and find work.”

After working with the federal Office of Disaster Assistance, she is now with the Law Office of Stephanie Adams. She's looking forward to building a practice here, specializing in landlord-tenant, housing and government matters.

Keltz lives in the city and spends her free time in Allentown, downtown and the West Side, enjoying the many bakeries, coffee shops, West Side Bazaar and new Asian restaurants.

“I like being able to live near downtown, close to my job, close to my friends,” said Keltz.

No longer lost in the crowd of a big city, Keltz said she feels like she is making an impact in Buffalo.

“There's a lot more opportunity to get involved in the community here and make a difference,” said Keltz.

Jessica Keltz at the Law Office of Stephanie Adams on Grant Street. (Photo courtesy Jessica Keltz)

And now that she’s closer to family, she is enjoying spending more time with them, while showing off the many changes the city has seen over the years.

“The thing that has changed most noticeably to me is downtown Buffalo,” said Keltz, noting how many people are out and about after the workday. “Just the experience of leaving work and strolling through downtown Buffalo is so changed.”

Keltz says she wants to stay put in Western New York. She's excited about the work she can do and her life in the Queen City.

“I hope I’m in Buffalo for good. A whole lot of things would have to change for me to leave,” said Keltz.

If you or anyone you know has a story to tell about moving back or to Buffalo, or about moving away, email alison.russo19@gmail.com.

Alison Russo grew up in the Southtowns and lives in a suburb of Kansas City with her husband, Joe, and their two children. She works as a freelance writer and public relations/marketing specialist.

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