Ithaca is not only a place that profoundly affects those who spend time on this campus … But Ithaca, Cornell, is also a state of mind, both a beginning and a destination for a journey characterized by a rare excitement that stirs the spirit, body and intellect.
-Elizabeth Garrett: President, Cornell University
The Best Thing About Ithaca?
A Different Kind of College Town
If you’ve heard of Ithaca, chances are it’s because of the two big schools: Ithaca College and Ivy League giant Cornell University. If you think this means raucous nights filled with rowdy collegians running around town with fake IDs, then you are mistaken.
This is an extremely family-friendly place and one of the most beautiful spots in the northeast. People take advantage of the tree-lined streets, with more than 40% living in town and walking to work, passing great restaurants and shops along the way. Located right off of Cayuga Lake, Ithaca is also a perfect place for a hike or jog, notable for the more than 150 waterfalls in and around the city.
Here's a pov on living in Ithaca from a local:
There is a large group of 20-somethings, blending into 30-somethings. You can find them! Looking into gym cultures, colleges admin related, post docs, and the service industry there are groups and very cool amazing folks. You may get a beer served by a PhD and fulbrighter who fell in love with the area or go biking with an entrepreneur who decided—after living all over the world—to open their own clothing line here. One of the best summers of my life was meeting a group like this—eclectic, brilliant transplants and locals—after moving back to this community. The group seemed to span a good 15 years, and we all sort of clicked.
The Worst Thing About Ithaca?
Living in Ithaca is expensive. As is the winter coat you’ll need if you don’t have a good one. Many people working in town commute from outside due to housing and food prices. Most who live in town are educated, liberal, affluent and opinionated. If that’s not your scene, it might be difficult to make this your home.
Here's a local talking about the housing prices:
Most areas of Upstate and especially central NY have low house prices and high taxes. Ithaca has fairly high real estate prices, much higher than the surrounding areas, AND silly high taxes. Kind of a lose lose. Look further out and you'll do much better. Some of the nicer surrounding towns actually have much lower taxes than the crappy towns and crossing county lines can make a huge difference.
Lifestyle of Ithaca
Either Somewhere Expensive or Outside the City
In town, East Hill is a family-friendly neighborhood close to great public schools, a big shopping center, and is only a 15 minute walk to Cornell if you’re moving into town to work at the school.
Cayuga Heights is a quiet residential neighborhood just outside campus, filled with larger and more expensive homes. Collegetown is, surprise surprise, primarily made up of college apartments filled with Cornell undergrads. South Hill is the neighborhood most Ithaca College folks live.
Lansing is less expensive than the neighborhoods near Cornell. It's on the border of the city and is close to a lot of shopping malls, grocery stores, and good public schools. A solid choice for families looking to live in the city but with a smaller price tag.
If you want to know what the locals do for fun and culture check out the calendar of events:
Why You Should Move Here Now?
The End (and the start) of your Odyssey
Ithaca is named for the city Odysseus seeks to get back to in The Odyssey.
You might find that this is the end of your home search odyssey as well. Anyone looking for a ridiculously walk-friendly city, with one of the best educational systems in the country, you can do no better than Ithaca.