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Old 05-05-2011, 12:43 PM
 
Location: New Jersey
964 posts, read 1,695,777 times
Reputation: 692
Post Vacation and possible Relocation -- What's 'the draw' in Western New York?

Yesterday I got my pink slip. My job comes to an end on June 30.

My wife and I are fiftyish and relative empty-nesters. We currently live in Northern New Jersey, as we have all of our lives. We’ve often struggled with the overly high cost and excessively rapid pace of living. Though there are things about our home state that we absolutely love, my beloved and I think it’s time to consider alternatives.

So… having chosen a half-dozen states to research, we would like to spend seven to ten days in each. We’ll keep one eye on the things vacationers enjoy and the other eye looking for relocation opportunities.

One place we’d like to check out is Western New York. We’ve obtained the official travelers guide but we’d like to ask fellow city-data people for advice. (Yes, I’ve tried some searches in this forum and read the 'sticky' at the top of the topics page, but I haven’t been too successful.) Please keep in mind that we’re watching the budget, within reason of course.
  • We like hiking (any) and biking (flat or moderate - rail trails).
  • We enjoy the arts – writing and music primarily.
  • We love landscape scenery.
  • We like being near water – lakes, bays, or oceans, it doesn’t matter.
  • We’re not big on winter sports.
  • We’re overly hospitable. (I once owned a successful bed and breakfast and would consider doing so again given the right opportunity.)
  • We’re college educated.
  • On the whole, we’re more open-minded than average.
  • We’re not rich. We’re not poor. We’re solidly middle class, and not retirees collecting a pension.
We can make our own work to support ourselves so we won’t need ‘jobs.’ However, I am a NJ certified teacher (k-12) and would relocate for the right opportunity to teach at the college level. (I have taught college abroad.)

We know about New York's detractive personal tax structure. (We'll feel right at home coming from a mega-tax state!) We know about climate and various other demographics gleaned from City-Data.

What do you think about the following:
  • Where in Western New York should we spend our time?
  • What would you recommend that we see as tourists?
  • What should we consider as your potential new neighbors?
  • Any ‘don’t miss’ spots?
  • Any ‘tourist traps’ to avoid?
  • What question did I fail to ask that you think is important?
Some of these questions are very open-ended and may seem 'rudderless.' That's because we are a bit rudderless at the moment, looking for direction. For those who choose to reply, thank you for your help.
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Old 05-05-2011, 12:53 PM
 
Location: WNY
828 posts, read 977,959 times
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I think your plan to spend some time in each area is a great one.

The area has you more then covered for the hiking , biking, landscape scenery and water
There are really long walking trails along the old erie canal. Erie Canal Hike, Bike Trail Map - NYcanal (http://www.nycanal.com/recreation/hikebikemain.html - broken link)
Winter can be long so you can either do some winter hiking or get exercise indoors.

I moved here from Central Jersey mostly based on cost of living. My car insurance in NJ was 1400 a year. I now pay 600 a year. Some locally feel property taxes are high but they do vary quite a bit from town to town and are likely lower then what you've seen in NJ. You can check some real estate listings many will show the property tax.

Tourist traps? The canadian side of the falls could be considered one but it is something you should see while here. The view of the american falls is much better over on that side.

If you like waterways you should check out the finger lakes area while here.
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Old 05-05-2011, 01:27 PM
 
744 posts, read 961,866 times
Reputation: 511
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaverickDD View Post
We enjoy the arts – writing and music primarily..
Check out June in Buffalo a major music event of the Northeast, taking place annually since the 1960's. Also check out Just Buffalo. An hour to the south is the ever vibrant Chautauqua Institution

June in Buffalo
http://www.music.buffalo.edu/juneinbuffalo/

Just Buffalo
http://www.justbuffalo.org/

Chautaqua
http://www.ciweb.org/

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaverickDD View Post
We love landscape scenery..
Escarpment and water to the north, hills and valleys to the south, flat in between

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaverickDD View Post
We like being near water – lakes, bays, or oceans, it doesn’t matter..
Two rivers, a canal and two of the Great Lakes - 'nuff said.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaverickDD View Post
We’re not big on winter sports..
Me neither that's why I chose to live north of the city instead of to the south of it

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaverickDD View Post
We’re overly hospitable. (I once owned a successful bed and breakfast and would consider doing so again given the right opportunity.).
There are many B&B's as well as boutique hotels such as the Mansion on Delaware in Buffalo or Barton Hill in Lewiston

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaverickDD View Post
We’re college educated..
WNY ranks slightly above the national average in percentage of residents with a college degree or advanced college degree.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MaverickDD View Post
We can make our own work to support ourselves so we won’t need ‘jobs.’ However, I am a NJ certified teacher (k-12) and would relocate for the right opportunity to teach at the college level. (I have taught college abroad.)
The Buffalo area is home to 18 colleges and university's of varying size and scope.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MaverickDD View Post
What do you think about the following: Where in Western New York should we spend our time?.
The City of Buffalo, Lewiston, East Aurora, Ellicottville, and the suburbs

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaverickDD View Post
What would you recommend that we see as tourists?
Top of Buffalo City Hall observation deck, Greycliff or the Martin House (both designed by F.L. Wright), Erie Basin Marina, Maid of the Mist and the Niagara Falls (NY) State Park, Artpark in Lewiston, The Wilcox Mansion (where TR was sworn in as President), Elmwood Avenue, a boat ride along the Erie Canal (Lockport Canal Cruise), the Miss Buffalo cruise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaverickDD View Post
What should we consider as your potential new neighbors?
Realize that the area is much larger population wise than you are likely led to believe when looking at census figures. The official metro area has only 1.2 million people but the 8 counties of WNY that comprise the NY portion of Buffalo's Nielson TV market currently have 1,584,000 people. The immediate metro area across the Peach Bridge adds another 500,000 or so. Thus within' about an hours drive of City Hall live approximately 2 million people. Extend that to a two hours drive and you inclde Toronto, Hamilton and Rochester, NY for a grand total of about 9 million people. Once you realize that, you will see that any event you could possible want (except winter warmth or the ocean) is within easy grasp.

Interesting fact - Buffalo offers more professional live theatre on an annual basis than Washington DC, according to an article in the Buffalo News a year or so back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaverickDD View Post
Any ‘don’t miss’ spots?

One of the winery's, NY State Park @ Niagara Falls, the Hatch at Erie Basin Marina, Wilson Harbor and Boat House restaurant with a gorgeous view of Toronto on a clear day. The walkway along the Buffalo Naval Park. A play at Shea's - wicked is currently in the middle of a month long run for it's second appearance in Town.
  • Quote:
    Originally Posted by MaverickDD View Post
    Any ‘tourist traps’ to avoid?
    Clifton Hill in NF Ontario, but i would not avoid it, I would just check it out for the vibe it offers. It's simply another local amenity for a change of pace.

Last edited by donbuy; 05-05-2011 at 01:36 PM..
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Old 05-05-2011, 04:03 PM
 
323 posts, read 563,172 times
Reputation: 260
You should also consider the Rochester area ... and visit the towns on the Finger Lakes. It has the affordability of Buffalo, and is more of a white-collar/professional versus blue collar community. (I grew up in Buffalo, and lived in the Rochester area for a long time.) There are alot of cultural amenities - also be sure to tour the towns around the Finger Lakes area.
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Old 05-05-2011, 07:11 PM
Status: "Game recognized game from the start" (set 22 days ago)
 
30,328 posts, read 35,043,311 times
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Or live in between in a place like Batavia, which allows you to go to either area anytime.
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Old 05-05-2011, 07:57 PM
 
473 posts, read 403,704 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaverickDD View Post
[*]What question did I fail to ask that you think is important?[/list]
Do you wish to live in a city, suburb, smaller town, waterfront, or rural area?

There are some great city and suburban walkable neighborhoods filled with well maintained homes built from the 1870s to 1920s - and are very affordable - Allentown, Kenmore, North Buffalo, South Buffalo

or - many suburban areas of well kept homes in varied terrain from flat/rolling (Amherst, Wheatfield) to hilly and wooded (Orchard Park)

or - smaller towns that are very close to the city, but are walkable and self contained with lots of amenities and things to do - East Aurora, Williamsville, Hamburg, Lewiston, Lockport

or - waterfront areas that include homes and beach houses along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario

or - rural areas close-in to the city to the Southern Tier, which takes you into the Allegany foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, less that 2 hours from Buffalo

AND, WNYers can also take advantage of the proximity to Canada's version of Las Vegas (Niagara Falls) and the Ontario Wine Country, Niagara-on-the-Lake (Canada's "Williamsburg"), the Shaw Festival, and miles of beaches - all less than an hour from Buffalo - AND one of the great cities of North America just over an hour away.
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Old 05-05-2011, 10:31 PM
 
Location: Hamburg, NY
1,350 posts, read 1,845,964 times
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All I am going to add is that the posts by Don & RocketSci are both excellent & as a fairly recent transplant I absolutely love it here.
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Old 05-06-2011, 12:07 AM
 
106 posts, read 85,175 times
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I think some of those who responded had some really good things to say!!
I just wanted to add that although you didn't ask specifically, our allbright knox is a really good art museum. I've lived away from here for the past 15 years and on several occasions I've had people who are involved in the arts mention it to me specifically and say how top knotch it is compared to other museums nationwide... supposedly one of the best. I don't know if our science museum is as good comparatively but I really like it and I have a membership. Right now they have a fabulous narnia exhibit and there was something else interesting coming up. There are some other smaller museums too which are interesting.
I second what was said about the theater too. It's really nice to have SO many options. Furthermore the shakespeare in the park is awesome and it's free and outdoor. You bring a blanket and some wine and cheese or whatever in your picnic basket, go to the hill, sit down and enjoy. They usually do two plays each summer. If I recall they sometimes have music before the show and I saw a nice jazz musician there once.
And we have great festivals. The allentown art fest is huge and a lot of fun, and the taste of Buffalo.
Driving around the city you can see some of the most fabulous architecture and churches. Also our Basilica in Lackawanna might be worth a stop along with the nearby botanical gardens, and a lot of people walk, jog or picnic outside the garden buildings on nice days. the area around the zoo is also good for walking, biking, etc. and the zoo itself is not bad either. It's fairly extensive. I think there may be golf there as well and tennis courts somewhere in the park.
I don't know if you like to eat out much but we have a wide variety and range of restaurants here. Lots of different ethnic options.

I'll warn you the weather is not good a lot of the time... I think you would find that it's quite a bit worse than Jersey.
This year has been particularly miserable (and I just got back here in March!!) In nicer weather the landscape scenery cannot be beaten with beautiful hills, gorges and valleys. Zoar valley in general, Griffis sculpture park, and buttermilk falls come to mind although they are a bit of a distance from the city. (they may not really be worth seeing during your tourist trip unless you don't mind a relatively long drive.) In winter it's all just drab... a gloomy sun-free environment without any color, just shades of black and white. I suppose some might like to see the snow on the trees and so on.
But other than that you should really like it here!

PS I don't know if you'll be visiting in summer but if you do you might check out some of the river/lake access points like evangola beach and niawanda park... they aren't really tourist material but if you are thinking of living here you could run over. Bicycling and such is fun at Niawanda. I think they have boating and fishing too.
There are many great places to picnic and parks to enjoy a hike in also Such as chestnut ridge and akron falls and I'm sure many more. Chestnut ridge has a fabulous tobogganing hill with giant ramps where you start off and then go down the rest of the hill fast. As well as snowshoeing. (Maybe by the time people are in their 50s they wouldn't appreciate that so much but I thought I'd mention it anyway.) Also I've heard the fast whirlpool boats are really fun up closer to the falls.
There are many little charming villages where you could just take a walk like OP, east aroura, hamburg and akron to name a few. Probably that could be found anywhere, but I enjoy them.
Good luck and let us know what you decide!!

PPS I don't know what your particular interests are but a lot of the many colleges offer "fun" courses and programs for people who aren't trying to get a degree. The summer flora course at Erie community is even quite enjoyable... every week you go on all kinds of field trips and learn about/collect different plants in different environments and so on. And the grocery stores offer some cooking classes too.

Last edited by dendrobium; 05-06-2011 at 12:44 AM..
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Old 05-06-2011, 07:06 AM
 
744 posts, read 961,866 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by breezy1 View Post
It has the affordability of Buffalo, and is more of a white-collar/professional versus blue collar community. .
That is a myth based upon a reality that has not been true for at least 20 years. According to the NY State Department of Labor 34% of those employed in the Rochester MSA are employed in what can be described as white collar professions in Buffalo the percentage is 12% higher coming in at 38% (i.e. 34% time 112% = 38%). Old myths die slowly indeed but Buffalo is a banking, research and insurance town now. The blue collar steel mill days ended in the early 1980's.

Link to DOL: http://www.labor.ny.gov/stats/cesemp.asp
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Old 05-06-2011, 07:26 AM
 
744 posts, read 961,866 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dendrobium View Post
I'll warn you the weather is not good a lot of the time... I think you would find that it's quite a bit worse than Jersey..
On average NJ is a bit warmer (5 degrees) and a whole lot wetter (15 inches more rain per year) than WNY.

Source Weather.com: http://www.weather.com/outlook/event...ocid2=USNJ0131
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