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Old 04-10-2008, 09:16 PM
 
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Hi,
My husband and I are wanting to relocate to the east coast (we are currently in California, originally from Tennessee), and want to be within about a 3 hours drive from New York city. We love nature/beautiful scenery and would prefer a small-medium town. Can anyone give advice or tell me about these two areas, in comparison? (people, climate) We are looking for a cheaper cost of living. No kids yet, but would like a family atmosphere.
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Old 04-10-2008, 10:03 PM
 
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One question would be what you mean by "upstate" New York, whether you mean the entire upstate or mainly the eastern strip NY which is adjacent to western MA. The reason I bring this up is that eastern NY and western MA are fairly similar in terms of landscape, population distribution, Northeastern culture, etc., while you get a less mountainous landscape and more into the fringe of Midwestern attitudes as you go farther west in NY. If you're thinking mainly eastern NY, there's enough similarity between that area and western MA that you might want to look at individual towns in both states, and perhaps check the tax laws to see which state would have lower taxes for people with your demographics and preferred living arrangements.

If you want a nice, pleasant small town, in MA I'd suggest Stockbridge and Great Barrington in the Berkshires, maybe Deerfield if you're looking east of the mountains. I'm less familiar with NY, but I hear Lake Placid is nice, along with many little villages in the Adirondacks, though you'd need some tolerance for serious winter weather. I believe there are clean, all-American little villages scattered throughout much of upstate NY. You might try posting on the forums for both states, with details about your ideal community, to get info from people who really know these areas. Good luck.
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Old 04-10-2008, 10:22 PM
 
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Thanks for your reply, ogre. I'm interested, also, in the difference between west NY and east! (as far as upstate goes). It would be nice to be near a train line (within 1/2 hour drive) that takes you into New York city (my husband may need to make an occasional trip). I'm leaning toward MA because it is a lot easier/quicker for me to get my license for my profession (and cheaper) in MA, but I hear good things about upstate. I can work pretty much anywhere. I basically would like to be out of the rat race.
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Old 04-10-2008, 11:06 PM
 
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Ease of entry into your profession is obviously an important consideration, and of course only you and your husband can decide what weight it has in comparison to other factors. There may be some tradeoffs. In general, I believe taxes are lower in MA than NY (not low, but lower than NY), but this may depend on your situation. Also, there is the factor you've mentioned about professional opportunities.

So, MA has some advantages. On the other hand, for a small, local city, the main city, such as it is, in western MA is Springfield, which is pretty run down and offers little to attract anyone to visit. In eastern NY you'd be near Albany, which may be kind of bland, but which overall is a cleaner city than Springfield. Also, as far as rail access to NYC is concerned, you can get that from Springfield, but Springfield is fairly well east of the MA-NY line. If you were living farther west in MA, in many areas you'd be fairly distant from any Amtrak lines, while Amtrak serves the easternmost part of New York with trains that make a straight shot down to NYC. If you lived in eastern New York not very far upstate, you might even be within reach of some NYC commuter train lines.

So, there are tradeoffs you'd have to make in either area. I'm not so familiar with western NY. Let's hope some people familiar with that area will see this thread and offer some help. As I understand it, though, the farther west you get in NY, the more snowy and gray the winters become, if that matters to you. Also, I believe western NY is more rust belt than the eastern part of the state, with some clean, charming little towns, but also some fading old industrial towns, so you would really need to research local areas. I guess you have to do that anywhere, though, but just be aware that this seems to be a characteristic variation in western NY. Check carefully in western MA as well. The towns I listed in the earlier post are some beautiful, quaint, classic New England small towns, but the area also has some towns that are kind of faded. Another point to consider about western NY--another tradeoff--is that you would be farther from NYC than you would either in eastern NY or in western MA, but western NY would put you close to a larger number of decent small and medium-sized cities (Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica) than you'll find farther east.

Just some thoughts, but I'm no expert on western New York state, so give a lot more weight to anyone you hear from who knows that region well.
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Old 04-11-2008, 07:31 AM
 
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In New York, the Hudson Valley has lots of connections to the city, with many second homes, lots of wealth (especially east of the river), a history of great estates overlooking the valley. The area is still quite agricultural. The Metro North rail lines run to Poughkeepsie and maybe Millerton or something like that, easy to check. Amtrak, of course, runs all the way north and west through New York. The Hudson valley is a beautiful area. West of the valley you get into the Catskills--very scenic, a bit poorer, more run down. Central New York lies west of the Catskills, like Oneonta, Cooperstown, Cazenovia, Auburn. Much less connection to the city, much more suspicion. More agricultural, small towns, Rebublicans (Ithaca is a liberal oasis in the red tide of upstate N. Y.) Western N. Y. includes the Finger Lakes--scenic, quite overcast in winter in my memory, and now supporting a substantial wine making industry. All the larger cities out there are not what they were, even Rochester is down.

Massachusetts is New England of course, and I think the biggest difference is the town system. The town really means something in N. E. Lots of self governance, lots of local decisionmaking, and no county government as you have in N.Y. and most other states. Western Mass has lots of ties to N. Y. City, as much really as to Boston. The whole area from the Conn River to the New York line is a kind of paradise of country, woodland, innumerable nice small towns, craftspeople, no urban sprawl... Northampton-Amherst have a lot going on. Farther west, in the Housatonic valley, Lenox, Stockbridge, and Pittsfield have a lot going on esp in the summer season. Frequent Amtrak trains run down to N. Y. City from Springfield, Mass.
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Old 04-11-2008, 08:54 AM
 
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Thank you so much, all, for taking the time to give me all this info. It really helps with the decision making. To answer your question, ogre, I am lucky enough to be able to work in a rural small town or the city. Thanks.
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