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Old 08-27-2008, 03:50 PM
 
9 posts, read 18,549 times
Reputation: 10
Default Need a realistic viewpoint of moving from LA to Ithaca

Hi everyone, I will be visiting the area in a couple weeks with my husband who will be interviewing for a position at Cornell. We've both lived in So. California our entire lives. Right now we live in a suburb in the San Gabriel Valley. I want to be realistic about what life in Upstate NY would be like for our family seeing as we've never been there, and will likely be unable to return before we would have to make a decision on accepting the position (assuming it is offered).

So, here's what I'm curious about:
1) Is it hard to get around in the snow? I've never lived near, or even driven in the snow. Is there public transportation? Do you leave snow chains on your car all winter? Does everyone have 4-wheel-drive?

2) It seems like the public schools are not all that great (at least by the ratings on greatschools.net). Any school recommendations that we could check out while we're there?

3) We'd love to buy an old house and have seen some very quaint ones for sale online...are we being foolish? Do they tend to be well insulated or will we all be huddled together under giant quilts trying to conserve heat all winter long?

4) Is it hard to get fresh produce in the winter? I know having fresh pineapple shipped in from Hawaii isn't exactly minimizing your carbon footprint...but I'm just wondering.

5) Is Ithaca buggy? Are there lots of mosquitoes and ticks?

6) Do Upstate New Yorkers have the typical New York accent?

I'm sure I'll have a million other questions when we get closer to making our final decision, if that time comes. If anyone else has made a cross-country move and would like to enlighten me on what it was like for them I would really appreciate the input. Or, if anyone has any other insight on the area, that would be great!
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Old 08-27-2008, 04:02 PM
 
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Usually just having a front wheel drive car is sufficient, even sometimes without snow tires.

Summers do see their fair share of bugs in the summer, but it could be worse (like the mosquitoes that ate me alive in Vermont).

Getting fresh produce? This is upstate New York, not Mars!

What's 'a typical New York accent?' Like in Buffalo? Like in NYC? These two areas couldn't be more different in the pronounciation of English.

I don't know anything about the schools or the public transportation.

Getting an old house...some have been re-insulated, some haven't. Bring your warm clothes and learn to enjoy the four seasons that Ithaca provides!!
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Old 08-27-2008, 04:39 PM
 
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Good schools and they have the TCAT bus system, that I think Cornell helps to fund. Here is some information:Ithaca City School District

https://www.nystart.gov/publicweb/District.do?year=2007&county=TOMPKINS&district=610 600010000 (broken link)

Ithaca City School District schools - district elementary, middle, and high school information (http://www.greatschools.net/cgi-bin/ny/district_profile/317 - broken link)

http://www.cascadillaschool.org/

http://schools.dor.org/ic/

http://www.eacmsi.org/

TCAT BUS : Home | Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit, New York

and some more info.:Ithaca

Complete guide to Ithaca, NY hotels, attractions, dining, shopping and recreation with maps and driving directions. The official web site of Ithaca, New York and Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau in the Finger Lakes.

Visit Ithaca in New York's Finger Lakes - vacation among amazing waterfalls and gorges and enjoy great restaurants and shopping, hiking, fishing, boating. The official web site of Ithaca and Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau. (http://www.visitithaca.com/experience.cfm - broken link)

Cornell University

Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY

Sciencenter, Ithaca NY

Town of Ithaca

Ithaca Farmer's Market (http://www.ithacamarket.com/home.php - broken link)

Ithaca Hours - Local Currency - Ithaca, New York

greenstar.coop - Home

theithacajournal.com | The Ithaca Journal | Ithaca news, community, entertainment, yellow pages and classifieds. Serving Ithaca, NY

TC3 - Tompkins Cortland Community College

Just think of Berkeley, but smaller.
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Old 08-27-2008, 05:38 PM
 
Location: Ithaca NY
254 posts, read 632,364 times
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The public transportation is good for a town of its size, but you have to remember that its size is very, very small (the population is less than 30k). Generally, it's pretty good if you live near a bus route and are trying to get to Cornell or the Commons. Anywhere else can be a pain. I don't drive, but I moved here last winter and I'm thinking I really need to learn.

You'll definitely have a learning curve driving in the snow, but not everyone has 4 wheel drive. Sometimes having a small light car actually seems to make things easier; our little Hyundai often comfortably passes big fishtailing trucks. Just depends on the conditions.

I want an old house too. It probably is overly-romantic, but I'm not afraid of fixing things.

Fresh produce, not hard to find, as it gets shipped from everywhere. *Local* produce will be thin on the ground between November and late June, which is when the strawberries start up.

Locals have an upstate NY accent, but Ithaca is not a town with a lot of locals, honestly. Most everyone is from somewhere else. The upstate NY accent is not the NYC accent at ALL, which I'm guessing is what you're thinking of.

Good luck!
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Old 08-27-2008, 07:37 PM
 
Location: Vancouver, WA
459 posts, read 1,589,090 times
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my wife grew up in the SF Valley, and I in SE L.A., and lived there all our lives, until we moved last July. I will offer up my honest opinions for you tomorrow, as i have to go to sleep right now, b/c i get up early to go to the gym. But some of your questions ARE funny :P
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Old 08-27-2008, 07:39 PM
 
Location: Vancouver, WA
459 posts, read 1,589,090 times
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if you want some info to read on, you can read my most recent post on "why do you live in upstate NY"..but i will expand on it tomorrow morning.

"Why" do you live in upstate NY?
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Old 08-27-2008, 07:45 PM
 
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Ithaca is BEYOND all doubt located in on the most beautiful spots in the entire world.
I mean pastoral beauty beyond descripton,if the view up Cayuga lake doesn't bring a lump to your throat-well,you're beyond hope.
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Old 08-27-2008, 08:44 PM
 
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Actually, test scores at all grade levels are well above average. So, the ranking is possibly based on other things or opinions from people that put reviews on the site. There are other good schools districts ion Tompkins county too.

https://www.nystart.gov/publicweb/County.do?year=2007&county=Tompkins (broken link)
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Old 08-28-2008, 06:06 AM
 
Location: Vancouver, WA
459 posts, read 1,589,090 times
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first I'll start by addressing your questions, then I'll give my own personal opinion.

1) Is it hard to get around in the snow? I've never lived near, or even driven in the snow. Is there public transportation? Do you leave snow chains on your car all winter? Does everyone have 4-wheel-drive?

not at all. it takes some learning to drive properly in it, but after a couple of months, you're pretty solid. or you can do what my wife and i did two weekends in a row, when the first snow fell. we woke up early, drove to walmart, and went at it in their parking lot, skidding out, stopping suddenly, pulling our car out of a spin, etc. a cop came by and asked what we were doing, and we just told him, coming from CA we wanted to be safe, and learn how to drive in the snow, so we don't put anyone at risk. and he said, though its illegal, hell turn his head to it, as long as we leave by opening, because he wished more people were responsible about it like us, instead of just heading out there driving on snow covered streets like it was a CA freeway. Make no mistake, it's not a joke driving on snow, you need to be very aware of everything around you...potential stops ahead, potential problems, your following distance, the car behind you's following distance, how fast the other people in the opposite lane are going, because you need to allow for extra time for everything. slamming on your brakes may get you to a quick stop on dry roads, but on snow, your just begging for a spin out. so you need to plan every move ahead, even your stops. and the main thing is just to SLOW DOWN. most everyone out here knows how to drive in snow, so you dont have to worry about ticking people off for slowing down like you do in CA...b/c more than likely theyll be slowing down too..unless of course you're going 20mph, then you should be honked at LOL.

as for cars...two wheel drive is just fine...front wheel better than rear wheel. the important thing is your tires..you need a good set of ALL WEATHER tires. you can opt for snow tires but its more of an expense and more of a pain in the a$$ to keep swapping them out. a good set of all weather tires will see you through just fine. and i drive a scion xa, and my wife a toyota sienna, and they did perfectly fine this past winter. and dont worry, you're moving to an area that LIVES with snow...they are on top of it...snow plows do a very good job of keeping the road clear of snow buildup, they go round the clock (at least for major highways).

2) It seems like the public schools are not all that great (at least by the ratings on greatschools.net). Any school recommendations that we could check out while we're there?

where are you pulling your data from, because there are some VERY good schools in the area. there are quite a few schools that are above average, and most out here, are light years above the average los angeles high school


3) We'd love to buy an old house and have seen some very quaint ones for sale online...are we being foolish? Do they tend to be well insulated or will we all be huddled together under giant quilts trying to conserve heat all winter long?

you're overemphasizing the winter again LOL. these are houses built in areas that snow EVERY winter..it's not a CA house that got transplanted to NY. my concern with buying an older victorian, isnt the heat..its the cost of maintenance/upkeep, and renovations. old homes cost a lot to keep looking like a nice old home.

4) Is it hard to get fresh produce in the winter? I know having fresh pineapple shipped in from Hawaii isn't exactly minimizing your carbon footprint...but I'm just wondering.

be sure to stop by wegmans on your trip here...their produce section looks like that all year long...you'll understand when you see it.

5) Is Ithaca buggy? Are there lots of mosquitoes and ticks?

depends on what part of ithaca you live. there are parts of ithaca, closer to the more rural towns w/ more trees and wilderness around, and those areas will be very buggy. if you live in the concrete part of ithaca (near downtown), it's not as bad, or much of a concern.

6) Do Upstate New Yorkers have the typical New York accent?

this is new york state, upstate to be exact, you're talking about...not New York City. by typical i take it you mean the typical bronx/brooklyn accent depicted on t.v. and that's a big no. when i got here i was surprised that i didnt hear much of an accent at all. but ithaca is home to a lot of people from other states. in the more rural towns and villages, youll hear more of a "rural" accent...just a more lazy "slangy" type of talk...but its more farm talk than it is a NY accent. but other parts of upstate have their own distinct accents as well.. you can tell if someone is from Raaachester right away. Buffalo has it's own type of slight accent as well...as does Albany.

Now the nitty gritty.

This is coming from my family and my own perspective though, so keep that in mind. we HATED CA, though we grew up there. we always wanted to raise our children in a small town, and reap the benefits of such (everyone knowing everyone, the sense of community, etc.). we are also huge outdoors people, and love everything outdoors, from hunting, camping, fishing, biking, kayaking, boating, etc...EVERYTHING. We love rolling green hills and lush green forests over SoCal's brown, rocky, desert scenery. We came out here to pursue a dream of opening our own winery, and to live a more slowed down life where we could enjoy each other more, instead of worshipping the almighty dollar. And as for the snow, I'm an avid snowboarder, and you cant snowboard w/out a love for the snow and cold.

With that being said...to us, this is home. we LOVE it here. Best decision we've ever made for our family, as painful as it was to leave everything we knew and loved. Now we're like "CA? we lived there once?" LOL. The people are nicer here, more genuine, and when they help you, you dont really worry much about what they REALLY want from you.

I dont know how many times last winter i got stuck in the snow, and my neighbors would make themselves late for work, to stop and help me out, asking for nothing more in return than a beer and a friendly word.

I love how I can call in an order to the covered bridge market, and they know exactly who i am, and address me by name, and know what i want.

I love how my daughters teachers encourage us to be as involved as possible, and care just as much about my childs learning, as me.

I love the natural beauty I'm surrounded by 24/7. A fish, hunt, hike, camping trip, involves little else than driving 5 min. down the road...and i can technically camp in the woods in my backyard if i wanted to. I love that when i want to clear my head, i can just get lost in the woods for a few hours, and come back out feeling centered.

I love how life is simpler, and easier, even though not as profitable. Our existence is has more to do with each other than the next paycheck.

I could go on and on.

We chose to live in Newfield, because frankly Ithaca is a busy little town. If i wanted to live on top of other people, I could have stayed in CA. We are fans of big open spaces, and that's rare in ithaca. Ithaca is also more expensive than the surrounding towns. Newfield was a good balance for us because it was still only 7 mi from Ithaca, for our shopping, dining, culture, etc., but enough in the country that everything was spread apart, and it was a lost smaller community, and the people are closer (only 5k+ population). It was also the home of a very good elementary/high school. It was also only 30 min. from the winery I apprentice at. So we got the best of both worlds, the small town country living we wanted, but close enough to Ithaca for everything we needed. If you don't want to live directly in Ithaca, there are tons of other towns around that are really nice that offer the same type of feel: Lansing, Newfield, Trumansburg, Dryden, Danby, etc.

If you don't absolutely love the outdoors and scenic beauty, I really don't know what you'd do here for fun. Outdoor activities are like 75% of the things to do around here, and it's a lifestyle more than a hobby. And if you want to make it through the winter w/ your sanity, you have to find things to do that keep you active and out of the house in winter, or else you'll just sit there hating the winter inside your house for 6 months..cabin fever is not nice.

Ithaca is liberal. you hear that a lot, but you don't hear HOW liberal. Basically put Ithaca is extreme liberal. In my experience that can be a good and a bad thing. To me extreme anything is bad. And that does come to play a lot in Ithaca. Be careful how you discipline your kids in Ithaca, because you've got a lot of childless hippies watching you, waiting to judge you. I so much as raise my voice at my daughter, and i get a lot of condescending looks from people. Holistic is nice and all, but you get it shoved down your throat a lot in Ithaca. "natural" and "local" are words you hear a lot..but in Ithaca, it's taken to extreme levels. I'm used to farmers markets being a nice CHEAPER alternative, because you get your produce directly from the grower, and in the end that makes it CHEAPER...USUALLY. In ithaca "all natural" and "locally grown" is TRENDY. hence the farmers market, often times is more expensive than the grocery store, which really got me mad in the beginning.

I hope you dont end up bbqing in the park next to some vegans grilling up tofu burgers, while you're grilling big fat cow steaks and hamburgers, because they will just glare at you the whole time LOL.

These things, and many other reasons are why we're happy we dont live IN ithaca. we could never live with that in your face liberalism. I mean we consider ourselves pretty liberal, but we're conservative compared to some. So we love having Ithaca close enough for quick doses of that hippy liberalism, but love LIVING in a community that is more traditional minded when it comes to raising a family. Hence the saying "ithaca, 10 square miles surrounded by reality". Ithaca is this small little town with these hardcore beliefs, surrounded by communities that are more conservative, and rural.

Also, as a side note. If you plan to live in a smaller community outside of Ithaca. Be forewarned, people love their guns, and hunting. Get to know the hunting seasons, because you will be hearing shotguns, and such. If you dont know that, and can't accept it, you will be unhappy, because as long as their doing so legally at legal times, theres nothing you can do...and calling the cops on your neighbors will just have you hated in your community, and you won't change a DAMN THING, try as you might. You're moving to a rural area, where guns and hunting are beloved hobbies.

But I love shooting my guns, and I love me some huntin' so I've never had a problem LOL.
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Old 08-28-2008, 07:09 AM
 
364 posts, read 803,029 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annagrl775 View Post
...4) Is it hard to get fresh produce in the winter? I know having fresh pineapple shipped in from Hawaii isn't exactly minimizing your carbon footprint...but I'm just wondering.
DH and I are from IL but plan to retire in a year or so to the Finger Lakes region. As we look for properties in the Finger Lakes, we are actually calculating how far of a drive they are from Wegman's in Ithaca. (We're wine and food buffs.) I would bet Wegman's rivals anything you might have stepped foot in, in LA or anywhere. As CBaillo said, just wait til you see it. (Our daughter recently moved from Ithaca to MA and daily bemoans the lack of Wegman's.)

In addition, you'll have access to the Ithaca Farmer's Market, renowned by foodies all over the country as one of the best.

Other than Wegman's, there also are other supermarkets. You won't have any trouble finding good, fresh produce.
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