Located near the tip of Cayuga Lake, Ithaca lies in the midst of more than 100 wineries in the Finger Lakes region, and 20 along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, alone. Nature lovers can explore the more than 100 natural waterfalls that lie within 10 miles of town, explore scenic Cascadilla Creek Gorge, or stroll the Circle Greenway, a 10-mile pedestrian path. Four 18-hole golf courses are also in the area.
Culture is in abundance in Ithaca. Thanks to the university’s presence, retirees will enjoy lectures, theater, musical performances, readings, art exhibits and workshops. The town is also home to the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, the Ithaca Opera Association, Cornell Plantations (botanic gardens) and 2 bird sanctuaries.
Con: Cold, snowy winters; crowded during academic year
Best For: Culture lovers
Cost of Living: 12.8% higher than national average
Median Home Cost: $222,000
Top State Income Tax: 8.82%
Crime Rate: 37% lower than national average
Many services are available to retirees in Ithaca. The Tompkins County Agency on Aging offers home services and manages two senior centers, and the Lifelong program promotes wellness for people age 50 and better with activities like coffee hours and poetry writing. Additionally, the Cayuga Nature Center has programs specifically for the 50+ set.
Of course, there are downsides to living in Ithaca. Winters can be cold and snowy, and the town’s left-leaning politics don’t sit comfortably with everyone. Also, be prepared for population booms during the academic year: Ithaca’s population doubles when universities are in session.