Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Life in Rochester NY

I was recently asked what it is like living in Rochester. I thought I would share my opinion with the rest of the world.

A typical January day would have a high temp around 25 and a low temp in the teens. It starts snowing around late November. Rochester does not get anywhere near the amount of snow as the areas just south of Buffalo or the areas just north of Syracuse. Both of those areas get a shitload of snow! The area right around Rochester is in a bit of a void where we get much less snowfall. Some years you will experience short blizzards where several feet of snow fall over a couple days. During the winter months you can expect it to get a couple inches of snow every few days. To some people that is a lot. Around here that is considered light snowfall.

Summers -
A typical July day would reach a high in the mid eighties with 40% humidity. Lows would get down to the high sixties at night.

Advantages to living around here -
New York State is exceptionally beautiful during the changes in seasons. We experience the best parts of all four seasons.

Schools in the suburbs are excellent. Schools are exceptionally well funded around here compared to the rest of the country. (unless you ask a Teacher of course)

Jet ski, swimming, fresh water game fishing, camping, hiking, horseback riding, horse racing, four wheeling, lakeside cottages, outdoor concerts, Six Flags, Wine tasting, bed & breakfasts, in the summertime.

New York State is a real gem for sportsman, especially big game whitetail deer hunters. There are many terrific water foul hunting areas across the region as well.

Casinos, pond hockey, Downhill ski, cross country ski, snowmobiling, ice fishing, sledding & toboggans with the family in the winter. Christmas is a big holiday around here. Many people decorate the outsides of their homes with lights as I'm sure they do across the U.S.

Housing is very affordable compared to most of the United States. Decent home on nice street in suburbia can be bought around $100K-$125K. Exceptionally nice homes can be purchased for $250K. Housing prices are very stable. They do not appreciate quickly and rarely depreciate at all.

Standard of living is very affordable compared to larger cities in the US. (Average household income is a little lower also)

Suburbs have low crime rates (inner city is very high).

There are numerous universities with excellent national reputations within one hour drive in all directions.

New York State Thruway road system is very well maintained and allows for speedy travel to other areas of New York.

The beautiful Adirondack mountains are just gorgeous in the summertime. They are just a couple hours away.

Canada is only a couple hours away. Niagara Falls is a short drive as well. A weekend in Toronto is a reasonable drive.

Football is by far the most popular sport around here. We have the Buffalo Bills to cheer for. I am biased as I have been a Bills season ticket holder for many years.

Hockey is big here also. We have the Rochester Amerks in town and the Buffalo Sabres an hour away. Professional soccer is gaining popularity in the Rochester area.


Taxes - local property taxes are sky high. This is the main reason for the lack of housing appreciation. People who move here from other states are always surprised how high taxes are.

Rochester City Schools - The schools within the city of Rochester have a ridiculously low graduation rate. I think last year it was something like 39%. The graduation rates in the suburbs are much better. In smaller rural communities where schools only have around 500 kids, the graduation rates are near 100%.

Current Fiscal Crisis - New York state is going broke. Because of the carnage on Wall street, the New York state tax coffers are empty. This state has a tendency to tax its way out of problems.

Taxes - Did I already mention that one. The top state tax rate for people is right around 10%. After you pay Uncle Sam you can kiss another 10% goodbye to the state. I expect this to go higher in the next year or so because of the state's financial situation.

NYS is not business friendly. The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance is almost unbearable. Talk to any small business owner around here. 90% of them will agree.

College graduates are fleeing New York at record numbers. People get their education here because the Universities are top notch. Then they leave the state and uproot their families to earn more $ elsewhere. (Most of my close friends from high school have moved and have vowed to never move back)

There is a lack of big business around western NY in general. Many of the large corporations that built Rochester and Buffalo have disappeared or relocated for tax reasons. The lack of Fortune 500 companies shows as a lack of investment in the downtown area.

The Finger Lakes region just south of Rochester is a really beautiful area. Right now there are more than 50 wineries positioned around the lakes. The lifestyle there is very relaxed. My husband and I vacation there twice a year and intend to purchase a summer home on Seneca or Keuka lake somewhere down the road. We are both avid wine drinkers and just love the quaint little atmosphere of small towns like Hammondsport, Penn Yan, Ithaca, etc.. The communities are smaller and some are rural. The people have strong family values. There is zero crime. Some people do not even lock their doors at night. There are little mom and pop shops, book stores, local taverns that serve excellent beer battered Haddock fish fry and small sail boats for rent.