ITHACA, NY – It may sound counter to the prevailing narrative about the difficulties of living in Ithaca, but finance advice website Moneygeek rated Ithaca as one of the best small cities to make a living in.

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Or perhaps it’s not at odds with the narrative at all – it seems the key factor is just how well employed you are. Moneygeek’s methodology compares the median income of residents of the city versus the cost of living there.

In other words, Ithaca is a great place to live, if you can afford to live there.

The list doesn’t ignore Ithaca’s high cost of living. It puts the city’s cost of living index rating, a measure of how expensive it is to live in a place, at 106.7. 100 is the national average. Most of the other cities on the list came in below 95.

The roundup highlights Ithaca’s low unemployment rate – 3.7% as of Nov. 2015. The site quotes the median cost of a home in Ithaca to be $200,000, “meaning home ownership is in reach even for an English professor.”

Ithaca was the smallest city in the top ten, at about 30,000 residents compared to approximately 60,000 to 70,000 for most of the others near the top.

Most of the list consists of state capitals and college towns, due to ample well-paying employment opportunities at universities and government agencies.

Here’s the full top ten, which consists of Ithaca and nine other cities you might’ve never heard of, unless you remember your state capitals:

1. Olympia, Washington
2. Ithaca, New York
3. Kennewick, Washington
4. Ames, Iowa
5. Cheyenne, Wyoming
6. Wilmington, Delaware
7. Kalamzaoo, Michigan
8. Houma, Louisiana
9. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
10. Ogden, Utah

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.