What Is The Cost Of Living In Ithaca, New York?

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante

Ithaca, NY, is well known for its prestigious colleges, such as Cornell University. However, the presence of private colleges and a strong economy have led to a somewhat high cost of living in Ithaca, NY. The city is unique, comfortable, and has a lot of character, but how much does it cost to live there?

Ithaca’s overall cost of living is slightly higher than the United States, housing prices are only just above average, and the median home value is $294,100. However, rent is higher than the US average, and property taxes are almost triple. Health care, groceries, and utilities are also above the national average, and you could spend $1,540 or more on gasoline as a regular driver in Ithaca. If you’re a parent, private education for your children reaches $25,000.

Basic living needs, such as food and groceries, are 5% higher than the national average in Ithaca. Plus, lots of other factors are also above the US average, so it’s worth carefully considering if you plan to move to Ithaca. Let’s take a look at the cost of living in Ithaca and how much you can expect to spend.

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House Prices: Cost Of Living In Ithaca

Ithaca, NY is not a city where the vast majority of residents are homeowners, yet housing costs are low. Only 23% of Ithaca residents own their own homes.

You might assume that’s because the median home value is above the national average. However, the median home value in Ithaca is $294,100, and that’s a mere $2,400 higher than the median value in the United States.

LocationMedian Home ValueHomeownership Rate
United States$291,70056.2%

Homeowners in Ithaca spend an average of $1,903 per month between mortgage payments, repairs, and utilities. Generally, less than $800 of that monthly cost comes from utilities and repairs, and mortgage rates are reasonable. There are also apartments available for purchase in Ithaca that range between $150 and $180 per square foot.

It’s worth noting that the housing market in Ithaca has seen a recent boom, and houses sell for the asking price. This is great news for homeowners looking to one day turn around and sell their homes at a profit. Since 2004, housing prices in Ithaca, NY, have slowly risen by 14%, so owning a home in Ithaca can be a worthy investment.

However, if homes are only slightly more than the national average, why are ownership rates so low? Possibly because of the higher property taxes.

Property Taxes

Ithaca is located in Tompkins County, where residents pay a 2.35% property tax rate on assessed property value. Homeowners in Ithaca, NY, would spend $6,754 each year, on average, in property tax payments to Tompkins County, based on the median home value. Throughout the state of New York, the average property tax rate is 1.23%, slightly lower than Ithaca.

Seniors in Ithaca can receive exemptions based on their annual income concerning assessed property value. For example, seniors that earn up to $28,000 receive an exemption for 50% of the home’s value. However, if you earn up to $36,000, you will only receive an exemption on 5% of your home’s assessed value.

Rent Prices

Nearly 67% of Ithaca residents are renters, and they pay an average of $1,407 per month in rent for a 2-bedroom apartment. The cost varies based on location and the size of the apartment in question. For example, a one-bedroom may run for $1,161 or more, and a 3-bedroom is generally over $1,900.

The presence of colleges, such as Cornell and Ithaca College, largely drives the high numbers of renters in Ithaca. You can find apartments near Cornell for as little as $800 per month or even for well over $3,000. Apartments on Charles Street are your cheapest option in Ithaca, and they can start at $550-$650 per month.

CitiesAverage Rent for 2-Bedroom
New York City$1,992

Utility Costs

The average renter in Ithaca, NY, pays between $140 and $200 per month in basic utilities. Of course, these numbers can fluctuate based on energy use, especially during the cold winters in Ithaca. Electric costs are roughly 43% higher than the national average, and natural gas prices are about 10% higher.

Most Ithaca residents also pay up to $60 or more in internet bills, but that varies based on the provider. If you choose to pay for a cable plan in Ithaca, you will generally pay between $45 and $90, depending on the package.

Utility costs can grow to be much more expensive for homeowners, especially in 2-4 person family households. Homeowners in Ithaca can spend up to $800 in bills, especially when there are multiple bathrooms and plumbing fixtures.

Waste management is another factor in monthly expenses, and plans start at $25 per month from services like Casella. However, many renters in Ithaca are provided with trash collection services as a part of their rental agreement. Much like the cost of living in Irvine, CA, free recycling containers are also provided to many renters in Ithaca.

Ithaca, NY Taxes

Ithaca, NY, is mostly a low-tax city, and its rates are generally on par with the national average. For example, the sales tax rate in Ithaca is 8%, compared to the 7.12% national average. State income tax rates are somewhat high in Ithaca, however, and the current rate for residents is 6.5%.

Ithaca residents, on average, earn less than their typical United States citizen per year, earning only $22,600. This can hurt your wallet in Ithaca when it comes to the moderately high state income tax, so it’s important to budget accordingly. The other highest tax rate in Ithaca is the $0.45 per gallon gasoline tax that you’ll pay at the pump.

TaxesCost & RateNational Average
Sales Tax8%7.12%
State Income Tax6.5%4.95%
Property Tax2.35%2.31%
Gasoline$0.45 Per Gallon$0.18 Per Gallon

Your average driver uses 656 gallons of gasoline per year, and that means you may spend up to $295 in gasoline taxes.

Food Prices In Ithaca, NY

The easiest way to eat affordably in Ithaca is by buying groceries, but even that can get pricey. Food definitely contributes to the higher cost of living in Ithaca, NY.

Groceries are up to 5% more expensive in Ithaca than in the rest of the United States, and it adds up. You could easily spend between $460 and $490 on food per month as a couple in Ithaca, NY.

However, family households in Ithaca have to spend a small fortune on food, and it can come out to $650 or more per month. Basic groceries, such as a gallon of milk, can be expensive and average $2.95 per gallon. Other essentials, such as a dozen eggs or a pound of chicken, are pricey at $1.80 and $2.00, respectively.

FoodAverage Cost
Gallon of Milk$2.95
Pound of Chicken$2.00
Pound of Beef$5.70
Dozen Eggs$1.80
Pound of Apples$2.20
Restaurant Meal$16.00
Dinner & Drinks For 2$65-$80

Eating out in Ithaca can be great with all of the amazing restaurant options, but it can be expensive as well. A three-course dinner for two with drinks included can easily cost up to $80, and the minimum is typical $65. Even eating alone at a mid-range restaurant in Ithaca can cost you $16, but it’s worth treating yourself sometimes.

Driving Costs

Driving in Ithaca can be pricey due to gas prices and the $0.45 per gallon gasoline tax throughout the state. Currently, the average cost of gasoline in Ithaca, NY, is $3.50 per gallon, and that’s above the national average. However, once you factor in the high tax imposed on gasoline in Ithaca, gas prices come out to be even higher than the United States average.

Assuming that you use at least 656 gallons of gasoline per year, you’ll spend up to $2,296 at the pump in Ithaca. Of course, that’s before you factor in the possible $295 in taxes on gasoline as an Ithaca resident, and it adds up. Luckily, however, car maintenance and repair, such as tire balancing, cost less than the national average at $40-$45 for labor.

Public Transportation In Ithaca, NY

Bus rides are the most prominent and notable form of public transportation in Ithaca, NY. Kids up to 5 years old ride the bus for free, and it only costs $0.75 from 6-17 years old. Senior citizens over the age of 60 also pay a half fare, whereas adults 18 and older pay $1.50 for single rides.

Day passes only cost $3.00 and provide Ithaca residents with multiple rides, making them perfect for commuters. You can also get a 5-day pass for $15 or pay only $17.50 for a weekly 7-day pass. Monthly passes are a great option for daily commuters in Ithaca, and it only costs $45.

Public TransitCost
Single Stop Bus Ticket$0.75-$1.50
Day Bus Pass$3.00
5 Day Bus Pass$15.00
Week Bus Pass$17.50
Month Bus Pass$45.00

If you want to get the most bang for your buck, however, you can spend $450 for a yearly bus pass. Ithaca is a spread-out city with many job opportunities, and many commuters, so public transportation is important. You can save nearly $100 per year by buying an annual bus pass as opposed to 12 monthly passes, and it’s worth considering.

Education Costs

Ithaca boasts a great public education system that can save parents thousands of dollars per year in tuition. With that said, Ithaca is also known for its prestigious, albeit pricey, private education institutions. The average cost of private tuition for Ithaca students is $13,000 per year for elementary schools alone.

Private high school tuition, on the other hand, is quite expensive and costs parents $25,267 per year, on average. These private tuition costs are on par with the average in the state of New York. Ithaca is just as well known for its colleges, such as Cornell University, which costs $57,222 per year in tuition.

A cheaper option is Ithaca College which costs $45,274 per year in tuition before scholarships. Education is quite expensive in Ithaca, and public schooling is the best way to avoid the exorbitant private tuition fees.

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Summing It Up

The cost of living in Ithaca, NY, is 3% more expensive than the United States national average. Even groceries are 5% more expensive than they are in the rest of the country. Even still, Ithaca is not as exorbitantly expensive as New York City, and the median home value is $239,100.

Tax rates are mostly fair in Ithaca, and residents spend $3,815 each year in property taxes at a 2.26% rate. This helps make up for some of the more expensive costs, such as the average $1,203 per month in rent. Ithaca is a great, albeit expensive, place to live, and countless residents find it worth the cost of living.

Related Questions

Is Ithaca, NY, a safe place to live?

Ithaca’s crime rate is higher than most US cities, ranking in the 12th percentile. This number means 88% of US Cities are safer than Ithaca, while 12% are more dangerous. The overall crime rate is roughly 58.44 out of 1,000 residents during a normal year.Ithaca residents consider the southeast portion of the city the safest place to live. Your chances of being a crime victim in this area is 1 in 91, compared to 1 in 4 in the northeast areas of the city.

Are Ithaca residents mostly families or young professionals?

Ithaca’s population is 30,6235, with 5,684 people per square mile. The median age in Ithaca is 21.8 years and about 50% of residents are families with children under 18. About 18% of residents are married and the male to female ratio is about equal.Ithaca is also home to many young professionals. Roughly 70% of residents are white, 16% are Asian, and 7% are black. Some people also choose to retire to Ithacas for its mix of natural beauty and entertainment options.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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