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Living in Ithaca


Ithaca is a city in the Southern Tier-Finger Lakes region of New York. It is the seat of Tompkins County and its urban area consists of roughly 50,000 people. There are a variety of housing options in Ithaca and the surrounding town, from single-family homes to apartment and condominium buildings.


On-campus housing is very limited for postdocs. Housing includes residences for singles, partners, and postdocs with families. In all on-campus housing, there is a strong emphasis on neighborhood and community. Contact Missy Riker ( for more information.


The majority of postdocs live off-campus, in Ithaca or surrounding communities.

The Cornell University and Ithaca College Apartment and Roommate Finder Facebook group offers information on local housing opportunities.

Additional Notes

The Ithaca housing market operates along the academic year and leases are often signed far in advance of the next academic year (a lease for August might be signed the preceding December, for instance). For information on Ithaca neighborhoods, see the Ithaca neighborhoods map.

Whether or not you plan to bring a car can be a major factor in determining suitable housing. If you are renting an apartment in Ithaca, be sure to ask the landlord if it comes with a parking spot if you want one. Many apartments in Ithaca do not offer parking and in those cases you will need to park on the street. Note that in winter Ithaca practices even-odd parking for snow removal, making street parking a fun adventure.


Weather in Ithaca is always a topic of conversation. The summers here are lovely with weather that it is not too hot or humid. Winters tend to be long and cloudy. It is not uncommon for people coming from areas that are warmer or have more sun to find themselves struggling in the winter months. A few suggestions from people who have lived here for awhile:

  • Consider investing in a happy lamp for the darkest part of winter. These are fairly inexpensive on Amazon ( roughly $30).
  • Consider getting your vitamin D levels tested and taking vitamin D supplements.
  • Do not hesitate to reach out to mental health resources if you find yourself struggling in the winter.
  • Purchase waterproof rain boots and snow boots for the wet/snowy months.
  • Keeping an umbrella in your desk at work for the unexpected Ithaca rain storm.

For additional information on winter weather and tips for staying warm see Ithaca Weather.


Cornell Transportation Website

Information about transportation involving Cornell is located on the Facilities and Campus Services parking and transportation webpage, including parking, campus-to-campus bus service, and university-owned vehicle information. For more information, view the map of parking available to employees listed on the website.


Parking on campus can be costly and often still includes a lengthy walk to your building. Postdocs at Cornell are able to buy parking passes for a number of lots on campus through Human Resources with rates between $50-$100 per month.

If you are moving from out of state with a car, you will need to register your car in the state of New York and get a New York driver’s license through the Department of Motor Vehicles.


If you do not sign up for a monthly parking permit, you will have access to the OmniRide Commuter Program. This program gives you an unlimited pass for the bus system in Ithaca (TCAT, see below). Additionally, you will have access to a limited number of one-day parking permits that you can use if you occasionally need to drive to campus. These permits can be ordered through the Facilities and Campus Services one day permit order form.

Bus – Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT)

TCAT logoMost TCAT bus lines run through campus and downtown Ithaca, and several lines service outlying towns such as Dryden, Varna, and Trumansburg. Service is available to Wegmans, the Shops at Ithaca Mall, and Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport. Your Cornell ID card can be swiped for free fare if you are part of the OmniRide program, or Tcards can be bought at the Cornell Store and many stores in town.

TCAT bus

All Postdocs can use their CU photo ID card at the fare box, Monday-Friday, to ride TCAT buses on the Cornell campus and to Cornell facilities located downtown and near the airport and pay no fare (normally $1.50). Postdocs working on the Ithaca campus can enroll in the OmniRide commuter program to receive unlimited (24/7) transit privileges on TCAT buses.

Car Share

Ithaca Car Share logoDon’t have a car? Sign up for Ithaca CarShare to rent a car by the hour from several places around Ithaca (similar to Zipcar in other cities). A fairly clean driving history is required; if you don’t have a US driving license, obtain your driving history form your home country’s authorities.

Out of Town Buses

There are a number of coach bus companies that offer daily trips to Syracuse, New York City, and other large New York cities.Campus-to-Campus Bus


The Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport offers flights on Delta, American, and United Airlines. Prices tend to be higher to fly into a smaller airport versus a larger airports further away. Larger nearby airports include:

  • Syracuse Hancock International Airport (~60 miles, 1 hr. 15 min. from Ithaca)
  • Elmira/Corning Regional Airport (~35 miles, ~50 min. from Ithaca)
  • Greater Binghamton Airport (~40 miles, 1 hr. from Ithaca)
  • Buffalo (~152 miles, ~2 hr. 40 min. from Ithaca)