Spent my undergrad years in Ithaca...I can definitely say that Ithaca isn't for everyone. Coming from NYC, it was hard for me to adjust to the rural environment but eventually I did (it only took 2 years
). Ithaca is definitely the hot spot for hippie vegans so if you're a very very far leaning lefty liberal that hates meat, you'll be fine. Cost of living isn't dirt cheap but it isn't outrageous either- depending on where you live (Cayuga Heights (northern section of campus), Collegetown, West Campus, Downtown) you'll be spending anywhere from $550-$1500 for a one bedroom apartment. The 800 acre campus is absolutely gorgeous so definitely pull yourself out of the law school from time to time to explore it. Ithaca is SAFE- yes I know they had that peeping tom/stalker dude at large for a while but he's been caught. They even had a bout of muggings last fall but those have since disappeared (now that I think about it, they just had a stabbing (hate crime) on campus but the accused wasn't even a student, he was just visiting a friend from another school). Even then I still thought the campus was safe. There were times where I would walk home from a friends house at 4am and I would just stroll and have a good ol' time instead of opting for walking with a hurried paranoia. In fact I went running at 2am everynight/morning because it was the only time I was free. So when I say the place is safe, it's SAFE. One of the biggest downfalls for me was the lack of things to do. As an undergrad we had about 3 or 4 bars to go to so you pretty much saw the same ol' fools every weekend- got boring fast. As I got older I grew tired of the Collegetown bar scene and so I ventured into the downtown area to see the night life there. It's pretty bad. So if going out to bars is not a huge concern to you, you should be fine. The culture scene is OK. Not much variety so you'll be hearing about the same artists/bands/poets/etc. If you're an outdoors person, you'll have tons to do. Many friends went swimming, hiking, skiin, rock climbing, cycling, horse riding all the time. For your shopping needs, you're good to go. They have a Wegmans which is open 24/7 and many other food stores fitting everyone dietary needs (as I said before, if you're an organic vegan, you'll be in heaven). They have plenty of clothing stores including many big retail names (Abercrombie, Old Navy, Gap, etc). They've got a Walmart, K-mart, Best Buy, 2 Radio Shacks, Staples, Sears, Target, Barnes and Nobles, Borders, etc. Like I said, you're covered for all of your shopping needs. For transportation, the bus system is ok- not great but not terrible. Very few buses run on the weekends and you can count on waiting an hour in between stops. It's a little better during the week. If you're going to be using a car parking will be a biatch on campus up until 5pm (after that cars tend to clear out and parking becomes free in certain spots so it's a lot easier). Parking spots for your home will cost an arm and a leg if you live on West Campus or in Collegetown. Everywhere else, street parking is abundant so no probe there. Lastly, regarding a car, be sure to have one that can blast through the snow. I've seen many people, including myself, slipping and sliding on the roads and get stuck (I got stuck one morning on the way to the gym and needed 5 or 6 guys to help move my car- it was very annoying to say the least). Cornell/Ithaca is ok sometimes at clearing the roads but sometimes they just get sloppy and don't do a great job of clearing. Winters last for like 6 months so be prepared with a dependable car. Seeing as how you're married, I've got to say that employment is a tad limited in the area. If your S.O. wants to work in retail or in the new hotel downtown, he/she will be fine. Otherwise, you're definitely going to have to do some heavy duty work WAY in advance to secure something decent. The economy just isn't where it's supposed to be in Ithaca so those looking for employment are SOL. Sorry if the post was scattered but it's 1am and my brain is fried so I just typed things as they popped into my head. Good luck if you end up heading to Cornell.