Rochester, New York was once a thriving community built upon the shoulders of giant corporations headquartered here – most notably, Kodak, Xerox, and Bauch & Lomb. Today, with employment at these “big three” hovering around 10% of their prior peaks, several people have asked me over the years “why did I move here?” and “what keeps me here?” I’m writing this blog post to be the authoritative answer to this question.
After college, I moved to Boston for a couple reasons – ready access to jobs, and my wife Jen was moving there for graduate work. Boston is a fun city, so soon after I moved, some friends from college moved as well, and we decided to start a company. We raised money, rented offices, and hired people. We were off to the races.
But then, in 2004, Jen and I decided to move back to Rochester where we grew up. Why? Lots of reasons:
Family in Rochester. We hadn’t started a family of our own yet, but we planned to eventually, and having our parents nearby was a draw.
Cost of living. I was able to move the company from Boston to Rochester with little disruption, and in fact grow in Rochester about 20% cheaper than I could in Boston thanks to the lower cost of living.
Business opportunities. Rochester was a welcoming town for business startups, with an ecosystem designed to make entrepreneurs feel at home. This included tax credits for hiring, lower rent, networking groups with other business leaders, access to local politicians and media, and more. I couldn’t get any of this in Boston.
Those are the three reasons we moved back, but it doesn’t exactly explain why we choose – every day – to stay here. The reason is simple – we love it.
We love having four real seasons, with variety and change so each is distinct with activities to match – apple picking in autumn, skiing in the winter, golf in the spring, and boating in the summer. We love living in a diverse city that has lots of different viewpoints, even if we don’t agree with all of them, and people from different cultural backgrounds. We love living thirty minutes from mountains and lakes, and being able to walk, hike, and bike in the many trails. We love the wineries in the Finger Lakes region, the microbreweries within spitting distance, and the public markets with local farm produce. We love living in a cool canal town, walking distance to the village with bars and restaurants and safe off-road trails between our house and the village for our kids. We love the schools (yes, my wife is a teacher, but the schools are really extraordinary) and we love the people.