I grew up in the Finger Lakes area and have visited Ithaca many times.
I can answer only a few of questions though.
Ithaca is Gorges! (Not a misspelling, this is their motto-lots of waterfalls, gorges, deep ravines, rolling hills, etc.) It is located at the end of Cayuga Lake-one of the Finger Lakes.
There is lots of snow, not as much as you would get in your were more North because of the lake effect snow. It may not snow on Christmas but most of the times, there is snow on the ground.
Cornell University is located there as well as Ithaca College. Small town feeling with charm and sophistication.
Leaves change in the autumn and it is stunning!
If crime happens, it is big news because it is relatively rare-except for the normal stuff every small town has.
BSN is not required for nursing jobs.
Can't give you info. on housing but it is much, much lower than where I live now-Manhattan. I included links below that might help you with that info.
Here are a few links:
Good luck! It is a beautiful area!