I can't speak to the experience of living in NYC as well as you, having never tried it. I've visited and been fairly impressed, at least with everything other than the century or so of grime on every building.
That said, there's a lot to be said for those of us living in the hinterlands (also known as "places beyond the Hudson"). I'm here in Upstate South Carolina, which is noticeably different from Upstate New York, which does not begin at Poughkeepsie! The labor rates are certainly cheaper than in NYC or surrounding areas, but then, so is the cost of living. The lovely three-bedroom split-level house on two acres with a backyard pool that I own here would easily have cost well over 10 times what I spent on it, had I bought in or around NYC. Yes, we have our drawbacks: there's nearly no public transportation here, the arts scene while vibrant is still extremely small, and we have to travel long distances to see most great live entertainment (musicals, opera, what-have-you). Still, to wake up in the morning and see a family of deer slowly wending their way across my front lawn, while munching on the shrubbery that I've been too lazy to prune anyway, more than makes up for it.