Affordable rural farmland and proximity to traditional population centers are driving a recent boomlet in new Amish colonies in New York state, according to a new study. The Amish, many of them from Ohio or Pennsylvania, have established 10 new settlements in New York since the start of 2010. Total population there has grown by nearly a third in the past two years, to 13,000. As recently as 1991, there were just 3,900 Amish in the state.
The Amish movement into New York has been partially fueled by a contagion effect in which families report back on finding productive and underpriced land. The state has lower land prices in rural areas than Pennsylvania and Ohio, states that together account for nearly half of the nationwide Amish population of about 261,000. In the 1980s and '90s, Kentucky played that role for the Amish, while more recently it was Wisconsin. The Amish are currently in 28 states and the Canadian province of Ontario. (Read more Amish stories.)