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9 Things Us Upstate New Yorkers Love to Whine About

New York
by Scott Summers Nov 23, 2016

1. NYC.

That place. It’s commonly referred to as “The City” by Upstate New Yorkers. And it’s not that upstaters have a problem with the city in general, it’s more about the impression that NYC leaves on the rest of the state. It’s a proportionally small part of the state that sucks up all the attention.

Plus, the distinction between NYC and the rest of the state is tremendous, and they don’t share wants, needs, or problems. Considering that NYC is the media golden child, the rest of the state (and its issues) often get a pass.

2. The cost of winter.

In the summer, it’s not so bad. The temperature usually doesn’t climb above 90. Most mornings and evenings are pleasant. You might kick on the AC for half an hour or so in the mid afternoon to cool things down.

But the winter will burn a hole into your savings account if you’re not prepared for it. The monthly bills can easily climb into the hundreds to keep a house warm. Throw some car maintenance on top of that; snow tires, constant car washes to remove the salt from the vehicle, and some heavy winter gear. Those seasonal costs start to pile up.

3. The collapsed industrial market.

Through a mix of politics, outsourcing, expired tax breaks, and failing businesses, Upstate New York’s manufacturing jobs have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Very few industrial facilities are still active across the region, and it’s often cited as part of the reason why the upstate is trailing in many economical benchmarks.

A large contingent of voters in the region would do whatever it takes to bring manufacturing back to the upstate. Those were the glory days.

4. Salt damage to cars (and everything else).

Even though the Rust Belt gets its name for a different reason, a drive through Upstate New York can be a car killer if you don’t maintain your vehicle. In winter, the roads turn white from the highly corrosive salt-paste sprayed onto the pavement. That massive amount of salt can rust a car out in just a few years. Wintertime car washes are a necessary evil and a constant pain.

5. Construction season.

There are two seasons in Upstate New York: Winter and construction season.

As soon as the snow is off the ground, the construction crews wake from their cold-weather hibernation to stalk the roads and bridges once more.

Between the salt, snow plows, and general insanity of winter drivers, winter is hard on most roads. Couple that with a lake of maintenance for half the year, and the summer maintenance mantra becomes: “fix this shit before it’s broke-broke”.

6. Summer ending too soon.

Even though Upstate New Yorkers aren’t big fans of roadwork, it beats the hell out of winter. Nobody is ready for more snow. Albany, NY gets about 60 inches of snow a year. Syracuse piles up about 120 inches, 200+ if you drive about an hour north.

That’s too much snow.

When the thick, gray clouds drop that first October snow, depression settles on the area like a weight.
There are a ton of things to do during the upstate winter: Skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, etc. But these exist and are mostly done because summer is gone and the outdoorsy folks need something to do while they’re waiting for summer to come back.

7. What sports team to support.

Syracuse is a definite part of the Upstate, so the Big Orange gets a big hurrah from the neighboring cities, but outside of that nobody really knows what’s going on here. On one hand, you’ve got some pretty good teams . . . but they’re part of NYC and the downstate region. Technically, that’s in-state support, so it’s not all bad.

But if you’re on a tirade against the downstate crowd, or if you’re looking for alternatives, they can be hard to come by. After all, the only major Upstate New York teams are the Bills and Sabres (for better or worse).

8. How long it takes to get anywhere.

Upstate New York is pretty big. Most major cities are an hour and a half apart (in construction season, often longer in winter). To get anywhere different, you’ve got to be willing to travel for at least an hour by car. That’s fine for the occasional trip, but building hours upon hours of driving time into your weekly routine sucks.

It’s not uncommon for workers in rural areas to spend an hour commuting to the city, just to turn around and dive it again at the end of the night. The rural, small town feel in Upstate New York is great, but that comes at a hefty cost by way of time and vehicle maintenance.

9. Downstaters pretending to be upstaters.

If you’re from the Hamptons or in one of the off-Manhattan suburbs, you’re not from the upstate. While most upstaters are pretty amicable and open to NYC visitors, trying to pass yourself off as a native is a great way to piss off the locals.

Upstaters may argue among themselves who is considered “upstate”, but they all agree on that.

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