For those who call New York their home willingly, and who feel the state sometimes gets a bad rap, there was a bit of vindication in a recent Siena College Research Institute poll, which found that 70% of New Yorkers were happy to live here.
You wouldn’t know it by the statistics on outmigration or by how people who live in states like Florida, Texas or South Carolina view us, but New York can be a pretty great place to live.
If you love outdoor activities like camping, fishing, hunting, skiing, hiking, snowmobiling, golf and cycling, we have some of the largest and best preserved outdoor areas in the country.
There’s plenty to do here for people with any interest, from arts to sports to entertainment or whatever floats your boat — including boating.
We’re situated close to three major metropolitan areas, have really good regional airports, and we have a model state and national highway system that makes it fairly easy to drive from place to place.
Even with crime rates rising, New York is one of the safest states in the country to live. A congressional hearing designed to make New York seem horribly unsafe exposed the high crime rates in other states. We have good schools (great schools in some places); a top-notch, reasonably affordable state university system; and access to health care. Most of us live close to vital services like fire, EMS and police protection.
While we complain about the long winters and short summers, we don’t generally experience the extreme weather that many other states regularly suffer. And we don’t have to deal with alligators, pythons or mosquitoes year-round. (Take that, Florida.)
But before you mistake this for an I Love NY commercial, we assure you it’s not.
We are fully aware that New York state has plenty of issues. We point them out all the time. Enough issues to drive thousands out of the state seeking greener, warmer and cheaper pastures each year.
The cost of living is too high for those with moderate and low incomes, and we have too many pockets of abject poverty. Our taxes are among the highest in the nation. We pay more for schools and government than many places in the country.
Our businesses are overregulated and our state government has too much control over our lives. We have drugs and violent crime. There are still too many lead water pipes, too much pollution and areas of environmental contamination, too many potholes, and we’re too slow to react to some of the most immediate threats to our health and welfare.
But for those of us who tire of the outside criticism and seemingly endless degree of self flagellation, the poll is a reminder of the quality of life that living in New York affords us.
If we want it to get better, we have to be more vigilant.
We have to engage our public officials and demand they do better when it comes to our taxes, public services and regulatory structure. We have to vote. We have to fight for better health care and improved social services and better roads, bridges and water. We have to step up efforts to make our streets safer and keep our kids engaged.
Even with those improvements, many people will still leave. But the poll showed that many of us still believe New York is a state worth saving.
So let’s save it.
Let someone else deal with the alligators.