How to behave now that you’re upstate: A guide for citiots

So you’re coming up to the country. Maybe it’s your first time, or maybe you come up every weekend or maybe you even moved up here. You might’ve heard whispers among the locals of citiots, but you’re certain they mean someone else. You might be right — simply being from the city does not make one a citiot. Being unable or unwilling to modify your city behavior when in the country? That’s what will earn you this handle.  For anything that follows, of course there might be a couple, up to a few, locals who do the same. There are outliers in every group.

• You didn’t invent or discover anything. We already knew. We’ve been here forever. We already know there is great art in Ulster County. Hell, Ulster County has had the highest per capita of artists in New York State for the past century. Woodstock as an artist’s colony started way before 1969; every town had its artists, musicians, social activists. It feels as if we are being condescended to, or worse — are invisible to you — when we read yet another quote, or overhear yet another person from the city thinking they discovered art, or swimming holes, or a great butcher here where we have always lived.

• Stop saying you opened your business to have something worthwhile. I will not name names here, though I could, and it would be quite a list. The point is simply that if you open a business here in the country, please, I beg you — stop saying it is because there was no worthy business of its sort already here. This is plain rude and you didn’t need to have been raised by Emily Post or Miss Manners to recognize that. Say you just love the way you make it and wanted to share it, using your old family recipe/tradition/method. You don’t need to casually insult our offerings to make your case.


• Branch out — your new friend might not be like you. What’d you move here for anyway, if you need a bubble? There was a popular article in a city-people magazine some years ago, about moving to the country and not wanting to be a citiot. The article is so wildly condescending, yet neither the author nor the editor recognized it. At one point, the author lamented that in the city, while dropping her kid off at daycare, it is easy to spot, “another stay-at-home artist mom who likes yoga” or some equally ludicrous description of the person she might best get along with because the person is essentially herself. You likely won’t find so many like you up here. We don’t either. I have friends with Ph.D.’s, and friends who are janitors. Literally. Both. And I wouldn’t trade any of them. You do yourself a disservice looking for such a small little stripe in the rainbow.

• Red Lights, red lights, red lights. Red. Lights. We sit, dumbfounded (that slack-jawed expression you find yokel-ish just might be because we are appalled at your temerity), watching three of you habitually run a red light. Three. As if a red light is a mere suggestion. Let me say one more time — this ain’t the city. Stop endangering our children because you are in a rush. Stop the car at red lights, and slow it down at a yellow. Further, please stop honking at us from behind because we actually wait for the green photons of light to hit our retinas before we start going through the intersection. You came up here because you wanted to get away from the stress of the city, didn’t you? Relax, and try to think of it as an exercise in mindfulness if that makes you feel better.

• Complaining about what it costs to make your home beautiful. This is a common one. The person fixing your steps, or your septic tank (we don’t have sewers up here, in most places), or putting on your roof — when he asks for $30 or $40 an hour, many of you are aghast. And then, a second later, you wonder why they don’t return your calls or why they aren’t anxious to work for you. I’ve been present during a conversation with a woman who bought a house up here and then talked at length about how hard it was to find decent help, but that finally she had, and she was so grateful. I am not going to share specifics, because I am not out to shame anyone here. The good help she had finally found was paid $25 a day to come in and do several hours manual labor for this woman. The woman was at a dinner party, among the polite company of others who were from the city, and me, happily bragging about how she was paying someone an amount just above slave wages. Appalled doesn’t approach how I felt, or feel. Here is a tip — keeping your house both safe and beautiful takes a skill set you don’t have, acquired over years of work. Your laborer needs to eat too. His car needs maintenance too. Stop being stingy, stop thinking you are being taken advantage of because someone asks for a fair wage.  And if you can’t, then don’t be surprised when you find it hard to get good help.

• Stop underestimating us. We are smart too. We are politically savvy too. We like a clean planet too. We like good schools and pretty art, same as you. If we don’t happen to like Piss Christ or the whole Sensations show altogether, that is not because we are ignorant. It’s because a vast portion of human beings prefer pleasant things, when given an option. Also, and I realize this is a tough one, stop applying your brief formal education to what we have been handing down for generations. We know which trees to trim back on the edge of a field. We know about carbon footprints and might also prefer a newer truck with better gas mileage and fewer emissions, but Ulster County happens to have just about the highest cost-of-living to income ratio in the country. Stop making so many assumptions about what it means to not be from the city, and you will find things are easier for all of us.

• Try to not be a citiot. That’s almost good enough. Just try.

Henry Rosewater is a pseudonym for a lifelong Kingston resident.

There are 33 comments

  1. M. Arrington

    I don’t think your analogy of all city people who moved up here is correct, that is being racists. I guess you think all people who moved here are rich and snobbish, I for one give to the community by working & purchasing in Hudson Valley. Its not easy to make a living here, but we stretch it out & make do. So don’t lump all of us into one category, yes we are different the city never leaves you, but I for one was raised with manners & respect for others, which is lacking in this part of the woods. As far as people goin thru red lights and talk on their phones, you should look at drivers who do that, they happen to be teens to very young, how do you pick & say its city people………I find your comments without merit & just cruel……..check your information & come back more informed.

    1. Firannion

      Where did the author say ‘all’? Where did he ‘lump all of us into one category’? If the shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn’t, have a chuckle instead of getting your knickers in a twist.

  2. citiot in queens

    This article is poo poo and you should feel bad. How about an article about the throngs of morons that descend on the city, get hammered and make a complete ass of themselves. Should we start talking about red lights and how country bumpkins can’t seem to drive at all. Seriously- get over your self.

  3. A. Moore

    Henry Rosewater should feel awesome having written this article. I am so sick of “citiots” doing all the things he listed plus some. I have had more problems being surrounded by absolute citiots than anyone else. My neighbors moved here for quiet from the city. Guess what? The country has its own set of sounds. Sirens are replaced by chainsaws and honking is replaced by kids having a great time in the pool on hot summer evenings. They complain when we cut trees, light off fireworks, run the 4 wheeler (to collect the wood we cut), and but into our business, even though we cut ties with them several years ago. They have even complained that we talk too loud when we are more than 500 feet away from them. They complain about hunters but them hit the deer when they are speeding. Get over the country being quiet and generally stupid, and understand, we have rights and we pay our taxes too.

  4. Helen Bird

    Hateful, name-calling article. Generating Ill will and divisiveness. You should be ashamed of yourselves there at Hudson valley one.

    1. Kurt Summer

      Agree. It’s a lot more credible to demand respect when you are not insulting others with the same breath. “Tips for adapting to rural living”?

  5. Bob

    God bless you, wherever you came from, enjoy “the country”, and all it, and it’s people have to offer, beauty being tops of the list. I hope you come here, stay here, be here, have fun here, expand your world here, savor, and eat your fill here, meet the great and diverse people here, make life lasting friends here, take it all in, while you are here, and when you go, leave here, in peace, with warm and cherished memories, of a land, and people like no other, no other place, on earth. I love it here, and I hope you will to, glad to have you, and drive safe. Oh, and another thing, thanks for spending your hard earned cash here, supporting our business’s, and friend’s, we know how hard it is to come by, so thanks for thinking of the upper Hudson Valley, and gateway to the Catskills, we sure do appreciate it. Peace, and may life be all, it can be, and be happy.

  6. Aaron

    I would add, because it matters tremendously to community life, the issue of neighborlyness and litigiousness. There are so many stories of neighbors complaining about what is happening next door to town boards, and having never even tried talking to the neighbor in person. Again, this isn’t the city – part of the appeal is that we don’t have to solve all our problems with each other with government officials or lawyers. We can know each other, trust each other, and reconcile our differences without third party intervention. Really, it’s possible.

  7. migwar

    “We are smart too. We are politically savvy too. We like a clean planet too. We like good schools and pretty art, same as you.”
    I question your disparagement of “brief formal education.” You should have been taught to precede the word “too” with a comma in most situations. It’s a wonder you knew enough to insert a comma before “same as you.”

  8. paul

    This article only showcases the declining antiquated mutterings of a person or small group of people who have a hard time accepting revitalization, and a sense of community. This person and those of their ilk should instead stay sheltered in their upstate home and bemoan how life used to be “awesome” in high school. Go build a time machine while you’re at it.

  9. Laurel Tanner

    i just moved here last year from “downstate”. this man would probably hate me. i try to change my accent when I’m out and about but it still comes out. people look at me funny. how not nice is that? i still love it up here. MOST people are very nice. i hope i never run into this guy.

  10. Just Telling The Truth

    Don’t Be A Localputz.
    Hmm. Fascinating to see another ‘local’ who’s so judgemental. Truly amazing. People who choose to move anywhere should be welcome anywhere. And as a person who lives ‘upstate’ I’ll challenge you that while yes, there were some nice businesses here – many of them opened by newcomers of the past – there is a dearth of good food, good wine, and good art in many communities. So if someone opens something cool, why don’t you go in and say, “Hey! Welcome to the neighborhood! It’s nice to have a clean new restaurant in our tiny town instead of only a Stewarts.” Why don’t you as a ‘localputz’ think for one second that you don’t actually live out in the wilderness, you live in a NYC Metro County with a population of nearly 200,000 and an area about the size of Rhode Island. Most areas have neighbors, lots of neighbors, so when your ramming your pickup or your ATV around…you might just be being more rude and more loud than a ‘city’ person.

    It ain’t the wild west kids, it’s Ulster County.

    Sorry if you had a negative experience with an ex-urban dweller…but I can assure you the bad attitude is very alive and well on behalf of ‘locals’ who have a major chip on their shoulder for reasons unknown.

    And the funny thing is. Get this. All my ‘city’ friends are the first ones to ask out of towners and hillbillies where they are headed if they see one with a map, or looking lost. They’re happy to point out a great place to eat, or a great museum to visit. In my experience, most ‘city’ people tend to actually be nicer due to the fact that they live amidst so many different kinds of people – it’s the only way to get through a day. If you’re as rude as some ‘locals’ that I know you’d never be able to survive.

    Of course I am being sarchastic to a point…but some of what I say is true from my observations of my
    fellow ‘locals / transplants who consider themselves locals now’. People who choose to come here, to move here, to invest their hard earned time, money, taxes, and hard work came here because the believe
    this is the right place to make a good life. So stop juding and stop being so self-righteous.

    My point is be nice to people no matter where they’re from. That’s the problem with our nation and our world today – people prefer to JUDGE rather than simply smile, say hi, and be nice.

    As for ‘The Author Rosewater’ sounds like someone has a major chip on their shoulder and a bad attitude. You should be nicer, you’re a local country person – or so you say.

  11. S.P.

    While many of these observations ring true, let’s not pretend that people who have lived here all their lives are perfectly-behaved drivers, unlike those dratted city people. For the record, I grew up in the country, then lived in the city for about a decade, and now have been back here in the woods for 20 years. I can repair my own chainsaw and tractor and work boots. But bad drivers? There as many locals as citiots who fit that description. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been tailgated by non-citiots; or passed illegally on the right at high speeds at a clogged intersection; or honked at by a “local” if I don’t leap at a green light like an Indy 500 driver. (The only three accidents I’ve ever suffered in the Hudson Valley involved local teenagers who just got their licenses, then managed to get us both in a mess.) The sad truth is that bad driving, road rage and general impatience is pretty universal. You don’t have to be a Manhattanite to come in for that criticism.

  12. A.M.

    As a business owner in Greene County, I love getting customers from the city. This kind of undeserved smugness don’t play by me.

  13. James

    We moved up here 12 years ago. We know a lot of city folk. Some acclimate, some don’t. You have to feel sorry for those people who think that their mere presence in Ulster County is “revitalizing” the area. Would these same Brooklynites (who are NEVER actually from Brooklyn btw let’s me serious) have the same attitude if they moved to the French countryside? I’m going to go out on a limb and say no. They would discard this type of language because it reveals their own arrogance while insulting their new neighbors. After they’ve lived here a decade this type of talk quiets down considerably. Why? One word: money. Once that city money runs out and they start earning an upstate salary everyone mellows out. So, let’s give each cidiot their customary adjustment decade and move on.

  14. Jill A

    It’s really sad that the author and people who get a kick out of this have such low self-esteem and nothing better to do than to relish in useless name calling like this. Talk about living in a bubble. The nasty people who use cidiot are the same as racists who use slurs, assuming they are superior without knowing anything about the people they are demeaning.

  15. Laurel

    I love the town I live in, Saugerties. but basically Ulster County is really not a nice place to live. garbage properties, nasty shop owners, just not clean places, locals who think their poop doesn’t stink.

    I love the beauty of my new home. but this so called “upstate” peeps against “Citiots” (how freaking degrading, hope your offspring move to NYC) is upsetting.

    maybe I’ll forgive you.

    P.S. not all locals have been cold to me (I’m a recent transplant/replant). some I’m already greeting them with a hug.

  16. MJ

    I am not a native of Ulster County by native qualifications. My dad moved here after WW2 and did his medical residency at Kingston City Hospital. He was then the pathologist at the lab for several years. He opened his GP ractice in the basement of our home on 209. In 1956 he purchased a building on Main Street 209 where he practiced until about 1995. In 1969 we moved to Krumville/ The Vly. NY. I lived there until 1999. I moved to other states and towns, butmy heart always called me home. In the early 60’s many of my friends lived in Westchester and Connecticut. I told my parents that it looked rural but there was so much traffic and traffic lights. Everyone had big wooden fences around their property even the homes were there wasn’t an abundance of traffic or car lights going into their windows. I felt it was coming to Stone Ridge. We have movies from 1958. We knew everyone that passed our house. Which by the way was about a car every 5 minutes. My mom was furious. Development of movies was pricey back then. The house in Krumville was an old farm surrounded by land. By today’s standards it cost less than a luxury car. Nothing fancy. But the land and the privacy is a cherished memory. I raised my daughter there. After my parents death we had to sell like many people with siblings that can’t agree. I live in Accord now. I have neighbors. They have moved to ” the country ” some can’t stand the crow of a rooster. No more Roos. Others well we’ll see, some afraid because they think they’re surrounded by hicksters.The sadness of our beautiful valley being invaded makes me want to find a town like the Stone Ridge of the 50’s. What is laughable is the people that move here and never leave their house unless it’s to go to an event. They hire…yardwork,housecleaning, hanging a Cal closet. Great. Just don’t think or treat us like you’re better, smarter or more educated. The man cutting a tree down or plunging your toilet because you plugged it up with who knows might just might have a Phd. Or just some good old Country wisdom or common sense. No one remembers my dad anymore, not as a GP, Town Supervisor or guy that made a housecall in the middle of the night. Now the name is known for another member of my family. Angry no not really. Saddened definitely. Back up, take a picture and enjoy why you spent a fortune to move here. Rake a leaf, pick a nut, knock on a door and see if you can pick the apples they’re driving over to go pick apples at some orchard.

  17. Mitch

    Ulster County in a nutshell:

    1)Plenty of rude people, especially local business owners.

    2) Worst pool of single women I’ve ever seen

    3)Horribly overpriced rentals

    4)Horrible job market for degreed professionals

    5)Way too many scumbag drug addicts

    6) Teenagers and youngsters who seriously need to learn some fking manners

    7) Artistic types who are extremely unfriendly, even when you show interest in their talent

    This place is a complete dump. It’s no wonder this place is dying. Only the miserable and unfriendly enjoy living here.

    1. leo

      An old man sat outside the walls of a great city. When travelers approached they would ask the old man, “What kind of people live in this city?” And the old man would answer, “What kind of people lived in the place where you came from?” If the travelers answered, “Only bad people lived in the place where we came from,” then the old man would reply, “Continue on; you will find only bad people here.” But if the travelers answered, “Only good people lived in the place where we have come from,” then the old man would say, “Enter, for here, too, you will find only good people.”

  18. Mimi

    Years ago when we lived in the Town of Ulster out in country area, we had summer neighbors who had a cottage next to our home.
    They came from the Queen’s.
    Never a nice word was utter from this family. Wife no good hairdressers in the area, food stores don’t carry what we like. At the time 3 major grocery stores in the area. No fresh veggies or fruit. Really we had Adams.
    Bad restaurants really.
    It just continued with complaints. One time with their complaining I asked why do you come up here if it is do bad of a environment for your family? Of course no answer was received from this family.
    I can tell you it was not the neighbors stealing vegetables from the farm across the way. It was this family & their uncle’s & cousins.
    It was not the neighbors stealing wood from our fire wood stacks it was this family for their nightly fire pits.
    We continued to be polite during their ventures to the cottage. Why because we were brought up to be kind.

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