I grew up in the suburbs of Cuse (Manlius). I've lived in other, nicer cities (New York City, Buenos Aires) and by comparison I would say that Syracuse is obviously smaller and not as exciting but it's not the hellhole everyone's claiming it is. The downtown area has a good bar and sports scene with Syracuse University and the suburbs like Manlius and Fayetteville and Dewitt are really, really nice. It's important to note that the income disparity in Syracuse is extremely drastic. The rough parts are really rough but the nice parts are perfectly fine. You also have the finger lakes, Cazenovia lake, Ithaca and loads of gorgeous natural outdoor attractions within easy day tripping distance. There's no doubt it has been hit hard economically and has really bad areas but if you're in the nicer areas its really not bad.