New Yorkers Won’t Quit The Big Apple—Even If It Is The Only Way To Be Financially Free

Empire state of mind? New Yorkers feel unnaturally attached to the Big Apple even if staying doesn’t make sense financially.

By Jeff Vasishta November 24, 2016
Photo courtesy of stockelements /

New York can now firmly be divided into two camps. No, not Democrats and Republicans (are there any Republicans in NYC?)—but rather those who own and those who rent. You can always recognize the owners. They’re the ones with smug smiles on their faces.

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For the renters, however, life isn’t so rosy. Rents seem to be rising faster than the names in the visitor log at Trump’s NJ golf course. But their relationship with the Big Apple has an Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton quality to it—or should that be Rihanna and Chris Brown or Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner? These couples just can’t seem to stay away from each other, even though it’s probably best they did. A Quinnipiac University poll this week tried to make sense of the strange relationship between New Yorkers and their beloved city. Here’s the breakdown:

Almost 40 percent of New Yorkers said that the “the rent is too damn high” and they couldn’t really afford it—but 65 percent said they’d still rather stay here. Only 32 percent admitted they’d move if given the chance.

It only makes sense that the highest wage earners would make the most impassioned case for the stay camp—with 74 percent of Manhattanites intending to stay put no matter what.

Those artsy Brooklynites, with their yoga mats, one-speed bikes and Jonathan Franzen novels, felt the most burdened by the cost of living with over half (53 percent) saying they couldn’t stay in the borough. Staten Islanders, on the other hand, were the most undecided—with 57 percent saying they wanted to stay.

Blacks felt the pinch especially hard with 57 percent looking for the exit sign—as opposed to 41 percent of whites (That’s called gentrification – Ed.).

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Of course, the report tells us nothing new. Everybody knows that New York is an expensive and a stressful place to live—but it does give us specifics. Nearly 42 percent of renters spend more than 30 percent of their household income on rent—a term known as being rent burdened, according to a report from the Citizen’s Budget Commission. And let’s not even get into the increasing number of homeless people.

“Sure it’s a nice place to visit, and people do want to live here. At least most of us do,” Maurice Carroll, assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll, said in a statement. “But, if the city is nice, it’s not cheap. Half of New Yorkers say they can’t afford to live here.”

And yet we all do.

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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