New York City is The Big Apple, America’s melting pot, perhaps the world’s melting pot, but wow, is it one expensive apple. It’s no wonder the city is a melting pot. You have to make stew with what you can scrape up just to eat. At least it seems that way to most New York denizens and its many visitors. In this article, part 1 of a 2 part series, we’ll examine the high cost of living in New York City and its causes. In part 2, we’ll examine how the high cost of living in NYC affects its many citizens today.
Back in the late 1990’s, Chef Marc Lombardini was an Executive Chef at the famed Greenbrier in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, the 4 star resort that is home to a Presidential bunker which has housed and elaborately fed the rich and famous for many, many years. Chef Lombardini was at a crossroad in his culinary career. The choice was presented to him to either go back home and run the family restaurant in Catonsville, Maryland, or to get a position as an Executive Chef at the famed Tavern On The Green in Manhattan.
He could either take a job thousands would kill for, a once in a lifetime opportunity to show his skill in one of the premier restaurants on the planet, or go home and run The Candlelight in a suburb of Baltimore. Feed the Derek Jeter’s and Donald Trump’s of the world on a fairly regular basis, or the citizens of Catonsville, population of 41, 457. Take the best position that he would only get offered once or take over a family business he would eventually embrace any way. The choice was obvious, right?
Of course, Chef Lombardini chose Catonsville. But why? Why turn down such an incredible, potentially career changing offer?
Because the job, that was offered to him had a salary range of $75,000 a year. Sounds like a lot, but in New York City, it’s not. When you check out the cost of housing, utilities, fuel, food, taxes, parking, insurance, and everything else that you get hit with in New York, that same income will amount to about $40,000 a year in Baltimore. The buildings aren’t the only thing that are sky-high in New York. An ice cream cone costs $4.50. It certainly didn’t make economic sense to move to New York to make the same excellent food that he could produce in his home kitchen. Chef Lombardini didn’t miss out on a huge opportunity, The Big Apple lost out on a great Chef another flavor to add to its melting pot, because the cost of living is just too high and has been for many, many years. Manhattan, by far, is the absolute worst.
More and more, people are leaving New York or are simply not moving to the city of dreams because the cost of living is simply ridiculous. For years, New York has been the hallmark of freedom, the bastion of hope, and the landing spot for many immigrants coming to find their version of the American Dream. Now the expenses have come home to roost, as well.
After years of taking in such a large number and of developing its remarkable history, sights, sounds and smells, New York has clearly out priced itself trying to manage to accommodate and entertain so many. The cost of housing is, to put a construction phrase in play, literally through the roof. It costs $400 to a ridiculous $5000 a month just to park in a parking garage 5 days a week to go to work.
Why is the great metropolis so expensive? Because it’s such a wondrous city, it attracts too many wealthy companies that pay a lot of sky-high salaries. Because it is the banking center of the country, and Wall Street is the principal trading market in the nation. It is also because New York City is the publishing and media hub of the world. A large number of super rich people occupy the upper class of the city, even though most New Yorkers don’t make the big money. However, since the cost of living is high, incomes are normally higher, and this means that Uncle Sam takes more in taxes than anywhere else in the nation.
“…a typical registered nurse in metropolitan New York earns $82,712 versus a national average of $65,464. In the case of an accountant, they calculate a figure of $74,388 versus a national average of $58,712.” The median difference in average income is a little more than $10,000 a year per vocation higher in New York City when compared to the national average. The IRS doesn’t mind that you have to pay more in New York City for food and necessities; they just care how much you make over the course of the year. So even though not all New Yorkers are rich or super rich, many are quite poor, there is a higher tax rate across the board which fuels the cost of living. The irony is that, in many cases, though the cost of living in New York is much higher, the standard of living is arguably worse because everything is so expensive. New York subsidizes many other states and municipalities because so many federal tax dollars come from The Big Apple.
Fair or not, everything is bigger, better and faster in New York, including the speed at which dollars leaves your wallet or pocketbook. There’s no other place like it in the world. That comes at a cost to its many residents. The city has been packed with wall to wall people throughout its history, hitting a high point in regards to immigration in the early 20th century. It’s been paying the bill for all this immigration for the past 100 years just about and there’s no end in sight to the outrageously expanding tab. In part 2 of this 2 part series, we’ll examine the cost of living in New York today and how it’s affecting its many citizens.