New York Is Not Dead. I Don’t Care What Many People Think.
New York is dead forever.
People are leaving New York.
New York is dead and not coming back.
How many times did we hear this? How many of the people who said that actually live in New York? If they did, they probably would have realized a few, very important things which, altogether, lead us to only one conclusion: New York is not dead!
Let’s examine the 5 main reasons why New York is not dead. And let’s take it from there.
What About Taxes?
Working remotely had been welcomed like a blessing. People could easily work from the cozy environment of their own homes. They didn’t need to worry about jumping on buses, trains, subway, or any other means of transportation which could potentially put them in jeopardy. The thought of commuting had completely disappeared. Last but not least, New York is one of the most expensive places to live in the US, and so is taxation. Being somewhere else was a relief.
On the other hand, this relocation could have consequences on their tax burden. As Jenny Gross says, at the end of the day working remotely can be not so pleasant for your pockets. According to tax laws, people are taxed based on their place of residence (where you spend 183 days within one year.) Technically, if one moves somewhere tax burden is lighter than in New York, it’s a blessing. But it may not be like that.
The situation is simple: You are hired in New York but live somewhere else. This somewhere else may be a place that has no reciprocity agreement with New York, therefore such State may offer no tax credit. Long story short, in Gross’s own words: “if the state where you have relocated does not have a reciprocity agreement with the state of your primary residence, you could be subject to double state-income taxation.”
As if it wasn’t enough, many multi national corporations have recalled their managers to their New York offices. The sign is clear: remote working was an exception. It is likely not to be the rule at all.
Last but certainly not least, if you live somewhere else, why should you be paid as if you were in a very expensive place? Laws and practices will change. Therefore, wait a second before saying this is a decisive argument. From this point of view, it is easy to see New York is not dead.
What About New Yorkers? Are You Sure They Are All Leaving?
Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, we kept hearing people were leaving New York. This massive exodus was an unmistakable sign of the end of this glorious city. People are leaving New York. People prefer a happier, more relaxed suburb life than the frantic pace New York provides, its high competition, high rents, and more.
What is the truth? Less than half a million people have actually left the City for good. Most of them moved to their second homes. In a city with 8.6 million official residents and almost .6 million undocumented ones, making it more than 9 million people in a state whose total population is 19.45 million, that is not a big number, not even in percentage.
Second to that, contrary to popular belief, not too many people, in the end, have a second home. What people generally forget is that New York is home to the two biggest housing project districts in the whole United States. Brownsville, Brooklyn with almost 60,000 residents and East Harlem, 98,500 are more than the people living in Albany, the State capital.
But there’s more. According to Wikipedia, “More than 400,000 New Yorkers reside in NYCHA’s 325 public housing developments across the City’s five boroughs. Another 235,000 receive subsidized rental assistance in private homes through the NYCHA-administered Section 8 Leased Housing Program.” This makes about 640,000 people who likely have no second home. Where will they move to?
This escape from the city was something that attracted the media. For once, they had to write about people going out of New York rather than coming to the Big Apple. Needless to say, those who thrive on disgrace found the whole thing of writing about what was actually happening with a little too much emphasis very appealing. The result was a lot of misinformation. As far as the whole City population is concerned, New York is not dead.
It’s Not Only About Manhattan
We also have to consider one very simple thing. People tend to identify New York with Manhattan, whose 1.6 million residents make it the less populated of the five Boroughs, with the only exception of Staten Island. Brooklyn alone, on the other hand, is the 4th largest city in the United States by population.
Too many times Manhattan is taken as the main trend for whatever happens in New York. This is far from being the truth. Most of the city’s residents live somewhere else. When, at the beginning of phase two, people in Queens complained everybody was out on the street, in bars, not socially distancing, people living in Manhattan could hardly have a clue of what was really happening in the other boroughs.
While it is true most of the people leaving New York where primarily wealthy people from Manhattan, not the same ratio applied in other boroughs, especially Queens and The Bronx. Lots of people left Staten Island as well.
New York Sense of Community
Another variable most of the people writing about the death of New York do not seem to consider is the sense of community the City has always had. When it comes to stand together, to face an enemy, or to fight for a cause, New York has always proved to be one entire, united community. It doesn’t matter whether you are from a religious minority in Brooklyn, if you make a long commute from Co-op City in The Bronx to the Financial District, or if you own one of the many moms and pops stores in Jamaica. We are all New Yorkers.
From this point of view, New York is not dead. Nor will it ever be.
Last But Certainly Not Least… the Energy of New York
Had I mentioned Jerry Seinfeld’s article in the New York Times, this post would have been way shorter. The logic Seinfeld uses is pure and simple, yet impossible to attack. Nowhere else in the world will you find an energy that is even comparable to the one you experience in New York. You may have the best time in the world working from home, you may think the weather is better in some other places. But if you’ve been to New York, you’re going to miss that unique energy. Sooner or later you will. Much sooner than later, though.
That same energy that wraps around the million people who come here every day, making The Big Apple their new home. Some stay, other leave. Some tame her, others are overwhelmed but, as my friend Lou always says, “it’s still home.”
That is what pushed my wife and me to leave our life in Italy, move here with only a part-time job and a credit score of only 222, rent an Airbnb apartment in Bed Stuy for one month for 3,300 Dollars, find our first Manhattan two-bedroom in East Harlem and keep working on it, up to moving to the Upper West Side in less than 3 years. It wouldn’t have been possible anywhere else.
Here’s my video! See Yourselves.
New York is not dead. Some say New York is dead forever. Others say New York is dead and not coming back.
What I see is a city that is going through a rough time, whose pace is different from what it used to be but which, nevertheless, is slowly regaining its balance. Even the scariest days of a possible second wave, with 9 zip codes showing a very alarming rate of infections, seem almost left behind. New York City, as well as the State of New York, are back to good levels at least two days in a row, waiting for a third one confirming the down trend in this endless battle.
The video I shot shows New York on a beautiful early October afternoon. Not too many people on the streets but an intense traffic, people back in their offices in Midtown, customers lining up for their turn in Bloomingdale’s, a colony of rats eating leftovers in Sutton Place, and more.
As they say, an image is worth a thousand words. Draw your own conclusions.
New York Is Not Dead
Trust me, New York is not dead. Not even this time. It may not be the 2019 New York again. But it is not dead.
New York is not dead.