Where to move after NYC?
By Najah Ayoub
“Once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough”
– remarked American novelist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, John Steinbeck.
While John Steinbeck speaks for many New Yorkers, eventually the cost of living, crime, high density, rising taxes and ageing infrastructure can make you dream of a different lifestyle.
The good news is that the possibilities across the United States are endless. From beachside living on the coast, to rural areas with easy access to national parks and smaller major cities with great amenities but fewer challenges, it depends on what kind of life you want to shape next.
If you have a growing family, a strong school district may be a determining factor. If you love to hike, a short driving distance from your workplace to a trail may be your answer.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic closed down the Big Apple, many New Yorkers have taken advantage of the freedom provided by remote Working From Home options to leave the 5 boroughs. While many of these were high earners who stayed elsewhere in the tri-state area like the Hamptons, the departures were from all walks of life and demographics.
If you’re yet to make a decision, we’ve outlined some of the top destinations and what to consider before you move there.
Florida has long been a summer playground for New Yorkers but increasingly they’re leaving behind the subway and noise to move there full time. The major destination cities in Florida include Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa and Orlando.
Essentials such as food and groceries, housing, utilities, health and transportation are recorded on major indices to be cheaper in Florida than New York City. Even better news is that Floridians don’t pay any state or city personal income tax, capital gains tax, estate tax and have easier bankruptcy laws. Combined with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which has made buying a home in New York even more expensive, properties in most Floridian centres are now more accessible than in the city that never sleeps.
No matter where you are in Florida you are never more than 60 miles away from a body of salt water but you might want to get a car as Florida has more than 12,000 miles of highway traversing the state. Florida also has more golf courses than any other state. Whatever you choose, don’t forget the bug spray. It has one of the highest average rainfall rates in the country and records the highest average temperatures in the country (at Key West). That’s before we get into some of the weather extremes like hurricanes, tornadoes, waterspouts, Category 4 storms and more lightning strikes than anywhere else in the country.
If you are bunkered down inside you’ll have beautiful fresh produce grown locally to enjoy, and other quintessential cuisine includes key lime pie, seafood, Cubano’s and Caribbean classics like fried conch. What’s not to love about the Sunshine State?
Texas is the second largest state in the U.S. by population after California, and it seems the lower real estate prices, better tax laws and fewer restrictions are making it increasingly attractive as a place to live, work and invest.
Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston are amongst the major cities attracting new residents like Tesla’s Elon Musk and tech giants like Hewlett Packard. There’s incredible momentum in the Texan economy and it’s one of the healthiest in the United States. Post pandemic the state unemployment rate has been in recovery with more than 7 months of consecutive jobs growth. Austin now leads the nation in jobs market resilience, attracting more corporate jobs and remote workers than ever before.
Texas is one of 7 states in America without state income tax and of course you already know New York is not one of them. There are multiple tax incentives for businesses to move there including less onerous regulations while the construction of tens of thousands of new apartments in the capital in recent years means the rent there is also cheaper than Manhattan, Brooklyn and San Francisco.
Warmer weather is a guarantee if you move to Texas, summers average in the mid to high 90s but you’ll also experience more tornadoes than any other state especially on the Gulf Coast. If hitting the open road is what you’re looking for, the Lone Star State has more than 100 state parks including Big Bend National Park which is a global gold tier destination for stargazing at night or hiking, rock climbing and canyoning by day. If a frontier experience is more your thing, ranch visits to the Dixie Dude Ranch and rodeos like the Stockyards Rodeo in Fort Worth will keep up the excitement factor. Just be sure to send us a postcard if you do!
3. Boston, Massachusetts
It’s easy to fall in love with Boston, one of America’s most beautiful harbor cities, with world class education and health care. You shouldn’t have too big a culture shock coming from New York as Boston’s population of 692,600 people makes it the 3rd most densely populated city in the US. That number almost doubles during business hours as professionals travel into the city for work. Property prices mean most Bostonians rent, while the cost of living is more than 50% higher than the national average in major centres including Beacon Hill, Back Bay, South End and Allston.
On the upside, Boston has a dynamic economy, with the unemployment rate much lower than the national average and home to several Fortune 500 companies like General Electric, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, State Street Corp., American Tower and Fortune 100 companies including LPL Financial Holdings, Iron Mountain, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Cabot, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and Boston Properties. The city’s largest industry is health care while high profile universities like Harvard, MIT and Boston University drive innovation and attract industries such as bio tech, med tech, and venture capital to the region.
This is an ideal destination for enjoying four distinct seasons, with spring blossom and fall foliage displays that make perfect backdrops to the city’s historic architecture and in summer, multiple opportunities for swimming, rowing, sailing and fishing on Boston Harbor and its Islands.
4. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh is also known as Steel City as it was once the centre of the American Steel industry. However it’s economy has diversified markedly in recent decades into areas such as science, health, biomedical technology and finance.
Pittsburgh in more recent times has been ranked as one of the most livable cities in the United States and with a population of 300,000 people versus the 8 million they are leaving behind, New Yorkers will find the City of Bridges will find a far more laid back atmosphere.
From housing to food, everything is more affordable in ‘the Burgh’ than New York and also 1% lower than the national average. The cost of health and housing here is also lower than the average cost for the state of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania also has relatively low income tates. While you will find a drop in the value of the average wage in this city, there’s downward pressure on every other cost to balance it out. There’s also a lower crime rate and of course less road rage with fewer people competing for space. Top neighbourhoods in Pittsburgh include Squirrel Hill, Shady Side, Point Breeze and East Liberty.
For a hardened New Yorker, it might take a while to get used to passers by wishing you good morning or neighbors being friendly but you can expect a far more laid back atmosphere in Pittsburgh. Maybe it’s all those rolling hills and rivers that keep them zen, there are 3 rivers running through the town.
5. Stamford, Connecticut
If you want beaches close to home in a financial hub that’s home to an impressive mix of finance, insurance, management, real estate, digital media, health, and consumer goods companies Stamford Connecticut is a great option. The bonus is you’re only 30 miles from Manhattan, if you want to be able to return regularly. After Grand Central Terminal, Stamford is the second busiest stop for the Metro-North Line. For commuting to Boston or Washington, Stamford has an Amtrak station including high speed Acela services. It’s attractiveness means living costs in this city are fairly high with utility costs and property taxes much more than the national average. Top neighbourhoods include Newfield, Westover, North Stamford and Belltown which is known for its mix of rural and urban living.
It’s also a pretty well educated town, with the percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher amongst the highest in the country in Stamford. The University of Connecticut, University of Bridgeport and Sacred Heart University each have campuses in Stamford. The city has 3 public high schools, 5 public middle schools and several private schools including the B-Cultural Jewish Day School, Villa Maria School, the Long Ridge School and King Low Heywood Thomas. Stamford is also home to the largest public library in the state, Ferguson Library.
If that doesn’t sound family friendly enough, we should mention the Downtown area, connected by the Harbour Point Trolley service which is free and runs along 14 stops in a loop making it easy to get to more than 80 restaurants and clubs, farmers markets and other attractions. If the arts are more your thing, visit the beautifully restored Palace Theatre to see the Stamford Symphony Orchestra, try the Stamford Museum and Nature Centre with a working farm the family would love or a film complex like the Avon Theatre on quaint Bedford Street.
6. New Jersey
It’s one of the smallest states in America but New Jersey remains one of the most sought after places for ex-New Yorkers to plant roots. Some of the benefits of moving to New Jersey include a healthy lifestyle, great schools, lower crime and larger sized apartment and homes. Some of the top destinations in New Jersey are Jersey City, Hoboken, Princeton and Newark all of which are still very accessible to New York City and provide a safe haven to wait out the pandemic disruption.
There is no putting it mildly, the property taxes in the Garden State are the highest in the country, at an average of more than 2 percent but you will get more bang for your buck, so to speak. On the upside, income tax here is lower than New York, helping to even things out.
While all 141 miles of the Jersey Shore line make it a tourist destination in the warmer months, New Jersey provides you with multiple options away from the coast including Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park, Morristown National Historical Park and the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve. If you’re not a beach person, the Passaic River in Newark is an alternative for a boat ride or riverside walk. New Jersey is also rich in history and landmarks that date back to George Washington and the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. For the arts and performances, Newark provides those New York experiences or just take the 40 minute subway commute to Broadway if you want to see it on 42nd Street.
While California is bigger than New York, you’ll be free of that frenetic Manhattan pace outside of Los Angeles. The Golden State is home to 26 of the country’s Metropolitan Areas (MSA) but many of them are poles apart in lifestyle and liveability. The Golden State has long been lauded for unlocking the dream of fast fame or fast wealth, ever since the Gold Rush of 1849. It remains the largest economy in the United States, and one of the largest economies globally, regularly attracting New Yorkers for work and lifestyle. The top destinations in California for New Yorkers include San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Anaheim.
California’s state income tax is the highest in the country, additional to district taxes from local jurisdictions. It also has the highest base sales tax rate. Taxes, permits and other regulations also make it an expensive place to start a business, but of course with a population of 39.5 million, you’ll have access to a wealth of customers that may make it worth the effort. There are more than 280 colleges and universities in California including some of America’s most prolific higher education institutions like the University of California Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford University and the University of Southern California.
Most people know how great the weather is in California, less discussed is how accessible solar technology is. Many residents like communities in San Diego are completely energy independent. The sunshine state also lends itself to fitness, with exercise and self care amongst the booming industries.
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