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February 6, 2009 4:38 PM   Subscribe

Yet another study says the middle class are fleeing New York City. What happened to the previous studies and solutions? Bloomberg to Middle Class, "Get Out."
posted by Xurando (78 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
And they’re not taking it sitting down: the plight of the middle class is becoming the flight of the middle class – with the city’s vital center fleeing for more hospitable places like Charlotte, where 1,893 New Yorkers fled to in 2006, and Philadelphia, where 3,635 emigrated in 2006.
So New York is utterly doomed because 0.07% of its population has left for fairer shores?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:58 PM on February 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


By the way, how in hell can anyone know the exact number of people who have moved to some specific other city? Precisely 1893 to Charlotte?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:59 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Chocolate Pickle, an arcane Charlotte law requires all Yankees to register at City Hall when they move to town.
posted by birdherder at 5:06 PM on February 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


The report defines a middle class New Yorker loosely as someone who has enough money to pay the bills, have health insurance, own a computer with Internet connection, live in a safe neighborhood and take a vacation once a year.

that's a very loose definition.
posted by bhnyc at 5:24 PM on February 6, 2009


Apparently they have to affirm all those things under oath when they move to Charlotte, too.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:25 PM on February 6, 2009


enough money to pay the bills, have health insurance, own a computer with Internet connection, live in a safe neighborhood and take a vacation once a year.

Wait, so I'm only middle-class the years I take a vacation?
posted by scody at 5:31 PM on February 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Fortunately (for me) the new Democratic-led legislature is fortifying rent stabilization, which will help insulate 1/3 of NYC's households from developers' attempts to run them out. Of course, landlords are unhappy.
posted by nicwolff at 5:36 PM on February 6, 2009


This is why New Yorkers tend to be fiercely loyal to their city.

Because if your commitment is so-so, if you actually care more about bourgeois frivolities like owning your own house, having a car, a functional school system or (gasp!) having a dishwashing machine, you're gonna start looking elsewhere.

In the end, the only ones who are left are the loons like me.
posted by jason's_planet at 5:37 PM on February 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Of course, landlords are unhappy.

*sniffles*

*lip quivers*

*bursts into tears*
posted by jason's_planet at 5:38 PM on February 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


From page 30 of the report, on college professors who can't afford to stay:

John Esser, a professor of sociology at Staten Island’s Wagner College, says that if he were planning to have kids with someone who makes as much as he does, he would not still be in New York City. Esser, who rents a one bedroom apartment in Staten Island, says that when he got here 15 years ago, a down payment of $20,000 was enough to buy a single family house. That was affordable, but with college and graduate school loans to pay back it was still beyond his means. Now at age 50, Esser can easily afford a $20,000 mortgage down payment, but that amount isn’t enough to afford a home. “Wagner has lost a number of [faculty] stars this way,” says Esser.

posted by jason's_planet at 5:53 PM on February 6, 2009


I have to actually disagree with the assertion that Bloomberg isn't trying to keep the middle class (in particular families) in NYC. He's tried (largely unsuccessfully but he's tried) to introduce lots of middle income housing. He's tried to build new subways and increase services. There have been lots of programs to try and keep kids from dropping out of high school. About a year and a half I didn't a lot of reading on the projects he was trying to get pushed through and even though they all got killed eventually (to my knowledge) you can't really accuse him of not trying. It isn't easy and it isn't cheap to run a city like NYC.
posted by whoaali at 5:59 PM on February 6, 2009


there's a lot of links to conflicting trends here
posted by bhnyc at 6:02 PM on February 6, 2009


Wait, so I'm only middle-class the years I take a vacation?

Yes, but as Paragraph 4, Clause B7 notes, if you vacation at Disneyworld, you're bourgeois.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:04 PM on February 6, 2009


You just wake up one day, and say to yourself "I deserve better than this. The whole country is full of people my age, making less money than I do, and living better lives on every level. They're driving cars, putting their kids on schoolbuses, shopping at decent supermarkets, watching the same movies and tv shows as I am, using the same internet. Why the hell am I living like this? Oh yeah, now I remember. It's because I think there's still a chance my band might make it big. Even though we're all almost 40. For this, I live in a one bedroom on an air shaft."
posted by Faze at 6:04 PM on February 6, 2009 [13 favorites]


I have to actually disagree with the assertion that Bloomberg isn't trying to keep the middle class (in particular families) in NYC.

Well, the source is queenscrap, a local blog that -- well, put it to you this way . . . if Bloomberg walked on water, queenscrap would accuse him of not knowing how to swim. And of polluting the water with his dirty shoes.

And I'm not a huge fan of Bloomberg, either.
posted by jason's_planet at 6:07 PM on February 6, 2009


I was going to pre-snark up top about how Faze would be along in a minute with his usual sour-grapes I-couldn't-make-it-in-NY comment, but it seemed gratuitous. Apparently not...
posted by nicwolff at 6:10 PM on February 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh, come on Faze. That's BS. People don't just stay in New York because they have a dream they can't let go of. Some people are in professions where the best chance for them to actually be working -- like working in magazines or comic books -- is to live work and or Live in New York City. And there are hundred of other professions where, it may not be the only place to make it work but there is certainly a higher concentration of jobs in the field, like museums and non profit organizations. Not to mention all the cultural aspects of the city.

And I say all of this as someone who moved out of New York partially because I realized I couldn't afford it at this point in my life. It doesn't mean that I wouldn't move back there, because honestly, it still is a goal of mine. Please just get off that high horse pretending that the only people still living there are artists and musicians that aren't gonna make it.
posted by piratebowling at 6:19 PM on February 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


They're driving cars, putting their kids on schoolbuses, shopping at decent supermarkets, watching the same movies and tv shows as I am, using the same internet.

Ugh! F*ck that noise. Your "American Dream"TM strikes me as complete, utter living death. If that's all you want out of New York City, you definitely need to be someplace else.

To each his own, but if you call that a "better life on every level," a hell of a lot of people are going to think you're seriously missing something.
posted by aquafortis at 6:33 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Huh. NYC has become/is becoming and rich man's burbclave. People who aspire to merely work there have to commute. Huh.

Why is this news?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:39 PM on February 6, 2009


the middle class are fleeing New York City

It's no use running, guys, Wall Street's still gonna get you.
posted by enn at 6:59 PM on February 6, 2009


Cueing up the Randoms: Let's Get Rid of New York
posted by grounded at 7:12 PM on February 6, 2009


It would make utter sense to remain living in NYC and working in publishing if 1.) publishing paid for shit, and/or 2) my husband made eleventy gillion bucks.

But since neither of those was true, and as I longed to afford to be able to ever go on vacation and to have closet room for more than three t-shirts, I had to leave. I miss many things about New York, but for sheer inconvenience, it's a bitch, unless you have lots of cash to smooth your way. I respect those who love the city enough to forego basic conveniences in the same way I admire people who live in tiny log cabins in the mountains and use outhouses. Both places have their compensations (culture, bear sightings) but in the long run, I get a great deal of pleasure from my modest yard and walkable suburban neighborhood. If it's an "utter living death," it's a remarkably pleasant one.
posted by emjaybee at 7:48 PM on February 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Aren't housing prices in NYC going to come down now that wall street has been eviscerated?
posted by delmoi at 8:13 PM on February 6, 2009


Because if your commitment is so-so, if you actually care more about bourgeois frivolities like owning your own house, having a car, a functional school system or (gasp!) having a dishwashing machine, you're gonna start looking elsewhere.

I think you misunderstand. Being a real New Yorker means stubbornly refusing to leave because you insist that you CAN have these things in NYC someday and until that day you will scowl at fate and refuse to budge. I have all these things (except maybe a functioning school system) and I ignored my misery for years to get them in NYC.
posted by spicynuts at 8:37 PM on February 6, 2009


unfortunately, no. it would take both wall street and big media to go down in flames before we see any changes in real estate prices :P
posted by liza at 8:39 PM on February 6, 2009



Of course, landlords are unhappy.

*sniffles*

*lip quivers*

*bursts into tears*


Yeah it's so easy to just assume that every landlord is a bloodsucking, heartless, craven, money hungry scrooge. My Mom's a landlord. You know what happens when the cost of heat, water, repairs, taxes, paint, garbage removal, and all of the things that a renter doesn't have to think about go up but that increase can't be passed on to tenants? Landlords like my Mom sell to giant development corporations that ARE craven scrooges. So let's not assume that there is only one legitimate side of this equation to be on.
posted by spicynuts at 8:44 PM on February 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Now at age 50, Esser can easily afford a $20,000 mortgage down payment, but that amount isn’t enough to afford a home.

BULLSHIT!! A 20k downpayment will get you a 500k apartment in Brooklyn so it will CERTAINLY get you a house in Staten Island. In fact, I have several friends who just bought in Staten Island with downpayments of much less than this. Maybe he can't afford a four bedroom McMansion with an acre of property, but he sure as hell can afford a townhouse/duplex with two bedrooms and a back deck. Particularly now. Everyone doesn't have to be friggin donald trump.
posted by spicynuts at 8:49 PM on February 6, 2009


New York City is a wonderful place, but you have to want to live there really badly.

I mean that in a nice way.
posted by bardic at 9:36 PM on February 6, 2009


I think you misunderstand. Being a real New Yorker means stubbornly refusing to leave because you insist that you CAN have these things in NYC someday and until that day you will scowl at fate and refuse to budge.

I think that you, in turn, have missed the second part of my comment, where I said:

In the end, the only ones who are left are the loons like me.

Sticking it out like that, defying such long odds is very admirable; it's also pretty loony. The sensible thing to do would be to shrug, say "fuck it" and move to Tampa, where a middle-class lifestyle would be much easier to attain. The stubborness you describe is completely divorced from reality. Don't get mad at me; I actually mean that as a compliment. It's always the weak and unimaginative people who tell you to "be realistic." As the saying goes, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

So, yeah. I do understand. Staying in New York makes no sense whatsoever. The only ones who do it for extended periods of time are the loons. And stubbornness is just one of the many varieties of looniness.
posted by jason's_planet at 9:39 PM on February 6, 2009


Yeah it's so easy to just assume that every landlord is a bloodsucking, heartless, craven, money hungry scrooge.

You know, a guy who makes such a big deal about being a real New Yorker -- and what exactly does that mean in the year 2009? Speaking Spanish? Wearing Shalwar Kamiz? -- might be aware that landlords are none too popular among the tenant crowd. They're frequently the butt of jokes and japes, online and off.

You might want to grow a thicker skin about that.
posted by jason's_planet at 9:47 PM on February 6, 2009


BULLSHIT!! A 20k downpayment will get you a 500k apartment in Brooklyn so it will CERTAINLY get you a house in Staten Island. In fact, I have several friends who just bought in Staten Island with downpayments of much less than this. Maybe he can't afford a four bedroom McMansion with an acre of property, but he sure as hell can afford a townhouse/duplex with two bedrooms and a back deck. Particularly now. Everyone doesn't have to be friggin donald trump.

You've got a point here. I think you know what you're talking about. The guy can probably afford a better living situation than the one he's in.

But still -- the point of the report is that NYC requires a lot of material sacrifice in order to stay here. A two bedroom townhouse sounds like Shangri-La to me. But I don't have kids. And lots of people do. Paying a premium for a (now) crowded townhouse is something that most people don't want to do.
posted by jason's_planet at 9:53 PM on February 6, 2009


Perhaps they aren't "fleeing" for Charlotte - maybe they are getting relocated there. Back before all of the banks failed, Charlotte was the 2nd largest banking center in the US - BofA and Wachovia, among others.
posted by milkrate at 10:04 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love this post. I found out I have risen to the middle-class!
posted by Foam Pants at 10:52 PM on February 6, 2009


New York City is a wonderful place, but you have to want to live there really badly.

I don't know about anyone else, but I don't like living really badly.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:55 PM on February 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Faze is our little die-hard suburbanite. If I wanted to, I could link back to a bunch of ridiculous statements he's made to that effect, but I think that people who do stuff like that are vindictive jerks.

But suffice it to say that someone who can be happy in the suburbs just plain wants something different out of life than I. I like not having a car. In fact, I hate driving, and if I can help it, I never want to have a car again. I like being a short subway ride away from both my work AND my friends. I like having every possible food, music, and cultural opportunity within reach. When I have kids, I want to have them here in NYC. I want them to have all the cultural opportunities I missed out on because I had to grow up in the suburbs. I want my kids to encounter people of all walks of life, and not just people with their same background and socioeconomic status. I want them to have all of the opportunities that come along with living in the same city as the people who make the world go 'round. Besides that, I don't want to have to worry about them getting in a car with some dumbass drunk driver.

Now I'm not saying that I will forever be able to avoid a suburban fate. I know that a lot of things change when you have kids. But I'll be damned if I won't give it my best shot. If I can stay in the city, I will.

And do I have to give things up? Sure I do. I rent instead of owning. Now that I look at it, I'm fucking glad that I've been renting for the past six years. I have friends who bought property the last few years, and believe me you, they're hurting BIGTIME. Still, I do hope to buy property here in the city at some point, but if I wind up investing in other things instead of property, well, no great loss there.

Lets see, what else do I have to live without? A bunch of minor conveniences, really. Nobody needs a garbage disposal. Nobody needs their own washer and dryer. Nobody needs a stupid dishwasher. And a lawn? Fuck that. Grow a crop of grass just to mow it down and throw it out every week? Has to be the most useless form of farming ever invented.

Besides, the suburbs are FUCKING BORING. Life should never be boring. Nothing is worth that. I'd rather stay single and childless for the rest of my life. You can keep your damned dishwasher.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:20 AM on February 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


If nothing else, some good perhaps-unintentional humor in this thread, essentially "To each their own... and your choice is [something derogatory in caps, and vitroil attacking your choice]."

Personally, if people want to move to Brunei and live in a tree, I hope they can do so and that they enjoy the experience. If they want to contend that I am a lesser person and inferior for taking a less foreign, arboreal approach to life...

That aside, some surprise to read, "A 20k downpayment will get you a 500k apartment in Brooklyn so it will CERTAINLY get you a house in Staten Island."

Is that to say people are doing mortgages w. a 4% down payment?
posted by ambient2 at 1:06 AM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


So New York is utterly doomed because 0.07% of its population has left for fairer shores?

New York lost a net 1.4 million residents from 2000 to 2007 due to domestic outmigration. Fortunately international immigration (and the accompanying high birthrate) to the city is keeping it from collapsing. (Unless, of course, you subscribe to the theory that it's the foreigners driving the Americans out).

Goodies here.

By the way, how in hell can anyone know the exact number of people who have moved to some specific other city? Precisely 1893 to Charlotte?
Easiest way is census data, which keeps pretty good tabs on this, through electric hookups, van rentals, and USPS change-of-address forms.

It's not 100% accurate, but, it's pretty damned good.
posted by The Giant Squid at 1:32 AM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


New York, like London and Paris, is always going to be hideously expensive, and crowded, and dirty, and full of bad schools (and some good ones), because it's a major world city. And it's always going to be fascinating, and culturally rich, and exciting, and full of interesting people, for the same reason. If you think that a safe, leafy middle-class suburban environment with good schools is what you want, good luck to you. I grew up somewhere like that and it didn't do me any harm. But personally, I prefer the city.

My family (me, wife, 2 small kids) may need to move back to London soon because of work, and when we mention it, people here in Brighton look at us like we're mad.
posted by athenian at 2:44 AM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fortunately (for me) the new Democratic-led legislature is fortifying rent stabilization, which will help insulate 1/3 of NYC's households from developers' attempts to run them out.

And the households that pay market rates will continue paying part of your rent for you.
posted by oaf at 5:50 AM on February 7, 2009


So that's what I'm doing wrong! There was this nagging feeling that I was screwed up somehow and I just found out it's because I live in the suburbs without the mandatory dishwasher or garbage disposal. Good news: We took a vacation this year so we've made it to the middle class. Yeah! Bad news: It's official, now I can't afford to move to New York, even in my fantasies. Boo!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:18 AM on February 7, 2009


Afroblanco: I live in New York City for a lot of the same reasons you do, but there are days where I'd have loved to have a washer and dryer in my building. Also, I am just old enough to remember the last wave of flight from the city (one wing of my family was part of it) and it didn't happen for no reason. Things had decayed to the point where much of the city was downright unliveable. Those who could, got out, and things decayed further leading to the over-correction of gentrification. If a lot of those who had left, had stuck around the city would be a different place today, and a lot of people might be different.
posted by jonmc at 6:39 AM on February 7, 2009


I should add that one of the reasons I live in Queens instead of Manhattan is that I get just about all the benefits (convenience, diversity, pedestrian-friendly, progresssive) without all the bullshit (trendiness, swarms of wealthy people, over congestion) of Manhattan , and according to the graph, it's about $40k cheaper.
posted by jonmc at 6:57 AM on February 7, 2009


If I wanted to, I could link back to a bunch of ridiculous statements he's made to that effect, but I think that people who do stuff like that are vindictive jerks.

Wouldn't those be pedantic jerks?

Nobody needs a garbage disposal. Nobody needs their own washer and dryer. Nobody needs a stupid dishwasher.

Garbage disposals have been legal in NYC since 1997. All of those appliances together cost me less than one months rent here, and a dishwasher in particular is about as integral to my lifestyle as a roof and floor. And when the washing machine overflows on the downstairs neighbor, well you just don't get that kind of excitement in the suburbs.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:39 AM on February 7, 2009


I should add that one of the reasons I live in Queens instead of Manhattan is that I get just about all the benefits (convenience, diversity, pedestrian-friendly, progresssive) without all the bullshit (trendiness, swarms of wealthy people, over congestion) of Manhattan

Odd, that sounds just like my neighborhood here in St. Louis.
posted by slogger at 8:28 AM on February 7, 2009


Hey, ya'll can come over to Northeast Ohio if you'd like: the cost of living is probably 30 - 40% cheaper, plus, we've got plenty of abandoned houses looking for caretakers...

Actually - hey, not a bad idea...
posted by tgrundke at 9:05 AM on February 7, 2009


There are alternatives between NYC and the suburbs, both nightmarish choices for me. There are mid-sized cities where you can live five miles from work, jazz clubs, museums etc. and still have a small house and a yard and a garden. (Denver, for me, but for all I know Oklahoma City or Cincinnati might work, too. Probably not Akron.) There are not sirens all night long, nor do you have to go to Bennigan's or Applebee's for dinner.

I would prefer a museum with more than one or two Max Ernst paintings, but we've got a new contemporary art museum, dozens of theaters, lots of restaurants I can't afford, and a half-dozen art-house cinemas. Still, since I read magazines from NYC (the New Yorker, The Nation), I realize there are some things I will never have the chance to experience. But, the books are the same, and as a full-time worker and father, there are only so many nights I can go out, anyway.
posted by kozad at 10:46 AM on February 7, 2009


My family is caught in exactly this New York City "middle-class" dilemma. Both my job (publishing) and my wife's (advertising) pretty much require us to be in the NYC area, so moving to Charlotte or Tampa is not an option. We are in a rent-stabilized 2BR, with our two kids (boy and girl) sharing one BR and have long outgrown the space. When our current lease is up, the apartment will move to market rate because our income now surpasses the upper limit for rent regulation. Three BR apartments in a decent neighborhood in Manhattan start at $4,000 a month to rent, $1.2 million or so to buy, which make those 4BR houses in Montclair or Maplewood, with a porch, a deck, a driveway and a backyard for the dog and good, free schools, look pretty damn nice. The outer boroughs are options as well, less desirable in my mind.

But I like being able to walk to any of the five grocery stores, 20 restaurants or 10 bars within a four-block radius of our apartment. I like the great jazz club around the corner, and that there are 15 movie theaters within a short subway or bus ride. I like being able to get home or to my kids' school in 15 minutes on the subway or in a cab. I like NOT having a car, sometimes. I like biking with the kids in Riverside Park, walking them to school and back through the North Meadow and around the reservoir, coaching Little League and playing softball at Hecksher Fields down by the carousel, where the bleachers fill up with tourists from England or Italy watching baseball for the first time. I like that my son's schoolmate danced the lead in The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center this season. I like running into Phillip Glass on the Broadway bus while taking my daughter to school. I like when they film Law and Order or Gossip Girl on my block and I can watch from our little balcony, and a thousand other little daily experiences that make the city a fascinating place to live. I never thought I'd living in Manhattan and raising kids here, but after 12 years it's become home. I just don't know how much longer it can last.
posted by stargell at 11:10 AM on February 7, 2009


The outer boroughs are options as well, less desirable in my mind.

That's odd (from a historical perspective) since Queens, Brooklyn and even for a while, the Bronx, was where you moved once you left Hell's Kitchen or the Lower East Side. (This pattern continues today with Asian, Latino and West Indian immigrants, and to a lesser extent more recent European arrivals). Things reversed themselves, during the 1970's and 1980's and Manhattan became prohibitively expensive for just about every one.
posted by jonmc at 11:22 AM on February 7, 2009


Of course there's weirdness going on in the outer boroughs as well. My Uncle Nick (now a wealthy investment banker living a super-rich suburb) grew up in the Williamsburg/Greenpoint area of Brooklyn, the son of an East Harlem-raised mail train supervisor. His family's rent in the 50's and 60's was on the order of $75/month(!). These days, apartments in the same area (and for the most part, the buildings haven't gotten that much better) are in the $2000/month range! Inflation can't account for all of that.

What was my point? That we're all stuck between gentrification, ghettoization and suburbanization. At least in the tri-state area, the suburbs around New York are actual towns. In Florida and other places, they're subdivisions that got built last week, or so they look. and I'm rambling...
posted by jonmc at 11:32 AM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


"'enough money to pay the bills, have health insurance, own a computer with Internet connection, live in a safe neighborhood and take a vacation once a year.'

Wait, so I'm only middle-class the years I take a vacation?"


No, you're only middle-class the years you "have enough money to... take a vacation." At least, that's how I parsed it. But you're the editor.

If Bloomberg is pushing out the middle class, he's only continuing Giuliani's good work.

Speaking of editing, what's up with this sentence from the CityRoom? "...and a widespread perception among middle class families that the family is safe and livable." The family is livable? What does that even mean?
posted by Eideteker at 11:34 AM on February 7, 2009


Garbage disposals have been legal in NYC since 1997. All of those appliances together cost me less than one months rent here

That's one thing I keep not understand about NYC, these conveniences really aren't that expensive, especially when you take into account the cost of everything else. Why having a dishwasher or even a small stacking washer/dryer in your apartment is almost unheard of just blows me mind. All I can figure is either most buildings are too old to handle the extra sewage? (I don't know much about what is needed for these things) Or I guess more likely there is just no incentive for landlords to really upgrade anything because people are more concerned about location and size and don't expect to have a dishwasher.
posted by whoaali at 11:47 AM on February 7, 2009


Hell, many parts of Brooklyn have been competing with Manhattan rents in the last few years (insert jonmc’s Queens sales pitch here). I move almost every year to beat the rent devil’s wile increases.

Not to oversimplify matters (but mostly here for brevity’s sake), I think NYC’s financial woes are primarily the result of the fact that there are just too many rich people here. Manhattan has the largest number of millionaires per square block than any other place in the world. It also has the nation’s highest gap in economic disparity between rich and poor. Put that many rich people in one place, have that many 28-year-olds on Wall Street making $200,000+ a year, it’s going to make for a really, really shitty economy where all your working class and poor have to move to the periphery and survive on a service structure. And if you live here, it’s also going to royally fuck up your value of the dollar. A working dad in NYC could spend $60+ just to take his family to the movies, and if he wanted to take them to a baseball game he’s essentially paying for a vacation. That’s just not right.

My wish was that with the recession / Wall St collapse the rent increases would stabilize here (and it's my understanding that this has happened marginally), but considering my profession (I’m a magazine editor) it’s a Pyrrhic victory considering the ad revenues are disappearing. The fact is, something (I don’t claim to know exactly what) needs to be done to make this city a place for working people again. They are just as important to a city's structure and economy as the people who bring in the big revenues.

Hey, I still love living here.
posted by tiger yang at 12:03 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Lets see, what else do I have to live without? A bunch of minor conveniences, really. Nobody needs a garbage disposal. Nobody needs their own washer and dryer. Nobody needs a stupid dishwasher. And a lawn? Fuck that.

That' kind of a ragged argument don't you think? Nobody actually needs a revival movie house or a Somali Fusion restaurant or 20 jazz clubs within walking distance do they? When you get down to brass tacks there isn't a whole lot that anybody really needs. Now "wants" and "like to haves" are a whole different story. I like having a washer and dryer and a garbage disposal (I don't use it much but it came with the house). I could do without the lawn mowing but I think local ordinances may prohibit replacing my lawn with concrete and green spraypaint. I love the convenience of driving, no crowding, no waiting, no arranging my schedule around that of MCTS. I mean really, taking the bus would turn my 25 minute commute into a 150 minute one (I checked) which doesn't hold much appeal when the wind chills hit -25 or so. And you know, my house is still worth more than I paid for it despite the down market. Different strokes for different folks I guess but I'll pass on the crowding and exorbitant expense.
posted by MikeMc at 1:14 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


The irony, of course, is that as Manhattan has gotten richer, it's also gotten more "suburban" in some regards—namely, as the price of real estate soared, a lot of the colorful little neighborhood shops and restaurants have been replaced by big national chains. In my neigborhood, we used to have a great little Italian sandwich shop, a wonderful video store run by film buffs from Columbia, a bookstore specialzing in murder mysteries and a place to get good Latino broiled chicken. Now we've got Subway, Blockbuster, Barnes & Noble and KFC.

Many other places have simply shuttered. There are long stretches of Broadway and Amsterdam the Upper West Side that resemble main street in a steeltown from the '80s, with the all papered-up windows "For Lease" signs. Anything opening up is invariably a bank, a drugstore or Starbucks.
posted by stargell at 1:55 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Different strokes for different folks I guess

This is exactly what it boils down to and I really don't understand what the argument is here. Some people love living in NYC. Some don't. That's fine.

I'm not going to try to sell anyone on my reasons for loving it here and for the life of me I don't understand the need for some of the indignant mouthbreathing on this thread regarding the blah blah, it's expensive, my house is cheap, blah blah, I have a car, herber derber. I know it's cheaper in other towns and I'm well aware of how expensive the rent is here (trust me on this one). Some people put a higher priority on driving and having a back yard. Me, I like the museums, the music, the career possibilities, the diversity and the food. It's all good folks. If it ain't your bag that's cool; just stay away and shut the fuck up and we'll all be happy.

Also, I'm waiting for my band to take off.
posted by tiger yang at 1:59 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


a lot of the colorful little neighborhood shops and restaurants have been replaced by big national chains. In my neigborhood, we used to have a great little Italian sandwich shop, a wonderful video store run by film buffs from Columbia, a bookstore specialzing in murder mysteries and a place to get good Latino broiled chicken. Now we've got Subway, Blockbuster, Barnes & Noble and KFC.

I know exactly where you're talking about and you're 100% right about this. Sad.
posted by tiger yang at 2:01 PM on February 7, 2009


Also, I'm waiting for my band to take off.

You should try appropriating some African pop styles (hey, it works).
posted by MikeMc at 2:12 PM on February 7, 2009


Nobody actually needs a revival movie house or a Somali Fusion restaurant or 20 jazz clubs within walking distance do they?

Au contraire....

I mean really, taking the bus would turn my 25 minute commute into a 150 minute one

Right. I'd imagine that it's difficult to live a car-free life in Milwaukee. But a car-free life is a carefree life, and for most New Yorkers, it's a way of life. No other American city has public transportation like we have. That's one of the reasons why NYC rocks.

Anyway, if you re-read my comment, you'll see that I'm not trying to convince anybody to move here. I was just stating what I like about the city, and why I'm willing to forgo some luxuries in order to live here.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:13 PM on February 7, 2009


taking the bus would turn my 25 minute commute into a 150 minute one

Depending on the layout of the areas where you live and work, it's time to yell at your local government until they fix the bus system.

In a lot of places, the transit system works just well enough for the people who can't afford a car to get to and from their jobs, and no better. In a city the size of Milwaukee, it should be a viable alternative to driving; that it isn't is an embarrassment and a damn shame.

I guess the same thing is technically true of New York, but real estate is so expensive in New York that a larger proportion of the population can't afford cars because they can't afford to rent the land to park them, so transit works for a larger portion of the population.
posted by oaf at 3:17 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


In a lot of places, the transit system works just well enough for the people who can't afford a car to get to and from their jobs, and no better. In a city the size of Milwaukee, it should be a viable alternative to driving; that it isn't is an embarrassment and a damn shame.

It's not even that good. Due to city/suburban pissing matches and lack of funding most of the bus routes stop at,or before, the county line. My job relocated from the city to the next county over (where most of the job growth has been occurring) several years ago and the only way I could get to work on time using mass transit would involve walking several miles on the shoulder of a busy road. Hardly and option in the summer and no option at all in the winter. There are a lot of things to like about Milwaukee but mass transit isn't one of them. As much as I like to drive sometimes it would be nice to just sit and read the paper or something on the way to work. There is some talk of a rail line that would connect Milwaukee to Chicago's METRA system to the south and possibly Madison to the west and that, I think, would be a pretty cool start.
posted by MikeMc at 3:45 PM on February 7, 2009


And the households that pay market rates will continue paying part of your rent for you. — oaf

In what sense? My landlord knew how many regulated tenants the building had when he bought it, and that's a fact of life for him, built into the price he paid 20 years ago. You think if my apartment was deregulated, he'd lower someone else's rent? Nope. He'll maximize market rents where he can, take regulated rents where he has to, and take his profits home to Italy.

In the meantime, a million New Yorkers and their families stay in the city, rather than have to leave the neighborhoods where they grew up and where their families and friends live. Everyone in the world (even Faze! can't you tell?) wants to live with us in the city we built so we had to do something, and we chose to trade higher rents on newcomers and less development for social and cultural continuity and, in my case, 14-foot ceilings. Sorry for the home rule but democracy's a bitch.
posted by nicwolff at 3:47 PM on February 7, 2009


In what sense?

You're paying below-market rates; where do you think the money you're not paying comes from? Out of the (above-)market-rate renters' pockets.

In the meantime, a million New Yorkers and their families stay in the city, rather than have to leave the neighborhoods where they grew up and where their families and friends live.

That's nice, but staying near where you grew up isn't a right.
posted by oaf at 4:26 PM on February 7, 2009


You're paying below-market rates; where do you think the money you're not paying comes from? Out of the (above-)market-rate renters' pockets.

You're presuming an otherwise perfectly efficient and perfectly informed closed market that doesn't exist.

That's nice, but staying near where you grew up isn't a right.

It is now, baby! I guess you mean it isn't a natural right, but in the real world we have those rights we accord each other, which include limited self-determination and municipal home rule, and as long as 1/3 of NYC's population is rent-regulated, you can pretty safely bet it's gonna include staying near where I grew up.
posted by nicwolff at 4:42 PM on February 7, 2009


"You're paying below-market rates; where do you think the money you're not paying comes from? Out of the (above-)market-rate renters' pockets."

When you say 'above-market', you don't mean that the apartments are offered at prices higher than the market will bear. If that were the case, they would not be rented. You mean that floating rents are set higher in apartment buildings with some fixed-rent tenants than they would be in the same apartment buildings if all tenants were on floating rents. I don't think this is true.

Perhaps the floating rents will bear the brunt of rises in maintenance or other overheads, but the largest element of the landlord's investment is in the capital asset of owning the block. The asset price should reflect the forward stream of revenue (rents) from the block, minus costs. The asset price will therefore reflect both the fixed rents and the floating rents, since the number of fixed-rent apartments is known in advance.

If all the apartments are put onto floating rents (assuming these are higher than fixed rents), the landlord wins twice. He will increase his income, and he is unlikely to reduce the floating rents to compensate, since they are by definition set at market rates. He will also make a capital gain because the forward revenue stream has increased, so the apartment block is worth more.
posted by athenian at 4:47 PM on February 7, 2009


You're presuming an otherwise perfectly efficient and perfectly informed closed market that doesn't exist.

No, that assumption is required.

self-determination and municipal home rule

And if they lead to the "screw the newcomers" attitude you're showing, it's no wonder that New York is nearly uninhabitable during economic downturns. Expect that to come back.

you don't mean that the apartments are offered at prices higher than the market will bear

No, but they are higher than a free market would bear.

You mean that floating rents are set higher in apartment buildings with some fixed-rent tenants than they would be in the same apartment buildings if all tenants were on floating rents. I don't think this is true.

This free lunch, it vibrates?
posted by oaf at 7:29 PM on February 7, 2009


Er, not required.
posted by oaf at 7:33 PM on February 7, 2009


Man, uh...is anyone else wondering what New York is going to be like in six months? Because I spent a long time today walking around various areas, and I don't think people realize what this recession is about to do. Brooklyn Heights already looks like bad dental work, it seemed like every third storefront has been shuttered in the last two months or so. In Soho, every cute little designer boutique is selling everything they have for 80% off. I recently read Luc Sante's "Kill All Your Darlings", and he mentions how, back in the wild wooly 70s, there would be whole blocks with no open stores- and I couldn't help but think that we're just a few missed lease payments from there.
posted by 235w103 at 9:20 PM on February 7, 2009


In what sense? My landlord knew how many regulated tenants the building had when he bought it, and that's a fact of life for him, built into the price he paid 20 years ago. You think if my apartment was deregulated, he'd lower someone else's rent? Nope. He'll maximize market rents where he can, take regulated rents where he has to, and take his profits home to Italy.

Uhh, no.
Think bigger, kiddo. Every rent controlled apartment in the city decreases the supply of market rate apartments. The demand is more or less unlimited. Every decrease in supply increases the market price. Your rent controlled apartment doesn't directly add dollars to my market-rate apartment across town, but if rent control didn't exist you had better believe that market rates would be down considerably.
posted by jckll at 9:58 PM on February 7, 2009


> You're presuming an otherwise perfectly efficient and perfectly informed closed market that doesn't exist.

No, that assumption is [not] required.

> you don't mean that the apartments are offered at prices higher than the market will bear

No, but they are higher than a free market would bear.


Ding! We have a loser. You're pretending to know something you don't and can't know. In a free market, there would be at least another million market-rate rental apartments in supply, and the market rate would find a new equilibrium. But there's no valid way to estimate the demand, because that would be a radically different city.

So there's no way to tell what prices a free market would bear. Maybe the million richest people in the world would replace us, at whatever prices that market would support. Maybe it's our presence here that creates some economic diversity in the traditionally residential neighborhoods, so that there are at least some apartments the middle class can afford.

For a choice example, my building, in just about the best location in NYC (and, therefore, the world), has both stabilized and market tenants. Because of that, the building's profitability is limited, and it's maintained only as well as the law requires; because of that, the market rent apartments go for about $3000 per month, and are occupied by nice young couples happy to spend a little less than half their take-home on rent for the privilege of living here.

If the whole building were renovated or redeveloped, those apartments would easily rent for $5000 per month, and could only be afforded by people making > $200000 a year. And that's right now, with plenty of other regulated tenants in the area. If there were none — if this were a perfect zone of wealth like the Upper East Side, or Belgravia, or Shibuya — then they'd rent to the kind of people who live in those places, for $8000 or $10,000 per month.

There's your free market.
posted by nicwolff at 10:08 PM on February 7, 2009


The demand is more or less unlimited

Think a little longer about the implications of that.
posted by nicwolff at 10:11 PM on February 7, 2009


>You mean that floating rents are set higher in apartment buildings with some fixed-rent tenants than they would be in the same apartment buildings if all tenants were on floating rents. I don't think this is true.

This free lunch, it vibrates?


It does when the subway goes by! Landlords take whatever profit they can from each apartment; they don't have the ability to raise rents over the market on some apartments to make up for regulated rents on others, and they certainly don't have any interest in taking less than the market will bear because they have no regulated tenants. Remember, as cklennon pointed out, the demand is more or less unlimited.
posted by nicwolff at 10:16 PM on February 7, 2009


Man, uh...is anyone else wondering what New York is going to be like in six months? — 235w103

New York is nearly uninhabitable during economic downturns. Expect that to come back. — oaf

Ain't that the truth! The north side of 8th Street, around the corner from me, is basically shuttered from 6th Ave to University Place. Our Starbucks closed! Since when do Starbuckses close?!

And my cop buddy (who worked undercover chasing dealers around the LES in the '80s) just asked if he can stash a shotgun at my place in case his is overrun during the riots.

It's gonna get ugly. But damn it, it's home.
posted by nicwolff at 10:23 PM on February 7, 2009


The north side of 8th Street, around the corner from me, is basically shuttered from 6th Ave to University Place.


I thought that was because the rents for most of the shoe stores were raised beyond their means.
posted by brujita at 10:44 PM on February 7, 2009


What New York will be like in six months . . .

over here, in my drab, emphatically unhip section of Queens, things seem pretty much the same. People have stopped buying big-ticket items; I recently saw a whole row of unsold SUVs parked along a side street in the industrial part of the neighborhood. But daily life isn't much better or much worse than I remember it being in flusher times.

Maybe that's because commercial rents weren't so ridiculously inflated? I don't know.
posted by jason's_planet at 10:51 PM on February 7, 2009


Think a little longer about the implications of that.

OK. I thought about it. Care to be a little less obtuse?

This really isn't a hard concept. Rent stabilized apartments are separate from the pool of market rate apartments. Their presence decreases the supply of freely available apartments. Assuming overall demand is the same in the presence of rent stabilized apartments and otherwise (which it is), the presence of rent stabilized departments increases overall rents. What's there to squabble about?

Anyone who lives in a rent stabilized apartment is having a portion of their rent subsidized by those who pay market rates. No two ways about it.
posted by jckll at 11:15 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ding! We have a loser. You're pretending to know something you don't and can't know.
there's no way to tell what prices a free market would bear

Not exactly, there's not, but you can definitely tell which way they'd trend. (Hint: up.)

But there's no valid way to estimate the demand, because that would be a radically different city.

Someone get this guy to an Econ 101 lecture, stat.

If the whole building were renovated or redeveloped, those apartments would easily rent for $5000 per month, and could only be afforded by people making > $200000 a year.

It's impossible to estimate demand, but you think you can go ahead and estimate price?

Landlords take whatever profit they can from each apartment; they don't have the ability to raise rents over the market on some apartments to make up for regulated rents on others

Again, we are not talking about an individual building or an individual landlord. Eight million people live in this city.

The difference between what you pay and what you would pay if there were no rent-control laws comes from somewhere. It probably doesn't come entirely from unregulated renters' higher rent. Some of it probably even comes out of your pocket in the form of increased prices for other things. But don't pretend that it's free.
posted by oaf at 8:52 AM on February 8, 2009


Hey, ya'll can come over to Northeast Ohio if you'd like: the cost of living is probably 30 - 40% cheaper...
Born and bred New Yorker here, and that's exactly what we're doing. (To be fair, Mr. Arthur is an academic in a pretty narrow area, so it's more like Cleveland picked us.)

But we'll miss New York something awful.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:49 AM on February 9, 2009


If you don't think New York is the greatest city in the world, don't let the door hit you on the way out.
posted by whuppy at 11:36 PM on February 9, 2009


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