Monday, April 13, 2015

Why I'd Rather Rent in NYC than Own Anywhere Else

Note: I wrote this several years ago, but the sentiment stands. And considering the rising rents and housing prices in Brooklyn, a lot of people agree with me.

After 43 years as a middle-class woman in NYC, I've seen the housing market fluctuate as much as my waistline. But the one thing that always goes up is rents. In June, the Rent Guidelines Board raised my rent by over $80 a month. But the most expensive city in the U.S. is also the greatest, so given a choice between renting here and owning anywhere else in the country, I'd rather stay put.

  1. Housing costs are lower outside of New York, but so are salaries. After living where having a six-figure household income makes you middle class, adjusting to the cost of living somewhere more affordable would feel like going back in time to when bread cost a dime and milk cost a nickel. I fear I’d end up vacuuming in a skirt and high-heels.
  2. Renters aren't responsible for home repairs. When a radiator in my apartment started spitting water, it took the super 15 minutes to replace the faulty valve. Left to our own devices, my husband and I would've needed three Google searches, five trips to the hardware store, one ride to the emergency room and an e-mail blast asking our friends to recommend a good handyman.
  3. Even New Yorkers who own cars have the option of taking the train. Elsewhere, you can’t take public transportation without first finding a parking space. If I left, not only would all the money I'd be saving on housing go towards auto insurance, but I'd also have to start caring about gas prices. Besides, I'm just not willing to give up the smugness that comes with the small carbon footprint of not owning a gas guzzler.
  4. Few places outside the five boroughs are this diverse. From my apartment in Woodside, Queens, I can walk to some of the best Salvadoran and Thai restaurants in the city. I'd rather not build equity if that means my only dining options are chain restaurants in a strip mall.
  5. I’d get carsick driving to dinner anyway. On a recent business trip to Florida, during the thirty-minute drive to a beachside eatery, I couldn’t stop whining that there are ten places to get a bite in any two-block radius back home. I was ready to gnaw my own arm off in hunger by the time we got there.
  6. There are so many entertainment options here that it’s difficult to be bored. I may stay home with rented DVDs more than I go to Film Forum, Lincoln Center or Broadway, but they're there when I want them. Other cities have one art film house, if any, and touring productions of Broadway shows don't stay very long.
  7. The thought of home ownership triggers my fear of commitment. I once had a railroad apartment in Williamsburg, with a series of roommates whose bedroom I had to walk through to get to my own. After roommate #3 left, I got tired of trying to sell someone on an apartment I hated. So I gave notice and left the landlord to find a new sucker. If I had owned the place, it would've been like being stuck in a bad marriage in a country with no divorce laws.
  8. By the time I’ve schlepped my laptop to the subway, and climbed all the stairs involved in changing trains, I feel like I’ve finished a biathlon. Whenever I leave New York, all my walking takes place between the front door and the closest possible parking spot and I end up longing for an hour on the treadmill. That’s just unnatural.




OK, convince me I'm wrong and tell me why I should move to where you live. Because don't kid yourself - living her means having a love/hate relationship with the city.

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