Farewell New York, New York

Leaving New YorkI’ve done it. New York City was a chapter in our family’s life that will never be forgotten. But, it will soon be in the past. I accepted an offer for a job back in northern Virginia. This was a 2015 goal of mine, and I’m happy it is accomplished. The goal reached for a 20% salary increase. I won’t quite get that far (14% increase). However, if you factor in taxes, then I’m right at 20%–I’m calling that accomplished.

If you watch my financial reports, you’ll start seeing some immediate and drastic reductions to our $8-9k monthly expenditures. Most notably, no more $2,700/mo rent. We’ll also get rid of an extra $100 in utilities. Groceries run about 80% higher in NYC (I’ll write an upcoming post on this), so I figure a $200 drop in food costs. And no more $200 back-and-forths to our house in VA, so travel costs will drop. That should bring us down to somewhere slightly above $5k in expenses. There’s still a lot of low-hanging fruit to get us below $5k before year-end. Most obviously, sell some luxury cars…but more on that another time. It’s time to celebrate!

I have no regrets; it was always a dream of mine to work in New York, and I’ve done that. It would make Sinatra proud for me to say “I made it,” even though I didn’t much like it. But, it is now time to turn the page.

New York, you are an island unto your own laws. You sit in a rift in the space-time continuum where the laws of housing economics do not apply. If I’ve got nothing else from you, I’ve gotten a lifetime of memories—so I suppose you’ll remain fondly in my heart, although the pain in my wallet will take some time.

One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years. -Tom Wolfe

I never felt like an imposter, like an outsider. From day one I walked faster, talked faster, and complained incessantly

Practically everybody in New York has half a mind to write a book — and does. -Groucho Marx

If I never came to New York, I would have probably never started this blog or started writing for SeekingAlpha. New York has a way of instilling a hustler mindset, which is a feeling that you need to fight for everything you want. It’s hard, but it hardens you.

There’s something so romantic about being broke in New York. You gotta do it. You have to live there once without any money, and then you have to live there when you have money. Let me tell you, of the two, the latter is far better. -Amy Poehler

I’m sure it is, Amy. I’m sure it is. Being broke here feels like drowning.

It is often said that New York is a city for only the very rich and the very poor. It is less often said that New York is also, at least for those of us who came there from somewhere else, a city for only the very young. -Joan Didion

A young, singlet on little income can share a bedroom and bathroom, get a catastrophic health insurance plan, and hold it together on Ramen and Tuna. I could do that, but I could never put that onto the family. Growing a family is very expensive in New York City. We could live in New Jersey and I could commute an hour, or more, each way. Add that to a standard 11-hour workday and you get the picture; I would never see the family (except on weekends and holidays). In the end, we could make it work, but I’d be miserable and it wouldn’t be a life I enjoyed. We would be paycheck to paycheck every month for at least the next few years, retirement before 50 (21 years from now) would be a pipe dream, and my kids would barely know me. Why would I choose that?

I look at my coworkers and I’m supremely confident that they will have very lucrative and lengthy careers. In ten years most of them will be well above $250k in total compensation. That’s great for them. But, I see it like this. Do I want to have a life like my boss? Living in a high-rise overlooking Central Park, usually no kids, working like a beast? I’m not sure I want to sacrifice my 30’s slugging-out an existence in high finance. Godspeed for those that do. I don’t judge them. Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks.

The only real advantage of New York is that all its inhabitants ascend to heaven right after their deaths, having already served their full term in hell. -Barnard Bulletin

I’m amazed that so many people live here voluntarily. Everything is stupid expensive, people work insane hours (at least in financial services), and taxes are oppressive. I get it, the salaries can be fantastic. If I came here as a 22-year-old fresh from college and unattached, then I’d probably be a millionaire right now. But, that’s not how it went down. Congrats to those who can find a way to make it here long term; I sympathize.

New York is an exciting town where something is happening all the time, most of it unsolved. -Johnny Carson

New York now leads the world’s great cities in the number of people around whom you shouldn’t make a sudden move. -David Letterman

On the whole, New Yorkers aren’t that much different than people from anywhere else—maybe just in a lot bigger hurry. We didn’t encounter many sketchy individuals, except for a certain Thai food delivery guy (I’m lookin at you @ Nine Thai on 10th Ave) who had a penchant for punching the wall or standing in the doorway if he didn’t approve of the gratuity you wrote down.

It’s not Mecca, it just smells like it. -Neil Simon

There is a location on 43rd St. W. between 9th and 10th (it was next to a Starbucks, but, then again, everything in NYC is next to a Starbucks). I had to walk past here every day and it had a rather flagrant odor coming from seemingly nowhere and everywhere all at once. I nicknamed it the “DVD.” For weeks I would say to my wife, “I’m passing the DVD,” until she finally asked me what I meant. “Oh, it’s that place that always smells awful. I call it the DVD, short for ‘Dirty V_____ District.” I’ll let you fill in the blank, but it smelled like an unwashed filet station.

When you’re in New York City, always keep your money and other valuables in a safe place, such as Switzerland. -Dave Barry

Here, here! Here is the New York City and New York State income tax tables for 2015.

NY Tax Table NY Tax Table

My combined marginal tax rate is 10.1% for city/state. Add federal (25%), and you quickly realize why New York City does not have a middle class. You’re either very rich and it doesn’t matter, or you’re very poor and it doesn’t matter. Anyone in the middle is struggling and grinding it out month-to-month.

And this doesn’t even speak of the 8.875% sales tax.

Seventy years ago today, New York City’s Holland Tunnel was opened to traffic. And just this afternoon, those first six cars made it through into New Jersey. – Anonymous

We looked off our balcony onto 11th Ave on many Friday nights. Seeing the absolutely calamity that is the gridlock trying to get into the Lincoln Tunnel is a sight to behold.

Yesterday they held the annual New York City Marathon. Runners start at the Verrazano, winding their way through Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx before finishing in Central Park. Coincidentally, that’s the same way most cabdrivers get you in from Newark Airport. – David Letterman

If New York has one thing going for it, it’s that it’s exceedingly easy to make your way around. However, beware of tricky cab drivers. If they sense that you’re a tourist, some will take the most circuitous route possible to your destination. Take this little incident below that we experienced a few months ago:

Taxi Route

When a guy in New York says he’s coming out of the closet, he’s just leaving his apartment.  – David Letterman

NYC Apartment

You mean, I can get ALL THIS for only $2,700 a month?!

Maybe we’ll be back years from now. After our kids are grown up and we want a taste of the city life again. We’ll know the old haunts, the neighborhoods. We’ll know the grocery stores and many of the restaurants. There’s nothing like living in a city and understanding what makes it tick–it’s something that no amount of visiting will ever get you.

Maybe we’ll be back, but I can’t say I’m counting the days…

Thank you for reading.

– Eric

P.S. To my lovely wife, thank you for putting up with this crazy life for the past year. I know it’s been hard. From here, things are only looking up!


  1. Hey Eric,

    There are so many things I loved about this post, however, I think the taxi cab map takes the prize. I’m not one for confrontation (must be the accountant in me) so I think I would have done a tuck’n’roll out the door once the cabbie went a block past the destination!

    A lot of my buddies in the financial industry did (or are doing) stints in the big city (that’s Toronto for us Canadians, eh?) and I found some either love it or hate it. While most of them just entered their 30’s and are starting to have families about 50% have made an exodus to smaller cities usually taking a hefty pay decrease.

    Congrats on the new gig and choosing a lifestyle that will mean more time with the family. One of my buddies who has two young sons was talking about how important it is to him to spend as much time as he can with his boys over the next 15 years, because soon it will be over and gone. Soak it up!


    • Jonny,
      As always thanks for stopping by and commenting. It just became too much of a battle. Life has the potential to be so much simpler and more free with just a simple job change–it really was a no-brainer. Thanks again!

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