February 9th, 2009

Keep Walking

News Flash: The Daily News reports - New York City IS expensive!

Well, paint me shocked!! One of my friends (who still smokes) pays an average of $8.50 for a pack of smokes in New York at a discount place. In London, expect to pay even more! A 20oz Coke? The average NYC price is about $2.00 from a corner store.
N.Y.C. so costly you need to earn six figures to make middle class
BY Elizabeth Hays

More than $2,000 a month for day care. Some of the highest phone bills in the country. Jam-packed, 50-plus-minute commutes to work.

You knew it was tough to live in New York City — but this tough?

A new report shows just how ugly — and expensive — New York City can be, especially for the middle class, squeezed by skyrocketing living costs and stagnant wages.

The study, released Thursday by the Center for an Urban Future, shows that New York City is hands-down the most expensive place to live in the country.

Among the findings:

- A New Yorker would have to make $123,322 a year to have the same standard of living as someone making $50,000 in Houston.
- In Manhattan, a $60,000 salary is equivalent to someone making $26,092 in Atlanta.
- You knew it was expensive to live in Manhattan, but Queens? The report tagged Queens the fifth most expensive urban area in the country.
- The average monthly rent in New York is $2,801, 53% higher than San Francisco, the second most expensive city in the country.

“Income levels that would enable a very comfortable lifestyle in other locales barely suffice to provide the basics in New York City,” the report concludes.

Other belt-tightening details include:

- New Yorkers paid about $34 a month for phone service in 2006. In San Francisco, similar service cost $17 a month.
- Home heating costs have jumped 125% in the past five years and are up 243% since 1998.
- Full-time day care costs can run up to $25,000 a year for one child, depending on the neighborhood, or about as much as some college tuitions.
- Meanwhile, wages in the city have remained mostly flat in all boroughs but Manhattan — even during the boom years from 2003 to 2007.

It’s not only money that makes life here hard, researchers said — which might not be news to most New Yorkers.

Take commutes, for example. The report found that many New Yorkers put up with commutes double the national average of 25.5 minutes.

Commuting to Manhattan from St. Albans, Queens, can take 51.7 minutes, while getting there from Canarsie, Brooklyn, can run 50.8 minutes.

Researchers said the combination of skyrocketing costs, stagnant wages and a deteriorating quality of life forced hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to flee the city for cheaper areas during the boom years from 2002 to 2006.

The report found that more New Yorkers left each year during the boom than left during the dark days of the early 1990s.

Center for Urban Future Director Jonathan Bowles noted that the number of people fleeing the city has slowed since 2007 as the rest of the country has sunk into recession, jobs have dried up nationwide and home values here started to sink.

Mayor Bloomberg downplayed the report but said he is concerned about the constant drumbeat of job losses in the city.

“There is turnover all the time. That’s very healthy,” Bloomberg said. “We’re doing fine, but it is very worrisome, the number of people who are losing their jobs.”
Of course, there are many ways to save money by living in New York as well! Not owning a car helps a lot -- but moreover, having an apartment that includes heat, hot water and electric really makes managing money far easier!

Keep Walking

Chaz' move to New York -- An update.

When I last wrote with a NYC move update, I had developed ten steps to logically make my move to New York City from Boston. Although there were some snags along the way (like movers that tried to charge me double and didn't deliver all my stuff), I'm happy to report that everything on my list has been completed (with the exception of procuring a new job). I am now just starting to seriously look for work now. I am working with a professional vocational guidance counsellor (which is advisable for anyone in the $100k+ job market). This person (who is paid by me) will work on my behalf to help me locate and procure a career that best suits my strengths. He's sort of a 'reverse-head-hunter.

Of course, in the meantime, I've been busy travelling, attending local events in NYC, unpacking and setting up the apartment, heck I've even had my first house guest (a mate from Scotland!), who was here for a week in January!

My travel schedule is already filling up for 2009 -- Palm Springs, Long Island, Manchester (both the one in NH and the one in England), Cardiff, Salisbury, Frankfurt (Germany), Rochester (CanAm/Victoria Day weekend) and two trips to London all before Memorial Day! For those interested, I will not be at IML in Chicago this year. If you're interested in travelling with me, please let me know! I love dragging people along with me!

Please check out my Where's Chaz schedule -- perhaps I'm coming your way?

If you're a motorbiker, please jot down the weekend after Memorial Day for the Empire City Motorcycle Club biker's weekend! On Friday, 29th May, we'll have our 45th annual Bike Blessing & Christening here in New York City. On the 30th, we'll ride in formation to an undisclosed location for bikers only (no 4-wheeled vehicles allowed, sorry) for ECMC's annual Biker's Picnic. As always, these are both FREE events! Contact me or any other member of Empire City, M.C. for details (don't bother to look at the website, it's under re-construction, again).

Of course, nothing is perfect -- I've had some trials and tribulations with this move, but all the planning I did really helped! My flatmate, K.K. Kua, is a great guy! Like me, he's an 'elite frequent flyer' and travels like mad all over the globe. We have much in common, which makes living together in this somewhat small flat very enjoyable and entertaining.

I live in a neighbourhood that is becoming known as "SpaHa" (the new, cool word for Spanish Harlem). It has been very up-and-coming with construction of the new Second Avenue (T) subway line -- fancy restaurants and clubs are starting to pop-up in anticipation of the new subway, which will directly connect the upper east side with the financial district. There will be a station stop on my block, less than a 60-second walk from my front door! We're situated on the 9th floor of a 20 storey high-rise with southerly and easterly views.

[In other subway news, the (Q) line will be extended to 125th St and the (7) line will be extended to the west side and turn south down 11th Ave, ending at the Jacob Javits Convention Centre -- that means there will soon be a subway to take you to the NYC Eagle! Woo hoo!]

I've been trying to post stuff up to my blog from time to time, but there does not seem to be enough time in the day -- I think I need a personal secretary! ;-) I'm not going to be sending out e-mail notices like this very often, so if you're really interested in what's new with me, what's on my mind or knowing where I'm going, please check my websites from time to time.

I hope everyone is having a glorious 2009 so far! When visiting New York, please let me know you're coming! At the very least I can help steer you to some interesting places to see, visit or eat!

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