From its world-class healthcare system to the copious coastline of beaches, there are many reasons to love living in New York. But the immense cost of living, taxes, and dramatic weather present plenty of downside to living in the Empire State.
If you’re considering a move to New York, it’s important that you weigh out all the pros and cons before making such a significant life decision. For some, New York may sound like a dream location to call home—but for others, the drawbacks may totally extinguish all the luster that comes with living in this state.
Jerry, the top-rated
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It only seems right to kick things off with the biggest city in the country: the Big Apple. The world-famous city of New York, NY comprises five boroughs, but we are going to break down Manhattan.
Commonly referred to as the financial capital of the world, Manhattan offers a generous job market with some of the most renowned companies across all sectors. If you have a passion for something, you will be able to find opportunities to work toward it in this city.
With its sprawling apartment buildings, you can choose to live on this metropolis island, or live right outside of it in more suburban settings only a few miles away.
Manhattan is far from all work, no play—it is one of the most coveted entertainment hubs on the planet. Come see the best productions on Broadway or catch a concert at Radio City Music Hall.
If sports are more of your thing, catch a ball game at this historic Yankee Stadium or Madison Square Garden. Saying there is always something to do isn’t even hyperbole, as you will always have something new to do on your calendar if you live in or close to Manhattan.
Con: Terrible traffic
We can’t talk about Manhattan without mentioning one of its biggest blemishes—the traffic. With so many people commuting to Manhattan for work and leisure, and only a handful of ways to enter from Long Island and New Jersey, you can expect to experience more than your fair share of slow-crawling traffic.
As a matter of fact, the American Transportation Research Institute ranked the George Washington Bridge as the most congested roadway in the entire country! Traffic doesn’t just dissipate once you leave Manhattan, though—Long Island can be just as backed up if you hit the road at the wrong time.
Transportation data analytic company, TRIP, calculates that Long Island drivers spend 81 more hours in traffic per year than the average driver.
Pro: Lifestyle options
When most people think of New York their mind probably goes right to Manhattan. Truth be told, the Empire State offers a multitude of diverse lifestyle options, allowing residents to live any type of life they please.
Of course, we know about the hustle and excitement of New York, America's largest city, but if you prefer areas that actually do sleep, then we’ve got you covered.
If you’re looking for somewhere relaxing to retire or work remotely in, then you’ve got to check out coastal towns like Greenport and Montauk. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you can head upstate to any of New York’s 53 rural counties to get a taste of the sweet country life.
Or maybe you’re looking for a nice middle ground. Areas like Westchester and Nassau County offer some of the most sought-after suburban towns in the entire Northeast.
Con: High cost of living
New York is known for being expensive—and its cost of living can absolutely be a dealbreaker for possible residents. The Empire State scores a 148 on the cost of living index against the national average score of 100, making it the second-most expensive state to live in.
Major categories like groceries, transportation, and utilities cost above the average, and housing costs are more than double the national average.
The median household income is $111,054—approximately $45,000 more than the national average. Higher incomes are needed to purchase homes here, as the average cost is $407,788 for a house (according to Zillow) and a whopping $3,300 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.
Owning a car in New York is also more expensive than the country’s average. New York state has the tenth-most expensive gas, according to AAA, with each gallon costing about $0.20 more than the average.
If that wasn’t enough, the highly congested roads and unpredictable weather inflate car insurance rates in New York as well.
Pro: Top-tier health care
If there’s one thing that you can’t put a price on, it’s your health. U.S. News ranks New York as the seventh-best healthcare system in the country, with great marks in the access, quality, and public health categories.
Manhattan is home to some of the best hospitals in the world, so you’re never too far from excellent, specialized care.
In fact, NYU Langone Health was ranked as the number-one hospital in the state, and the number three hospital in the entire nation. They have multiple locations including Brooklyn and Long Island, and are the top-rated hospital for neurology and neurosurgery.
In addition, New York-Presbyterian and Mount Sinai rank within the country’s top 20, with Mount Sinai taking the crown as the country’s best hospital for geriatrics.
Con: Dramatic seasons
Weather is one of the biggest driving forces pushing people out of one state and towards another. Maybe you’re sick of the cold, or perhaps you want to lay roots somewhere that offers more variety year-round.
New York is certainly a four-season state, but each season’s length and consistency are anything but predictable.
According to Weather Spark, New York’s cold season is from December to March. Tell that to any New Yorker and they’ll probably laugh in your face. Meteorology might say it’s still autumn in October and November, but temperatures can dip to freezing during these months, with the average winter temperature being 37 degrees in New York.
Additionally, the spring weather window has become progressively smaller, and the summers bring severe heat waves with unbearable humidity. During July and August, you will be greeted with temperatures in the mid-90s once you leave your air-conditioned home.
Pro: Long Island beaches
One of the biggest benefits of having an island in your state is the many miles of beachy coastline. The North Shore presents 118 miles of coastline along the Long Island Sound, just a quick ferry ride away from the northern neighbor of Connecticut.
Along the South Shore, you can find another 120 miles of beaches to enjoy the fishing and swell offered by the Atlantic Ocean.
Whether you settle on Long Island or are just visiting, you’re never too far from planting your toes in the sand and soaking in the sun.
Famous beaches, such as Jones Beach and Robert Moses Beach, make for great family fun where the kids can swim, dig and hunt for crabs until the summer sun knocks them out.
For the adults, you can also find beaches with high-end dining and some of the best golf courses found in New York. As you make your way East, you’ll run into the Hamptons and Montauk, the premiere summer destinations on the island.
Spend your days laying out and your evenings at the most prominent nightlife destinations Long Island has to offer—just be prepared to shell out a good chunk of change.
Pro: Education system
If you are moving with a family or plan on starting one, the schools should be one of the first things you look at. According to WalletHub, New York puts more of their budget towards elementary and secondary schooling than every state in the country!
This has led to the 13th-most quality school system, which factors in pupil-teacher ratio, graduation rate, math and reading scores, and much more.
When it comes to higher learning, New York offers some of the best colleges and universities in the country. Of course, there are renowned private schools like NYU and Fordham, but New York’s public school system receives great marks as well.
State Universities of New York (SUNY) are state-funded schools that NY residents can attend for significantly less tuition costs. Oh, and the SUNY system as a whole ranks 14th nationally when compared to every other state’s public school system.
Con: Sky-high property taxes and sales tax
Funding for the good schools and clean beaches have to come from somewhere, and it won’t take long to realize it’s coming from your paycheck. The average property tax is 3.05% in New York, making it nearly three times the country’s average of 1.07%.
Westchester and Rockland County demand the highest property taxes in the state, with a rate of 1.62% on average.
New York residents will also notice a hefty tax every time they look at their purchase receipts. The sales tax in this state is typically 8%, but can increase depending on where you are and what you’re buying. This is, to no one’s surprise, well above the 5.09% national average.
Although the taxes will feel like a lot, it’s important to remember that they are put towards the state and local budgets to fund programs like public health and safety.
A sad reality of New York is that homelessness has reached record highs throughout the state. The most will be found in New York City, and the Coalition for the Homeless calculated that there are over 50,000 homeless people in the city alone. According to their findings, about a quarter of these people sleep in the municipal shelter system, meaning the rest can be found on the street and in public spaces.
Lack of affordable housing is the primary reason so many people are forced from their homes, with nowhere to go. Pair that with the increased job loss following the Covid pandemic, and many people are left without options.
Unfortunately, homelessness can result in higher numbers of mental illness, addiction disorders, and overall crime. It can be hard to see and deal with when you encounter it, but it’s something every prospective resident needs to be aware of.
Pro: The food, duh
New York is commonly referred to as “The Melting Pot” due to the union of many cultures and nationalities—and with that brings some of the most diverse and specialized menus offered within one state.
Of course, Manhattan will present the most options per square mile in the entire country, with Little Italy, Chinatown, and Ukrainian Village only blocks apart from each other.
We would be remiss to not mention the professionally and publicly acclaimed pizza and bagels found in New York. Consistently landing inside the top three pizza states on just about every food publication, you will have to try pretty hard to find a bad slice here.
The bagels are where New York truly separates themselves. Many point to the NY water being the key ingredient in producing these national favorites—and we dug into the science behind it. New York tap water’s chemical makeup produces soft dough, which leads to the creation of delicious pizza and bagels.
Is New York a good place to live in?
Yes, New York is a good place to live, but like any other state, it has its drawbacks as well. If you’re thinking about moving to the Empire State, weigh out all of the pros and cons before coming to a final.
New York is an excellent state for:
If you worry about the traffic or high cost of living, though, the cons could be too much to bear.
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