#WhyIStay In My City

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

In one of the first episodes of our new show, Death, Sex & Money, we talked to a freelance documentary producer who came to New York in the 80s, but is now finding herself priced out, feeling broke and tired. And if you read the comments left by our listeners, you'll find that many people can relate. 

A recent Gallup poll found that 41 percent of New York residents would move to a different state if they could, and 16 percent are planning to move in the next 12 months. Do you want to leave? If not, why do you stay? WNYC and public radio stations around the country are exploring what keeps people in place and what motivates them to move, and we want your input.

Here’s how it works: Tweet or post a photo on Instagram and tell us about something that makes you stay using the hashtag #WhyIStay. Your photo or tweet may be featured here, on our Instagram, and on other member station sites.

Be sure to tell us where you are, and follow our partners WFAEWBUR, WESA, St. Louis Public Radio, West Virginia Public Radio, Michigan Radio, KUOW, KQED, WLRN, and KTOO for more, or join the conversation on Twitter.

Are you committed to staying? Why?

Layers of laughter. #whyistay —@visualmusings

Because I can play rooftop fetch with my dog and look at this skyline. —@davidmctiernan

"I am committed to staying because the diversity that exists in NYC cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world." —Stacey Sarnicola (Facebook)

"Where else can you get such a conglomerate of energy? I pine for the Southwest where I lived for 30 years, but NYC and its manic energy keeps me stoked even on the train rerouting days!" —Sheela Wolford (Facebook)


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Comments [19]


The demand that I accept living in a 3rd world environment at 1st world prices and LIKE it has grown thin, what I used to like about NYC keeps closing due to unsustainable real estate costs. I could move - and take my job with me so long as I have connectivity - to a place without sales tax or state income tax and immediately enjoy 25% more of my wages, never mind the lower cost of living. As well, moving out of this Prohibition state is a motivation. one problem, is many of the 'cheap' states are fracked and I would never live where the groundwater was fracked.

May. 20 2014 01:33 PM
Bob from Bronx

Location, location, location. I spent 7 years in the Navy and circumnavigated the globe a few times. I have never found a place that even comes close to the convenience, variety, and opportunity as NYC. It's also a relatively short trip to skiing at Hunter; the forests -- I prefer 7 lakes Highway; and the beaches at Robert Moses. Because I realize that the deeper I understand NYC -- the more I can appreciate it -- and its more fun enjoying NYC when sharing experiences with lots of people out to have fun; I studied and obtained my NYC Tour Guide License. Now this place is truly my (and those with me) playground, and will stay that way as long as I am able.

May. 20 2014 02:41 AM
Michael C

After 54 years mostly if not all of living in NYC, The Bronx, Manhattan and Queens... I just got tired of it all. Doing the same thing all the time. Not noticing the Homeless as people was the main reason I left NYC, but not the State. I moved about 60 miles from the Canadian border. I came to a new city with no job and no place to stay with $500 in my pocket. If I could make in NYC, I can make it anywhere...and I did. Job within 2 weeks, place to stay in 2 days. Came with a change of clothes for 5 days. and fresh air and greenness.

May. 18 2014 09:30 AM
PeggyinNY from Manhattan

Because we live in a subsidized building for actors, we are able to live in and love, New York City. As we grow older, it is even more wonderful -- no need for a car; we're able to walk or use public transportation to get to good doctors, great markets, all kinds of free or cheap theatre, artistic events, concerts, and museums. Our grandchildren and great-grandson all have broadened visions because of visits with us here -- and many of their friends who have stayed with us had never been on a bus, taxi, train, or boat. My favorite thing about New York City is its diversity. It offers endless possibilities. My husband and I are in our late 70's and we are still working, writing, teaching -- and hopefully handing down the love of this fantastic city.

May. 16 2014 09:54 AM
Jerry Rosenkranz from manhattan

A city that has every type of American (several years ago the annual Nigerian parade commenced outside our building with 1 float and pride, today, you cannot count the size of it).. A fantastic transportation system to take advantage of all that the city offers and it offers everything in abundance at all levels (from the most expensive to cater to the 1 percent to endless free events. Then there is the Yankees. Finally, there is serendipity: an example...We went to the weekly market near the UN. Suddenly, perhaps 500 to a thousand people arrived to do Yoga type exercises, dance, play music and protest on behalf of religious freedom in China.

Is it any wonder that 55 million people come to visit NYC annually.

May. 15 2014 09:37 AM
Steven from Bronx,New York/Manhattan

Its true NYC provides great culture events, but also if you work and live in the bough of the city it over times does give you the strength as “FRANK SANAITA” sings “IF I CAN MAKE IT HERE I CAN MAKE IT ANYWHERE. MY thoughts are yes this is true in respect that after I leave here since being here for almost 30 years I will so enjoy being in a place of nature, open space, quit nights, less population in a small place, less cost of leveeing so I could live more, less, taxes and so many other things that just make life more pleasurable. The simple things that you really do not have when work hard and living in the city as you get older. Yes a wonderful place for when you’re young and building a career. I like the city for the fact that it gave me the opportunity to meet someone that I will never forget and it open thoughts to the arts and it has enable me to in time move on to the luv of the part of the country I true to live in which is far from such a big city. With the fact I’ve know someone here and it has given me a well-earned career I cannot really say I dislike NYC but feel it was an interesting experience.
So with everything I’ve said I’m now part of the 41% planning on leaving though in no more than 2 to 3 years at the most from now

May. 15 2014 01:27 AM

New York City is not just Manhattan! Where have you all been for the last 120 years? Geeezzzz!

May. 14 2014 07:25 PM

Grew up in Queens, lived in Manhattan 10 years and moved to Brooklyn when we had a child. Kick myself regularly for moving from Manahatta--love the energy, culture, diversity, opportunity for EVERYTHING--I could go on and on! Now can't afford to move back. I love the green of upstate, and enjoy day trips, weekends, but always want to head back to the city that never sleeps. Friends that are afraid of The City, people who find it filthy--it's OK if you don't want to live there. Leaves a little more space for those of us who are addicted! Just wish that those who can afford the apartments would be charitable to those who cannot, and allow us a weekend here and there in their lairs when they are off in the Hamptons and Europe. Hmmm?

May. 14 2014 06:09 PM
Ray from Tewksbury Twp., NJ

I was born and raised in Inwood in upper upper Manhattan. Went to public school, and Columbia grad school. Lived there for the first 26 years of my alleged life and then in Riverdale (Bronx) for another 7 years. I've also lived Washington for 18 years and in Cambridge, Mass. for 4 years. We still keep a co-op in Greenwich Village. I wouldn't think of living full-time in Manhattan (don't know anything about the outer boroughs). There is no diversity to speak of. Most of the current Manhattanites are not natives. The minority whites are all from somewhere in the hinterlands and speak with the accents of Ohio and Illinois. The "Noo Yawk" accent is no more. Girls playing potsie, jacks, and jumprope on the sidewalks of New York are not to be seen. The majority blacks and Hispanics are out of touch with New York history and tradition. In the '50s, a walk down 2nd Ave. from E. 125th St. to Grand St. would have taken you through these neighborhoods: Italian; black; Finnish; Irish; German; Hungarian; Czech; (we break for mid-town) then Armenian; Ukrainian; Jewish; and Chinese. Now that's what I call diversity.

Manhattan certainly doesn't compare with D.C. when it comes to diversity in the arts. True: we didn't have the Met -- but on any given weekend one could hear an astounding array of excellent performances mounted by 3 or 4 highly competent semi-pro companies funded by the various colleges and the D.C. government. And this stuff was outside of the popular canon. Yes, an occasional Traviata and Boheme -- but also shows you would never hear in NYC: like Falstaff, Giulio Cesare, and Pearl Fishers. NYC has only one G & S company that has a 3 month season. D.C. has TWO! which operate all year round. End of my rant. I wouldn't think of living full time in Manhattan.

May. 14 2014 03:58 PM

I was born and raised in NYC and have been involuntarily in exile on the left coast while I raised my son who is now in the marine corps (proud mom) and says it's fine if I go home now :), so if any of those 16% has a small studio apt I can rent, just let me know so I can start packing. There's no place like home...(and yes I have been back recently :))

May. 14 2014 02:09 PM
gary j. moore from Staten Island, NY

I have been married and living on Staten Island for the past nineteen years. Prior to that, I lived in Queens, after being born in the Bronx. I LOVE my new home and neighborhood and would gladly stay here, except that recent "economic developments" are threatening to move us elsewhere. Should I have to leave, I would remain on Staten Island because I love the borough and its people. The only other place I have ever considered moving was New Orleans, for the music and the food, but its hurricanes pose a threat I don't think I could survive.

May. 14 2014 11:49 AM
jack from Vineyard Haven, MA

I am a native of NYC. Born and raised. I have also lived in SF, Paris, London and Crete (in a cave!). I no longer live in NY. I am old and chronically ill and NY is just too fast for me now. However, if I had enough money -- and I mean A LOT of money -- I would move back in a nanosecond. I was a working artist (theatre). Although it has diminished since being sold to the banks in the 70's to avoid bankruptcy, NYC is still a vibrant, creative center. I truly love NY. It is my home. But now it is my former home. I was priced out long before I got ill. It's a shame. A young artist would find it much more difficult to come to NY to try their stuff. Just requires a lot of money.

May. 14 2014 10:51 AM
Somewhere in Brooklyn from Brooklyn and proud of it

Granted, NYC is far from perfect. But for those stating only the rich or rent-controlled dwellers can afford to live here, I take some offense. I was born, raised, and worked here all my life. Raised in Queens in a 2 bedroom apartment with 6 people, later Brooklyn, worked in Manhattan. I am, as they say, quite long in the tooth.

We bought a house here when no one else was buying. We toughed it out, having spent every dime. We were not then, and are not now "rich". WE were committed to this City when most were running fast and hard to the suburbs. Now they are complaining they can't live here because it costs too much?

The real victims of the cost of living in NYC are not the artists, physicians, and musicians. The long term working residents who hold jobs that barely cover rent, living near poverty, being pushed out of neighborhoods that no one else wanted to live in 40 years ago by gentrification are the real victims.

The newly minted "discoverers" of NYC should realize they are part of the problem.

We live in one of the "outer boroughs". We live in NYC, contrary to what some of the comments in this stream state, NYC is not just Manhattan.

And, "Olga from Westchester", Westchester is not an "outer borough" of NYC. It is one of the most expensive counties in NYS and the US. Your post makes no sense. If you live in Westchester, you do not live in NYC.

I wouldn't live anywhere else, for better or for worse.

May. 14 2014 10:18 AM
Olga Romero from Westchester

Many people don't understand the reality of life in NYC. It's a sad fact, but only the very rich or those who live in rent-controlled apartments can actually afford to live in the city; for the rest of us, it's the outer boroughs. The city is dirty, the streets are covered with craters, the noise can be unbearable, people drive like lunatics, pedestrians risk their lives, taxis and bikers respect neither people nor traffic laws. Most people don't even understand that when there is a crowd walking on a sidewalk, they should should stay on the right. Dog walkers don't pick up after their dogs. You there's homeless person on every street either sleeping or begging.The subways are noisy and crowded. The cost of movies, theatre, and other cultural venues are beyond the reach of most of us. Why should be surprised when people try to find a more civilized way of life? I'm tied to a job in the city. For how long? I don't know.

May. 14 2014 09:51 AM
Nick from Floral Park

It's one of the few places on this earth (and I've seen much of it) that makes it worth using the 90 years (and counting) I was given.

May. 14 2014 09:43 AM
Gaby from Manhattan

It's not only artists who are struggling to live in NYC. As a physician, I can make double or triple in other parts of the country with a lower cost of living and a better quality of life. It's a tough place to live with the expenses, crowds, grime, noise and limited access to nature it just doesn't seem worth living here anymore. I'm a lifetime New Yorker, born and raised in and around the New York City area and I'm moving to the west coast in a month and half.

May. 14 2014 09:09 AM
Musician from Astoria

The cost of living is simply too high. I moved to NYC to pursue my art. While I recognize it isn't the most lucrative of fields, I work a full time office job, a freelance job, and get paid to make music and can still barely afford to make it month to month. Many of my artist friends, all with varying levels of professional success, find themselves in the same situation. The era of NYC as a breeding ground for young artists is coming to (or has already come to?) an end.

May. 14 2014 08:34 AM
david from New Jersey

It's not economically feasible to live in the City especially for young families. The prices for just about everything and anything is too high, the threat of terrorism and crime always loom, and the environment is under a great deal of pressure because of population. Most of the super wealthy who have residences in the City also have suburban homes and are not enslaved to live there.

May. 14 2014 08:07 AM
William Blevins from Brooklyn

Your statement "A recent Gallup poll found that 41 percent of New York residents plan on moving out of the state in the next 12 months" is incorrect. The 41% represents what percentage would move if they could. The actual percentage of New Yorkers who actually plan on moving in the next 16 months is actually 16%.

May. 13 2014 01:24 PM

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