After an interesting response from my, “Top 10 Reasons not to live in California” list, we now turn our attention to other spots around the nation that one might not want to call home. Moving all the way across the country to the east coast, we find one of the original states of the great union of ours; New York. Unfortunately, unlike some of the other former British colonies that would become the first states, New York would not retain the quaint and humble characteristics that are the hallmark of a place for planting family roots. For that, you’re probably going to have to go to Maine (nobody complains about Maine). Here are the top ten reasons you probably don’t want to call the Empire State home.
10. It’s A One City State
This is a point that can be made about a lot of states in the city union. In fact, there are a few states that don’t even have places that can rightfully be called cities (just large towns – hello North and South Dakota). The state of New York, for its part, is pretty much defined, judged and misaligned by the comings and goings of New York City. One would think, in fact, that there is no actual state and that New York City (much like Washington DC) is an independent entity free the reigns of statehood. Unfortunately, what this means is that nobody pays much attention to any other part of the state (and this includes people who actually live in New York). Even the folks in the state’s capital – no, it’s not New York folks, its Albany – spend more time legislating around the affairs of the state’s (the worlds?) most cosmopolitan city. And let’s be honest – just how many cities in the state of New York can the average person on the streets name? The result of this metropolitan bias? The rest of the state and its residents get the short end of the stick – from its legislatures needed attention to public funding – it’s the Big Apple or bust.
9. You Might Get Whacked
Truth is stranger than fiction and organized crime is a reality that has plagued New York and law enforcement since the early 1900s. The five major organized crime families (Gambino, Genovese, Luccese, Colombo, and Bonanno) call New York home and control a good deal of its commerce. This includes many of the unions that employ workers in various service industries like trash collections. You want to get a job – you might have to deal with the mob. You want to live in a particular area- you might have to deal with the mob. Maybe not in a direct sense, these folks have a large collection of associates – estimated well over 250,000 people in various sources, law enforcement place their membership numbers in the 10s of thousands. Suffice to say, these are not people you want to run afoul of. With an annual revenue that are estimated to be over $100 million, these guys are serious and there is a trail of dead and missing bodies of those unfortunate enough to get in their way.
8. If Not the Mob, Then the Street Gangs Will Get You
“Warriors, come out and playyyyy…” Most of us were pretty young when the movie (The Warriors, in case some of you have no idea what I’m talking about) came out and ever since, it’s been a cult favorite. Unfortunately, gang activity is much more violent and deadly that what was portrayed in the movie. Gone are the days that gang members took the time to put on colorful jackets when their names emblazoned on them. No – now it’s drug dealing, drive-by-shootings, and outright murder. And don’t think that these are just a bunch of hoods that are confined to just one ethnicity or neighborhood. Every New York locale and ethnic group has their own brand. There’s the Latino gangs such as Los Vatos Locos and Latin Kings; the black gangs the Bloods and the Crips; the Vietnamese gangs The Green Dragons and Born to Kill; the Dominican gang DNP; white gangs like the Hell’s Angels – and the list goes on and on. You can’t live in New York (unless maybe you’re very rich) and not feel the effects of gang activity. Literally, they are everywhere. Not surprisingly, because of proliferation of gang activity, New York continues to be on the losing end of dealing with crime and protecting its law abiding citizens. This leads us to the next item on our list of why you might not want to call New York home.
7. You Might Become a Victim of the Soaring Crime Rate
A person living in New York is more likely to be the victim of the violent crime than anyone else living in another state. According to the most recent numbers from the federal government, violent crime across the United States is on the decline – about 5% overall. New York, however, has experienced a 4.6% overall increase in violent crime. The numbers are really scary: Murder is up 14% (there were 536 murders in New York in 2010), rape is up 24.5%, robberies increased 5.4% and aggravated assaults jumped 3.2%. Folks, that’s a lot of crime. That’s a lot of crime when criminal activity is on a decline in virtually every other locale around the country. The stereotype of everyone getting mugged in New York may not be as fictionalized as some would have us believe. While the mayors of New York City have touted to the nth degree how Times Square (a mecca of criminal activity in past years) has been cleaned up – the rest of the city and state seems to have been neglected. No wonder there are so many gun advocates in the state.
6. The Police
With the prevalent soaring crime rate, street gangs, and organized crime problems confronting the residents of New York; one would think that local law enforcement would be near and dear to the hearts of the New Yorkers. Unfortunately, it seems that New Yorkers are just as likely to be a victim of police brutality as they are crime. California had Rodney King. New York has the young West African immigrant who was shot 19 times while standing in front of his apartment by 4 plain clothed police officers. Cases of police misconduct are legendary in New York – so much so, I could write a Top Tenz list simply on that topic alone. Amazingly (or maybe not so amazingly), it’s rare that any of these cops are ever convicted of anything – regardless of the weighty evidence against them in many instances. Consider that since 2001, there have been 287 people that have been killed by New York law enforcement officials. Whether justified and in the line of duty or not, that’s a lot of dead people (and not all of these shootings have been legit). It’s a scary thought that a cop might shoot you before a criminal does. Yet, this is the dilemma that New Yorkers face every day.
5. The Cost of Living is Prohibitively High
The cost of living in New York is out of this world. If you are not rolling in the dough, you are probably going to have a hard time trying to make ends meet in the Empire State. The cost of living in New York is 25% higher than the national average. A New Yorker has to earn about $123,000 a year to have the same standard of living of a person residing in Houston that makes $50,000. And if you don’t plan on living under a bridge or in a park, you can expect inflated housing costs that are 400% above the national average. What many New Yorkers are paying in apartment rent equates to healthy mortgage payments for the rest of the country. Even those folks who try to grab a hold of the entrepreneurial spirit and start a small business run get stuck in New York’s commercial quagmire – the state is ranked 2nd (right behind California, I might add) for having the worst climate for business. I guess that’s why so many folks are turning to crime in the state – they can’t afford to live anywhere or eat holding down a regular day job.
4. There are Too Many People Living There Already
You can attribute a lot of the problems with New York to the fact that there are just too many people living there. With 19+ million souls residing within its borders, New York is the 3rd most populous state in the union. That’s a lot of people that all have needs. These folks have to work, be fed, receive medical attention, be protected, ect. The resources of the state simply are failing to accommodate the needs of the people it already has. You know, China is having this exact same problem – maybe New York should enact similar stringent birth control practices. With so many people living in such close proximity to one another, there are bound to be a host of problems. Can you imagine, for example, living in a two room house with 10 to 15 (representing a couple of generations) family members? If you can’t – that’s New York living for ya!
There are already 19 million people living in New York. When you add the several million tourists that visit the state each year, the place is just downright crowded. Unlike many other states that actually have an industry of some kind (i.e. manufacturing, agriculture, etc.); New York’s primary ‘industry’ is tourism. Looked at another way, the state is trying to get more people (a whole lot of more people) to visit the state and spend their money there. And spend money they do – something in the order of $30 billion. What this means is that there are always people walking around gawking at you and asking you ridiculous questions (like ‘can you tell me where the Sopranos was filmed at?’) Then, because tourism is the most lucrative industry that New York has to offer, residents tend to find that the state caters and has a preference to the needs of tourists over them. It’s a fact that the police are much more likely to bash a fellow New Yorker in the head than an out of state tourist.
2. You Can’t Understand a New Yorker’s Accent
If you have ever had the privilege of speaking to someone from New York, you probably chalked the experience up to something akin to communicating with an Irish Mongolian. It takes a bit of concentration to actually discern what these folks are saying. Amazingly, in a primarily English speaking country; our eastern seaboard brothers and sisters have developed a dialect that is wholly and uniquely their own. In fact, trying to figure out what New Yorker’s are talking about reminds me of the Brad Pitt character (Mickey O’Neil) in the movie Snatch. He plays a hard fighting chap that hails from a group of folks that is referred to as Pickeys (kind of like Irish gypsies). If you know the movie, then you know what I’m talking about. These folks talk and you’re like, ‘huh?’ and blank looks ensue. Spending any significant time in New York is similar to moving to Texas – you have to learn an entirely new language to be understood. Though, it might be easier learning Spanish than New Yorkese (for lack of a better name).
1. New York Yankees Fans
You either love them or hate them – and many of us fall into the hate them category. The funny thing is, is that a lot of people feel this way and don’t even follow baseball. Yet Yankee fans tend to come across as obnoxious and overbearing – not particularly warm and fuzzy people that you want to be around. This can be especially irritating when you have to listen to these folks ranting in their New Yorker dialect. Nails on the chalkboard. Granted, not every person in New York is a Yankee fan – there are a few who actually know about and root for the Mets. Nevertheless, there are enough of them –with all of their Yankee sports regalia and boisterous noise making that can make life unbearable for those that are not a part of their cult. I mean really, have you seen this people? Their lives turn on how well the Yankees are doing. If the team is suffering a losing streak – God help you. You would rather deal with a woman having a bad case of PMS.