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Retiring in the New York City Area: Big Apple Pros and Cons

For millions of people over hundreds of years, the New York City area has been a final destination. Countless immigrants from Asia, Africa and Europe first set foot on American soil here. Young people flock to New York seeking love, fame and fortune. Increasingly, people are retiring in New York City, too.

Manhattan, featured in guide to retiring in the New York City area

Manhattan is the center of the New York City area, but there’s so much more.

As baby boomers age, one in every five New Yorkers will be age 60+ by 2030, according to New York City’s Department of Aging. So why stay in the New York City area when you retire – or move here when you do? Below, we’ve compiled a list of pros and cons of retiring in the New York City area. Is it right for you?

First: Defining the New York City Area

A quick note: You might be disappointed if your vision of retiring in New York City is a place in Midtown Manhattan. New York City is expensive, and Manhattan is more so. One luxury assisted-living community being built in Midtown is expected to have rents as high as $20,000 a month. You’ll find more and more affordable options in the metro area. Popular retirement spots in the NYC metro area include Long Island, the northern suburbs along the Hudson River, and northern New Jersey.

Pros of Retiring in the New York City Area

Hudson River Valley, featured in guide to retiring in the New York City area

The Hudson River north of New York City, near Harriman State Park.

Active Lifestyle

New York City and surrounding areas are walkable and, for the most part, easy to navigate. Walking to the grocery store, doctor’s office, boutique, or deli every day is a great way to get in some exercise without having to join a gym. The New York City area also has beautiful beaches, parks, and other recreational areas to explore. Long Island itself boasts more than 50 beaches. North of the city, above Yonkers and the New Jersey suburbs, is Harriman State Park, with 31 lakes and reservoirs and 200 miles of hiking trails.

Culture, Culture, Culture

This is New York City, of course, the home of Broadway, world-renowned museums, and the Metropolitan Opera. Imagine yourself taking the train into the city for lunch at a hot restaurant and the matinee of a Tony Award-winning musical. If that’s your idea of a perfect day, the New York City area is the place to retire. The NYC metro, with some of the most diverse cities in the country, also offers countless opportunities to experience new things and meet new people. If, for instance, you’ve always wanted to learn a new language in retirement, you won’t lack outlets here.

Montauk, Long Island, featured in guide to retiring in the New York City area

At the far end of Long Island is Montauk, accessible via the Long Island Rail Road.

Easy (and Cheaper) Transportation

You may have heard it before: Nobody drives in New York City (except taxi and Uber drivers). Well, it’s true. Most New York residents ditch the car and opt for walking, biking, or taking public transit. The New York area can be expensive (we’ll get to that in a moment), but being car-free will certainly save you some cash.

If you live in areas outside the metro core, you can easily travel to surrounding towns and into the city via trains and the subway. Bonus: Once you hit 65, you qualify for a Reduced-Fare Metro Card. That gets you half-price rides on the subway, buses, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad. (Learn more about senior discounts on travel here.)

Favorable Taxes, If …

In general, New York’s tax situation is favorable for retirees, though that could vary depending on your age, property ownership, and income. Military, civil service, New York State and local pensions are non-taxable. This includes Social Security benefits. Also, as much as $20,000 worth of out-of-state or private pensions can be excluded from taxation for retirees age 59½ and older. If you’re over 65 and have a restricted income, you may also be eligible for a homestead property tax exemption, which will save you from the state’s relatively high property taxes.

Age-Friendly NYC

New York recognizes its aging population and its needs. That’s why it created the Age-Friendly NYC initiative. New York City was the first member of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities, and New York State aims to be the first Age-Friendly state. The initiative seeks to help older residents access, enjoy and contribute to city life. One project, for instance, is Age-Friendly NYC College Link, which helps older residents find free and discounted classes.

Cons of Retiring in the New York City Area

High Cost of Living

You probably expected this. New York is one of the most expensive cities in the nation. In fact, the cost of living in New York City is 68 percent higher than the national average. Costs go down some if you live in New Jersey instead but are still above the national average. The Hamptons are a popular New York area retirement destination, but only for the well-off. The cost of living in the Hamptons is about 140 percent higher than the national average. Middle Long Island isn’t quite as expensive, but the cost of living in cities such as Deer Park and Glen Cove is still about 50 percent above the national average.

Average Senior Health

America’s Health Rankings ranked New York State 21st in the nation for senior health in its 2017 report. Minnesota and Utah were at the top of those rankings. In part because of the high cost of living, the state (and New York City, in particular) is home to many impoverished seniors who are more likely to have untreated conditions than their financially stable counterparts. It helps to have good health-care coverage here.

Low Ranking for Veterans

New York State also doesn’t rank well in terms of its economic environment and quality of life for veterans, according to WalletHub. Out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, New York ranked 49th and 41st on those factors. The state did rank high, at No. 2, for veteran health care, however. Fortunately, veterans can get help with senior housing and care.

Are You Ready to Retire in New York?

Given the abundance of recreational and cultural opportunities and a diverse population, it’s easy to see why so many people can’t wait to retire in the Big Apple and its surrounding cities. But, like anything, the city and region are far from perfect. Have you retired in the New York City area or are considering doing so? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

If you’re ready to start looking, see for retirement communities in the New York City area.

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    1. Nolan Myerson says:

      We moved to NYC after 28 years in Roslyn. We followed the kids 2 years later in 2012. You can say we are above average in savings. That being said, dollar for dollar you get more for your money in the city. Once my wife and I went on Medicare we cut our insurance premiums in half and love the staff at NYU Langone. Ditching the car saved us $600 a month. We’re addicted to dining deals from Groupon, Blackboard Eats and Social living. We get great Bway seats for $42. We’re in the Village and everything is two blocks away. One day I was in the mood for Lobster bisque from the Oyster Bar at Grand Central. I hopped on the 4 train uptown one stop door to door in 20 minutes. And if I want something to eat at 1:AM, it’s across the street. The Big Apple is all about convenience. That comes with a price. But as a senior living here it’s really the best of both worlds. Much cheaper and more diverse than Long Island.

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