Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Litany: #1 "It's close to NYC!"

Oftentimes, when discussing the thought of escaping from NJ, folks will throw up a barrage of reasons as to why that's just a very bad idea. Many of these reasons are almost like canned responses, as if they've been programmed into us. I refer to them as The Litany.

Don't get me wrong, many if not most of these points do contain at least some shred of truth, but the weight of that truth varies tremendously depending on what your interests, values, hobbies, and desires are.

One of the most frequent points raised as to why someone wouldn't or shouldn't want to leave NJ is because it's close to NYC. This is true, NJ is close to NYC. But why does that matter? First, allow me to explain why it's not a big deal to me.

NYC is a fascinating and interesting place. It's rich in history and culture and pretty much anything you could ever think of can be found there. Yet, I find myself only going there maybe a few times each year. It's just not where I typically tend to choose to spend my time. I go for the occasional obscure, underground concert, museum visit, auto show, etc. Suffice it to say, NYC just isn't a huge priority for me. Therefore the fact that I live near it is not of great importance to me.

To this, many would say that I'm omitting the fact that NYC is an economic powerhouse and a big part of the reason why there are so many good jobs in NJ. This is true, but it also ignores the cost that being near NYC imposes on living here. Higher taxes, higher cost of living, endless traffic (and the resultant air pollution and road rage), crime, corruption, and a culture which values hyper competitiveness and nearly frowns upon cooperation. To some, this may be a plus. The extreme Type A personality might well thrive here.

Now, I do know some folks for which living near NYC is important, either due to career choice or lifestyle. If you're a Broadway aficionado, then it's understandable. If you want a shot at the Gordon Gekko lifestyle, I understand (though I would argue that that could also be pursued in London, Chicago, Tokyo and many other cities in Asia).

The point I'm trying get at here is that it strikes me that very few people consider what they mean when they say that living in NJ is great because it's close to NYC. It's a meaningless statement without being defined. Its like saying that you're great because your live next to a famous athlete, actor, or other person of renown. Why is it great? Why does it mean so much to you that it would play an active role in your decision either to move or not move out of NJ? If you spend great amounts of time there due to your career, hobbies, or family, then OK, that makes sense. But, if like me, you rarely go there, then what difference does it make? You're in effect, paying the high price of living near NYC for no other reason than that it's nearby.


  1. I've heard people say this many times, and I totally agree with your assessment.

  2. The downsides to living near NYC are at least as significant as the upsides. Folks seem to throw out living near NYC as if it's irrefutable proof of the greatness of life in NJ.