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Why Baby Boomers Could Cost New York City $53 Billion, According to a New Study

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We all know baby boomers represent one of the biggest portions of the population, with tens upon tens of millions of them around. They’re also heading for a pretty big mass retirement really soon, which will put a lot of stress on the economy. However, one unexpected outcome of the Boomers’ mass retirement is how it’ll affect individual cities. Nobody thinks New York City is a down-and-out town hard on its luck and scrabbling for every dollar, but they’re facing the prospect of losing billions and billions of dollars once boomers retire. How? Let’s take a look.

Mass Exodus from New York City

The NY Daily News reports that over half of retirement-age Boomers (ages 50 to 64) say they have plans to leave the city once they retire, which will mark a huge portion of the population that’ll be gone. There’s also a portion of soon-to-be retirees who are confident that they’ll be able to stop working and retire, and even more of them are set to leave. A reported 64% of New Yorkers say they’re “very or somewhat likely to flee when they retire”, says NY Daily News.

This anticipated mass migration comes down to a variety of factors that are forcing New Yorkers from their cities once they stop pulling in a steady paycheck.


  • Housing costs: It’s not exactly a secret that New York has some of the highest living and housing costs in the world, never mind in the country. It can cost thousands for a simple one-bedroom apartment, or millions for a house. For Boomers on a retirement income, it can be hard to combat rising housing costs without regular employment raises. That’s also not considering apartments that may not be rent-controlled, as their costs can skyrocket very quickly. And if the building’s owner wants to sell to make room for something else, where can the retired Boomers afford to live?
  • Utility bills: As much as housing costs are an issues, so, too, are utilities. New York’s not exactly known for having affordable utility bills, as they only seem to keep going up, up, up. For someone with a regular full-time job who sees regular salary increases, that’s not so much of a problem. But for a retiree who has to live on the same amount each month, it’s a tough pill to swallow.
  • Traffic issues: It seems like most of New York City is a big traffic jungle, with cars whipping by at breakneck speeds and traffic lights that only give you enough time to sprint across. Adults in decent physical condition can handle the busy streets okay, but what about retired Boomers with health issues? A recently repaired hip is going to weigh heavily on a Boomer’s mind, especially when he or she crosses a busy downtown street to get to the other side.


The Income Divide

So far, the number being thrown around in terms of what New York City could possibly lose is $53 billion, if Boomers decide to take their dollars elsewhere to a more affordable city. That’s a huge amount each year to lose, and it’s something that New York should be working hard to keep in the city.

However, retiring New Yorkers won’t all be planning to leave in the same proportions, with income and lifestyle playing big roles. It only makes sense that if you can more than afford to live in the city after you stop earning a paycheck, you’re more likely to stay there instead of uprooting yourself and moving away. But if once retirement hits and you find the cost of living is beyond your means, chances are a move to another city is starting to look more attractive.

There are about 1.5 million Baby Boomers in New York City, and over half of them (53%) say they have no plans to leave the city — if they belong to the upper class. But if you go down to the middle- and lower-class New Yorkers, their answers change a lot. Of the former group, almost two in five (39%) say the city won’t be right for them come retirement. What’s really interesting is how lower-class New Yorkers respond to the same predicament, with just 36% of them saying they don’t think the city will be a good retirement fit.

And the main issues facing Boomers? Over half of them (60%) say affordable housing is a big weight on their shoulders, while over a third (35%) say they’d worry about being able to afford groceries.

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