Every time I get out of NYC, I am reminded at what we put up with to live here. It’s a known trope: we deal with sh*t that suburbanites couldn’t imagine, in exchange for being around amazing people (and companies, and $$).
There are three basic elements to living, and it is in these areas that NYC residents fare worse than middle-class suburbs. Fix these fundamentals, and quality of life ramps up.
First is one’s home. We overpay, and in an amount that is disproportional to the density. And for the privilege, we don’t control our own heat and have floors that are not orthogonal to gravity.
The result is landlords with too much power, and regressive (read: country-club-like) housing economics.
Second is transportation. Mass transit is good and necessary in dense areas. However, we pay 5–10x too much for a mile of tunnel. Which means less tunnel and fewer serviced neighborhoods.
Related, we restrict the number of taxis on the road for reasons that are pure corruption. We don’t put a cap on the number of cooks, and yet the market price for a taxi medallion has reached $1 million. It’s pure artificial scarcity, serving a constituency (incumbent medallion owners).
Remove the medallion cap, and the availability of livery ramps up. Again, quality of life improvement, not least for the outer boroughs. (NB: it’s easy not to see this in Manhattan.)
Thirdly, and this one is a mystery to me: food. I am thrilled to see Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods in the city. I can only imagine what took them so long.
Whatever it is that took them so long is the same thing that allows Gristedes, Food Emporium and Morton Williams to still be in business. Those supermarkets would not survive in any suburb I’ve known. Compete on quality, or compete on price. These incumbents compete on neither.