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Ten Great Reasons to Retire in NYC

Updated on August 5, 2014
View from Central Park
View from Central Park

Forget gated communities.

No thanks to those little golf carts, constant sunshine and waiting in a sea of pastel polyester for the bargain buffet.

I'd like to retire to the fast-paced, diverse, youth-driven, culturally and artistically stimulating center of the urban Universe. I'd like to retire in New York City.

I'm not alone. A recent survey published by the New York Times stated that, instead migrating to Arizona or Florida or settling on a picturesque lakeshore, 26% of Americans would like to retire to an urban environment.

The Big Apple is so much more than Tony-Award winning musicals, cartoon characters in Times Square and priceless works of art in never-ending exhibitions. It's an orchard of strange, sometimes luscious--and, okay, sometimes rotting--fruit.

NYC at NIght
NYC at NIght

A Dirt and Diamond Mandala

Five languages overheard in one block. Sri Lankan dinner, wrapped in a banana leaf. The homeless woman who lives outside the 7/11 and sells $20 drawings of her long lost cat; the bike messenger with the steamy oil-stained bag, who barely misses the jaywalking Hasidic Jew. All this complexity forms a spiritual unity.

New York City is a dirt and diamond mandala.

Ten Reasons Why NYC is a Worthy Place to Hang Your Hat


Instead of utilizing precious resources to build a primitive retreat in some unspoiled corner of our planet, there are unique advantages to retiring in the Big Apple.

  1. NEW YORKERS ARE FIT. New Yorkers walk everywhere. We’re like koi, because our apartments and elevators are smaller, we have an incentive not to outgrow our tanks. Those hardbodies out there are motivation--and if you’re over 65, it’s only $25 a year to join a city gym. For $99 a year anyone can join Planet Fitness. If you want micro-steam and Kiehl’s, the Equinox gym will gladly take $150 a month.
  2. WE RECYCLE EVERYTHING.Great Falls, Montana's city commission decided that recycling "wasn't government's job." In NYC, you dump a dead toaster in the recycling bin, and bada-boom: it’s scrap metal. In my co-op laundry room there are places to donate clothing, recycle batteries, re-process electronics, give away, take or borrow a book, and do three loads of laundry all at once. Two mornings a week, there's free compost pickup in front of my building. Back in Montana, where agriculture is the biggest business in the state, there’s no organized composting. With so many humans on the planet, and general consensus that our soil is endangered, there's no excuse to throw organic waste into a landfill.

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Me, composting outside my apartment in Chelsea.
Me, composting outside my apartment in Chelsea.

3. Health Care

Okay, I admit: healthcare in the USA is broken. It's important to stay out of hospitals, because even good hospitals are bad places to be. But if you need geriatric care, U.S. News listed FOUR NYC hospitals in the top ten: Mount Sinai, NY Presbyterian, the Hospital for Special Surgery and NYU's Langone.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to avoid doctors, it's best to go see one, and in NYC, you can at least 'pick your poison.'

4. WE LOVE OUR CITIBIKES! There are convenient kiosks throughout NYC, and more and more bike lanes.We've got summer streets too: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/summerstreets/html/home/home.shtml

5. I know you’re not going to believe me, but outside MidTown,GROCERIES ARE CHEAPER AND FRESHER in NYC. Within four blocks of my tiny apartment, there’s a Fairway Market, Whole Foods, Garden of Eatin’, Gristedes, and--OMG--the mecca of reasonably priced healthy groceries, a Trader Joe’s. Saturdays, there's a farmer's market a block away, and, several days a week, there's the famous Greenmarket at Union Square.

6. There are always FREE THINGS TO DO every day. Whether you want a walking tour of Greenwich Village, jazz at lunch, Powerpoint lessons, free movies, Nobel laureate lectures or Yoga in Bryant Park, there’s no excuse for boredom. My favorite website to get a day-bu-day, hour-by-hour calendar of these events is http://www.clubfreetime.com/new-york-city-nyc/free-events-things-to-do/today/activities.

There’s no reason to ever go anywhere again: eventually EVERYTHING comes to New York City.

7. DIVERSITY is the order of the day. There’s always someone on the street who’s taller, shorter, uglier, prettier, smarter or stupider than you. In my hometown of Great Falls, Montana, I cannot guarantee this with any certainty.

8. There are FOUR SEASONS. In NYC you can count on a little fall color, snow (a little or a lot) and a crocus parade...and a glorious and intermittently sticky summer. It's okay--you're retired! You can get up at 5 a.m. and walk the City before the place heats up. If you're up for some funky fun, head to the Jersey shore, or up to Long Island--or stay in town and enjoy an all-day excursion to your favorite museum(s).


Early Spring Outside NY Public Library
Early Spring Outside NY Public Library


9.THE FOOD. Oy, the FOOD!!! You want French? Gluten-free? Vegan? Ethiopian? Russian? When I get a craving for a paper masala dosa in Montana, it’s a 1,200 mile drive. Here, I call one of six South Indian places on Lexington and 26th and have it delivered.

10. AIRFARES ARE COMPETITIVE. Okay, winters get cold. $690 will buy you a round trip, NYC to Palermo, Italy. Trust me: it can cost that much to get from Great Falls to Fargo. In the winter, you can book a $99 special to Miami. Got grandkids? There are three big airports in the NY metro area: chances are there 's a direct flight.

Crud as Creative Traction

I can hear pens scratching and fingers flying over keyboards, coming up with lists of reasons to avoid NYC.

New York City can be rude, dirty and gritty. But for people like me, all that crud offers creative traction, and the solace of a small carbon footprint.

So what if there’s a worm in the Big Apple? I’ll just bite it off and huck it into the gutter. It'll have a little company down there...

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      Danny M. 3 years ago

      Now you make me envious and feeling sad for being so far away. Enjoy life Claire.