A good chunk of New York City’s Gen Xers and baby boomers are looking to make a clean getaway when they hit retirement age thanks to high rents and the cost of living here, a new report says.
According to a study released today by AARP, many of those in the 35-69 age brackets are not prepared to retire in the city, citing a lack of adequate savings and mounting college loan debt.
The report said that 66% of Gen Xers said they wanted to leave the Big Apple when they retired. Meanwhile, 56% of baby boomers in the city said they’d also look for greener pastures.
And when a large segment of residents leave the city, it’s a blow to the economy, said Beth Finkle, AARP New York State director.
“If they [the Gen Xers] move out, those who are able to retire, they take those pensions and 401K with them,” Finkle said. “Those are people who are going to spend it in the communities they live in. It hurts the local economy and the tax coffers. Those businesses will also end up paying less tax.”
Thirty-four percent of Gen Xers and 42% of baby boomers have no personal or workplace retirement account, the report said. In New York State about 3.6 million, or 54%, of private sector workers are not offered a retirement plan, leaving them with the option of opening a personal individual retirement account if they have the means to do so.
“In my situation, I’ve had to do early withdrawals just to pay my basic bills due to the loss of unionized construction in New York City,” said James Born, 37, a Brooklyn resident. “I’ve been saving for seven or eight years and I had to withdraw everything I could at one point to pay mortgage and food. There’s no one that can tell me I won’t have to do that again; it feels more like a savings than a retirement plan.”
Born is one of many New Yorkers who have had to tap into their retirement accounts to make ends meet for him, his wife — a small-business owner — and daughter.
Many think that in order to save for retirement they have to follow the common rule of setting aside 10% of their paycheck when even 1% can help in the long run.
According to Kristen Euretig, certified financial planner and founder of Brooklyn Plans, a financial planning community resource, the key is to start saving early and make small contributions over the long term instead of large amounts in a small time frame.
“The secret is consistency and contributing as much as you can and feel comfortable while still paying your debts, living your life and doing it regularly over a period of time,” Euretig said.
She adds that people need to determine what their priorities are since living in New York City most people spend 50% of more of their income on rent; they would have to cut back on take out, the movies and anything else that is considered unnecessary expenses.
In addition, lack of affordable housing and home ownership are major contributing factors that determine whether one stays in NYC or leaves.
“Housing has changed how people used to think about retirement,” said Clara Rodriguez, professor of sociology at Fordham University. “Whether they plan to stay in NYC might have a lot to do with if they rent or bought a home. If you purchase in NYC it’s a good time to sell and it also means you can afford to stay.”
Despite all the problems the Gen X demographics face in terms of retirement, moving is not an easy option even if New York is not designed for the budget conscious person anymore.
“I was born and raised in New York and have no intention or desire to leave,” Born said. “There’s a constant conversation in my house if we lived anywhere else it would be easier for us. If I didn’t feel loyal to the place I would have left already.”