There is perhaps no larger chasm in policy results than the one between New York and Florida. The poorly managed Empire State and misguided left wing policies have caused its population to decline faster than any state in the nation last year, while serving as a model of caution for the remainder of the country. The Sunshine State, on the other hand, has seen its population more than double since 1990. Is also the top destination for former New Yorkers. Thanks to its judicious use of tax dollars and wealth of resources, Florida is now the third most populous state in the nation.
New York and Florida are similar in size, population, and racial profiles. Each attracts plenty of immigrants. But years of mismanagement in New York has wreaked havoc on its residents. Imagine you are well into your 50s and have worked in New York for several decades. It is now time to consider your retirement. Individuals planning their golden years have to consider how far their hard earned dollars will go. Staying in New York and shelling out tens of thousands of dollars annually may no longer be viable. Serial abuses of policy, spending, and taxation have left thousands of citizens with the same decision to stay in New York or move to Florida.
Much of this thought experiment combines tax rates and a little back of the envelope math, so bear with me as we look into the fictional life of David Uhall. His name reminds Albany of the thousands of New Yorkers leaving each year due to profligate state taxes and costs of living. This ongoing exodus could even force New York to lose seats in Congress and send residents to low tax jurisdictions such as Florida.
Now for some ground rules for Uhall. He is 55 years old, single, healthy, and earns $100,000 after deductions as an accountant. He is thinking of moving from his apartment in Brooklyn to a condominium in Miami. He expects to spend about $10,000 in disposable income and owns a car. If Uhall rents a dedicated parking space, that adds an extra $5,000 each year in New York, where the average monthly price of parking clocks in at over $400. The price of parking in Miami? Just $25 annually for a permit. Moreover, the proposed congestion pricing in a daily commute to his office in lower Manhattan adds over $4,000 to his total annual expenses.
Factoring in costs of living could mean that the $100,000 salary would go much further outside the Empire State. After inflation and relative costs, that amount would be equivalent to only $87,000. In Florida, the same $100,000 is worth roughly $101,000. Tally up the totals and it is easy to understand why so many people flee New York for Florida, especially as they enter peak earning years and think about retirement. Private sector pensions and 401(k) plans are taxable in New York, meaning Uhall would be on the hook for thousands each year on top of higher costs of living.
Florida opened its doors for tax refugees, and residents have come. New York still has not learned and wrings out any additional tax dollars it can find for its soaring deficit. State tax collectors actually conduct 3,000 nonresidency audits a year to make sure high earners who leave cannot escape without a bill from Albany. State officials check phone messages, social media posts, dentist bills, and even the inside of kitchen fridges to make sure that fleeing residents do not cheat the governor out of a nickel.
At the end of the day, the price of staying in New York is nearly double that of a temperate place geared toward the lifestyle of older Americans. Plus, there is no loss in culture or cuisine in moving to Miami or West Palm Beach, with the amenities of modern life available for the thousands of residents who are making the jump from New York to Florida each year.
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The final consideration facing our hypothetical New Yorker is that moving truck rentals from blue states to red states are much more expensive than vice versa due to high demand. With the bevy of lower taxes and costs of living, perhaps this is the one cost that Uhall is willing to pay to start his new life in sunny Florida. Residents vote for the government they want. As years of corruption and mismanagement compound in New York, the next most important vote for its citizens will not be at the ballot box. It will be behind the wheel of a moving truck headed down to the Sunshine State.
BY KRISTIN TATE