No they don't. Tax breaks aren't enough. One of the big reasons a lot of people really like NYC is that it's one of the few cities in the US that actually feels like a city. NYC is urbanist in a way that relatively few American cities are (and most of the other cities in this category are also big economic winners, like SF and Boston).
How many of those more conservative/cheaper US cities actually take walking/biking/transit over driving as a serious issue? Virtually none of them that I've seen, they put in token efforts at best; an unprotected bike lane here, a "technically counts as transit" bus stop there, but very little that really moves the needle or challenges the status quo.
Name one of these cities, and I'll show you how they're failing miserably on at least this front just by a quick look at Google Maps.
> quality of living is considerably lower.
See my other nearby comment for why this is a "it depends" thing. A lot of people would consider living in Kansas City to have lower "quality of life" than NYC even if it's less crowded and it's much easier to afford a house.
Your comment itself illustrates the disconnect here: we have one side arguing that the other side is wrong in what they want, ala
"Why don't more techies want to come here?? This is ridiculous!"
"Well, because they want to live in places with X Y Z even if they're expensive and crowded."
"Well, they should care more about A B C instead (because I do)."
I focused on it in my original comment mostly just because it's an area I'm particularly familiar with, and it's an area where the cities that are supposedly "desperate" are hardly doing anything at all. (Not that I blame the local governments for that, really, I realize the local residents mostly want their cities to stay that way)
Of course there is some cost to not collocating employees. Google has decided new offices are worth this cost, and thus Google can decide to allocate building/location resources based on employee preference alone (let's assume the other factors are somehwat insignificant, which could be valid taking into account the high proportion of labor cost).
If every additional dollar spent on a given location buys the same amount of office space and equipment in both the urban and suburban areas, then it would make sense to divide the budget for offices according to the proportions of the labor pool preferences. Now of course, a dollar in SF buys a lot less office space than a dollar in Lexington, so that should be a accounted for in budgeting decisions, as well as overhead costs involved in opening a new location.
If we look at Google's actions under this framework, it doesn't make much sense for Google to devote as much of their office budget to highly urban areas as they do, unless the proportion of current and potential employees that prefer ruralism is very low. I would find that difficult to believe. Of course there are other factors to consider, but the trend is what I mean to highlight.
That being said, the true proportion would have to be discovered, and company culture may not allow people to express their true desires. This would apply to many tech giants.
* The nature of "suburbs" is that they don't scale well. They're not meant to, suburbs are supposed to be the thing on the outside, not the thing everyone comes to. And while costs may be lower in some ways, they may be higher in others: like how Google has to run its own fleet of shuttles to go to Mountain View, because transit is inadequate. They don't do that in NYC.
* Google has a cultural preference for being environmentally friendly. Suburban style living and working is more energy intensive and less environmentally friendly than its urban counterpart.
* There's a large contingent of people that are united in their support for companies like Google to open an office in a more suburban city, somewhere, but I suspect that if you actually tried to pick a particular city, suddenly that support would fracture into a million pieces.
I wonder if the real situation is that it's easier to attract young "top talent to cities with halfway decent urbanism than to cities that are more like giant suburbs." That's also tends to be kind of talent that's willing to work way more than is really good for them. The suburban lifestyle is more suited for established families and older "top talent."
But you're absolutely right that a lot of new college grads want to live in the city and maybe not even buy a car.
The majority of the established workers already own houses in the suburbs, exurban areas, and even NH. For many of them, a location that's actually in the city is a bug, not a feature.
> older "top talent."
Older top talent often has the resources to actually buy houses even in expensive areas, anyway.
Maybe at the toppest-top, but it's a struggle for anyone with even a high normal-range income to buy a home in the Bay Area.
- LIC Queens high rises have 2/2 rentals that go for $17k/mo. ~ 1200sq feet. High floors. Ok views. Ok buildings.
- In Manhattan those are $22k-$30k/mo in newer buildings and $15-20k/mo in older hifg rises.
They aren't full of tech bros. They are full of finance and attorney bros. I have an acquaintance that lives in one. He is one of the portfolio managers for one of the hedge funds. He is a salary only manager. By the standards of NYC apartments qualification, it means his take home after taxes has to be at around 65k/mo as proven by his tax returns for last two years.
Thing is, renting a 900 sq foot apartment in any reasonably urban area has gotten pretty expensive anywhere. It was about 1000-1500$ in KC when I left. It's about 1600-2200 in Seattle. My salary jump from KC to Seattle more than makes up for the difference in rent. Other things may be slightly more expensive, but I don't really notice.
Major difference is you can buy a house in Kansas City, but even that is starting to get expensive - at least in the areas that I would like to buy a house in. Even Grand Rapids, Michigan is having its own housing crisis. At least the salaries are already high in coastal towns. That said, I sometimes feel like I was saving up enough money to buy a house back in the midwest.
This is also what San Francisco suffers from. It goes from city to essentially suburb extremely quick. While cities like New York, Paris and Tokyo just go on and on. Of course we only talk about those examples because they have developed that way over decades.
Historically, yes. But I'd argue that there are a lot of US cities that got pretty hollowed out by white flight and other factors to the degree that there were essentially no desirable parts of town. What's happened is that any number of those cities now have a revitalized urban core (however small) and living in that small core with the dozen or so restaurants you can walk to, maybe some small markets, new condos, etc. is pricey.
I've either worked in or spend a fair bit of time in a few of those places. The few dozen square blocks on gentrified core is pretty nice as a visitor but it's pretty small.
I'm guilty of this, but I think your formulation is a straw man. All I want to tell people is that they shouldn't reflexively rule out the middle of the country, because a lot of people really would be happier there. Not everybody, but some people.
And the way (some people on) the coasts talk about the Midwest and the South is as though they're a complete and total non-starter that's out of consideration entirely. "Yeah, New York's expensive, but what am I going to do? Live in Cleveland? Obviously I can't do that!"
I think that kind of talk convinces a lot of people who would be happier somewhere else that they shouldn't even bother looking into those places. And that's a tragedy of human flourishing.
Edit to respond to one comment below:
> I think you're dismissing people's issues too easily.
On the contrary, I think you're inordinately focused on your own particular (and somewhat eccentric) issues. Most Americans prefer car ownership. You might think they're wrong to prefer this. I do, too! But, "I don't want to live somewhere where I have to own a car" isn't a mainstream American opinion.
My spouse and I would love to move somewhere less expensive than NYC, but we just can't make it work. We're both in fairly specialized tech fields, and prioritize walkability, diversity, great schools and career growth opportunity. Outside of say Chicago, it's hard to come up with a place that checks those boxes.
If a person values a thing, saying, "well [thing] exists in these other cities too, there's just a whole lot less of it there" is maybe not a super effective counterpoint.
Like, I realize that basically every major city in the US does have public transit...technically. But pointing out that out is not useful when for most of those cities, said transit is slow, unreliable, sparse, and infrequent.
I don't just want transit. I want good transit. I don't just want walkability in a few isolated neighborhoods. I want widespread walkability.
However, unless your working in medical devices I wouldn't call it a hub like New York, Boston or the valley.
My wife is even harder on this line than I am. We live in Munich now, and the biggest reason she doesn't want to come back to the US is that she doesn't want to go back to driving everywhere, and there are only a few cities where a family can reasonably and easily get away without a car.
Firstly, I recognize this is just one factor. I focused on it because it's one I'm highly familiar with, not because it's the end-all be-all. I've already pointed this out in multiple comments. We could also talk about educational opportunities or tolerance/discrimination, but those things either aren't as clear cut or would be more contentious to discuss.
Americans saying they prefer cars when you ask makes sense when you consider the other options are usually hilariously bad wherever they live, and where they've lived in the past, too. Give them an option where walking and biking and transit actually work, and suddenly many people find those options desirable. Just look at how many American tourists say they love the transit system in, say, Tokyo, when they visit. Americans mostly "love cars" because they've been given no other serious options.
Lastly, while many people may not think of it in explicit terms, they may nonetheless enjoy some of the knock-on effects of urbanism, like a city "feeling more lively".
Car ownership is a multi thousand dollar expense, every year. Many people would be happier with that cash in their pocket.
It seems there is exactly one reliable way to make this assessment. Look at where people move to. The large cities with the most rapid growth are (from Forbes 2018 list):
1) Boise, ID
2) Seatle-Bellevue-Everett, WA
3) Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX
4) Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL
5) Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
6) Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV
7) Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN
8) Austin-Round Rock, TX
9) Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL
10) Tacoma-Lakewood, WA
Not necessarily. Many cities strictly limit how much housing they have, such that there is a hard limit on the number of people who could feasibly live there. SF is a good example of this, since it's also small and geographically constrained. Saying "well, the net increase in people was small, so therefore it must be that not so many people want to live there" is not necessarily true if physically the city cannot accommodate many more people due to regulations.
Looking at where people move to is useful, yes, but high housing prices are themselves often a marker of desirability, particularly in supply-constrained markets.
Here’s why people who can end up electing to live in a place like NYC and here's why the NYC is the economic winner.
I pay $3400/mo for 2400 3bd 2bath two floor apartment with a private backyard ( mine ). If I had a car, I could have parked in in a back - I don't because I have 27 zip cars available within a five minute walk. I also have Maven, Cars2Go and Enterprise -- I have an account with Maven because it is free and I only need to pay for usage of cars.
My commute to work is ~35 minutes door to door - which includes walking and a subway. When the L goes down for two years, I will have J and M and my commute at most will increase by 45 minutes. It won't affect me as I will just adjust my hours to avoid the rush hour shitshow caused by the stupidity of MTA and NYC politicians. Employers of NYC know about it and based on my informal polling seem to be willing to accommodate those who would be affected. I have an unlimited monthly metrocard which gives me all the needed access for about $130.
I have 3 super markets within a 10 minute walk, 1 CVS/1 Wallgreens/1 Rite Aid. I rarely have to use Uber, but if I do, it takes ~4 minutes for me to get one where I live. If I needed a doctor or a dentist, there are dozens within 15 minute walk. There are walkin medical centers, including the ones that are open 24x7 within a 20 minute walk. If I needed a proper hospital with ER, it can be accessed in about ~15 min. And some of the best hospitals in the country are at most with crazy traffic over Williamsburg bridge or Queens Midtown tunnel are ~45 minutes away.
If I feel like getting the biggest variety of produce or proteins or wine for cooking or entertaining, I have access to all suppliers in Chinatown, Koreatown, farmers markets (Union Sq farmers market makes other farmers market look like a stale 2 week old french fry), butchers and Hunts Point Terminal ( in addition to ethnic grocery stores and ethnic markets). All of them are accessible by the subway. Most of them deliver. Same day. Well. not Huntspoint but that’s where I can get whole wild caught King Salmon for $9/lb -- the same price that a distributor that sells to a distributor that sells to the vendor who sells to your supermarket for $22/lb pays. Except that I get it 7 days earlier and $13/lb cheaper. You get the idea.
Depending on how much time I want to spend "commuting" (subway ~ 45min max ) I have somewhere between 3 ( walk of of the door ) to 20 ( ten minute on L, J/M (per train/per direction, not total) to 50 (fifteen minutes) to > 400 (35 minutes) coffee shops/bars/restaurants/lounges/nightclubs. This includes the best restaurants in the country that a person who does not live in NYC needs a 3 months in advance to get a reservation at -- I can stroll into them and get a table in an hour worst case scenario simply because I'm out enough which means I run into people who work in or own those restaurants socially. I’m doing it this weekend - wife’s birthday so we are hitting four hottest places in 4 days, three of which are “not reservable until some time in January”. I made calls yesterday -- happen to meet one of the chefs at a party, the other was sitting next to me in a little bistro where a photographer friend of mine works during the day ( he introduced us ) and two others are industry regulars so I know them from the other places they used to work at.
It also includes hole in a wall places that prove access to all kind of ethnic food ( I live in a PR/Dominican neighborhood which borders Polish/Eastern European and African-American neighborhood) really cheap - $20 would feed a family of 4 for at least 2 days. If for some reason I’m itching so socialize with 20 year olds, I can replace my Italian off the runway jacket that my wife picked up on her way home for $200 (it just has a cut on the inside label to indicate it is 'damaged' and does not need to be taken out of the country to avoid taxes) for a $65 vintage blazer from 1995 and be surrounded by the smash the patriarchy hipster girls that voted for Ocasio-Cortez who decide that I must be a socialist professor that they absolutely must fuck either today or tomorrow.
Within a five minute walk from where I live there are 12 bodegas. Of those 7 now carry the same organic blah/blah staples that one has to get at Whole Foods outside NYC. Those staples are priced the same or slightly less than at Whole Foods. And no, I'm not talking about the new, upscale small marts. I'm talking about bodegas that service local population -- bodega cats included.
I do not do "theatre" but if I did, Broadway is 1h away door to door, using subway only. Off-broadway that happens every single day is between 10 minutes to 1 hour away using a subway.
Galleries/Museums/exhibits are at most 1 hour subway ride away (those are the ones that plonk themselves at the MET or Whitney). The edgier stuff is much closer -- 15 minutes away. Some punkish looking characters have just opened what they think will be a gallery two blocks away (~3 min walk ) -- it will probably flop in about a year for for that year it will be a fun and interesting space. Within a couple of months (at most) after they flop someone else will do something with that space.
My biggest dilemma with my wife in the evenings or weekends when we want to do something is just exactly what do we want to do because there are so many options. If I decided that I was going to go out every night and was to pick a random 5 block area somewhere between where I live and where I work and never went to the same place twice, then by the time I finished with every place I would probably need to do it again because some of those places would already be different.
My wife is a somewhat of a fitness bunny and woo-woo conneserus. She can find something to do to feed her habits every day, also accessible by the subway be that yet another pilates studio -- no, not the ones that do mat pilates but the ones that have cadillacs -- or spend her lunch break on a bike at the Peloton studio -- the one that is streamed to the middle of nowhere Kansas ( and she paid nothing for that because the lunch classes were free when she was into that specific form of exercise ) or aerial yoga or meditation or whatever else happens to show up on class pass. Not dozens places. Hundreds. She gets it all for $125/mo that she pays for the class pass.
I have done the calculations -- our lifestyle costs us less than what my wife’s brothers lifestyle costs him living in Ambler, PA -- a cute little town about 1 hour away from Philadelphia. Not only he makes less money and has less things that he can do, he spends more money doing it -- mostly because the town is small which means that pretty much everything that he can do requires him driving somewhere, which costs money and takes an enormous amount of time. And since there are fewer people around him, everything costs more.
The only place in the US where at least one can get everything he or she can get in NYC is the greater Los Angeles, which of course requires driving everywhere which, in turn, makes so many spontaneous ideas impossible.
This is why people want to live in NYC. It is my second stint here. I used to live here when I was much younger. I thought there's no way I would want this in my thirties because there won't be anything that would interest me in this city -- I was wrong. The older I get the more I appreciate that a city like NYC with the population density provides the most bang for one's buck regardless of what one wants. Twenty years from now I'm probably going to buy a condo so I won't have to do any maintenance and still have everything at my fingertips without needing to drive anywhere. I cannot wait until NYC NIMBY get smashed ( we are finally starting ) so Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens start getting high rises which are needed to push those boroughs into the modern age.
P.S. I'm 44. I used to live here when I was single and in my early twenties. I moved back here in late thirties.
P.P.S. Love the downvotes. It is like a badge of honor.
> $3400/mo for 2400 3bd 2bath two floor apartment with a private backyard
though I prefer single floor condos more, and don't want to pay that much in rent. But, that's 20 years too early to be talking about it.
I stay in Boston right now, and Charles bordering Boston-Cambridge neighborhoods are similar to how you describe NYC living, just on a smaller scale.
That's an incredibly broad overstatement. There are plenty of people, including "techies," who still want a suburban home with a car.
There's a lot of talk in this thread that assumes that tech workers all want to live a minimalist lifestyle in a dense urban area (or even worse: that they should want to live that way). That's frankly false. I assume what's really going on is that people are projecting their parochial preferences onto a large group that's much more diverse than they understand.
I mostly grew up in the city, in a small apartment, but for a while we did live in the Midwest, in a big house. The only problem with apartment living was that we had too much furniture we didn’t need from when we lived in the Midwest.
That's a projection of your subjective preference.
1200 sqft is not enough space for just me, that's my subjective preference. I currently occupy a home by myself with about ~2,500 sqft. I don't utilize all the space regularly. My bills would not go down by much if I reduced that space to, say, 1,500 sqft. Housing where I live is spectacularly affordable. I consider not having to live in a tiny, cramped space to be a quality of life benefit. I enjoy that my kitchen is the size of a small studio in San Francisco or NY, and it costs me perhaps $120 per month as a share of my mortgage.
I occassionally work from home, and I need a seperate office with a door to do that. Also, I just like having some space to get away from the rest of the family for a while.
Like you, it's what I'm used to from when I grew up, so that probably plays a big part in my preference.
Something like ~2500 sqft. sounds amazing to me, as long as it is all on one floor.
For example: I was issued a ticket in SF for moving (and I hired professionals to do it). That kind of crap simply doesn't happen in New York, but it happened routinely in SF.
I'd actually argue that the quality of street / park trees is the best way to judge how competently a city has been run over time. When a city has lots of healthy older trees, that means not a single administration has dropped the ball in over 200 years or whatever. If look around NYC there are thousands of mature American elm trees everywhere, but not in any of the surrounding suburbs. Why? Because NYC parks department actually takes care of the trees when they're sick and removes them if they can't be saved, whereas all of the surrounding tri-state towns just let them infect the surrounding trees and then die.
Now maybe the fact that Robert Moses's favorite tree was the sycamore should have been a hint to everyone that some of his other policies may have been suspect, but that's a different issue.
That depends on what you value.
* SF's transit, while indeed bad, is still superior to all but a handful of other US cities.
* Similarly, SF is top tier for walkability and bikeability.
* SF has more cultural and ethnic diversity than most cities, especially since it's the principal city of a metro with a ton of immigration.
* SF has a LOT of interesting stuff that goes on (partially as a result of the previous point). Concerts and walks and other cultural events.
* Also as a result of the diversity, SF's food scene is really excellent.
* I'm not personally much of a fan, but a lot of people actually like SF's weather.
* SF is very left wing, and a lot of people in tech like that. Not everyone, but a lot of people.
The things you listed as problems largely are real problems of course, but there's a reason so many techies still choose to live in SF even if they work in Mountain View, and that's something your theory here doesn't explain: why not live in the closer, somewhat cheaper, and less crime/homeless-filled South Bay?
Your list of problems just reveals your own preferences: you prefer the advantages of the suburbs to the advantages of the city. Nothing wrong with that, but not everyone shares your preferences.
Do you really think NYC is a good example of this? I found the car traffic horrific, cycling is variable at best and downright dangerous at worst. The subway is pretty amazing but massively under-invested.
Even most UK cities which have longer levels of history restricting what can be done for cyclists are better than NYC.
I often wonder about why relatively conservative /cheap/low-density/car-bound are so correlated.
significant counter-examples, in the US or elsewhere, where, for example, a more conservative area is higher density or urban, compared to it's more progressive surroundings?
If those situations are very rare, then why? Is it strictly historical, or does relatively higher density, and more frequent interactions that result, change many people's perceptions.
I had a lot of fun, and I wish I could've stayed another week, but actually living and working there? No thank you. I actively do not want to fight through crowds and run to catch connecting trains just to get to and from work every day. I don't want to live in a tiny apartment with no cooling but a room air conditioner sticking out the window. I don't want to be surrounded by noise 24/7.
Trust me, for every person who wants to live in NYC because it's actually a city, there's at least one person like me who only wants to set foot in cities to play tourist and would rather live and work in the suburbs.
And I'd rather live in modern suburbs at that... in NYC suburbs like Westchester (where I stayed during my trip), the housing stock is so old that even a nice place will be a fixer-upper, and the street layout is horrendously bad because nothing was planned in advance. I strongly prefer living in southwestern suburbs where nothing is older than the late '70s, half the neighborhoods were built in the 21st century, and the suburbs are built around a one-mile grid of six-lane divided highways (e.g. Dallas, Vegas, Phoenix).
Want the crowds, the city life and the noise? Live downtown. Old-school New York? The upper west side. Brownstones on quiet, beautiful streets? Any number of Brooklyn neighborhoods. A quaint New England-y fishing village? City Island. Conservative-leaning, leafy suburbs? Staten Island. The ethnic enclave of your choice? Peppered throughout the city. Cheapo cool kid artist communities? Bushwick/Ridgewood. Want to own a boat and live on the water? The Rockaways. The list goes on and on, and that's not even touching Jersey, Westchester or Long Island.
The beauty of the city is that all of these places are unquestionably, culturally 'New York'. They're also, for the most part, quite well connected to the city core on affordable public transit, and in many cases quite affordable by big American city standards.
I think you’re conflating current cultural preference with actual economic ability. Where do towns like Palo Alto, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale fit into this?
* Very few miles of protected bike lanes, although at least things are looking up there for the future: https://bicyclecoalition.org/our-campaigns/30-miles-of-prote... (although the fact that 30 miles is celebrated as some big achievement is itself telling)
* Two subway lines is better than most US cities, but still not very many for a metro of this size. Munich has a comparable metro population and has 8 subway lines, for example, not to mention several separated-grade commuter/rapid transit lines that go way out into the burbs. Looks like high quality, rapid transit is still close by for only a small percentage of Philadelphians. It also sounds like the regional rail system is in disrepair.
* Looking at the zoning map, it looks like implementation of mixed use zoning is much better than most US cities, but still very limited in many neighborhoods, which limits walkability: https://openmaps.phila.gov/
* Also from the zoning map, many areas are still zoned just for single-family homes, which limits walkability/bikeability (and also encourages economic segregation, to boot).
Philly's level of urbanism should really be like the bare minimum for US cities, but in reality it's close to the top, I think.
A lot of the homes are single family, or row homes. This results in swaths of a residential feel in a city. Even the hot Fishtown felt very rural to me after my stint in New York. Although I appreciate the quite. Looking at the history Philadelphia started with the idea of brownstones/row homes instead of apartment buildings. To give people more space. But this does result in sparseness of shops. A lot of the multi tenant buildings are either new constructions or converted warehouses.
The two subways is always a point of contention. But I don't find it that big of a deal. Living near either Broad or MFL, I can get around very easily. The city is also extremely walk able, a majority of the people I knew just walk. It's under two miles river to river. If not that there are a number of buses.
http://skookul.com/ <| For real time public transit.
I can't speak regional rail. But when I left ~15, commuting from Delaware was a shit show.
In the city bike lanes I don't think is the best. But the river trail along the west side is well used. I know a number of people up in outer Manayunk bike in.
Having just taken a history walking tour. How the city feels makes alot of sense. It's meant to feel like a number of connected neighborhoods. I still think it deserves a second look for tech companies. With all the universities and good start to transit. It's ripe for an investment outside of Comcast.
0 - https://twitter.com/ismetroonfire?lang
1 - https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/washington-d-c-s-metro-...
* The MAX has decent reach, but it's severely handicapped in capacity and speed by running at-grade. The Portland metro cheaped out there, and the result is a train system that's only good by American standards.
* Many of the MAX stops, you can go a block or three and hit single-family homes (mandatory single-family homes, I think). To spend billions on a transit system, and then intentionally handicap its usage by strictly limiting how many people can live nearby around its stations...that's just completely insane. What are they thinking? "Better make sure as few people as possible can actually use this enormous investment"?
* No bus lanes that I'm aware of, or at least few enough that a multiple-time visitor didn't see them, so buses are stuck in general traffic.
* Very few physically protected bike lanes, in spite of its reputation as a bike-friendly city. The sum total value of bike improvements prior to the Orange Line was I believe estimated at around 60m, which is probably like a hundredth of one percent of the value of the roads and other stuff built for cars.
* Despite ostensibly being a major city, most of the residential areas are zoned very low density.
* Those very low density areas also generally have no commercial/retail activity allowed, which particularly hurts walkability: part of walkability is being able to, y'know, walk to things.
Most of what I wrote here, you could apply in some form to nearly every US city.
Zoning laws are changing and have changed to allow infill. Plus, there is an urban growth boundary which will force higher density.
The bottlenecks in Portland are the bridges and there is at least one bridge that cars can't drive on, only busses and transit and there will be more in the future.
There are entire streets where vehicle through traffic has been blocked in favor of bicycles. There are still bike lanes on the major roads a block away too which is why you probably didn't notice the dedicated streets.
Portland is being upzoned all over the place. look at any major street west of 82nd and you will see new apartment buildings on almost every block. The suburbs of Portland haven't caught up, but in 20 years if trends continue in both places I could see Portland being more dense than San Francisco and the suburban sprawl not ending till the sierras.
Yes it is. It limits how long the train can be, because it can't block traffic downtown, which limits its capacity.
It also limits how fast it can travel. Having its own lanes is better than not, of course, but not as good as being completely physically separated. For an example of this that I'm particularly familiar with, a big part of Caltrain's unreliability comes from it having so many at-grade crossings.
> Zoning laws are changing and have changed to allow infill.
Yes, but very slowly. The current state is that they're extremely bad. Less extremely bad than the US average, probably, but still extremely bad nonetheless.
> There are entire streets where vehicle through traffic has been blocked in favor of bicycles.
Yes, and that's a good move. Would love to see more of those across the city. The way Portland has done it isn't as good as, say, Munich, but it's still a nice thing.
> There are still bike lanes on the major roads a block away too which is why you probably didn't notice the dedicated streets.
Eh, I mean the neighborhood greenways are good, don't get me wrong, but there should still be more off-street paths and physically protected lanes on arterials.
> look at any major street west of 82nd and you will see new apartment buildings on almost every block.
I'm aware of the steady upzoning in Portland, and that's good. It's still true that they're decades away from the kind of urbanism that many cities in, say, Western Europe take for granted as the norm, where "only single family home" areas do not really exist in major cities.
You are comparing Portland to European cities which is not a fair comparison. Compared to any city in California, Portland is miles ahead.
That still limits its speed for that area, and its capacity everywhere.
> You are comparing Portland to European cities which is not a fair comparison. Compared to any city in California, Portland is miles ahead.
Nah, transit usage is much higher in SF, and BART + Caltrain + Muni is better than Portland's system.
Anyway, like I said, Portland is one of the better US cities for urbanism, it's just that that's a bit like claiming to be a more honest-than-average politician.
No bus lanes, but buses aren't just stuck in general traffic. Portland has a system that gives them priority at stoplights: https://www.oregonlive.com/commuting/2016/03/what_are_the_bl...
Also every Canadian city, with some very rare exception to the bus lanes bit (there are like... two in Toronto).
> Those very low density areas also generally have no commercial/retail activity allowed, which particularly hurts walkability: part of walkability is being able to, y'know, walk to things.
The other things are more a matter of preference, while I think zoning insanity is the clear leader in making North America's cities and towns tend to be so tedious and isolating.
> Very few physically protected bike lanes, in spite of its reputation as a bike-friendly city. The sum total value of bike improvements prior to the Orange Line was I believe estimated at around 60m, which is probably like a hundredth of one percent of the value of the roads and other stuff built for cars.
For all the investments of Dutch urban centres in bicycle infrastructure, it seems to me that it is the culture which makes or breaks this. As a more-than-commuter cyclist, I can say with confidence that a clumsy protected bicycle lane is more dangerous for cyclists (but quicker for motorists) than none at all. Most protected bicycle lanes are clumsy. Here in Hamilton (mid-tier city in Ontario), a lot of the roads are one-way (which has some benefits and drawbacks, the bus routes look funny), but on these one-way roads, the city of hamilton has installed protected two-way cycle paths. Now, these are convenient, to be sure, but you can imagine that when you get on a one way road, you do not expect oncoming traffic, this leads to all kinds of precarious situations, and (among other factors here) probably some deaths.
* I see a few off-street bike paths, but at a glance, no physically protected bike lanes. Maybe there are a few I'm missing, but if so, very few. Very few bike lanes in total, too.
* Freeways cutting through the city
* City is super sprawled out, looks like most of the space is the typical American mandatory single-family home area with no retail activity, so walkability is limited even where the sidewalks are fine.
* Very wide roads all over the place
Also just in general Detroit seems like it's been historically mismanaged and has lots of problems with crime and infrastructure and corruption and poor schools, which doesn't help things.
That said, the experience in the downtown/midtown core of Detroit has improved drastically since the bankruptcy. It feels incredibly vibrant. When I started working there in 2012, the city felt completely empty after about 5:30. Today, downtown is buzzing seemingly all night.
Even if you live within walking distance of your office, though, you still need a car to get groceries though, and as much as it sucks, I don't see how that changes anytime soon (or within my lifetime).
So, look, it's totally fair to say, "I don't want to live in a city like that." But there are people working really hard to make their little pockets better for bikes and pedestrians and so on, and I think people underestimate the extent to which that's going on and the extent to which they could be happy in a neighborhood like that, especially when housing is 1/10th the cost.
Sure, but how useful is that, really? Huntsville has a New Urbanist neighborhood that looks nice and cute, but the rest of Huntsville (which I have lived in before) fucking sucks for anything that's not a car. As soon as you need to go anywhere else, you gotta go back into driving, and only driving.
> If you're moving to St. Louis or Cincinnati, then you'll need to do some research. The dart is a bad strategy.
I don't dispute that you can mitigate the effects somewhat via careful selection. But:
* That only works for those particular neighborhoods. You're probably not gonna always stay in those, so you're still going to need to at least own a car, and probably make at least somewhat frequent use of it if you want to go to other places in the area.
* You're probably also looking at other things you want in a neighborhood: crime rate, school quality, restaurants, other points of interest, etc. Having to only look at a few neighborhoods as viable urbanist-friendly locations greatly constrains your options when it comes time to look at the other dimensions.
> I think people underestimate the extent to which that's going on
Maybe other people do, but I'm a dorky-ass urbanism nerd who reads blogs on this shit all the time, so I don't. I'm well aware of what's going on. But I also travel enough to know that these cities are so woefully behind most of the rest of the developed world, it would take literal CENTURIES to catch up at the current snail's pace of improvement. Changes that happen after I'm dead are of no use to me.
Companies don't want to establish new offices in cities where they cannot attract new talent or there isn't a large existing base of talent. This limits large new offices to large metro areas (5M+ people)
People don't want to relocate to cities where there aren't multiple job possibilities - you lose your job/hate it and don't want to have to relocate to find a new job or you want to move but your spouse can't find a job there because their industry isn't well represented there.
This leads to a reinforcement cycle where new jobs are created in a city, people flock there, found the next generation of companies, new jobs, more people fleeing less attractive cities and so on...
Things that can happen that could break this cycle include - new industries emerging (like tech in the 90s), poor governance, infrastructure in an area forcing companies to find alternatives (like bay area right now), new skills coming into demand and companies establishing offices to take advantage of that (e.g. Pittsburg emerging as an AI hub, Seattle for 'cloud' skills etc)
Bangalore had this problem in the 80's and 90's. The way you beat is, surprising simple.
You just start building colleges and other institutions and make it cheap and easy to study there.
All of a sudden you have a massive pool of young, and hungry people. Then you do things like tax subsidies, and land grants.
And anticipating a specific class of answer: is it always political deadlock in America, or is there something more fundamental that would prevent this from working?
This seems especially silly. There are almost limitless people who would like to get one of the FAANG co's on their CV. They'd gladly relocate and benefit from reasonable property prices for a year or three. Google or Netlix are hardly going to struggle to attract talent if they decide to open an office in some rural backwater.
You'd be surprised how attached people are to their spouses or partners. Doesn't matter how badly you want to work at Google, if your spouse is an IP attorney or VP at an academic hospital, as a family you just can't go moving to the middle of nowhere. It's not ALL about being able to work at Google. There's a lot more going on in making these decisions. (At least there is for the type of people that Google would be interested in.)
Much better to be in that NYC-Boston-DC corridor where high powered opportunities abound in multiple sectors. Or SF. Or Chicago. Etc. But trying to move a lot of these types of couples to, say, Lincoln Nebraska, is just asking for trouble. The spouses or partners are definitely not going to go for that.
I’m sure Google (etc) could lure a lot of young, single folks out to the hinterlands for a year or two, but retention and recruiting further up the ladder would be awful.
Universities in the US, which—for historical reasons-are often located in rural areas, have similar problems. They solve this through “spousal hires.” This can range from merely coordinating interviews and offers across departments  to creating entirely new positions, or even tenure lines, for a rockstar’s spouse.
This can work relatively well for universities, but I’ve never heard of companies doing anything similar. I wonder if you could even get a set of companies to agree to preferentially hire their employees’ spouses, so there’s a more diverse set of options.
 The university often kicks in some money so that both departments will be happy with (say) their number three picks, instead of history hiring an unattached rockstar and chemistry getting no one.
Happened to a prof in my university just this year. Had offers from top universities & labs for tenure in CS, but stayed in our rural college town because of his SO.
To help shape the future of the community that rasied them?
What was deal with your class? You lived in the middle of knowhere and the only option would have been farming or mining coal or something?
You can always come back to "shape the community" (so american ^^) later
> Of all respondents, about 54 percent said that they lived in close proximity to where they grew up.
> 11 percent of survey respondents have never traveled outside of the state where they were born.
You might pass on opportunities for social stability reasons in middle age, but as a 22-year-old you jump without hesitation.
People sometimes migrate back when their own kids are school-aged.
In addition to the reasons you give, there's also whether you like a place. I might (or might not) be willing to make some tradeoffs for a locale that's particularly desirable for recreational opportunities and so forth. But not for an exercise in creating a new city, revitalizing one, etc.
For those that have both then sure, it's more nuanced and may come down to which of the two has the better future chances, or to make different decisions. Most potential workers will not be in that situation at all.
I believe the few high profile people who actually make the big decisions will usually have a partner who has a high profile career as well. Those key people wont move because their partner wont move.
And in hotbeds like NYC, with the opportunities all over town, there's little career reason to go somewhere else. If Google left NYC, they'd lose most of their engineering team to other tech firms in the city.
Don't underestimate the power of network effects and critical mass. The people good enough to get into FAANG also have the abundance of options to specify where they'd like to live and work.
I wish more companies would do what TI did.
TI set up their headquarters in Richardson, TX, where there were very few people with any engineering background. So they opened their own university in order to farm talent, and once it got large enough, they had the state take it over from them. It became the University of Texas at Dallas, and it's now probably the most important university in the southwest for engineering and CS (I've heard the phrase "MIT of the southwest" before, but I don't want to call it that because I went to UTD and that's a bit of an exaggeration).
Also: universities, new natural resource discoveries, natural disasters, different regulatory environments, developments in transportation.
I have a hunch that the North Coast of Canada is going to become a huge boom town within my lifetime, but it's likely to take a couple decades, and I don't yet know where the major cities will be. Am tempted to take a Northwest Passage cruise to find out, though.
It's that a high-level remote employee at a physical-first company is at a major political disadvantage compared to their onsite peers.
If they did, they could pay 75% of what I'm told they do and still be far and away the most appealing employer for talented engineers in most places.
It’s not an explicit policy and they don’t actively encourage it. But they’ll make it work for the right person - I agree though, don’t go into it thinking you’ll be remote. If you want to work remotely for very high compensation (close to FAANG but not exactly competitive), comsider working at a second tier public tech company like Salesforce or a strong unicorn like Stripe (both of which explicitly support it).
Those of us who are affluent and live in coastal cities (and similar cities across the world) are, comparatively speaking, wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice. Most of us can’t afford everything around us. But we enjoy - and frequently take for granted - luxuries and technology which billions of other humans can scarcely even conceive of having in everyday life.
Why would godless, latte-sipping, well educated, coastal executives--some of whom weren't even born in this country--want to open up offices in places that have made it abundantly clear they hate people exactly like that?
Well 2/3 of these don't apply to the Bay Area / SF
It surprises me that the US was ever different. I'm wondering whether it's a young country effect.
I don't think it's "Elysium" as claimed. It's more like - if you're competitive and want to be the best in a field, you're probably (not always) going to move to London.
If you want to live a life, raise a family, buy a house, etc, the status game isn't that relevant, and you don't need to bother with it.
It's the same on a global scale too - if you're playing that game, there's a hierarchy of 'best paying, most status-giving' _countries_. The most keen will move across the world.
The UK doesn't have labour mobility with the rest of Europe. Even within the EU it's not as simple as 'move from Poland to France and get a job'.
Most of the countries have different languages.
"Europe" isn't a country.
The Poles have no problem moving everywhere in Europe working construction jobs.
Hell the Russians have no problem spending summers working in the part of Florida I vacation at.
It genuinely amazes me that remote tech jobs haven't taken off. I just can't fathom why—unless companies have honestly found that it doesn't work for some reason unknown to me. What other incentive could there be? You get good workers at a fraction of the cost. And with companies like Google and Amazon spreading out across the U.S., remote teleconferencing systems are already set up. Is it really that much different to have someone dialing in to Mountain View from Idaho rather than NYC?
These aren’t insurmountable problems, you just have to get used to a different way of working. It’s not remotely the same as working in the same office. Better in some ways, worse in others.
Google is one of the few companies with the resources to try to drastically improve the technology and fix this problem, but they instead decided just to double down on consolidating their staff in big offices. Obviously works for them but it’s a shame.
Edit to add: the above doesn’t necessarily preclude remote offices, but one of the problems is that it’s hard to get a good productive remote team started without a nucleus of strong local staff. It’s hard for a company like Google to open a big office in a new city without an established tech base, and videoconferencing tech doesn’t help much.
I'm a googler, and this is completely wrong. Google absolutely wants to fix the remote work issue. Nearly every meeting room in the company is equipped with videoconferencing equipment, and "dialing in" is an accepted practice, with people occasionally dialing in from home being quite common. Hell, they sell their videoconferencing stuff to other companies even, so the monetary incentive is certainly there.
But fully remote work also introduces organizational problems that current tech, at least, does not overcome.
This puts remote workers behind quite a ways. My old team was partially located in NYC and partially located in the Bay Area. There was a major difference in inter and intra location interactions and it affected the team in some negative ways.
But not to the extent of encouraging fully remote work, or even of opening offices in many locations (as they formerly did).
I know they use videoconferencing a lot and they even sell it, but they still co-locate teams and they still expect people to come into the office most days, right?
It’s surprising to me that Google in particular is anti-remote given that all their products are so internet-focused. Yes, it’s probably unfair to expect more from them than from others.
It used to be that jobs where distributed as every town had their own businesses, but the work itself was centralized as one business mainly served one area.
What has happened is that large companies can now distribute their work all over the planet without the need for local branches. All the action is at the headquarters and therefor jobs are being centralized.
You can compare this to, say, how we used to and now use e-mail.
How would Elysium play out if many people could simply move there?
The larger problem is how do the other cities compete at all in the future?
Smart cities are building out train based metro systems that connect their major universities and their airports to their downtown areas. (Houston for example). But that's REALLY expensive. It's not a coincidence that Houston, a city flooded with energy wealth, is one of the few cities pursuing such a strategy. They're one of the only cities that can afford it. What about everyone else? I think the other cities will need to get aggressive and creative about making themselves appeal to the bottom lines of tech companies.
If not, yeah, most will likely be left behind. Sad, but that's how the market works. Just ask Gary Indiana.
It's just one aspect of city attractiveness, but embracing urbanism, especially in terms of multimodal transportation options, does seem to help.
Got to tell you: few smart people want to live in some anti-civil-rights nightmare where everyone is anti-gay, anti-immigrant, and hopelessly religious. To top it off those states are full of rampant anti-labour provisions: no anti-poaching, no anti-non-compete.
Sorry, the Rust Belt made itself suck. This isn't disturbing. This is righteous.
Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis to name a few
Tech opportunities are still going to cities, especially those with the biggest companies, but it's spreading to more and more cities and tech companies now know they need to expand to other markets to reach new talent.
The consensus is that if Amazon moved here, all they'd accomplish is sending housing prices into the stratosphere and turning traffic into a nightmare. We have plenty of jobs here, and housing prices and traffic are already starting to get problematic. We don't need Amazon throwing gasoline on the fire.
I've also heard discussion about how we don't want Amazon because they could wreck the city's culture like they did to Seattle... and from what I've seen, both the right and the left are pretty unified on this. We like Dallas the way it is, thank you very much.
I think overall the US would have a better quality of life if industry was not so concentrated in major cities. Fewer people would need to make trade-offs between their jobs and lifestyle.
1. The traffic and noise in Midtown is downright oppressive. People just laying on their horns for basically no reason, giant trucks speeding by the mass of pedestrians.
2. Yes, too many people. This is also Midtown specific. I don't mind crowds and I like a busy streetscape, but Midtown reaches a level that's dystopian. I dread walking on the avenues during rush hour. People spill out into the street, because there's not enough sidewalk to contain them all and it's basically impossible not to bump into people the entire way. I'm a fast walker. I hate walking slow. Midtown is very frustrating in a very minute-to-minute kind of way. (See #1 for some ideas about how we could give people more space. Hint: less space for cars.)
3. I would like to own my own home. I don't see how that's going to be practical here.
4. I like building stuff. In my hometown I had lots of tools and the space to work on projects. I don't have the space for any of that here.
5. I'm a cyclist. I prefer to own a couple bikes. I can't do that here. I barely have room for one bike in my 350 sq/ft apartment. It's kind of a pain even having that one bike.
Any one of these could be reason enough to prefer a less crowded and expensive city.
With regard to #1: I’m somewhat hopeful that the new state senate shakeup will get Cuomo’s congestion pricing ideas implemented. Not sure if that will ultimately be good or bad, but it might alleviate traffic.
Different strokes for different people.
You can see quite a bit more like the Adirondacks you're willing to drive 5-6 hours, but a drive like that isn't suitable for a day hike.
You can also find some smaller trails and untended areas on the outskirts of the city (eg, Marine Park in southeast Brooklyn). But these tend to be.. well small.
Anyway my point is, like most big cities, it's difficult to really get "outdoors" with any measure of convenience.
The most well known maybe, but not the largest. Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx is more than 3x the size of Central Park
It's expensive. The fact that it's sometimes held out as being reasonable compared to the Bay Area says more about the Bay Area than NYC.
You can't conveniently/inexpensively own a car. Which is an advantage for some. Not so much for others who like hopping in the car to run a quick errand.
The crush of people all the time.
It's "gritty." Not 1980s gritty any longer but still. (Smell, noise, homelessness (not SF levels but that's an awfully low bar).
Basically, it's an urban landscape on steroids even compared to, say, London. That's not necessarily bad but a few days of it is about my limit.
Now they may choose to rent, as I do, but that's because there are some big flexibility advantages to renting compared to buying.
Yes, many Google employees aren't engineers, and not everyone working there gets paid like one.
Also, one bedrooms are luxurious. Advice for anyone looking for an apartment in Manhattan: don't waste your time on one bedrooms, look for studios. You pay an unnecessary premium for the extra wall, and it ultimately just makes the space less usable. You can find larger, nicer, better located studios for much less than you'd be paying for a one bedroom.
People, Americans particularly, overestimate the space a human being needs to thrive. I know several families who are healthy and happy in two- and three-bedroom apartments. They pay reasonable rents uptown or a forty minute subway ride out of Manhattan in Jersey or Queens. That’s much better than almost any metropolis, where sprawl makes the density gradient gentler and thus commute times between cost zones longer.
Firstly, to be perfectly frank, you can get 2, 3 years into your first kid before a studio makes a practical difference over a 2-bedroom apartment. For the first chunk, keeping the crib in your bedroom for ease of care is pretty normal, and once the kid is mobile chances are they're going to be sneaking into your bed to sleep at every opportunity anyway.
Secondly, the average length of ownership of a house in the US is like 7.5 years. A lot of people never make it through their 30 year mortgage because they either move for work, their circumstances change and they need more or less house or their income changes and they can/can't afford a nicer, bigger house than they could before.
So living in a studio well into baby #1 before deciding to trade up to a larger place when it's time to look for the "good" schools or baby #2 is on the way is kind of a perfectly normal way to go about things?
Could you please expand on this rule? Where did it come from? Feels like impossibility in some countries.
It’s not a law and it certainly doesn’t apply to all people or locations. Some lenders might use it as a heuristic though.
3x is a benchmark of what is affordable, not a law or a specific financial lending regulation.
You're also off on the stats for the Bay Area as well.
Downside is you need a car or take one of the Peter Pan buses. Could Amtrak to Rhinecliff and taxi.
I was attempting to make the point that this statement would only possibly be true for those who insisted on living in Manhattan, and that it isn't even true for that segment.
Though personally I don't like relying on the subway (which increasingly has problems these days), hence I live in biking distance.
Is that really true? I don't know if this data is accurate but googling "average rent new york city" vs "average rent san francisco" brings up these 2 results as the first hits. They look almost identical. The site claims average rent for NYC is $3634 vs SF at $3735. It also claims prices increased in NYC by 9.46% over last year vs SF at 0.62%
If you look at the breakdown by bedroom count:
1BR: SF -> $3303 | NY -> $2939
2BR: SF -> $4481 | NY -> $3752
This makes clear that NY inventory is biased towards larger units, which makes comparisons of overall averages deceptive.
The closest I could find in terms of data was this site- https://www.rentcafe.com/blog/rental-market/us-average-apart... which compares SF to all of NYC, not Manhattan. The studios are somewhat bigger, the 1BRs slightly smaller, and the 2BRs are on average slightly larger- but the difference is very small.
Price per square foot would shed more light on this, but I don't know of a reliable (free) source of that data.
What's living in Hayward like?
You can see some more accurate stats here: https://ny.curbed.com/2018/1/24/16925172/nyc-rent-2017-decre...
But, go to the SF burbs and try to find high rises... :/
There are plenty of rent stabilized apartments in NYC, but that's a much different and weaker thing, and isn't comparable to rent control in SF.
I remember getting out of college in 2005, hearing about the $3000+ 1BR apartments in NYC, and thinking "Why the hell would anyone want to move to NYC?" (I was living with my parents in Boston at the time, but looked at moving out and would've paid $650 with roommates or about $1100 for a 1BR in that city.) My now-wife was living in SF that same year and paid $1200 in rent.
The huge increases in SF rent happened mostly from 2010-2015. I paid $1400/month for a 1BR in 2009-2010 (Mountain View, not SF, but SF was still < $2000 at the time). By 2014 it was basically impossible to find something < $3000 in any transit-accessible part of the city, and apparently it's leveled off since.
Also don't forget Long Island, the Other In State.
(I'm one of the idiots who commutes ~2 hours from near Poughkeepsie, which is (a) still on commuter rail [the super-express Hudson line train takes ~90 minutes, plus the time to get to & from it] and (b) where half of the food you find in NYC farmer's markets comes from. I kinda like it.)
My personal limit is 12-13 hours out of the house each day; more than that and it burns me out fast.
It definitely wouldn't work for me with an employer who was less flexible about when the work day starts or who had expectations of large numbers of hours spent with butt in chair.
For me, I didn't really take advantage of the city - I like occasionally went to a museum or went out to eat but I mostly just sat on the couch watching TV and surfing the internet. So I moved north and got myself forty acres of tree-covered Bath-Nassau soil with rocky outcroppings. Now my free time is filled with rennovating a 200 year old vernacular house, turning my land into a proper hobby farm, and going to various kitschy festivals and hiking trails with my family. My commute is, frankly, the most relaxing part of my week, where I can sit quietly for 90 minutes and read a book or take a nap or post WoT conspiracy theories on Reddit.
It may not be for everyone, but it's amazing to me that I can have this lifestyle while also commuting to a regular old desk job in the largest city in the country. (It's also amazing to me that I'm part of a multi-century tradition of both commuting to the city from rural upstate and of gentleman farmers coming upstate from the city.)
The train ride from Harrison to Grand Central alone is somewhere around 45 minutes. And unless you work right at Grand Central, you're looking at rushing to make connecting trains. Doing this for a week while exploring the city was fine, but the idea of having to do this every single day until I retire just to make a living would make me want to blow my brains out.
I don't know how my cousin does it. She works in the financial district and takes a 6am train into the city every day. When she gets home, she has just enough time to put her kids to bed before passing out. Now I understand why her husband has a WFH job.
And about that "great family home" thing... the housing stock is so old that every house, even the nice ones, is going to be a fixer-upper. Not long before I got there, they had a plumbing joint break in one of the upstairs bathrooms. Within a few minutes, it wrecked the fixtures in that bathroom, obliterated the ceiling of the kitchen it was above, and did a number on the kitchen counters.
I'm also generally not a fan of how the suburbs are laid out either. Houses are spaced so far apart that it feels like you're living in the country even though you're close to the city (I went trick-or-treating with their kids, and I had to force myself to not brag that my hauls when I was their age were twice as big as theirs because I got to visit twice as many houses in the same amount of time :), and the street layout is twisty nonsense where even the major roads only have two lanes.
No thank you.
I'll gladly visit NYC again (and I'm sad my trip was only one week and not two), but I never want to live there. I'm happy living in Dallas, though I'm considering a move to Las Vegas for political reasons. Either way, both of those are polar opposites of the NYC suburbs.
https://goo.gl/maps/DYvaWBSLFcP2 1h15m from Rye train station to Fulton subway station on a Tue morning
https://goo.gl/maps/TdQN5FhWF132 55m from Pelham station to Fulton subway.
So door to door, you're still looking at 70 min to 90 min commute one way, with the added stress of possibly dealing with train delays. I wouldn't be able to do that more than a couple years.
My point is, if you want a door to door commute of sub 45 min, consistently, then you would need to be in Hoboken/Jersey City/Secaucus/Weehawken/etc. That whole Hudson County corridor doesn't offer much in the way of decent gyms (swimming pools, racquetball/squash courts, basketball, etc), and neither does it have any decent hiking. People don't really have yards there either.
If you move out of that circle, you do start getting some amenities, but your commute starts looking like 45 to 60+min, and you have to park your car at the train station or get dropped off, etc. It's all personal preference, but for me, I would want all the benefits of owning a car, or all the benefits of not needing to own a car. Living in NJ and working in NYC seems like compromising on both.