After spreading the news about an imminent move to New York, I despaired about what to do with all my possessions and signed a six-month lease to stay in my Boston-area apartment. The rule is not to spend more than two-thirds of your income on rent, right? Or at least not much more than two-thirds. So I’m good until mid February, a marvelous time to go apartment-hunting in various cities of the Northeast.
In the meantime, I’m still blogging about politics at America magazine. (See recent posts on the Wendy Davis “wheelchair ad,” voter ID laws, and the Supreme Court’s punting on gay marriage.) I’m also copy-editing and proofreading for various clients among the boxes in my living room. Should there be a comma somewhere in that sentence?
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has stepped up his efforts to keep me here by making a serious bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, at the risk of inspiring several movies about South Boston mobsters controlling the construction of the Olympic Village. Just about everyone living in Boston is horrified by the thought of the Olympics coming here and leaving more sweat all over the seats on the subway.
Walsh is also trying to get me to put down new roots in Boston by calling for 53,000 new housing units in the city by 2030, which could cut the average rent by … what, maybe 25 bucks? The city desperately needs more apartments, but they’ll ease housing costs only if they’re in safe neighborhoods with good transit away from downtown. The problem with luxury apartments downtown is that many of them are taken by people moving into the city from the suburbs or from out of state, some of them not even using the units as primary residences. And if a new condo or apartment (supply) is matched by a new Boston resident (demand), then there’s no change in housing affordability.
Boston needs more mid-rise apartments in non-glitzy places like Jamaica Plain and the parts of Dorchester served by the Red Line. But current residents in those neighborhoods are bound to fight like hell against new construction.
The same dynamics are found in New York City. Indeed, travels this year have convinced me that each city is becoming more like the other. Boston is becoming more vertical, more status-conscious, and just a bit noisier. New York is becoming more sober, more tasteful, and a bit more prone to tell people to shush.
Both are getting more and more expensive, which means I really should consider Albany.
Image: Salt Lake City's Olympic Village (blech!), now used for student housing. From Wikipedia.