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Hey, Philly: Moving to New York Will Ruin Your Life

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This post contributed by Shannon Rooney.
Gabe Feldman might be on to something. He believes there are a few hundred thousand New Yorkers who—in spite of "basic quality of life issues"—continue to live there out of a combination of inertia, peer pressure and unfamiliarity with driving. "They like being in New York City and eating at 2 a.m.," he said. This belief underpins Feldman's new book, as well as decades of arguments between native Philadelphians and their haughty friends who refer to New York as "the City."

The book, If You Can't Make it Here, Get Out, is co-written by Feldman's friend Jane Potter, and tries very hard to dissuade you from setting off on the well-trod path to Gotham.

"There are probably two kinds of people who should live in New York," Feldman says. "People who have always wanted to move here and people who have always lived here. Everyone else would be just as happy somewhere else." Liking nothing more than a good excuse to talk about why moving to New York is a terrible idea, we talked to Feldman about what separates the two cities.

What kinds of similarities do you see between Philadelphia and New York
They share many of the same urban issues. Noise, trash, employment issues... The Northeast has just become stressful and competitive. ... Philly is intense.

You talk a lot about “irregular” people in your book. You advise “regulars” to avoid New York. How would irregulars do in Philly?
Philly’s probably a better first destination. [Life there] is a little more conducive to being an irregular.

We do have a lot of irregulars here. Are you familiar with the Philly-New York rivalry?
I think there’s always been a rivalry with sports and with food. When the Giants play the Eagles, it’s a big deal. I think there’s some deep-seated hate. Philadelphia feels like the weak sister sometimes; New York feels like there can’t be a rivalry with a city like that. New York [wants to] compete with Boston, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and London.

What do you make of the claims that New Yorkers are moving to Philly for better rent? Don’t say sixth borough.
The point is—about rent—moving here has become a real struggle. Rents are the highest they’ve ever been and vacancy rates are well under 1 percent. Philly is close. It’s a thriving place and financially oriented. Corporations want to move to Delaware and irregulars want to move to Philly.

What do you feel Philadelphians could get out of reading a book about moving to New York City?
There’s a real cognitive dissonance people in New York have. There is nicer weather elsewhere. There’s nothing like living here. On other other hand, that isn’t always a positive. The nice thing is Boston and Philadelphia people can pick up the book and say “I told you so.”

Sold.