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New Study Reveals Shocking Cost of Living in the Hudson Valley

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New Study Reveals Shocking Cost of Living in the Hudson Valley

September 24, 2016 - 15:26
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New Study Reveals Shocking Cost of Living in the Hudson Valley

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NEW YORK, NY -- With Hudson Valley residents continuing to buckle under the weight of one of the highest costs of living in the nation, Reclaim New York (Reclaim) just released a new study that gives area residents the most sobering look yet at the region’s impact on the financial future of every resident.

Reclaim’s Hudson Valley Affordability Crisis report shows that across virtually all income levels, residents in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange and Dutchess Counties are struggling to save for the future and achieve financial stability. The report, for the first time in the region, details the cost of government for residents down to the zip-code level.

“The cost of government is driving up the cost of living for Lower Hudson Valley residents, causing a widespread savings crisis,” said Reclaim New York Executive Director Brandon Muir. “The affordability crisis impacts everything we do from deciding when to start a family, to growing a business, to buying a home. This new study helps people understand the problem in greater detail than ever before, empowering them to demand more efficient, more affordable government.”

For the first time, Reclaim calculates the real “Wake-Up Cost” for residents in the Lower Hudson Valley by combining income, property, sales and excise taxes with basic living expenses. Knowing exactly what it costs you just to wake-up makes you a more informed citizen. Reclaim’s model analyzes multiple income levels and data from a wide range of primary sources to give people a more complete picture of where their money is going.

“From the nickel-and-diming of the MTA tax, to property taxes that are more than four times the national average, people living in the Hudson Valley are barely above water after paying for the basics,” Muir stated. “Millennials are getting crushed, families don’t have reserves, personal debt is increasing, and seniors face an uncertain future.”

Key Findings of the Report Include (more locality data available by request):

Across nearly all income levels, Hudson Valley residents are struggling to save and achieve financial stability:

  • A family in Tarrytown, only has 6 percent of their $78,227 local median annual income left for credit card debt, or childcare, after taxes and basic expenses.
  • Even at double the median income, a family in Spring Valley, Rockland County, only has 10 percent to try and save or pay other expenses. Another double-median income earning family in Fishkill, in Dutchess County, is left with just 6 percent after taxes and basic expenses.
  • Why does the Hudson Valley have such a high number of millennials leaving, or living with their parents? Recent college graduates in the Jefferson Valley area are left with just 4 percent of their income after taxes and basic living expenses, and before credit card and student loan debt.
  • Young people and low income earners simply cannot afford to live independently: A single person making $30,000 annually ends up with just 3 percent living in Middletown.
  • It’s no surprise retirees flee to Florida when retirement at age 65 is out of reach for many income groups. A couple earning the median household income in Pound Ridge has to save an estimated $329,991 just to pay property tax bills between retirement and age 85.
  • In the cases analyzed, income taxes cost residents as much as 40 percent of income, while property taxes can cost as high as 25 percent of a resident’s earnings. Transportation expenses cost 10 to 22 percent of income.

County-by-County:

  • In Westchester, a married couple in the City of Rye, earning the median income of $158,281 is left with just 10 percent to pay down debt, and other expenses after Wake-Up Costs. A family earning double the median income in Yorktown Heights ends up with as little as 12 percent left to save, pay down debt or invest.
  • Lower income residents in Westchester cities struggle the most.
  1. Median income earners in Mount Vernon, making $40,492 annually, end the year in the red unless they add debt or cut back on basic expenses.
  2. In Yonkers, a median income earning family at $45,893 per year can only save 1 percent of earnings thanks to city and state income tax, as well as one of the highest sales tax rates.
  • A Rockland County family earning $80,795, near the County median income, living in Nyack, is left with just 16 percent of their income after taxes and basic expenses.
  1. Families in Pearl River earning the local median income of $99,741 only have 8 percent left.
  • In Putnam, a family of four in Carmel, making near the County median of more than $90,000, only has 9 percent remaining after Wake-Up Costs.
  • Families in New Windsor, in Orange County, who earn $68,784, just under the County median income, have only 5 percent left to pay down debt and save for the future.
  • In Dutchess County, a Beacon family of four, earning $75,979 (slightly above the County median income) will only save 7 percent after their taxes and basics.
  1. A median income earning family in Poughkeepsie is left with just 2 percent of their incomes after Wake-Up Costs.

“This is a bad situation that is only getting worse as taxpayers flee the state, leaving fewer people to cover growing bills,” said Muir. “That’s why Reclaim New York is looking to engage residents to identify the impact of government on their futures, and ensure that we are making this state more affordable.”  

The organization will host trainings in each county for the public, as well as business and civic organizations, to help residents better understand the affordability crisis, its causes and potential solutions. This is the second report on New York’s affordability crisis, the first being released last year on Long Island.