Douglas A. Boneparth is a Westfield resident and Founder of Bone Fide Wealth, LLC, a boutique wealth management firm in New York City, and co-author of The Millennial Money Fix. Contact Douglas to learn how he’s not your parent’s financial advisor.
New York is in my blood. My parents, grandparents and great grandparents all hail from New York. I was born there in 1984, but soon moved to Boca Raton, Florida a few years later. But even Boca, which is more than 1,200 miles from the island of Manhattan, is considered the sixth borough because the sheer number of New Yorkers who end up retiring there.
If you spend an afternoon in a South Florida deli, you will not get a pastrami sandwich that comes anywhere near close to Katz’s, but what you will get is a New York history lesson like no other. Loyal patrons will gladly take you on a verbal tour of the city throughout the decades. My grandpa, for example, would share stories of him playing baseball with his friends on Arthur Avenue before they were sent off to war. My mother would recall him taking her to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on 34th Street in the freezing cold. You wished you were there.
Over the past several months, there have been numerous articles about the death and demise of New York City. There is no shortage of social media posts from city dwellers explaining how the pandemic has taken the fatal bite out of the Big Apple. With permission from their employer’s new work from home policy, many of these folks packed their bags and set their sights on taking up residence elsewhere. Let’s admit it. They were likely never staying in the first place.
The worst time of my life was right after college. Since my freshman year, I worked with my father in his wealth management firm. While earning my degree, I learned as much as I could about being an advisor and running a business. But after moving home, our relationship grew toxic. At one point, I was eating my meals upstairs in my room. After spending all day together at the office, I simply could not stand another minute together. It broke my mom’s heart.
My college girlfriend was the only happiness I knew at the time. She was studying law near Washington Square. Nothing could have been more cliché than to think that escaping to New York City would solve all my problems. But in my 23-year-old brain, it made perfect sense. I would work for someone else, marry the love of my life, eventually start my own business and make my mark in the greatest city in the world. With my mind made up, I secured a job, shipped a box of my belongings and said goodbye to South Florida.
Last month, Jerry Seinfeld wrote an op-ed in the New York Times clapping back at all those who dared to suggest that COVID-19 was it for New York City. He opened his column with the following:
“When I got my first apartment in Manhattan in the hot summer of 1976, there was no pooper-scooper law, and the streets were covered in dog crap. I signed the rental agreement, walked outside, and my car had been towed. I still thought, ‘This is the greatest place I’ve ever been in my life.’”
My experience is not too different from Jerry’s. Right as I got off the plane at JFK, I learned that Lehman Brothers had collapsed, kicking off what would be the greatest financial meltdown since The Great Depression. While the streets were clear of dog crap, Wall Street and the economy were covered in it. However, I was too excited to process what it really meant or what I was in for. I was too busy thinking that this was greatest place I have ever been in my life.
Like Jerry, I still believe New York City is the greatest place on earth. In the 12 years since arriving, the city has provided me with everything I needed to make my dreams come true. Despite all the difficulties I faced, the city allowed me to carry out exactly what my lonely, depressed and thoroughly confused younger self dreamed of doing. I worked through the recession, married the love of my life, launched my business, made my mark, and created a legacy when our daughter Hazel who, just like me, was born in New York City.
What makes New York City so special is not the amazing food, world class entertainment or the endless sights to see. No. What makes New York so special is its ability to create stories like mine every day. Because as long as there is a kid with a dream to move there and find whatever it is they are looking for, New York will be invincible.