The New York Post (December 22, 2008)
It's a taxing tale of two cities.
Public-relations executive Scott Merritt and teacher Debbie Merritt struggled for 11 years in New York, barely scratching out a living and forced to live in his parents' four-bedroom home in Greenlawn, LI.
But when the family moved to Atlanta, Merritt and his wife found they were living far better on about the same income.
"We went from struggling to having a great quality of life in just a few weeks," Scott Merritt said.
In New York, Merritt said he was facing an impossible $500,000 price tag for a home.
He bought a four-bedroom place with a swimming pool in Loganville, an Atlanta suburb, for only $275,000.
Annual property taxes in Georgia set him back $2,600. In New York, he said, they would be four times that.
"We just couldn't do it anymore," said Merritt, 35, who made an above-average salary as a public-relations exec.
"Eventually we had to say enough was enough. It was just no way to live, and I could see no way out."
In May last year, Scott and Debbie, who couldn't find work on Long Island, and their twins, Amanda and Sam, both 10, packed their belongings and left the city.
"It was tough to leave," Scott said last week. "We miss it every day. This is not New York, but down here I can have the life I want for my family. Moving here wasn't a choice, it was a necessity."
Between 2000 and 2005, 40,000 New Yorkers moved to Atlanta, according to the city's Regional Commission.
"We're meeting more and more New Yorkers down here," said Merritt.
"We just could not afford to stay in the place we grew up in, and I guess now there really is no going back. "