Amazon abandons NYC but still plans to pay workers $150,000 at new offices in Arlington and Nashville

A view of the waterfront of Long Island City in the Queens borough of New York, along the East River, on November 7, 2018.
Don Emmert | AFP | Getty Images

Amazon said in a statement on Thursday that it will no longer build a campus in New York City.

The retail giant originally announced its plan to split its new headquarters, "HQ2," between Queens and northern Virginia in November 2018. The retail giant also announced a smaller, third investment in Nashville, Tennessee, where it said it will build an east coast operations hub and create 5,000 jobs.

While NYC is out, the company "will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville," Thursday's statement read. Annual salaries for new employees at each location, Amazon noted in November, would be, on average, over $150,000.

That looks very different in Nashville, where $150,000 will stretch much further than it will in Arlington.

The cost of living is 55 percent higher in Arlington than it is in Nashville, according to NerdWallet's cost of living calculator, which factors in expenses like housing, transportation, food, entertainment and health care. That means, for employees to maintain the same standard of living in Arlington, they'd have to earn significantly more: a whopping $232,637 a year.

The discrepancy is largely due to the cost of housing, which is 173 percent higher in Arlington. As NerdWallet's calculator shows, renting a two-bedroom apartment in Nashville could set you back about $1,000 per month. In Arlington, you'd pay more like $2,700 a month.

Nonetheless, if you land a job at either of Amazon's two new offices and earn the average six-figure salary, you'll be doing far better than most Americans: The median household income in the U.S. is only $61,372.

Amazon's change of heart in regards to Queens came after strong opposition from local lawmakers, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who said in 2018 that Amazon's plans to build a headquarters there was "extremely concerning." On Thursday, the lawmaker took to Twitter to celebrate: That "everyday New Yorkers" got Amazon to back down, she wrote, demonstrates that "anything is possible."

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