Cost of Living in New York | City Guides | Long Distance USA Movers

Cost of Living in New York – the Definitive Guide

Often dubbed the Big Apple, Capital of the World, and The City That Never Sleeps, New York City is a place of extremes. And it’s definitely one of the most expensive ones – the cost of living in New York is about 129% higher than the national average. But it is the price worth paying.

We mentioned the extremes. The fact is that more billionaires live here than any other location worldwide, and the unemployment rate is around four percent. But although the GDP is the highest among the metropolises in the nation, the NY state ranks first in income disparity, and the gap between the richest and poorest residents is getting worse from year to year.

Before relocating to any city, and especially when moving from a small town to a big city, the costs of living are essential financial indicators to know. They can include food, rent, mortgage, transportation, utilities, etc. But, if you’re contemplating moving to the Big Apple, how more costly will it be compared to other cities?

Is It Really so Expensive to Live in New York

The Big Apple would be the best place in North America if it weren’t for these three things: #1 harsh weather for half the year, #2 crowds without end, and #3 exorbitant prices. This metropolis perpetually finds itself in the top of the most pricey cities in the U.S., and according to a recent survey, it’s 22 percent pricier here than the national average. Living comfortably is defined as spending no more than 50 percent of your income on categories like food and housing. Simply put, your earnings should be nearly $129,000 annually or $150,000 if you’re looking to own where you live.

So, if you’re thinking about how to move to the Capital of the World and stay for good, you’ll want to be sure that you can do so within your financial means. Luckily, a wide range of wages exists, and it’s important to know what to expect.

What Salary You Can Expect in the Big Apple

Have you fallen in love with any of the 5 boroughs of New York City but have no idea if you make enough to spend every day there? According to payscale.com, the avg. salary is $76,000, and the most popular occupations are software engineer, executive assistant, and project manager with wages between $44,000 and $149,000 per year. Salaries range from $28,800 to $508,000 per year, while the median salary is $123,000 annually, based on salaryexplorer.com data.

Of course, it’s not the same whether you plan to live in Manhattan or Bronx since the average rent in Manhattan was $3,475, while the rents averaged $2,900 in the rest of NYC. Apartments in Bronx rent, on avg. from $960 to $1,340 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.

The Average Cost of Living in New York Per Year Depends on Your Needs and Preferences

If you want to spend $20 on a cocktail or $100 an omelet for brunch, there’s no better place on the earth to throw cash down the drain than the Big Apple. But, you can also be economical and enjoy your life thanks to some discount places. Probably the highest-priced thing is the rent, and the only place nationwide with higher rents on average is San Francisco.

Depending on your needs and budget, you can find some of the best places to live in New York with everything you need. Whether you need a space or want to be surrounded by people, or maybe prefer parks, the Capital of the World has it all. You just need to figure out what matters most to you: price, location, or size. Don’t forget that your life, as well as priorities, change – you might decide to have kids, get a new job, or be closer to a subway hub. The beauty of living in the Big Apple is that there are so many things to do in New York City, and you can find a place that fits your most important priorities, whatever they may be.

How Much Money Do You Need to Live Comfortably

If you’re wondering whether you can stick to a budget in a metropolis, the answer is, “Yes, absolutely.” And if you’re not sure if your five-figure income will be enough to enjoy urban life, the answer depends on how much you’re able to stretch your city dollars with a bit of planning.

That being said, there’s no right or wrong answer on how much money would be enough for your comfortable life, but one thing is certain. Two requirements must be fulfilled if you want to stay here or any metropolitan area:

  • The most significant expenses are housing and transportation, and you should keep them as low as possible
  • Define your spending priorities and track them carefully
Choose your priorities and cut your unnecessary expenses

Housing Prices Are Among the Most Expensive in the World

According to some studies, there was only 33 percent of homeowners in 2018. Since the median home price in New York is $680,500, buying a home is out of reach for many New Yorkers. That’s why people instead choose to rent, although this option is far more costly than the national median and most of the bigger cities around the world.

The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $2,499, and if you choose less space, you should put aside less means too – one-bedroom apartments will cost you about $2,098, based on specialized website numbeo.com data.

But, in case you opt for the luxurious boroughs, such as Manhattan, renting an apartment costs like gold dust.

The Median List Price Per Square Foot in Manhattan Is Higher than the City’s Average

As stated in Zillow reports, the median home value in this swanky borough is $998,557, while the median list price for square foot is $1,371. The NYC avg. of $660 seems so cheap and affordable compared to these dizzy prices.

If you’ve been wondering why Manhattan’s real estate is so expensive, there are several good reasons for that:

  • Manhattan is a borough which primarily consists of small Manhattan island and is home to more than 1,600,000 people. Simply put, the space is limited, and most of the land has already been used and developed.
  • Population density is enormous as well as housing demand, both for rentals and sales
  • The vast majority of national and international companies is located here, and high costs of living have created a vicious circle – they have pushed up business and salary
  • It is considered one of the best city’s tourism destinations

Here is the comparison between NYC and other larger US cities:

CityMedian Price% Change Over the Last YearMonthly Mortgage Payment
New York$403,9002.00%$2,222
Philadelphia$224,6000.00%$1,053
Washington D.C.$417,4005.10%$1,826
Boston$460,3002.60%$2,125
Los Angeles$576,1004.10%$2,627

Source: SmartAsset.com

How Much Utilities Cost New York Residents

Do you know which U.S. state has the highest utility bill? If you thought of the Capital of the World, this time you were wrong – it was ranked as the fifth highest-priced state for utilities. The first place though belongs to Hawaii. However, your monthly utility expenses will be a hefty sum – nearly $500. According to the recent reports, the avg. costs of utilities per month are:

  • Electricity: $175
  • Natural gas: $100
  • Internet: $60
  • Cable: $100 (national avg.)
  • Water: $40 (national avg.)
Utility expenses are not low

In the Big Apple, You Can Live Without a Car – Transportation System Is Extremely Efficient and Reliable

Is it possible to reside in the Big Apple without a car? The short answer is that you can live without it almost anywhere in the area. It has more car-free households than any other city in the country. Furthermore, owning your vehicle requires your garage place in the building, and if you don’t have it, be prepared to spend a lot of money on parking monthly – the average costs are around $430. So, why be stuck in a traffic jam, look for parking for hours when there is reliable and efficient public transportation?

But, if you don’t want to leave your vehicle and, even more, would like to bring it with you, consider auto transport. With reliable, experienced, and professional movers, your car can be shipped to your new address easily.

The city’s bus and rail system is run by the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority). It’s known as MTA New York City Transit and is environmentally friendly and inexpensive. Also, it’s reliable because it operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People with visual, mobility, or hearing disabilities can handle it with ease due to the system’s accessibility to these passengers.

MTA Transit Is Cost-Effective Way of Transportation

The quickest and easiest way to travel around NYC is by a public subway train. The cost of a single ride (when using a pay-per-ride MetroCard) is $2.75, and it allows you to use the system all around the area and transfer to other subway lines. These transfers are unlimited during the day.

In case you opt for MetroCard, you can transfer from bus to subway or vice versa within two hours. With subways, you can reach almost everywhere, except Staten Island – to get there, use the ferry or take a bus.

When it comes to the city buses, they accept the MetroCard and only exact coin change. Keep in mind that there are two types of buses – those that make all the stops and those with only limited stops. If you want to find out more about the fares and MetroCard costs, visit web.mta.info and learn how to combine unlimited rides for your money and choose the right card.

Besides the metro subways and buses, you can use the Roosevelt Island Tram, yellow taxicabs, and green Boro Taxis licensed and regulated by the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission.

With metro, you can reach any destination you want

Be Ready to Put Aside a Larger Sum for Groceries and Dining Out

According to Numbeo, restaurant prices are 21% higher than in San Francisco, and groceries 10%. Nearly $500 a month, you should put aside for food per person. The national average is about $324, which is almost $150 cheaper.

When it comes to restaurant prices, statistics say that for a meal for two people in a mid-range restaurant, you will pay about $100, while eating in an inexpensive eatery will cost you $24. Keep in mind that in such a large place, the choices are endless – from ready-made street meals to modest family-owned dining spots. Believe it or not, you can eat for $10 or less in some of the best restaurants in New York City. Thanks to their chefs’ policies, you can enjoy really affordable and mouth-watering bites, such as veggie burgers, Sicilian-style pizza, or fluffy pancakes.

Where to Go to Eat Some Great and Affordable Dishes

#1 Falafel at Mamoun's Falafel Is a Must

If you want to feel not only the real and authentic Middle Eastern specialties but the atmosphere of the oldest falafel restaurant in the area (established in 1971), Mamoun’s Falafel is the best place to be. Everything served here is made from scratch and with fresh ingredients, the most delicate imported spices, and authentic recipes. For only $3.50, you can please your palate and choose between baba ganouj sandwiches, falafel, or hummus.

#2 In Great Northern Food Hall You Can Enjoy Scandinavian Specialties

Feel the Nordic flavors in the middle of the Big Apple. At Great Northern Food Hall, staff collaborates with farmers and producers of the NY region in order to make fresh and seasonal foods. What is unique about this hall is its space concept – it’s separated into five different pavilions. In each, you can enjoy dishes specific to the Scandinavian region.

#3 Brazilian Food in Pao de Queijo

Have you ever tried Pao de Queijo Recheado (cheese bread with filling)? In the restaurant of the same name, you can taste Brazilian burgers, salads, smoked sausage, and fresh blend of juices. Come with your friends or family and order empanadas ($3.25), peanut balls ($1.75), or linguica sausage sandwiches ($7.50) and satisfy your palate with bargain bites.

#4 Nothing without Home-Style Italian Cuisine at Gaia Italian Cafe

Authentic and home-made Italian taste doesn’t need to be always pricey. At Gaia Italian Cafe, ambiance and dishes will make you feel at home. If you would like to try a tomato soup (pappa la pomodoro) for $5, or salami, mascarpone and spicy cabbage panini for $7, you can’t go wrong here. And meat-lovers will have a complete experience if they pick meatballs and potatoes in a delicious tomato sauce ($8).

#5 Meal of Fries at Pommes Frites

Have you tried Belgian fries with free garnishes that include mayo, ketchup, raw onion, jalapeno, mustard, and malt vinegar? If you’ve ever thought about fries as a complete meal, your dream can finally come true in Pommes Frites. And you can opt for a regular ($6.25), large ($8) or double ($9.75) platter.

#6 Cheesecake for Sweet Tooth at Junior's

Is there anything more delicious for your palate than creamy NYC cheesecake? Made of premium cream cheese, eggs, vanilla heavy cream, your craving for sweets will be completely satisfied with this magical cake for $7.75 at iconic Junior’s.

#7 Visit Johnny's Reef and Try Mild-Tasting Smelts

If you like seafood, you’ll enjoy this best-kept secret for affordable and casual dining. Here, you can find a unique selection of raw options, of which almost everything takes a pass through the deep-fryer. A full plate of golden fried smelts at Johnny’s Reef you can get for only $9.

Although it doesn't seem at first glance, the Big Apple is packed with cheap and tasty dishes

There’s no Better City for Blowing off Some Steam Than Big Apple

By relocating to The City That Never Sleeps, you’d probably want to try and enjoy some entertainment options. Of course, if you have any money left after paying your bills for utilities, housing, food, and transportation.

As the most populous metropolis in the U.S., it’s packed with plenty of fun activities and enjoyments, but it’s going to cost you. According to smartasset.com, a movie buff can spend an exciting evening watching movies for $15.25 in Midtown. For all sports-lovers, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy, but be ready to put aside from $30 to $190.

If you’re guided by the motto In a healthy body, a healthy mind, your field of interest may be a fitness club or tennis court rent. Based on Numbeo data, if you want to use a gym, you should pay about $80 per month, and 1 hour of playing tennis at the weekend will cost you nearly $32.

Luckily, there are some options for cheap entertainment. Weekend nights are reserved for music stages, and subway platforms become places where all kinds of musical performances happen. There’s a bit of everything for everyone, including classical music, jazz, the blues, and hip hop.

When you get tired of business and work, immerse yourself into fun that surrounds you

Additional Tips on How to Save Money While Living in the Capital of the World

When relocating to the City of Dreams, all people have one dream – to have a pleasant life and enough savings at the same time. Although it may look like a mission impossible, even for the most frugal ones, there are ways to consider when planning your future in the Big Apple. First things first, plan your spending wisely and make a living in this metropolis work for you, no matter what your salary is:

  • Create a budget
  • You don’t need expensive housing
  • Share your expenses with a roommate or a spouse
  • When finding an apartment, don’t use a broker and save a fee of 15% of the annual rent
  • Shop wisely and take advantage of discounts
  • Plan your meals and cook at your home
  • Surround yourself with frugal people
  • Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t try to live a luxurious and spendy lifestyle that’s out of your means
  • If you have kids, enroll them in one of the NYC public schools, instead of private, expensive ones
  • When moving to New York City, you should hire professional movers and mitigate any possible risks. Spend your free time planning your budget and future life, and leave all the back-breaking work to professional packers and their packing services.
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