empire state building
January 13, 2020 Posted in City Guides
Eva Johnson

Digital nomad born in New York but currently living online, Eva knows everything there is to know about packing and moving.

Everything You Need to Know About the Cost of Living in New York City

If you’re thinking about moving to NYC for the first time, you have probably imagined what it’s like to visit the Statue of Liberty, catch a Broadway show or go clubbing or bar hopping. But before anything else, it would be smart to get familiar with the cost of living in New York City so that you can determine exactly what kind of life you can afford there.

stack of money NYC can be affordable if you go over your budget carefully

Knowing how much money you will need to enjoy everything that this urban jungle has to offer means putting on paper everything from housing, food, utilities to entertainment costs. Staying in this big city won’t be cheap, but vast job opportunities and high paychecks make up for relatively higher living expenses. Also, being in the most crowded place in the States means there will always be room for saving up. So one of our essential moving tips for newcomers is to look for free entertainment activities or cheap dining, and you will see that staying on budget is more than manageable.

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Housing Is an Essential Part of the Cost of Living in New York City

Wherever you decide to relocate, you will need a place to call home. Prices of properties in NY should not catch you off guard. After all, the housing market here can seem quite hectic.

Did you know that 67.4% of homes here are being rented rather than owned? Reports show that the median rent price for a two-bedroom flat is $2,499 a month while renting a studio or one-bedroom apartment will take $1,889 and $2,098 a month, respectively. If you compare these figures with other big places like Philadelphia or Los Angeles, where rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $968 and $1364, NY comes as an expensive choice even for those moving into a smaller home, but job opportunities make up for the high renting prices.

There are 3.45 million homes in NY, and 70.5% of those have two bedrooms or less. Studios are four times more common in the Big Apple than in any other place in the USA, and they make up for 8.1% of all housing.

There is always a dilemma whether you should buy or rent your next place before you decide to move. Carefully study the real estate market before you start house-hunting and make sure that you can afford your next home. If you decide in favor of buying, know that the median price of a single-family house is $403,900. Depending on where exactly you choose to move to, this might vary, and it is not that uncommon for families to spend more than a million on an apartment in Manhattan.

On the positive side, the advantage of homeownership is that the housing market has strong appreciation rates. Homes in NY have increased in value by an average of 4.54% annually, so buying one can be regarded as a capital investment.

Number of Rooms Units Percentage
Studio 279,500 8%
One Bedroom 1,051,370 30%
Two Bedroom 1,105,450 32%
Three bedroom 763,000 22%

Data from the Valuepenguin.com

You Need to Pick the Right Part of the City to Live In

When deciding between renting or buying, you should check out which of the five boroughs of NYC is the best option for you. Landing a place in an affordable area that suits all of your needs can be a challenge. If you have set your mind on a specific borough, here are the neighborhoods that are most budget-friendly in each one.

The cheapest place to live in Manhattan is Inwood. Located at the top of the island, it might not have a perfect position, but it surely is the most affordable place you will find. With a median rent of $1,825 per month, it features vast green spaces and a relaxing vibe. Inwood has a high rate of college-educated inhabitants – 38% of residents aged 25 and older have a college degree or higher. Here you can find some excellent NYC public schools with students who excel in math. Not only that, but employers like JPMorgan Chase & Co also have headquarters in Manhattan, providing work for almost 250,000 employees. After all, Wall Street is located here, making it an excellent starting ground for all career-driven individuals.

Have you decided to move to Brooklyn and find your next apartment there? If you did, keep in mind that Crown Heights is the most affordable place here. With a median rent of $2,300 per month, you will be close to Prospect Park, Botanic Garden, and the Brooklyn Museum. This great location is quickly becoming a hot spot for renting. With nightclubs, locally-owned stores, and restaurants, this might be one of the best places to live in New York, whether you’re relocating alone or with a family. Add a robust job market that revolves around retail and construction, and you have found yourself a home. Here you can find personal supply agencies, accounting firms, and computer services. Many local employers are small businesses, but also banks and credit unions.

The cheapest place to stay in Queens is one of the central neighborhoods called Ridgewood. It is a mix of old and new, and it is deeply diverse. The median rent here is $2,495, and the price attracts young creative minds who like to save up but still live near the hotspots like Bushwick and Greenpoint. Queens area is not only for artists – if you are seeking a job opportunity, check out the headquarters of watchmaking company Bulova, or famous piano manufacturer Steinway & Sons.

If you don’t mind the commute, Kingsbridge in the Bronx might be your next home. With a median rent of $1,849, your residence will be a 45-minute ride away from Midtown. This is a middle-class residential neighborhood, but lately, it is becoming popular with young people as well. If you are relocating with your children, know that they will have access to Van Cortlandt Park, which is one of the biggest green areas in NYC. However, if you’re planning on coming with kids, don’t forget to check the general safety of the neighborhood.

St. George in Staten Island is a place where the median rent is $2,300. If you don’t mind the long commute, this just might become your next home. If you are an artistic type that likes peace and quiet and spaces where you can meditate, St. George has areas by the water that will give you just that. Creative types relocate here because of the authentic architectural vibe that combines simple wood-frame homes with glassy buildings.

empire state building Carefully pick your next home

Tips on How to Save Money

You avoided moving during the holidays and you saved up some money, but making ends meet on a tight budget after relocating during the cheapest time of the year can’t be fun, so consider some of the simple ways that can help you save some money and avoid moving stress. To stay within your budget, avoid relocation depression, and maybe even save a few bucks, consider having a roommate. Depending on the location, perhaps even multiple roommates. Sharing a flat can be a great way to reduce the costs of moving, an excuse to donate unwanted items, and maybe also make some friends in a new city, perfect for those moving alone to another state.

Act fast when looking for a place. The NYC market is very competitive – you can set your sights on a flat, only to have another renter steal it from you with a better proposal. That’s why you need to prepare all your documents and applications. If you are not in a hurry to get a place, carefully study the market – there will be some hidden gems.

Consider getting a credit card, because many banks have good deals on points for cashback or travel. If you use a debit card, choose the bank with low ATM fees or the one that doesn’t charge any.

If you have to visit the dentist, consider visiting Columbia University and its College of Dental Medicine, they offer dental care services at a discount. The same goes for affordable clinics like Planned Parenthood.

And finally, consider things you can survive without. Think carefully about all of those subscriptions you have, do you really need them? If not, cancel them and leave some money in your pocket.

calculator with cost written on it Do the math and cut all the costs you can

Utilities and Food Expenses

Having to pay for utilities is something you can’t escape from. Data from Numbeo show that the average amount of money you’ll have to set aside for basic utilities for a 915 square-foot house is $145.55. These basics include heating, water, garbage, and electricity, which means that you will have to pay about $7 less compared to the US average, which is $152.02.

If you are relocating from California, know that the expenses are almost the same as in Los Angeles. But if you compare NYC with Seattle, you will be pleasantly surprised by lower utility bills, since the Big Apple is around $40 cheaper. Keeping up with viral happenings entails having a regular internet connection, and for that, you will have to pay $62.77, which is almost the same as the national average.

Food is an unavoidable factor when calculating your budget. According to the data from Numbeo, groceries in Big Apple, for one person, are around $470 a month, making it $150 more expensive than the US average. And if you want to get fresh products, you can stop by many farmers’ markets and buy fruit and vegetables you desire. The area has community markets in every borough, and most of them are open on Saturdays and Sundays.

When you are in the mood to make breakfast, buy a gallon of milk that is around $4.29, a loaf of bread will be $3.39 and a carton of eggs worth $3.67. Occasional cooking and eating at home will be good for your budget.

plate of shrimps Lear some cooking tips and make meals for yourself to save some money

Transportation Expenses – an Unavoidable Item on the List

Living in a concrete jungle such as this one means you will have to get used to commuting. With five boroughs and an array of different neighborhoods in them, the city needs to be well connected via public transportation.

Famous yellow taxi vehicles are one of the best ways to get around for both locals and tourists. With the start that is only $2.50, they are still not the cheapest option, especially if you need a ride in the middle of the workweek when the traffic jams can be quite long. Don’t forget that when you take a taxi, tolls are added to your fare as well. If you don’t want to spend money on cabs, take an Uber or a Lyft, they are available all around.

With almost 6,000 buses, the Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) covers more than 320 routes. Wherever you want to go, there is probably a bus route you can take. You can take local or express routes, with the latter being faster since they have reduced stops. Tickets for the standard routes are $2.75 while express bus tickets go for $6.50. You should be happy to know that if you are relocating from San Francisco, ticket fees will be the same.

Using the subway is one of the most popular ways of getting around because you get to avoid traffic jams. NYC is home to the largest subway system in the world, with 472 subway stations. And the price of the ticket is the same as for buses. Alongside the subway, you can use rail to reach more distant areas like Poughkeepsie. If you choose to move to the suburbs, the rail will keep you well-connected to other parts of the metropolis.

NY is surrounded by water, so it is only logical to have water transport. NYC Ferry is a recent addition to a transport system, with 21 terminals and 23 boats. Tickets are the same as for the subway or bus system. The city bike program is suitable for locals and tourists alike, so if you want to cycle around, you can get a day pass for $12- or a three-day pass for $24.

If you didn’t opt for the cheapest way to move out of state, but you hired a top-notch and recommended moving company to handle all of your things and you have some good walking shoes in your possession, wear them and explore the city on foot. Sometimes, if you have to cross short distances, it is better to walk than sit and wait in traffic jams. But if you are not up for a walk, think about driving your car.

Do You Need a Car?

Are you planning on learning how car shipping works and getting auto transport services when moving to New York? If you’re about to transport your car across the country, you should take into account the costs of maintaining, gas, parking, and insurance for your four-wheeler.

A gallon of gas is $3.08, which is almost 20 cents higher than the national average. Depending on which state you are coming from, these prices might surprise you. If you are traveling from Hawaii or California, driving will be cheaper than you used to. But if you are relocating from Mississippi or Louisiana, be prepared to set aside additional money for gas.

Besides, according to statistics, the Big Apple has the most expensive long-term parking not only in the US but in the world. You will have to set aside around $600 for monthly parking. For comparison, if you are relocating from Texas, monthly parking there will cost you between $100 and $300, depending on where you live.

Driving in NYC can be a handful. The data show that there were 228,047 car accidents in 2018 citywide, so consider this when thinking about insurance. The money you will need to insure your car will depend on your driving history and number of claims in your zip code. In NYC, you will have to pay around $1,234.84 every year, while in the whole country, that amount is $889. If you are relocating from California to NYC, you will save some money on insurance, since the policy in the Golden State is around $1,713 per year.

Cars in line If you don't want to spend hours in congested traffic and to spend fortune on gas, choose alternative ways of transportation

Education Is Pricey but Worth It

Are you seeking a good education? The Big Apple is a perfect place to obtain it. With a large number of public and private education institutions, this will be an ideal home for anybody looking to excel academically. NYC has many universities and colleges, private, independent, and state ones. From the famous Columbia University to Juilliard School, here you can study pretty much anything. Schools provide you with programs in IT, engineering, dance, music, or anything else you wish to study.

Deciding to follow your dreams of higher education is one thing while affording said education is another. Undergraduate tuition is $51,828 while graduate school costs are $45,426 per year. If you want to save some money, apply to some of the many scholarships. They will provide you with much needed financial aid, and make your living in NY that much easier. You should know that almost half of the enrolled students received some sort of grant or scholarship aid.

On the other hand, if you are relocating with your kids, know that the NYC public school system is the largest one in the country. With more than a million students in more than 1,700 schools, your kids will have plenty of options to choose from.

Columbia University Did you know that 127 Nobel laureates attended some of the educational institutions here?

Affordable Entertainment Options Around Every Corner

Once the crew that provides you with packing services has unloaded every box, and when every item from your photo inventory is right where it should be, it will be the perfect time to think about entertainment because it is one of the first steps in adjusting to a new state. Staying in the Big Apple means being at the center of many hip happenings.

Let’s talk about sports first. The city is known as the Capital of Baseball due to the countless successes of teams located here. When you unpack make sure you check out a game of Yankees or Mets, and that will cost you between $27 and $48. Basketball fans that want to see the Brooklyn Nets play or cheer for the Nicks will pay around $87 and $190 for a ticket.

Depending on where you live in the boroughs, the price of seeing a movie will differ. Queens is the most affordable, and the ticket can be purchased for $10.21, while Manhattan is the priciest with a ticket of $12.59.

Moving a pool table to your new home is not an option? Well, if you are a fan of the game, NY has many places where you can enjoy it. Stop by many downtown pubs and bars, and have fun with friends. Billiard rates go from $6 to $10, depending on the time and the location.

A night out for the locals here typically means they will spend more money on tickets than on drinks and food. Since most of the late-night events are music-related, most tickets cost around $34.

If you are into a healthy and active lifestyle and the gym is your favorite place, you should know that a monthly membership will be around $76, which is a bit more expensive than you would pay in Seattle or LA. And when it comes to other physical activities, if you are a tennis fan, renting a court will cost around $33 for an hour.

Also, shopping sprees here won’t be the same as in any other place, since getting a pair of jeans is around $55, compared to $49 in LA. But don’t worry, there are plenty of shopping malls and thrift stores where you can get cheaper clothing.

There is no such thing as a typical day for a New Yorker. Here you can bar hop, chill in a jazz club, or walk around world-famous museums. Calculate your budget and treat yourself to something new every chance you get.

The Cost of Dining out in New York City

Even if you hire professional moving services with a crew who knows all tips and tricks for packing to transport all of your kitchen items to your future home, you’d surely like to treat yourself with a nice meal in a fancy restaurant from time to time.

When looking for the best restaurants in New York, you won’t be disappointed by what this place has to offer. Even though the average price of dining out is relatively high, it can be deceiving, since there are so many options to choose from.

Having a meal in a high-end restaurant can cost you a pretty penny. If you are moving for a relationship, or even moving in together, and you want to treat your partner with a three-course meal in a mid-range place, you will have to pay around $80.

Lack of time and busy schedules often leave you with dining out as the only option. If that is the case, check out some of the many low-price choices. You can pick street food, family-owned restaurants, or affordable diners. NY has everything from pizzerias to African restaurants – all you have to do is decide where to go next.

Catching a Show at Broadway

Did you know that in the season 2016-2017, more than 13,000,000 people attended Broadway? If you, too, wanna see some of Broadway’s famous musicals, you will need to ante up a lot of money. Keep in mind that admission tickets surpassed the $100 mark in 2015.

If you want to see Phantom of the Opera, the longest-running show, Chicago or any other piece, there are a few tricks to finding cheaper tickets. Some sites offer better prices than the others, and standing-room-only tickets are also sold at a reasonable price.

Don’t let money deter you from enjoying world-famous musicals – remember that Broadway has 41 theatres, surely there are some ticket prices you can fit in your budget.

Free Things to Do in the Big Apple

Moving to New York means you will get to stay in one of the most expensive places in the US, so if there is a way to save money, why not take it? There are so many things to do in New York when it comes to free entertainment – you just have to know where to look. Take a stroll through the middle of Manhattan by visiting Central Park. Here you can watch people go by, have a picnic or just sit on a bench and enjoy a picture-perfect scenery. If you are moving with your pet, this is a perfect place to let them run around with other animals.

Stop by the High Line, a park that is built on top of a former railway. It covers 1.45 miles, and here you can watch artists perform or buy street snacks. Visit Brooklyn Brewery that organizes free tours every half hour on Saturdays and Sundays. Consider cruising around Staten Island with a ferry for which the ticket has been free since 1997. You can enjoy the view of the Statue of Liberty and the rest of the shore.

If being in a big, urban jungle gets to be too much, stop by Prospect Park, and find a moment of peace by doing yoga. Don’t make a common moving mistake and leave your sports equipment in the storage, because when you are done with yoga, you can walk around the green space, and enjoy wild trails and skating rink. Also, if you are moving with a dog, take them with you, they will enjoy running around the green surfaces. Film projections in Bryant Park are a tradition that HBO started in 1992. Here you can enjoy your summer days by indulging in cinematographic art.

Go online and check free general admission that many museums offer. Places like the American Folk Art Museum or Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art are always open for free, while the Museum of Modern Art or Brooklyn Children’s Museum has specific free time. Are you a sports fan? Did you know that you can watch some US Open matches for free? Check online how you can obtain those free passes, and have fun.

More than 750,000 passengers pass through Grand Central Terminal every day, so if you are entertained by people watching, visit the largest train station in the world. Take a friend with you and visit the Whispering Gallery and find out why this place carries such a name. Having a tight budget won’t stand in the way of your fun, Big Apple will make sure of that.

grand central station Crowd watching is a free way to pass the time

Living in the City Where Dreams Are Made

Did you know that over three million New Yorkers are born in some other country? This should not surprise you, because this place offers so many opportunities attracting crowds from all over the world. Different ethnicities and more than 800 languages that are spoken here, testify about the level of diversity and acceptance in NY. So if you’re still hesitating, stop doing it because the best time of the year to move here is anytime.

If you want to get the best education or great job you dreamed of, planning your moving budget, reducing relocation expenses, packing clothes, furniture, and other belongings, changing the address, and moving to the Big Apple is the only way to go. With the median age of 35.8 years, two years lower than the national median, you can see that younger crowds migrate here for a variety of reasons. Maybe entertainment is what attracts people, possibilities to find a job before moving to another state, or perhaps it is the chance to live in a cultural melting pot of society. Whatever might be your reason to move, being in Big Apple means living in the city where dreams are made – you just have to figure out a budget to make those dreams come true.


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