It turns out that 83 percent of New York renters are looking to move away from the Big Apple, according to a recent Apartment List survey, and the cost of living likely has a lot to do with it.
Living in New York for the majority of the last decade myself, I’ve lost count of all the times people have said to me, “I’ve always wanted to try living there — but it’s so expensive.” It’s easy to agree. I, too, am regularly appalled at the price I pay for rent.
There are financial trade-offs to be made no matter where we live. After all, there’s a lot to consider: Commute time and costs, income and property taxes, and earning potential, to name a few. Here is a list of trade-offs you can expect if you live in New York.
3 major costs that can break your budget in a New York minute
A lot of things are expensive in New York. The simple cost of convenience can sneakily wreck your budget — especially when it comes to the tips you’ll pay for it.
On any given week, you could end up owing tips to a cab driver, a laundry, food, or grocery delivery service, and more. And if you stop to buy a sandwich at a typical New York bodega on the way home instead of walking the extra block to a grocery store, you’ll pay a markup for doing so.
Needless to say, it takes diligence to stay on budget in New York. Here are the biggest costs to consider.
The rent is too damn high
The cost of rent is on the rise throughout America. According to Apartment List, average rent was up 2.8 percent in September from the year before, outpacing the overall rate of inflation. Even still, rent in New York far outpaces the rest of the nation.
Apartment List’s report on rent in America states that the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in New York is $2,090. Add another bedroom and you’ll have to tack on an extra $400 to your rent.
Compare that to rent from my hometown of Cincinnati, which boasts a median of $640 for a one-bedroom apartment, and $840 for a two-bedroom apartment.
On the bright side, if you’re open to living with roommates, you can cut your rent in half and save on utilities.
And if you’re looking for a mortgage, get ready to put away some serious cash. Between the mortgage, maintenance fees, and property taxes, New York has some of the highest homeownership costs in the country.
In a study done by HowMuch on how many hours Americans have to work on average to afford their monthly mortgage, New Yorkers came in at 113 hours — almost three weeks for most people. However, in cities like Milwaukee and Indianapolis., the average worker only needs to work 26 hours to afford their monthly mortgage.
Food will cost you at home and at the restaurants
It’s not easy to stick to a food budget when you live in a city that boasts some of the best restaurants in the world. And even if that won’t tempt you, the fact that you pass several restaurants in a short walk from the subway to your apartment could make cooking after a long day of work seem downright silly.
But eating outside of the home in New York could cost you. Real estate site StreetEasy uses data from the Council for Community and Economic Research to see just how much. They report that eating out in New York costs 60 percent more than the national average. And groceries come in between 28 and 39 percent more.
Taxes, the silent paycheck thief
It’s probably no surprise that rent and food take up a large portion of many New Yorkers’ paychecks. But one of the most pernicious paycheck eaters New Yorkers deal with is a little less noticeable outside of the city: Taxes.
Most states in the U.S. charge an income tax, but New York City residents pay both a city and state income tax. So how much extra does that cost? Looking at the New York tax tables for 2016, let’s say you’re single and earn $42,000 per year. The New York City tax will add $1,419 to the $2,374 New York state tax you’ll owe. That’s a 60 percent increase just from the state income tax alone.
On the other hand, there are states that don’t charge income tax at all, such as Texas. In fact, Andy Josuweit, Student Loan Hero’s CEO, was able to use the savings from moving from New York to Austin to pay off his student loans faster.
There is a bright side
If you feel like you just have to live in New York — a feeling I totally understand — all hope is not lost. There are also some things that come cheaper in the city.
For example, you can replace hundreds of dollars each month for a car payment, gas, and insurance with an unlimited MetroCard for $121. And more competition for businesses means enjoying $20 mani/pedis, $15 brunches with food, coffee, and a drink, and all-day happy hours with drinks as low as $2.
There’s also the fact that living in New York could enable you to earn more than you might elsewhere — or even give you access to more career opportunities.
The trick overall is to understand what you’re in for and then plan accordingly. If you want to live in New York, you might be able to make it work more easily than you thought — although it might require roommates and a side hustle to get ahead financially.