The Steele Maiden: How Much it Really Costs to Live in New York City

When I asked what you all wanted to hear more of about New York your answer was a resounding ‘your everyday life!‘. And so I figured to begin, I’d go ahead and address the (expensive) elephant in the room. How much does it really cost to live in New York City?

I can’t tell you how many times Adam and I have been in a social setting outside of NYC and had someone has hinted, with wide eyes, at how much it must cost us to live in this city. Or even flat out asked us how much we pay for rent (side note: unless I’m offering up that info or in turn you’d like to tell me how much your mortgage costs.. this question can be skipped) But nevertheless, I get it – this city is one of the most expensive places to live in the entire country (San Francisco actually takes top prize) so it stands to reason that people are curious about just how much we pay and more-so why anyone would want to pay for it?!?

I have two things to say about that. One – it’s expensive to live here so you better damn well love it. If you’re paying an arm and a leg in rent and spending all your time complaining about it.. then leave. There’s some kid in small town Illinois who would kill to take your spot. I dreamed of living here since I was a pre-teen and almost 9 years after first moving here I still think the sun rises and sets with this city. It’s what routinely softens the blow of the expense of it all. And secondly – if you really want it, be willing to make sacrifices. There were times when I was 22 and broke, living in a studio apartment, working two jobs, eating cheese quesadillas for dinner and selling clothes at Buffalo Exchange just to make my rent each month. It never made me want to leave, it just made me want to work harder. Back to point number one. Get it?

The Steele Maiden: How Much it Really Costs to Live in New York City

So here it is Рa realistic look at what New York City costs me. To note: this is specific to me Рyou can live for a lot less (and I have) and you can obviously live a lot more extravagantly (looking at you Beyoncé). But I think for an average person in their 20s/30s without kids, this is a fairly good average.

Rent: Ouch. Here’s the big one. I live in a one-bedroom, walk-up (meaning no elevator.. or dishwasher.. or laundry…) building in the East Village. Average rent for an older apartment like ours downtown will set you back anywhere from $2,250-$2,750 a month. Because I’ve got a roommate that I share that one bedroom with, I luck out a bit as opposed to having to cough up the money for a bedroom all to myself. And if you head uptown or to Brooklyn you can easily get yourself some better amenities or more space for that same money. Or of course you can jump up to the $2,800-$3,300 range and secure a balcony or a walk in closet. I love our current neighborhood and the fact that we are within walking distance to most of downtown Manhattan and my office – but as we look for new apartments I’ll be sharing what we find and where we end up!

The Steele Maiden: How Much it Really Costs to Live in New York City

Transportation: Here’s the great thing – you can ride anywhere you want in this city for $2.75 on the subway or bus (a monthly pass for unlimited rides is $121). You can catch a a crosstown cab for around $15 with tip or buddy up and take an Uber Pool double the distance for just $5.

Because of that East Village apartment, I am lucky enough to walk to work so I personally spend about $30 a month on transportation (a handful of subway rides and maybe a cab or two) which is a considerable savings if you compare what a monthly car payment, insurance and gas cost you out in the suburbs. Adam actually does drive to work in New Jersey so he’s got $5 a day in tolls and gas, but his car is paid off and we park for free on the street.

Food & Drink: Admittedly, a big portion of my money after rent and regular monthly bills seems to go towards food and drink. The great thing about this city though is that you can eat and drink on a dime and still get something great. Or you can reallyyyy #treatyoself and splurge.

An average cocktail is $14 (more if you’re paying for a rooftop view or a hotspot ambience) but you can also find $5 beer and $1 oysters at a great happy hour like the one at Mermaid Inn. Same goes for food – an average dinner for 2 at say, a delicious Italian spot in our neighborhood will run you about $75 before tip (appetizer, two glasses of wine and two entrees), but the $17 large pizza we get in our neighborhood is damn good too. Top dollar steaks or hole in the wall ramen that will knock your socks off. You choose here.

I’ve found grocery store costs to be slightly higher but if you make use of Trader Joes, local farmer’s market and small grocers I’d say these costs can end up being comparable to elsewhere in the country. Except for cereal which is inexplicably almost $7 a box in Manhattan. Why, New York, why?

The Extras: You can easily get a huge armload full of beautiful fresh flowers at any corner bodega for less than $20. But in a good neighborhood a soy chai latte will set you back $6 from Starbucks. Views from the Top of the Rock cost $34 but entry to the Met Museum is technically a donation (so if you can only pay $1 they’ll still let you in). Tickets to see a late night show like Jimmy Fallon are completely free as long as you can grab a spot when the seat lottery opens up and there are major deals on same day tickets for Broadway shows if you wait in line in Time Square. This city has a million things to offer. It’s all about finding which of it falls within your budget – and then getting creative for the rest.

The Steele Maiden: How Much it Really Costs to Live in New York City

 

 

 

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