Life

WHAT IT REALLY COSTS TO LIVE IN NEW YORK CITY

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 – a realistic look at what New York City costs me. To note: this is specific to me – you 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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8 ITEMS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE IN 2018

The Steele Maiden: 8 Items that will change you life in 2018

I give you – 8 items that will change your life in 2018. Okay, okay – so ‘change you life’ may be a bit dramatic. But I honestly think they all changed mine for the better. And I really believe in surrounding yourself with things that simplify and streamline your life whenever possible and these items do just that. In the chance that you may not be familiar with all of these, I wanted to share. Here’s to living our best lives in 2018.

  1. Tripod & Timer – Even if you’re not a blogger, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve tried to get group shots at family gatherings or a quick snap of Adam and I when we’re traveling and this would have come in handy.
  2. Google Home – I’m not a huge tech person and never gave the term ‘smart home’ much of a thought. Until we were sent a Google Home to try. For the simple fact alone that I can ask it the current weather every morning before I walk to work and tell it to turn on the TV and play a specific show on Netflix – it’s worth having to me.
  3. Quip Toothbrush – I hate the look of regular, neon plastic toothbrushes in our otherwise, neutral bathroom but had never considered going electric. My friends at Azione PR sent me this Quip Toothbrush to try and not only does it look SO much better sitting in my bathroom – but it’s quite honestly the cleanest my teeth have ever felt without going to the dentist. Which is kind of startling. Safe to say I actually look forward to my twice daily brushing now.
  4. The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin – If you only get one thing from this list – get this. Gretchin Rubin is the best-selling author of The Happiness Project which I read nearly 10 years ago and also has a podcast called ‘Happier’ that I highly recommend. But it’s her personality theory called ‘The Four Tendencies’ that changed my life. Basically everyone falls into one of four categories (I’m a classic Upholder while Adam is a by the book Questioner) and once you understand that it makes it SO much easier to understand yourself and those you have close relationships with (boyfriend, boss, etc.) and improve those relationships. For example – I no longer feel frustrated when Adam isn’t quick to make a decision. As a questioner he is just naturally inclined to weigh all of the options SO thoroughly until he finally feels like he’s come to the very best choice (true story: he once spent nearly 2 hours on Yelp trying to find a place to eat in a small town that only had about 10 total options). But it’s who he is as a questioner. So it honestly no longer bothers me at all. In fact, I now find it actually endearing because I recognize it as something that feels innately Adam. Just think if you could do that with everyone in your life?!
  5. Travel Steamer – Another game changer. This steamer has zero bells or whistles but it gets the job done every time. I’ve stopped using an iron all together at home and absolutely never travel without this (it’s also dual voltage so will work abroad). There’s nothing worse to me than a wrinkled dress or sweater that just screams ‘this has been stuffed in my suitcase all day!’.
  6. Dagne Dover Neoprene Backpack – I got this at the end of last year and am so surprised by how often I’ve ended up using it. Dagne Dover is a brand I’ve loved for a few years now – their simple, classic bags are so thoughtfully organized on the inside (think slots for phone and lipstick, an extended clip for your keys so you never have to dig through the bottom of your bag again..). This neoprene backpack comes with me as a carry-on, overnight bag, gym bag and even to work when I need to pack a load like my lunch, laptop and a change of shoes.
  7. Phone Grip/Stand – This is the one I don’t have yet but am dying to get! These little knobs stick on to the back of your phone and gives you something more to hang on to than the slippery edges of a phone and also work as a stand to prop your phone on the table if you’re watching a video or filming a hands-free IG story.
  8. Tile App – Adam got me this for Christmas (most likely after seeing me struggle to find my keys/phone/wallet in the apartment one too many mornings). It’s an app and corresponding chip that you can attach to your keys, stick in your wallet and sync with your phone so you never lose a thing.

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GOALS FOR 2018

The Steele Maiden: Goals for 2018

I think resolutions get a bad rap sometimes. While I don’t really believe in sweeping notions like ‘lose 20 pounds this year and save $20,000’ I do believe in thinking about the year ahead with intent. Below, my own personal goals for 2018 and the strategic ways in which I plan to implement them. I think setting clear, actionable strategies is the step that often gets forgotten and because of it, the resolutions themselves end up being faint memories by about February. I am planning on sharing a bit on each of these throughout the year, hopefully it encourages you all to help turn your own big dreams into a reality this year!

PRIORITIZE RELATIONSHIPS:

  • I spend a considerable amount of my time (honestly probably like 75%) working. I have a demanding full time job, manage this blog and do freelance writing. It’s a lot. And I often allow myself to be consumed by it. This year I want to be sure that I’m creating more of a balance and prioritizing my relationships (Adam, friends and family).
  • Adam and I used to have Wednesday date nights, to ensure that at least one night a week I wasn’t working and we were spending quality time together. I want to reinstate those asap.
  • I want to better schedule my work so that I’m opening up my schedule. This means sticking to a calendar when it comes to freelance and blog work instead of squeezing that work into every free moment.
  • Be better about asking friends and family to spend time together. I often get so caught up in work that I forget to suggest plans and hope that others will do the leg work. I’d like to change that.

ALLOW TIME FOR LEISURE:

  • Which leads me to my next goal – allowing time for leisure. It sounds silly but I really don’t ever let myself have down time. And that’s reached a point where it feels unhealthy.
  • Give in to the urge to do nothing on occasion – whether that means a face mask and a nap or a movie marathon on the couch. I need to give myself permission to slow down and relax without guilt.
  • Practicing my French and playing the piano are two hobbies that I really wanted to do in 2017 and while I from time to time used the Babbel app for French lessons, I never did get around to finding a keyboard I could practice playing in our apartment. These feel like they would really be revitalizing to me though and so this year I’m determined to readjust and carve out the time to do things that I enjoy just for the fun of it.

FIND WAYS TO BE CHARITABLE:

  • 2017 served up major reasons to donate to immediate causes (Planned Parenthood funding, hurricane relief), but in 2018 I want to find more routine ways to give back.
  • Ideas so far are a monthly charity that I contribute towards, donating gently used clothes/accessories and unused beauty products to local women’s shelters and volunteering my time to Girls on the Run (an organization that teaches young, underprivileged girls to run a 5k to help build confidence).

COMMIT TO HEALTH:

  • Return to my daily morning workouts – I feel noticeably less stressed and more balanced when I’m starting each workday with a trip to the gym.
  • Drink less diet coke, more water. This seems obvious.. but alas.
  • Go to the doctors – I’m embarrassed by how long it’s been since I’ve been to a dentist or eye doctor and that needs to change asap.
  • Set a bedtime – I think setting an alarm (just like I do to wake-up) that signals when I should be starting my bedtime routine would help. I find myself often getting caught up in blog work at night and before I know it, it’s 11:30PM and I’m exhausted the next day.

THINK BIG FOR THE STEELE MAIDEN:

  • This is a big one. For the past few years, while I’ve committed a lot of time and effort to The Steele Maiden, I haven’t done much strategic thinking about the direction I’d like to take it in the future and how I want to grow. This is the year I’ll be changing that.
  • I plan to introduce more personal posts this year and offer more practical advice on things like career and relationships.
  • Introducing video in 2018! I’ll admit, this one scares me as I don’t feel particularly comfortable in front of the camera (I honestly feel silly even talking directly to Instagram stories) – but it’s good to do things that scare you. I’m planning on sharing hair & beauty and travel videos to start.
  • As always, I want this to serve as a place to inspire you to have your own stylish adventures – and if there’s something you’d like to see more (or less) of in 2018 please let me know!
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2017: A YEAR IN REVIEW

The Steele Maiden: Where to Stay in Los Angeles - Carlyle Inn Beverly Hills

2017 – you were quite a year. To be honest, this year was one of the most trying for me personally – and when I think about the tragedies and upheaval our country faced I don’t think I was alone in this. I felt chronically stressed at my full time job, had a few health struggles (from a night in the ER after a deadly-feeling stomach bug to ongoing knee pain that took its toll on my running routine – something I love dearly) and turned 30 which threw quite a few of my life choices into question. In general it was a year that I felt a little bit stuck. Like I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be and the progress I’d planned wasn’t quite as fast as I’d hoped.

Although when I look back on my year in photos none of that shows. Instagram/blogs are funny that way, aren’t they? And despite the above, I feel grateful for this year. Not just because I think that struggling a bit makes me stronger in the end and spurs me to work even harder for what I really want in life – but also because I had a million happy memories too – from little things like Sunday breakfasts with Adam at our favorite neighborhood cafe to incredible travel that took us to new places and back to old favorite places – and feel thankful for the opportunities that the year brought. Below, I’m sharing my favorite moments.

And a heartfelt thank you to all of you for coming along for the ride. Whether you just found my blog or have been following for years – one of the things that has always brought me joy (even when the rest of my life may have felt out of balance) has been this blog and sharing my adventures with all of you. I’m really looking forward to some of the things I have in the queue for 2018 so I hope you all stick around. xx, Jess

Photo above from our trip back to LA in April and our stay at the swoon-worthy Carlyle Inn Beverly Hills. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: Spring Occasion Wear with Amazon Fashion - Nicole Miller Floral Lace Dress

Wandering the West Village on an early Saturday morning in March, in one of the prettiest dresses I’ve ever worn and an armful of hydrangeas felt a little bit like a movie scene. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: Weekend Style - overalls and stripes

This simple striped overall look was one of my most liked on Instagram. It seems easy, casual looks are your favorites so I’m going to try to show more of that in the coming year. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: Talbots Floral Print Shift Dress in Palm Springs

We visited Palm Springs for the first time in April (for the wedding of a dear friend) and fell in love with the colorful desert oasis. Adam and I joked that we’re going to start spending winters switching between Miami and Palm Springs – not a bad retirement plan, right? // Full post here and travel guide to Palm Springs here.

The Steele Maiden: High Waist Bikini and Straw Panama Hat

We spent a few days back in LA and had the most relaxing afternoon on Manhattan Beach (our favorite spot when we used to live in LA). These bathing suit pictures were outside my comfort zone, but when I look at them now I’m so glad we took them because it makes me remember how happy we were that day. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: Floral eyelet midi dress and navy wide brim straw hat

We headed back to Charleston (it was our 2nd time there) to celebrate my 30th birthday and had the absolute best time – sealing the deal as one of our favorite cities in the US to visit. I got eaten alive by mosquitos on this particular night but felt like a Southern Belle in that dress wandering the pretty back alleys with Adam. // Full post here and travel guide to Charleston here.

The Steele Maiden: Summer Styling Tip - Graphic Tee and Eyelet Skirt

The basket bag was was one of my favorite trends of 2017 and this look was one of my most popular. Sometimes re-thinking old closet favorites (knotting a graphic tee and wrapping a handkerchief around a bag handle) makes things feel completely new again. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: How to Plan the Perfect Staycation in the City this Summer with Omni Berkshire Hotel

On a hot summer weekend in June, Adam and I headed uptown and had a staycation at the Omni Berkshire Hotel. We had a balcony overlooking skyscrapers and they set up a private outdoor movie screening for us, then we got dressed up and raced a few blocks over to catch the ballet at Lincoln Center. This city never stops feeling magical to me. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: Anthropologie Gingham Crop Top and Wide Leg Chinos

These photos remind me of everything that’s perfect about summer in the city. I loved this outfit but I also remember having a really great day for no particular reason. No agenda, that humidity getting to my hair, and the fact that we got soft serve cones from the ice cream truck right after we finished shooting. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: Sebago Shoes at the Lake

We spent plenty of days at the lake house this summer, and this corner of the dock continues to be one of my happiest places in the world. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: His and Hers Casual Fall Style with Old Navy

I convinced Adam to come out from behind the camera a few times this year and these were my favorites – because they feel most like us. On a casual day, driving back from the lake house, when we pulled over the car just because the street looked good. // Full post here.

NYFW Style: Seventies Inspired Style for Fall

Another NYFW on the books – this 70s disco inspired look was my favorite. And as always, Adam will do whatever it takes to get that shoe shot for me. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden - 3 Must Have Coats for Fall Travel

On a last minute whim, we booked an AirBnB for a September weekend in Rhode Island and explored Newport and the town of Bristol. It ended up being one of my favorite weekends of the whole year. // Full post here  and travel guide to Newport here.

The Steele Maiden: London Night Out Style - Leopard Ruffle Dress, Fisherman's Cap and Patent Booties

This was a big one. 10 years after studying abroad in London I finally made it back and this time had the joy of showing Adam around. We lucked out with the best weather and had such an incredible time. // Full post here and travel guide to London here.

The Steele Maiden: Cotswolds, England - English Countryside Inspired Style for Fall

While we were in London we drove out to the countryside to visit the string of tiny villages known as the Cotswolds. We stayed at the dreamiest cottage inn and I felt like I was living out a Jane Austen novel. Still working on my full travel guide to this area coming in the new year! // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: Emerald Green Jumpsuit - Holiday Party Style

We also made it to Scotland for the first time and spent a couple of nights in Edinburgh. The whole city felt like a medieval dream – another travel guide I’ve got planned for you soon! // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: Fall Special Occasion - Velvet Floral Dress

I teamed up with my hair wizard Sarah Rappolt to shoot 3 holiday hairstyles and loved this simple, romantic updo the most. I’m hoping to bring you more of my easy approach to hair and beauty in 2018. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: His and Hers Special Occasion Holiday Style - Red Wrap dress and navy blue suit

Adam and I headed back to the Omni for a special holiday shoot. Midway through dancing on their rooftop and popping champagne in a private room we looked at each other laughing and said..  ‘not a bad day’s work, huh?’. None of this would be half as fun if I didn’t have him to do it with. // Full post here.

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HOLIDAY BEAUTY FAVORITES

The Steele Maiden: Holiday Beauty Favorites for a Night Out

From the lipstick that will stay put even after a glass or two of champagne to the hair product that rids me of winter static – here are my holiday beauty favorites:

P.S. these would make great stocking stuffers too!

SHOP HAIR + SKIN FAVORITES:

SHOP MAKE-UP FAVORITES

Also – can we talk about how luxurious it is to get ready in a large bathroom? If you have one at home I hope you don’t take it for granted for a single second. This particular one is in a suite at the Omni Berkshire – if you’re in to that sort of thing you should enter my giveaway to win a one-night stay here.

The Steele Maiden: Holiday Beauty Favorites for a Night Out

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The Steele Maiden © 2012

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.