New York, Cost of living

Are you about to move to New York City? Then make sure you know what to expect in terms of cost of living in New York!

Even though New York City may not be found in the top ten of the most expensive cities for expats, the cost of living in New York is the highest you will find in the United States, especially if you are planning on moving to Manhattan.

Rental Prices in New York

Rent for accommodation will play a major role in your cost of living in New York. The city, and in particular Manhattan, is (in)famous for its in part exorbitant prices for property and rentals. Potential buyers will, for instance, be hard pressed to find a nice two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan for less than a million dollars.

Similarly, rents can be quite high, depending on which borough and neighborhood your apartment is situated in and whether it includes for example the services of a doorman. The latter is very common in Manhattan, where close to two thirds of studios and apartments are doorman units. They typically cost an additional USD 500 a month or more compared to non-serviced units.

Rental prices and the overall cost of living in New York vary greatly depending on the location. Particularly in regard to luxury accommodation in Manhattan, only the sky’s the limit. Even when excluding apartments for a monthly USD 10,000 or more, expats need to be prepared for high cost of living in New York. A one-bedroom apartment, for example, easily ranges from a monthly USD 900 on Staten Island up to USD 3,500 or more in Manhattan. In general, you can expect prices to drop the further away you get from the city center. Staten Island in particular is a much more suburban area with lower costs, but also a below city-average public transport network and longer commutes.

Prices not only vary depending on location, but also on services and facilities included, their size and condition, and so on. 

Utility, Communication and Television Costs

In terms of utilities, heat and hot water are typically already included in the rental price. This is, sadly, not the case for the rest of your utilities which should not be forgot when calculating your cost of living in New York. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in February 2014 utility prices averaged in the wider New York metropolitan area (including Northern New Jersey) at around USD 0.21 per KWH for electricity and at about USD 1.20 per therm for gas.

Exact prices, however, depend on the provider, contract conditions and your individual use profile, so it makes sense to shop around. Check which energy providers in NYC are available in your area and compare their prices. When calculating your cost of living in New York, also keep in mind that your expenditures for electricity may well go up in summer due to air conditioning.

Similarly, you should take the time to look for the communication and television deal that suits your needs and calculated cost of living in New York best. While some opt out on a landline and decide to use only a mobile, others may want to get the full package of landline, internet and television. Well known providers of such services in NYC are Time Warner Cable and Verizon.

Both offer various packages and combinations and for example charge around USD 90-95 for a package including basic television, a landline with unlimited US calls and a 15Mbps fast internet access. Or you can simply get a relatively fast internet connection (15Mbps or more) from USD 30 onwards, in case you are planning on using streaming services such as Hulu for TV.

Grocery shopping

Groceries, as one might expect after hearing that the cost of living in New York are the highest in all of the US, can quickly get expensive as well if you don’t keep a close eye on the items you put in your basket. In many areas, and in Manhattan in particular, the sheer quantity of different, high quality food and goods on offer may cause one to spend much more for simple, everyday items than you would expect.

So, if you are trying to keep your cost of living in New York low, make sure to compare prices and maybe even plan the occasional big shopping trip into one of the further, less expensive areas of the city. Alternatively, you can check if a Costco membership or online grocers such as FreshDirect or YourGrocer might work for you. The latter have the additional benefit of delivering your groceries straight to your doorstep.

Charges for Public Transport

As already mentioned, various buses, subway lines and the odd railway (e.g. Staten Island Railway) are available around the city. Most of these are part of the MTA Network, short for Metropolitan Transportation Authority Network. A single ride ticket for a bus or subway cost USD 2.75 at the time of writing. However, investing in a so-called MetroCard will reduce this base fare to USD 2.50.

You can get such a MetroCard for one dollar and then charge it with money to pay for your single rides. Or, and this is particularly recommended to regular commuters, you can get a 7- or a 30-day pass for your MetroCard and enjoy unlimited journeys for only USD 30 or USD 112 respectively.


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