So You Want To Move To New York City?
'Tis the season of new grads, big dreams, and future plans. This post is for all of those dream chasers, new graduates, or those in pursuit of something greater. I was there, for a really long time. I had a passion for NYC since childhood and I had always known I would end up here one day. Every time I visited NYC I felt as though I was leaving my heart behind when I flew back to Wisco. Over time, I met someone and connected with the city in a way I didn't know was possible, and I knew I no longer wanted to leave a piece of me when I left. I was sitting in my apartment in Milwaukee, WI a year ago not even graduated with my Masters Degree yet but I did have a dream, a goal, and a plan. It seemed nearly impossible but I made it happen. And you can too.
How much does it cost to live in New York City... I have been thinking about this post since the creation of Excuse My Midwest; How I would discuss and share what it truly costs to take your bite out of the Big Apple. I have been a New Yorker for a mere 10 months and in that time I have learned that not everyone wants to say hello in the morning, highways are called parkways, and silence is a hard earned luxury (more on all those points in a future post).
1. Save Like You've Never Saved Before.
Sticker shock is something I think will take me a great deal of time to overcome. The cost of EVERYTHING in NYC is insane, especially the food. Are their cheaper options? Absolutely, if you want to eat $1 pizza, street cart sandwiches, and bagels every day. But for those of us who are trying to adopt a semi healthy lifestyle in this rich culinary Mecca, the other options aren't as forgiving. Statistics say that a three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant will set you back $75 in NYC; average of $55 in Chicago. Save anything and everything you can from your paychecks before you move to the City of Dreams; you'll be happy you did. You're gonna want cash to enjoy this new amazing city when you get here so try and save about two month's worth of income because it takes time to get settled in NYC.
2. Save The Tequila Shots For Home.
NYC is jam packed with any type of bar you can imagine and bar close in NYC is 4 am! That means extended drinking hours and an increase in those cherry bombs. Create a budget for yourself before you go out each weekend. Make sure you only allow yourself to spend that set amount or you will very easily splurge $200-$300 a month. If I am going out for a night with friends I will take a set amount of cash and nothing else. I try to limit my shots which are uber pricy and I also will "pregame" at home (hello subways systems and Uber) so I am already starting out with a little buzz. Be smart about the little things like drinks and food because those increase monthly expenditure real quick.
3. One Way Ticket To Paradise.
One of the best things about living in New York is I can literally get anywhere in the tri state area with just a quick jump on the train. This comes in handy after a night out too. Uber can be tempting, but unless you're splitting it with 3-4 others, it's not worth the cost. Grab a train, while it may take a bit to get home, it's only $2.75 and you'll quickly fall in love with the fact that you can enjoy a night out and still get home safely and cheaply. If you are someone who is not planning on moving to NY with a vehicle, the MTA sells unlimited monthly passes for the trains and busses for a mere $120/mo. (much less than a car and insurance payment). Coming to visit for a month? Grab a 7 day pass for $31.
4. Rent Will Take A Strong 50-60% Of Your Monthly Wages.
Full disclosure, because I wish I had found a blog that shared the facts before I moved, I pay $2,000 for a 2 bedroom apartment in Queens, NY which does not include electric, gas, or cable/internet (also this was a unicorn apartment). Most 2 bedroom apartments that are decent are going to begin at around $2500. I also live in what could be considered the "outskirts" of NYC (I can't walk to Manhattan). So if you are wanting that dream Soho apartment, be prepared for $3,000/mo. or more; you will spend A LOT on your rent. In New York, you work for the sole purpose of paying for a place to live but the benefit is there are so many activities and events within walking distance that cost less than perhaps other cities with cheaper rent. There are also cheaper options in all boroughs so do yourself a favor and apartment shop in hip but cheap areas in Queens, Brooklyn, and certain parts of Manhattan. Some places to check out are:
Queens: Forest Hills, Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside, Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill, Rego Park, Ridgewood, Elmhurst
Brooklyn: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Bushwick, Williamsburg, Greenpoint
Manhattan: Lower East Side, Upper East Side, East Harlem
Before I moved to NY, I only thought of Manhattan. I was surprised to find after living here almost a year, I prefer Queens or Brooklyn to Manhattan for livability and walkability. There is just more space and more greenery the further you get outside the concrete jungle.
5. But The Move In Cost Is Worse.
A huge shock for me was just how much it takes to MOVE IN to an apartment. To be able to sign my lease and say "home sweet home" at last, I had to present first month's rent, security, and a broker's fee all totaling around $5,000. That is a like a down payment on a home where I come from. Don't be surprised to see extra 0's at the end of your move in cost. Which is where #1 comes in to play. If you are wanting a decent apartment, in a safe neighborhood, and you are not moving here with a job already set up, be prepared to save $7,000-$8,000 before even thinking of moving to NY.
6. If You Are Okay With Residing With Strangers...
Room shares are something that I learned about after moving to NYC. There are some amazing, modern, brand new, renovated rooms for rent in really trendy Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods where you can rent a room in an apartment for anywhere from $700-$1500 or higher a month. It is certainly a cheaper way to live in a really cool neighborhood. I have two dogs and just knew how much I enjoyed my privacy so I did not opt for this but it is nice to know this option exits. Check out some great rooms for rent on Nooklyn.com, Symbi.com, and Roomi.com.
7. You May Have To Rent An Apartment Sight Unseen.
I was fortunate enough to be able to stay with my boyfriend initially when I moved to NYC so I could apartment hunt. Many people aren't so lucky and must sign their lease without ever setting foot in their place because apartments in NYC move like hot cakes. If you think you truly love a place and you have all you need to move in and sign the lease, do it, because chances are there are 5-10 other people also wanting that place and NYC apartments are first come first serve. In a New York Minute is a real saying and make sure you're prepared for this fast paced life.
In this next section, I am going to share with you all my monthly costs so you can get an idea for what it truly costs to live in this crazy beautiful mess of a city.
Car Insurance (With a clean record and years of experience) $220
Gym Membership $25
Gasoline (Chevrolet Equinox) $90
Metro Card $20-25/mo.
Parking (Going to any shop or store) $15
Extracurriculars (movies, bars, shopping, etc) $500
This of course does not include my car payment, student loans, credit card bills, dog costs, streaming services, medical appointments, cell phone, or day to day costs like a $15 movie ticket, $6 coffee, or a $12 sandwich. Life is expensive on this coast.
All this being said, I never moved to New York City to save up for a down payment on a home or to increase my investments. I moved to NY for the dream, passion, and the feeling of being part of something greater. Since moving to NY I have gotten an amazing apartment, started a great job, developed my blog, and began my own journey to self discovery. I truly feel none of this would have happened if I stayed in the Midwest. Will I end back there one day? Maybe. But for now, I can't ever think of leaving this magical, hectic, prodigious place where dreams truly do come true. There is room for any race, gender, sexuality, intellect, and dream in this city, and if you are truly as passionate as I know I was, you'll make the move happen. No matter the cost.
Do you have a dream of moving to NYC? Let me hear about it in the comments!
xoxo Miranda from the Midwest