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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

New York City: Expats Find a Thriving Business Culture but Can’t Afford Life

While the job market thrives, work-life balance and expats’ finances suffer in New York City.

New York City comes 39th out of 49 cities in the Expat City Ranking 2023. Expats struggle with many aspects of life in the Big Apple — especially with the high cost of living. The quality of life also leaves a lot to be desired, but great leisure options at least provide plenty of opportunities to get out and about. Overall, 66% of expats are happy with their life in New York City, compared to 72% globally.

A Love-Hate Relationship with Work Life

Expats have very mixed feelings when it comes to Working Abroad (28th) in New York City. On the positive side, 74% agree that moving there has improved their career prospects (vs. 59% globally), and 71% are happy with their personal career opportunities (vs. 57% globally). Indeed, the local job market ranks 5th globally. Expats also enjoy the local business culture, which they describe as encouraging creativity (4th) and flexibility (10th).

However, NYC ranks among the bottom 5 cities for job security (45th). One in four expats (25%) is unhappy with their work-life balance (vs. 17% globally), with New York City ranking 46th for this factor.

Expats Face Financial Stress

And life in the Big Apple comes at a cost. The city ranks second to last in the Personal Finance Index (48th), only Vancouver (49th) does even worse. About two in five expats (39%) say that their disposable household income is not enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 27% globally), and over one in three (34%) are unhappy with their financial situation (vs. 22% globally). It’s probably not surprising, then, that New York City places last globally (49th) for general cost of living. This trend continues in the Expat Essentials Index (31st), where it comes 47th for affordable housing.

New York City ranks midfield in the Ease of Settling In Index (19th). While 72% of expats feel that it is easy to get used to the local culture (vs. 62% globally), 28% don’t have a personal support network in NYC (vs. 24% globally).

Healthcare Troubles Abound

The Big Apple also scores among the bottom 10 for Quality of Life (40th). Expats are confronted with a healthcare system that they say is the least affordable globally (49th), as well as of poor quality (43rd), and with services that are difficult to access (45th). Expats’ well-being is also challenged by their surroundings: New York City places 43rd for its urban environment (green spaces, noise levels, etc.), and only 40% feel that the government supports policies to protect the environment (vs. 62% globally).

On a more positive note, there seems to be a lot to keep expats busy in New York City. It ranks 6th in the Leisure Options Subcategory and even 2nd for culinary variety and dining options. And most expats (89%) are happy with the culture and nightlife. But those enjoying a night out might want to keep their guard up — NYC only ranks 45th for personal safety.

Further Reading