Even though New York City did not make it into the top ten of the most expensive cities for expats (it ranks 11th in 2016), 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. In this guide, we take a look at some of the most relevant expenditure items you are likely to encounter while you live in the Big Apple. Be sure to keep these in mind when planning your budget!
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 apartment in Manhattan for less than 1.5 million dollars (the average price is 1.87m USD).
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. They typically cost up to an additional 1000 USD a month 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 10,000 USD or more, expats need to be prepared for the high cost of living in New York. A one-bedroom apartment, for example, easily ranges from a monthly 900 USD on Staten Island up to 3,500 USD or even more in Manhattan. In general, you can expect prices to drop the farther away you get from the city center. Staten Island in particular is a much more suburban area with lower costs, but also has a below city-average public transportation 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. So make sure to pick an area that suits both your needs and your budget, shop around and, when you feel that you have found your future home, be quick to snap it up before somebody else does.
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 forgotten when calculating your cost of living in New York. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2016 utility prices in the wider New York metropolitan area (including Northern New Jersey) averaged at around 0.17 USD per KWH for electricity and at about 0.89 USD per therm for gas.
Exact prices, however, depend on the provider, contract conditions, and your individual usage, 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 of 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, for example charging around 90 USD per month for a package including basic television, a landline with unlimited US calls, and an internet connection with a speed of 30 or even 150 Mbps. Or you can simply get a relatively fast internet connection (15 Mbps or more) starting at 30 USD per month, in case you are planning on using streaming services such as Hulu for TV.
Groceries, as one might expect after hearing that the cost of living in New York is 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 to one of the farther away, less expensive areas of the city. Alternatively, you can check if a Costco membership or online grocery store such as FreshDirect or YourGrocer might work for you. The latter have the additional benefit of delivering your groceries straight to your doorstep.
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