Cost of Living in New York?
NYC: Transportation Fares and More
Newly arrived expats in New York City would do well to join the numerous locals who have opted out of the hassle of driving (and parking!) a car in the city. Both gasoline and parking spaces in NYC are quite expensive and hard to find if you are not living in one of the less densely populated areas like Staten Island. Once again, Manhattan takes the lead with prices for a secure parking spot ranging from 300 USD a month (plus taxes) to 1,200 USD and more! Getting around New York City using public transportation, on the other hand, is fairly easy with maybe the exception of Staten Island, where the options are somewhat limited. In general, however, buses, subways, and trains are readily available and much cheaper than keeping your own car.
The Costs for Public Transportation in the Big Apple
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 the bus or subway costs 2.75 USD at the time of writing (August 2016). However, investing in a so-called MetroCard will reduce this base fare to 2.50 USD.
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 seven- or a 30-day pass for your MetroCard and enjoy unlimited journeys for only 31 USD or 116.50 USD, respectively.
Taking the Yellow Cab: Fares
The basic taxi fare, as well as additional surcharges and the price per unit for New York’s famous yellow cabs, were as follows at the time of writing (August 2016):
- 2.50 USD basic one-time fare on entry
- 0.50 USD per unit
- 0.50 USD NY State Tax
- 0.50 USD night surcharge (20:00 to 06:00)
- 1.00 USD peak time surcharge (Mon–Fri: 16:00 to 20:00)
A unit is defined as either 1/5 of a mile (i.e. approximately 320 meters) or one minute if the cab is moving at a speed of less than 6 mph or is completely stopped. Additionally, you will have to pay any tolls that accumulate during the drive; your driver is supposed to inform you about any such tolls at the beginning of the trip. Furthermore, while not mandatory, tipping 10–20% of the fare is customary and much appreciated.
For a trip between JFK International Airport and Manhattan a standard flat fare of 52.50 USD (tax surcharge included) plus tolls applies. If you are looking to go beyond the New York City limits, negotiate your flat rate for the trip before you set off. Exceptions to this rule are trips to Westchester, Nassau Counties, or Newark Airport, for which different metered rates apply.
More Bills: Additional Costs for Life in the Big Apple
Of course, you will encounter more than just these costs during your time in New York. Depending on your individual situation, additional costs for healthcare and other insurances may well apply and not be covered by your employer. Similarly, expats with children who decide against sending them to one of the free public schools and pick a private school instead can expect to be charged high tuition fees, typically around 30,000 USD per school year.
Further expenditures for eating out, entertainment in the form of, for example, movie theaters, museums, galleries, theaters and so on, or hobbies and sports activities can also add up quickly, so be sure to compare prices if you are on a budget.
Are you interested in a more general, less city-specific look at expenditures during your stay in the US? Then have a look at our article on the cost of living in the United States.
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