Cost of living in New York

Here’s the cost of living in NYC

After providing my personal budget breakdown, I wanted to create a more applicable resource for those who want a more realistic view of what it costs to live in NYC. I asked four other wonderful people to contribute their budgets for this post. The following expenses are of living costs only; they do not include insurance, taxes, retirement, loan payments, savings, or anything else that typically falls on a case-by-case basis. If you’re trying to approximate your own cost of living for an NYC move, factor in those costs on top of the expenses provided below.

Note: These are snapshot views and are intended as a close approximation or average of monthly expenses. True costs do vary month-to-month and are entirely dependent on your specific situation.

Living with two roommates in Manhattan:

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“I tend to skimp on eating out and going out for drinks in order to save money, so I usually cook my own meals or take advantage of work funded happy hours. Also, I recently cut out dating and that helped bring down my expenses as well. Overall I’m hesitant about spending money, growing up in an environment where money is scarce makes you hold on tight to the money you have… though NYC isn’t the best place to be young and financially prudent.”

Living at home with parents in Manhattan:

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“I live at home and doing so has been a great boon for me financially.  For the tradeoff of chores and keeping it down late at night, I am living rent free and predominantly bill free.  Though living on my own would have its own set of benefits, living with my folks makes so much more sense financially.”

Having a roommate in Brooklyn:

“I realized I spend way too much money on food and drinks, so I’m planning on cutting down on that now!”

 Living with a SO in Brooklyn:

These are the average expenses for The Luxe Strategist. She’s saving over 60% of her income, with “no extreme couponing, reusing Ziploc bags, or shopping bans in sight”.

My expense breakdown:

If you compare this budget to the one I published earlier this year (linked at the top of the post), you’ll see that my expenses have increased slightly. It’s all those ballroom dance lessons adding up there. Yes, I know my rent expenses are extremely low🙈. My rent is essentially subsidized because I’m not paying market value for what my apartment is worth. Plus, with Ian and I splitting the cost of rent equally, that makes things even cheaper for us. Because I save so much on rent, I tend to spend more on food and my hobbies, like dance classes.

My other secret? IT’S TIME I LET IT OUT. Everyone… I actually live in New Jersey. My living room window has a view of the World Trade Center, but I do not actually live in NYC, despite being employed there. Living just across the Hudson is a huge benefit. Apartments are significantly cheaper, and you get more space for your money, too. There are huge tax benefits, which is why thousands of people commute into the city from NJ every day.

NYC’s cost of living may be high…

…but that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive for you.

There are obvious caveats to my very small sample size. This was a self-selected sample, meaning I asked friends to contribute, and only those who felt more comfortable with their financial situation responded. You can easily spend a lot more money living here, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Most of these people are also just starting out in their careers, and are willing to give up things like space and privacy in order to keep things affordable.

Need more examples? I’ve got plenty I can share anecdotally. A coworker of mine and his now wife rent a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn for $1,200 (meaning $600/person). An old neighbor of mine now rents a huge studio apartment in Williamsburg for a whopping $2,300 a month (she’s living in the hippest part of that neighborhood). Another friend pays $1,100 a month in Hells Kitchen splitting what should be a one-bedroom apartment with two friends (it’s an apartment with no more than 250 sq feet).


From a total expenses perspective, I find that $2,000 a month about covers the cost of living here in the city for most. Major differences like living at home or living by yourself will change that tremendously, but many people in this city get by on far less a month.

Do you live in NYC and find these numbers to be way off-base? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear more cost of living perspectives.


  1. Ooh I always wondered how your rent was so affordable! I lived in NYC for about $2000/month too. The budget was a bit tight, but definitely doable 🙂 I love seeing how other people live!

    1. Author

      Agreed! Not everyone lives the life of a Wall St banker. For everyone person making $150K+, there multiple people making <$60K. Clearly, there’s a way to make it work :]

  2. Thanks for featuring me, but mine is for living with two roommates, too! I actually think I should do an update on my budget, since I tend to spend more lately. I love how everyone’s budgets are so affordable, though. Also, that person spending $1,500 on rent with 2 roommates, do they have a ballin’ apartment?

    1. Author

      It’s a compact apartment, but $1.5K is more for location – he lives in the East Village. Rent here is crazy expensive compared to many areas, but it’s still possible to live here and save money. I think the average rent in this area is somewhere between $1.8K and $2K a month; it’s not too hard to find something much closer to $1K (and sometimes lower) if you’re patient and know what to look for.

  3. Wow this is super helpful! I have a couple of friends who live in New York. And I never stop being shocked at what they tell me about the prices and such in the city. I know some people who buy a house in NJ and commute to NYC for work. It helps them save lots of money, and the public school system in NJ is also good due to their high property taxes (I heard/read).

    1. Author

      Yeah, there are some super affluent areas of NJ. I keep meeting more people who are farther along in their careers than I am who have left the city… NJ, PA, CT; it’s actually really common for some. Plus, if you’re high enough up in your career, it can make financial sense to have a house away from the city and commute in by train everyday. Some of the longer distance train don’t take much longer than commuting in from the outer boroughs, which is crazy!

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