How Much Does it Cost to Live in New York? Bonus: Budgeting Tips for Newbies

by | Mar 8, 2020

When I first announced my move to New York City from Dallas, Texas, the number one question I received from almost everyone I knew was:

“How the heck are you going to afford to live in New York?” 

Or 

The “but, isn’t it expensive?!?”

Yes, it is EXPENSIVE

No, it is not easy to just pack up and move here but it is doable with some forethought and strategic budgeting. 

In this blog post, I will take you through how much does it cost to live in New York. I will provide you with actual numbers based on my own average monthly spending and a handful of other friends that have been living in New York for at least a year. I will also share some of my proven budgeting tips. 

1. Rent 

The biggest expense you’ll encounter when moving to New York is your rent

Don’t be surprised when you find 4 bedroom/1 bath apartments with rooms the size of your college dorm room and no windows starting at $1000 and up per month. 

Remember, It’s New York, we are paying for the lifestyle. 

Here are some examples of rent prices in different neighborhoods. The further away you are from the city the cheaper your rent becomes:

How much does rent cost in New York

You are looking at about $1000/Month/room or more. 

Make sure you read my apartment hunting guide to learn how to find apartments in NYC  and all the costs that come with it. 

2. Transportation 

Subway 

I don’t think it is dramatic to say that, half of the time you spend living in NYC will be spent on the subways and the beloved MTA system.

Each month I spend $127 on my monthly metro card. Since I ride the subway daily, at least twice a day, the monthly card actually saves me a little bit of money.

Alternatively, you can get a weekly pass for $37 or pay as you ride, each swipe will cost you $2.75! 

I told you it wasn’t cheap!

Shared Rides

There are a few options in New York City for shared rides such as Uber Pool, Shared Lyft, VIA or good ol’ yellow cabs. 

Since I pay for the monthly subway pass, I try my absolute best not to spend so much on shared rides. 

However, VIA and the carpool options are pretty affordable ($5-$10/rider/ride) if you need a car or when you realize that your train will not arrive anytime soon due to some crazy incident at one of the stations. 

Be prepared for a lot of that, this is a warning! 

3. Food 

Now, this where budgets get a little more complicated.

Here are examples of what some of my friends spend on average on food per month: 

Average for groceries/month: $270

Average for eating out/month: $375

Groceries 

Since moving to NYC, I have this new habit of mostly shopping at Whole Foods because I think I’m rich sometimes.

But, ya girl just loves her organic produce and gluten-free snacks, okay! 

The average cost of a single shopping trip at Whole Foods for me as a single woman is $90.

If one week I decided that I’m in fact not made of out gold and shopped at Trader Joe’s instead, then the average cost per shopping trip comes down to $50

But, If I decided to be lazy and opted to shop at the smaller market near where I live, then I’m screwed. Because the almond milk costs $6 there! 

I recommend avoiding those smaller neighborhood markets if you want to save some money in NYC unless you really are in a pinch. They tend to be pricier than the big supermarkets and have a very dangerously tempting snack selection. 

Eating out 

If you want to save in NYC, then you must be able to resist the temptation of eating out daily—most New Yorkers fall victim to this because the food here is mind-blowing!  

A breakdown of much eating out costs at various types of restaurants:

How much does food cost in new york

As you can see, it varies but I’d say most times I’ve eaten out I’ve spent around the $20-$30 range.

4. Bills 

Your main bills are going consist of your gas, electric, wifi and maybe renters insurance if you get that. 

Other bills to consider when you are thinking about how much does it costs to live in New York, are your phone bills, health insurance, student loans, gym membership, amazon prime/website subscriptions, and credit card bills. 

Utilities 

Utilities in New York consist of natural gas and electricity. Most apartments use natural gas for stoves and heating systems. 

On average, most of my friends and I pay around $150/month for utilities. 

WiFi 

There aren’t that many companies to choose from in each neighborhood so these prices are pretty standard across the board but the more people sharing the WiFi bill, the less expensive it becomes.

My total internet bill was $50/month the first year, then now they increased it to $65/month. Next year it is going to be $75/month.  

5. Furniture 

This will be a one time expense for you or at least we hope it will.

My room cost about $600 to furnish. Take a look at this video of my apartment tour with links in the description section to where I purchased all of my furniture: 

Beds and mattresses on amazon.com can cost you about $300-$400. This bed frame and mattress that I currently have in my room are awesome! 

A new couch on amazon.com will cost between $300-$600. Check out this couch I recently bought. I get lots of compliments on it. 

If you want to save money on furniture in NYC, then I recommend checking out the Facebook Market Place for great deals on used furniture but keep in mind the pick up/transportation costs or use aptdeco.com, as they can deliver items directly to your home. 

Conclusion: A Rough Monthly Budget

So lets come up with a total monthly budget based on all these estimates: 

Rent: Roughly $1000/room (if not more)

Transportation: $127 + extra $50 for Ubers

Groceries: $270

Eating Out: $375

Utilities + WiFi: Roughly $180

Estimated Total: $2002 *

*Now that number is solely based on averages and does not include an actual rent price, other bills you may have and it does not take into account shopping and drinking. 

I think it is safe to estimate that a budget of about $3000/month is sufficient to survive in New York City. 


I hope that I have helped you get a rough idea of how much it costs to live in New York. If you have any other questions about moving to New York, please leave them in the comments below and I will answer them.

Happy traveling/moving!

xoxo Marina @ Livin’ Vivaciously

Find me on Instagram

Hey friend! It's Marina :)

Hey friend! It's Marina 🙂

I’m an Egyptian born and NYC based brand strategist, designer, coach, and traveler!

Obsessed with living a freedom-filled life on my terms, I’ve been traveling the world solo for the past 7 years. My adventures inspired me to start this platform—Livin Vivaciously.

I’m also a proud corporate dropout passionate about helping freedom-obsessed women and digital entrepreneurs build a true-to-self personal brand.

I believe that personal branding is the only way we can build pivot-proof businesses that thrive, simply because we show up as who we are, online and offline!

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