Cost of Living in New York: Afford Moving in the Big Apple

Rose Morrison

Apr 8, 2024

city skyline with sunset in background

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New York has one of the highest living costs in the world. If you want to move here, you must bring enough dollars to afford health care, groceries and other necessities. Otherwise, you must be ready to hustle to piece together at least two sources of living to survive. Learn more about the cost of living in New York before relocating so you know what to expect. 

Housing Costs

Cost of Living in New York - photo of the high-rise buildings

Overall, the cost of living in New York City is 38% above the state average and 76% more than the national average. 

Regarding housing, buying and renting is 86% and 236% higher than the state and national average, respectively. So, expect to shell out more to find decent accommodation, which is justifiable since the city is a global hub for media, technology, arts, fashion, and finance. You’ll find plenty of job and collaboration opportunities with big brands here— the main reason why people from around the world get compelled to make this state their second home. 

For the average rental price, set aside $3,495 for a studio apartment and $7,415 for a 4-bedroom home. The median rental cost is $4,264 or roughly $6 per square foot. Prices go up year over year, so expect an increase in expenditure.

What is the cheapest place to live in New York? You can find a studio apartment at $2,350 in Washington Heights — the most affordable in the state. Flatbush, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick are other neighborhoods offering less than $3,000 rent. Meanwhile, Tribeca has the highest rental average for a studio at $4,500, followed by NoMad at $4,419.

One tip to make rent affordable is to share a room with other people until you’re earning enough to afford a private room. Many successful people who took a leap of faith in moving to the city started this way. With these figures, you can deduce the amount you should earn to live comfortably in the Big Apple. 

Transportation Expenses

Fortunately, getting around from city to city is easy with the state’s comprehensive public transportation system through buses and subways. New York City has 36 subway lines plying to 472 stations and 5,725 buses that can take you from one job interview location to another. Navigating these can be confusing at first, but once you get the hang of how it works, you can save a lot of money using these instead of cabs or ridesharing options. Pay more attention to how transfer works and you’ll be golden.

You need a MetroCard to access transportation, which you can purchase for $1. It’s refillable, so you can add money to it at the stations, selected retailers, vending machines and reloadable devices near bus exits. The standard subway fare is $2.90 per trip. If you pay for 12 fares using the same card within seven days, you enjoy free rides. A bus ride costs the same — $2.90, while an Express bus costs $7. 

If you expect to travel over 46 times a month, get the unlimited MetroCard for more savings. A 30-day validity card costs $132. There’s also a 7-day unlimited card for $34 if you need rides above 12 times within seven days.

Food and Groceries

Cost of Living in New York - people crossing the street

Is the food in New York expensive? If you often dine out, you’ll feel your money vanish from your pocket at a much quicker clip than you’re used to. Buying groceries and preparing your own meals at home is more practical and can save you a few hundred dollars monthly.

The minimum amount to spend on food and groceries per person is $553 if you buy ingredients and cook at home throughout the month. Daily, expect a budget of around $18. Dining out will set you back a few hundred dollars more, an impractical move for a jobless person. If you want to stretch your savings, whip up your lunch, breakfast and dinner from scratch right in your own kitchen. 

Health Care Expenses

Cost of Living in New York - photo of a clinic with equipment

Residents in New York pay one of the most expensive health premiums. The cost of employer-sponsored single coverage in 2022 was $8,936, which was 18% or about $1,300 more than the national average of $7,590. Employee-plus-one was 12% more and family insurance was 11% higher than the national average.

The high premiums are due to the exorbitant cost of living in New York and laws that levy health insurance, which continually heightens the affordability gap.

Getting sick here is expensive, so signing up for insurance and other rider benefits — even if they’re costly — can help curb hospital bills in case you get admitted.  


The cost of living in New York is high, but the income-to-cost-of-living ratio is good. It’s proportional since residents enjoy a higher disposable income. A salaried employee earns an average of $51,646, equivalent to $24.83 an hour or $4,303 a month. Top earners can take home up to $95,800 annually, while lower earners receive $25,718 in compensation. 

Those who work in Riverside city have the highest hourly wage at $43.62. Careers in the medical field that require skills and experience are lucrative. These include intensivists or critical care physicians, who get paid $450,576 yearly and general anesthesiologists earning $448,504 annually.

If you work in health care, relocating may be an excellent move to get more pay and increase your savings. 

Afford the Cost of Living in New York

Most people move to the Big Apple to seek a greener pasture. If you transfer here from a big city, the expensive transportation, health care and housing may not shock you. But if you’re from a rural location, you have some significant adjustments to do with budgeting to squeeze all your necessities in a monthly payroll and have enough left for savings. 

New York also has one of the country’s highest salaries—medical field jobs can be lucrative. Whether you receive wages in the higher or lower range, budgeting your money down to every dollar can help you afford the cost of living in New York. 

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