New York City’s bright lights and energy make it one of a kind. The cultural and financial capital of the world has so many things going for it, like its superior entertainment, commerce, media, shopping, art, fashion, and technology, that it’s an attractive living location for anyone.
It’s even more appealing for young adults who are ambitious and dream of the big city experience. This is why internships and full-time positions in NYC are some of the most sought after and desirable of all. Applications come flying in from all parts of the United States and the world.
But, this city becomes a little less attractive once you truly understand the cost of living in New York City and how expensive your life will become. With this considered, is living in the capital of the world worth the financial stress and sacrifice? Let’s dive in to see how expensive it really is.
Cost Of Living In NYC
To get a clear understanding of the cost of living in NYC, I decided to compare my current salary in Cincinnati, OH with a comparable New York salary. I used a cost of living calculator that asked the city I live in and the comparison city, plus my current salary, to calculate the results.
If you’re not familiar with Cincinnati, I like to describe it as a bigger city with a small-town feel. To help your perspective of its size, Cincinnati is the #34 ranked TV market in the country (New York is #1, Los Angeles is #2, and Chicago is #3). And the standard of living is reasonable, as it’s not overly expensive but not rural-city cheap. None of my out-of-town friends have complained about the price of things.
Also, to give you an idea of my salary (the second requirement in the cost of living calculator), my income is in the 95th percentile for 22-year-olds. While I’m not even that close to a six figure salary, I’m not scraping by either.
Now that you know about Cincinnati and my salary, here are the calculator’s results for the cost of living in New York City.
The image above shows that I need to make $136,024 for my salary to go the same distance in New York as it currently does in Cincinnati. While I didn’t tell you my exact salary, I can tell you that the difference in this NYC salary is pretty significant. And although my company might pay more for a New York position, I doubt it would be up to par with this figure.
Now let’s take a look at the calculator’s breakdown for the price difference in each major category between New York and Cincinnati.
The craziest difference is clearly the 479% more expensive housing in NYC. I had a clue about the outrageous cost of rent in New York, but I had no idea it’s almost five times as expensive as where I live. Yikes!
That sounds painful just typing it. So the thought of paying it each month for a room the size of a closet space makes me cringe. How do you do it New Yorkers?
And I’m sure the 37% more expensive New York City food and 30% more expensive transportation would quickly add up to thousands of dollars, if not tens of thousands, annually. Not to mention the entertainment and going out costs, or if you had student loans while trying to afford NYC.
It’s no wonder why I’d need to make $136,000 to keep my standard of living.
Play With The Cost Of Living Calculator
I selected where I currently live and New York City as my example to get the cost of living difference. But the city where you live and the other city you’re comparing are going to be different.
That’s why it will be better for you to use the same cost of living calculator for your individual case. Play around to compare different cities across the country and compare cities in certain states.
For example, say you want to live out west. You see how expensive California is and get bummed. But, then you find that Las Vegas might be a comparable area that also won’t break your bank account. Plus, being in Vegas allows you to easily visit or vacation in California.
Or if you want to live in Florida for the weather but don’t necessarily have a specific city in mind, you can narrow it down by finding the most economic location. You’ll see that Miami is the most expensive, Orlando is in the middle, and Tampa is the least expensive of the three.
I randomly will spend 10 minutes on this calculator like every month because I find it fascinating. And because I’m a weirdo, but we’re all some type of weird—you included.
The Lesson: Consider Salary In Context
The point of this post is to highlight one of the biggest financial oversights I see from young adults when considering multiple offers. Their mistake is evaluating salaries in a vacuum without any context. For example, they compare making $50,000 in Chicago to making $45,000 in Columbus to making $60,000 in New York City.
Based off of these three choices, they assume $60,000 in NYC is the best financial offer, without considering all the expenses like rent, transportation, and food. Ironically, out of the three offers, this person is probably going to get the most bang for their buck in Columbus. And if they can live at home or get some other advantage, then Columbus far outweighs the other two options in terms of money.
So, next time you’re considering internships or full-time positions in different cities, don’t think of the salary by itself, as we saw how important context is from looking at the cost of living in NYC.
But instead consider the salary in the context of the city’s cost of living. Because becoming rich is never about how much money you make, but how much of the money you’re able to save and make it grow.
Readers, does the cost of living in NYC scare you away? Is living in New York City worth it? How does a city’s cost of living factor in your decision to work there? Any other thoughts or questions related to this?