Author Topic: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?  (Read 5076 times)

Arrian

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Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« on: November 10, 2019, 06:59:21 AM »
How do we do this without massively setting ourselves back?

S/o and I are relocating to NYC for work from a much lower cost of living area. Thanks to this blog, lurking here, and reading Your Money or Your Life we are where we are today.

- Paid off $116k in student loan debt
- " " $15k in cars
- Have lived debt free save for a small mortgage (v cheap interest rate) and saved 60%+ for the last 3 years

Current net worth: ~ $500k
Current HHI: ~ $200k/ yr

Relocating to NYC for a job @ $250k + options that, based on current valuation, will push our net worth well over $2M (we know options aren't guaranteed, it's a risk). S/o will make $100k+ and I have a side hustle that will produce $50k+ besides; though now subject to NYC-based taxes (which massively suck).

All-in our gross income for 2020 should be $400k + before taxes.

We would like to buy, not rent (I know this is a popular debate, but we feel pretty firm on this). 

Things I know we need to optimize for, now:

  • sell our cars
  • reduce our possessions
  • eat more meals at home
  • choose a condo/ home with the least sq ft we need

What am I not thinking of?

What should we be doing to ensure that we're not shooting ourselves in the foot?

freya

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2019, 09:03:00 AM »
Arrian,

If you play your cards right, you should come out ahead with this move.  As an NYC resident here's a few high-yield suggestions.  See other case study threads from NYC denizens for more detail.

Rent don't buy!  unless you plan on living in NYC longer than 5-7 years.   The costs associated with buying and selling property are much higher in NYC than elsewhere, thanks to mansion taxes, flip taxes, high recording fees etc.    Also, with the nut cases we have in the mayor's office and city council, property taxes having been going through the roof, something like 10% increases every year on average and more than doubling since 2008.

If you were thinking about turning your residence into a rental after you leave, think again.  Coops don't allow long-term rentals because owner-owned apartments are much better for maintaining quality of life in a communal living situation.   You can buy a condo, but they cost a LOT more and the carrying costs tend to be higher also.  Not to mention that the landlord/tenant laws in NYC overwhelmingly favor the tenant.  Plus you won't be able to Airbnb the place, as that's been outlawed by the city.

State/local taxes are indeed punitive here, adding up to an 11% marginal rate that applies to most of your income.  If you've got a self-employment situation, set yourself up with a home office so you can deduct a percentage of your rent & utilities from that income.  Doesn't require a separate room, just a corner or a piece of the living room for a desk space is fine.   Also use a profit-sharing solo 401K (a "Keogh" plan at Fidelity, for example) to shelter 20% of net business income right off the top - in addition to both of you maxing out HSA, 401K etc.  If you have IRA money, dump it into the Keogh so you can do back-door Roth contributions.

Living in the outer boroughs or Manhattan neighborhoods like Inwood is a good way to reduce housing costs - and you'll probably like the less city-like vibe in these areas as well.  Keep in mind that unlimited MTA passes are $127/month (and subway service has deteriorated badly), so walking or biking to work is good if you can swing it.

On the plus side, cooking at home in NYC is a dream.  Farmers markets everywhere, easy to get awesome ingredients by going straight to the ethnic neighborhoods of interest.  And the savings derived from not owning cars helps offset some of the above costs.  Don't fall into the eat out every day and shop at corner deli-mart traps though.  Some other essential items for NYC low-budget living:  a folding bike (stash in a closet or near your front door) and portable washing machine that hooks up to a faucet.  (Companies around here will deliver this in "discreet" packaging.)  And a copy of the Cheap Bastard's Guide to NYC for good measure.

Have fun - bottom line is you will LOVE it once you're here.  Seriously.  This city is wonderful to live in even with all the gripes above.  And it IS possible to early-retire here too!


bbqbonelesswing

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2019, 09:21:54 AM »
  • sell our cars
  • reduce our possessions
  • eat more meals at home
  • choose a condo/ home with the least sq ft we need

Those are all good things to work on! NYC has so many great places to eat and things to do, it's easy to fall into the habit of spending a LOT of money. Living in a (relatively) cheaper neighborhood, eating at home, and only renting/buying the condo you need will make a big difference.

That being said, NYC is one of the greatest cities on the planet, so enjoy your life a bit. See some shows, visit the museums, live it up. You don't want to become resentful of those around you while you and your SO are living a spartan life in Babylon. There are ways to do NYC on the cheap. If you like Broadway shows, sign up for the lottery to get cheap tickets. Look into an IDNYC card or AMA membership for access to museums and other benefits:

https://www1.nyc.gov/site/idnyc/benefits/benefits.page

I would really suggest renting, unless you plan to live the next decade in NYC. Why are you so set on buying a condo?

Hula Hoop

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2019, 09:47:33 AM »
Native NYer here with (relatively low income) family still in the city.  I agree with the comments above.  I've seen so many non-New Yorkers move to NYC and rent in crazy expensive areas of the city because they just don't know the vastness of the place and the diversity of neighborhoods and have only ever been there as a tourist.  You don't need to live on Manhattan or in the fashionable parts of Brooklyn.  If you want to live in the cheap, live in Queens, Inwood, the Bronx or the close-in parts of NJ.  Look around for deals and be tenacious in your search.

As far as food - eat at home and shop in ethnic markets.  I have family members who live on Lower Manhattan.  The area where they live has been over-run by rich people so they walk/take the bus to Chinatown with their cart to do their food shopping.  Way cheaper than buying stuff at Whole Paycheck.

One other tip - join the NY public library.  It's a wealth of resources and you can even get free museum passes so visit various museums.  Some museums such as the Metropolitan (and the Cloisters which is also amazing) are "by donation" for NYC residents so go to those.  As far as eating out - there are some wonderful food experiences in NY so budget for it but IMO most of the best eating experiences I've had in NY have been in inexpensive ethnic places in non-fashionable neighborhoods.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2019, 09:49:20 AM by Hula Hoop »

Arrian

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2019, 11:09:24 AM »
Quote
Why are you so set on buying a condo?

Several of you asked this, and the reason is we plan to stay for at least 5-7 years and possibly forever. I'm originally from the greater NYC area and have family and friends here.

Quote
One other tip - join the NY public library.

Amazing tip, thank you!

Quote
Also use a profit-sharing solo 401K (a "Keogh" plan at Fidelity, for example) to shelter 20% of net business income right off the top - in addition to both of you maxing out HSA, 401K etc.  If you have IRA money, dump it into the Keogh so you can do back-door Roth contributions.

We'll have to get smarter about these, but we definitely have IRA money and my S/o is self-employed, so this is a priority.

--

Re locations

The company I'll be working at is based in Brooklyn. Outer boroughs that are commutable to Brooklyn are all... Brooklyn? Am I wrong on that? Have been abusing https://www.traveltimeplatform.com/travel-time-maps to narrow it down. Lower Manhattan is almost universally too expensive per square foot, but I get that some neighborhoods in Brooklyn are too hot (expensive) or too marginal.


Thank you all so much for the feedback thus far.

freya

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2019, 07:44:09 AM »
Quote
Why are you so set on buying a condo?

Several of you asked this, and the reason is we plan to stay for at least 5-7 years and possibly forever. I'm originally from the greater NYC area and have family and friends here.

Ah.  In that case, definitely consider buying, but you may want to start out renting so you can do your homework on neighborhoods.  You can get a rowhouse in Brooklyn or Queens which avoids the whole coop/condo situation.  Be prepared for the mortgage recording tax on non-coops of 1.8% of the borrowed amount.  If you do go for a condo, expect to pay about 20% more in purchase price and about the same premium on monthly maintenance & taxes.  Do the math carefully to see if it's really worth it.  I did and decided it wasn't.

A tip for eating out:  New York Restaurant Week.  Pricey restaurants open their doors with limited menus at way under their standard prices.   Also catch episodes of Anthony Bourdain's (may he RIP) travel shows where he highlights local cuisines.  Some of the episodes focus on ethnic places that you might not venture to on your own.  Also, many restaurants offer happy hours where you can get drinks & food at reasonable prices - one of the local places in my neighborhood serves wonderful $2 bruschettas that are practically a meal on their own.  This sort of thing should be an occasional treat though, not everyday.  Too many people in NYC eat out daily and use their kitchens only to heat leftovers.

2sk22

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2019, 05:19:31 AM »
One point to make - You don't have to actually live in New York City - I am a long time resident of New Jersey and have been working in New York for almost thirty years. Houses and rents are generally more affordable and commuting by bus or train into Manhattan is not too bad.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2019, 05:21:26 AM by 2sk22 »

Daisyedwards800

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2019, 09:40:17 AM »
Sunset Park or Bay Ridge are cheaper relatively.

freya

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2019, 01:09:54 PM »
I'm a single mom to my daughter who is in the Manhattan public schools, and my income is around +300k. I currently pay $3900 for a one bedroom in the upper east side next to her current school. ... Ideally a ~1800sqft house with rentable basement in a safe neighborhood with public transportation access for less than $800k renovated already. Is it possible?

YIKES!!!! $3900/month????

"1800 square feet" and "Manhattan" are concepts that do not pair well if you're trying to contain housing costs.  Sounds to me like you might be ending up in the suburbs.  Have you thought about checking out neighborhoods like Riverdale, or in NJ near the bridge, or farther up one of the Metro North lines?  Or, what about looking for a small apartment with a loft or something that can serve as a second sleeping area?

Sadly, I hear you on the safety concern - crime has been increasing and the city government seems to be much more interested in protecting criminals than in protecting, say, you or your daughter.   I'm hoping that something reasonable starts happening soon, otherwise I'm a little concerned that we might be going back to the "white flight" and general lawlessness of the 1970s and 1980s, which I remember all too well.

Steeze

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2019, 07:20:10 PM »
We live in Jackson Heights queens in a historic coop building. Maintenance is low <$500/mo and covers taxes, 800sf 1br was just over $300k, maybe $325-350k now. 2br apts go for around $500 and up. Our housing is pretty inexpensive, and the neighborhood is great. Feels safe and has everything you need. <30min. to midtown on the 7/e/f trains. I’ve lived all over Brooklyn and also in Astoria Queens. Definitely recommend Jackson Heights if the commute is reasonable for you. We don’t have kids, but the public schools here are decent as well.

Otherwise don’t own a car, take the subway, cook a weeks worth of food on sundays, skip the nightlife, don’t take taxis, get used to walking a lot.

The biggest blunders I see people make is getting a super expensive apartment, spending $100+ on booze every weekend, spending $100s a month on fancy gym classes, constantly upgrading the wardrobe, and eating out 2-3 meals a day to the tune of $1000/mo per person. $2000/mo/kid daycare and private school will also kill it.

Everything is here from $500 a month rooms amd 3$ meals in Chinatown, to $10,000/mo studio apartments, $50 cocktails, and $200/plate restaurants. Choose wisely.

DW and I live on about 35k/yr in NYC which includes a fancy vacation abroad every year. On 200k/yr we can save 100k+ easy, even with the crazy taxes.

Edit: just saw you are working in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is huge so the advice varies a lot. I lived near Bedford-Nostrand on the G, Nostrand on the A/C, and Gates on the J. I wouldnt recommend the J-train to anyone. The other two areas were just OK, but more hood than I care to raise a family in.

If I could afford it, I like the feel of Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, or Park Slope. Not affordable by any reasonable measure, but seem decent for putting down some roots. Personally I am not into the Williamsburg / Greenpoint / Bushwick scene. It’s cool and all, but I like to save my money!
« Last Edit: December 27, 2019, 07:39:36 PM by Steeze »

jafr1284

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2019, 10:08:14 PM »
We live in Jackson Heights queens in a historic coop building. Maintenance is low <$500/mo and covers taxes, 800sf 1br was just over $300k, maybe $325-350k now. 2br apts go for around $500 and up. Our housing is pretty inexpensive, and the neighborhood is great. Feels safe and has everything you need. <30min. to midtown on the 7/e/f trains. Iíve lived all over Brooklyn and also in Astoria Queens. Definitely recommend Jackson Heights if the commute is reasonable for you. We donít have kids, but the public schools here are decent as well.

Otherwise donít own a car, take the subway, cook a weeks worth of food on sundays, skip the nightlife, donít take taxis, get used to walking a lot.

The biggest blunders I see people make is getting a super expensive apartment, spending $100+ on booze every weekend, spending $100s a month on fancy gym classes, constantly upgrading the wardrobe, and eating out 2-3 meals a day to the tune of $1000/mo per person. $2000/mo/kid daycare and private school will also kill it.

Everything is here from $500 a month rooms amd 3$ meals in Chinatown, to $10,000/mo studio apartments, $50 cocktails, and $200/plate restaurants. Choose wisely.

DW and I live on about 35k/yr in NYC which includes a fancy vacation abroad every year. On 200k/yr we can save 100k+ easy, even with the crazy taxes.

Edit: just saw you are working in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is huge so the advice varies a lot. I lived near Bedford-Nostrand on the G, Nostrand on the A/C, and Gates on the J. I wouldnt recommend the J-train to anyone. The other two areas were just OK, but more hood than I care to raise a family in.

If I could afford it, I like the feel of Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, or Park Slope. Not affordable by any reasonable measure, but seem decent for putting down some roots. Personally I am not into the Williamsburg / Greenpoint / Bushwick scene. Itís cool and all, but I like to save my money!

I live in NYC now as a student. I would love to hear about those $500 rooms if you ever have any leads. I pay just over double that for a room in the UWS in a 3 bed 1 bath pre war building.
Interesting tip about the sink faucet laundry machine.. My biggest issue is there is not enough room in my fridge for a week's worth of food.. Sharing a fridge with 2 other people that is not even full size is tough. I am tempted to buy one of those freezer chests and converting it to a fridge.

Fomerly known as something

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2019, 06:17:48 AM »
As someone else mentioned rent then buy.  I'd plan on renting for the first year at a minimum, that will really let you figure out where you want to live without the I must buy now and paying too much mistakes.  Plus if you decide to go co-op those transaction take on average double the amount of time to close.

freya

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2019, 08:07:16 AM »
I live in NYC now as a student. I would love to hear about those $500 rooms if you ever have any leads. I pay just over double that for a room in the UWS in a 3 bed 1 bath pre war building.
Interesting tip about the sink faucet laundry machine.. My biggest issue is there is not enough room in my fridge for a week's worth of food.. Sharing a fridge with 2 other people that is not even full size is tough. I am tempted to buy one of those freezer chests and converting it to a fridge.

There's your problem.  The Upper West Side is one of the most expensive real estate markets in Manhattan.  You have to look elsewhere.

Also, since you're a student your school will likely have online house listings and random bulletin boards where people post ads for sublets or rooms.

Steeze

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2019, 03:46:09 PM »
@jafr1284 $500 takes some compromises for sure. A co-worker was sharing a 2br with 3 other roommates in Bedstuy near The JMZ train for $500 ea. I sublet a 1br in sunny side for 6 months for $800/mo in a rent control unit, guy was an actor going out of town and his rent was super low because he lived in the unit for 20+ years. I split the rent with my SO $400/mo. ea.

Definitely an exception- tough to find, but they are out there. Probably not on the UWS though unless you are stacking 2-3 guys per room!

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2019, 07:30:32 PM »
Don't forget about the 2% city income tax if you live in the 5 boroughs.

Pick a house outside the city. Be open to NJ, and a lot of lower-cost options come up.

If you have kids, pick a good/great school district. For example, the schools in my area of Central Jersey are great (Princeton or West Windsor), have great commutes to the city since the train station is on the Northeast corridor (see houses near the Princeton Junction station). You will be able to pick up a 3000 sq ft house with half an acre land and great schools for around $750k. NJ taxes are less than NYC+NY State taxes.

freya

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2019, 09:13:30 AM »
NJ taxes are less than NYC+NY State taxes.

Be careful about that assumption.  NJ state taxes are actually higher than NYS, and NJ property taxes can be breathtaking compared to NY, ~$20K for a modest single family house for example.  You'd have to run the numbers for your situation to see how it pans out.  I'd considered moving across the river to Fort Lee, for example, but realized that even with cheaper housing, after factoring in the taxes, extra commuting costs, and the need to own a car, the move would come out so close to a wash that I decided it wasn't worth it.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2019, 10:09:12 AM »
NJ taxes are less than NYC+NY State taxes.

Be careful about that assumption.  NJ state taxes are actually higher than NYS, and NJ property taxes can be breathtaking compared to NY, ~$20K for a modest single family house for example.  You'd have to run the numbers for your situation to see how it pans out.  I'd considered moving across the river to Fort Lee, for example, but realized that even with cheaper housing, after factoring in the taxes, extra commuting costs, and the need to own a car, the move would come out so close to a wash that I decided it wasn't worth it.

I was talking about state income taxes.

Yes, property taxes are high. I do pay $16k/year for a house similar to what I describe in my post.

Do the numbers for your situation. Include city, state, property, and sales tax to find out which is better.

Quality of life in my Central NJ suburb is much better than the city, less traffic, great schools, multi-cultural a quick ride away from NYC or Philly.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2019, 10:12:48 AM by CowboyAndIndian »

affordablehousing

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2019, 11:00:04 AM »
I think the best value would be if you were willing to get a fixer upper rowhome in Flatbush. You could probably acquire for around $1MM then sink money into it as you go. Lots of competition for them but why not just dive in? The longer you wait, the further out you'll eventually be living.

Fomerly known as something

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #18 on: December 31, 2019, 05:29:14 PM »
Don't forget about the 2% city income tax if you live in the 5 boroughs.

Pick a house outside the city. Be open to NJ, and a lot of lower-cost options come up.

If you have kids, pick a good/great school district. For example, the schools in my area of Central Jersey are great (Princeton or West Windsor), have great commutes to the city since the train station is on the Northeast corridor (see houses near the Princeton Junction station). You will be able to pick up a 3000 sq ft house with half an acre land and great schools for around $750k. NJ taxes are less than NYC+NY State taxes.

I think it all depends on how much property taxes have gone up in the city.  I remember doing the Math in 2004 and I came out far ahead living in queens but paying city income tax because the property tax was very reasonable at about $2000 a year.  Also contributions to 401ks are taxed in NJ.  (At least they were again back in the early 2000s.

Arrian

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2020, 08:29:30 AM »
One point to make - You don't have to actually live in New York City - I am a long time resident of New Jersey and have been working in New York for almost thirty years. Houses and rents are generally more affordable and commuting by bus or train into Manhattan is not too bad.

Sure I grew up there (Passaic & Morris counties) and know it very well.

The commute into Brooklyn, where I'll be working, would be absolutely brutal. 1+ hr at a minimum, and at the mercy of the PATH's schedule. That's the largest reason not to move to NJ.

Arrian

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2020, 08:57:13 AM »
I think the best value would be if you were willing to get a fixer upper rowhome in Flatbush. You could probably acquire for around $1MM then sink money into it as you go. Lots of competition for them but why not just dive in? The longer you wait, the further out you'll eventually be living.

This is where I think we're headed - a fixer upper in a safe neighborhood relatively accessible to Downtown Brooklyn/ DUMBO. Bay Ridge, Windsor Terrace, Flatbush all look promising.

And totally agree with you waiting - the longer we wait the more expensive and further out we'll have to go.

It's not realistic that we live next door to where I work, but I'd like to keep it < 1 hr and via either mass transit or some combination of walking + bicycling.

Arrian

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2020, 09:07:09 AM »
I think it all depends on how much property taxes have gone up in the city.  I remember doing the Math in 2004 and I came out far ahead living in queens but paying city income tax because the property tax was very reasonable at about $2000 a year.  Also contributions to 401ks are taxed in NJ.  (At least they were again back in the early 2000s.

I had no idea 401k contributions were taxed in NJ. Talk about deincentivizing good behavior!

When we do the math right now, even with the lower cost of housing in NJ the economics favor Brooklyn after considering

  • increased property tax
  • commuting cost
  • car costs, inclusive (car insurance, maintenance, parking)
  • time spent commuting (1 hr+ ea way)

There are more good deals to be had in NJ if you look hard, but in the area within walking or bicycling distance to PATH stations (Newark, Hoboken, Jersey City) the discount in price PSF isn't much better than the non-hipster parts of Brooklyn anyway.

obstinate

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2020, 01:44:43 PM »
We moved to NYC about three years ago. We lived a little more than two years in Manhattan, but ultimately moved to Brooklyn. We live in Boerum Hill now.

I highly recommend looking outside Manhattan proper if money is an object. BHill is one of the more expensive parts of Brooklyn and we were still able to save about 30% of what it would have cost to live in e.g. Chelsea. That's just purchase price, mind, we also only pay about $900/mo in taxes, and some of the places we were looking at in Manhattan with the same amount of space were $2000+/mo. in taxes.

There are even more efficient places to live if you are willing to accept a slightly longer commute. Queens has been mentioned, but there are also further out parts of Brooklyn like Cobble Hill and Park Slope where the housing prices are significantly lower even than Boerum Hill, but the commute is only another ten to fifteen minutes longer. Especially in Cobble Hill, the schools are excellent.

I do think it's easiest to rent for a year because closing delays can be significant, and it's best to be able to hunt without time pressure, as impatience can be very expensive in NYC.

That being said, we know people who make on the order of what you make and can make it work. Worst comes to worst you could migrate to Scarsdale or elsewhere in Westchester if you can handle the 1h commute, and buy something very decent for ~$1M.

2sk22

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2020, 05:09:06 AM »
One point to make - You don't have to actually live in New York City - I am a long time resident of New Jersey and have been working in New York for almost thirty years. Houses and rents are generally more affordable and commuting by bus or train into Manhattan is not too bad.

Sure I grew up there (Passaic & Morris counties) and know it very well.

The commute into Brooklyn, where I'll be working, would be absolutely brutal. 1+ hr at a minimum, and at the mercy of the PATH's schedule. That's the largest reason not to move to NJ.

I work in Brooklyn nowadays myself and commute from Bergen county. The commute is not bad at all. I take a bus to Port Authority and then the A train to my office in Brooklyn. Its about an hour door to door. But this mainly because I live half a mile from the bus stop. The actual bus ride is only about 25 minutes usually.

freya

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2020, 07:21:36 AM »
2sk22, how much per month does that commute cost you?  The unlimited monthly subway pass is $127.  Add the bus on top of that and you're looking at ~$300, right?

I was lucky enough to pick a very pleasant, relatively low cost Manhattan neighborhood that's walking distance to work.  I don't own a car.  I looked into moving to NJ for the lower cost of housing and lower income taxes, but after I figured everything I realized it would not save me a dime and my quality of life would be greatly reduced (in my view...others may have different priorities).

Just saying that if you're considering moving to this area, I very much recommend starting out renting and carefully consider ALL costs for your personal situation before deciding on a place to live.    That's the take-home lesson from Pete A's blog posts:  you have to optimize the whole package, not just the one or two highly visible things.  That is considerably more complicated here in NYC than is the case just about everywhere else. 

2sk22

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #25 on: January 09, 2020, 08:00:21 AM »
2sk22, how much per month does that commute cost you?  The unlimited monthly subway pass is $127.  Add the bus on top of that and you're looking at ~$300, right?

I buy the NJ Transit 10 ride discount tickets and its $3.25 each way. II should note that I don't have to go into my office every day, I typically go in a couple of times a week. As a result, I have not found it worthwhile to buy unlimited subway passes or monthly bus passes.

You're right - each person has to work out their own best arrangement. My point is merely that some NJ suburbs (even those without train service) are viable options for commuters. There is one old guy who I am friends with who has been commuting by bus every day for the past 40 years to his accounting job in midtown.

tk2356

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #26 on: January 09, 2020, 08:22:38 PM »
We moved to North Brooklyn last year; household net income of ~100k and we save around 60k/year. We donít have a kid and scored a good housing deal (hdfc co-op), but even correcting for those differences you should be able to save a TON with that income.

We go to Trader Joeís probably twice a week: prices are barely higher than other citiesí TJís and so much cheaper than corner markets. Try to go when itís not as busy if your schedule is flexible. 

So many of our friends eat out constantly here ó even students. Cook at home, and make use of the plethora of happy hours available when you do want to go out. Try not to fall into the Uber/taxi trap like others do too. Podcasting/reading make the subway very doable.

Thereís a lot of quality off-broadway shows that are very affordable, and make use of free museum days. I second the public library. Buy a kindle and you can read pretty much anything for free via their > 100k ebooks.

Good luck with the move!!
« Last Edit: January 09, 2020, 08:24:23 PM by tk2356 »

2sk22

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #27 on: January 10, 2020, 02:45:42 AM »
So many of our friends eat out constantly here ó even students. Cook at home, and make use of the plethora of happy hours available when you do want to go out. Try not to fall into the Uber/taxi trap like others do too. Podcasting/reading make the subway very doable.

This is right on the mark! When you live in NYC, the temptation to order out is intense. Both my wife and I love cooking but when we lived in Manhattan years ago, we ordered out at least two or three times a week (and this was in the pre-internet era, its probably even worse now). And also agree with podcasts - my favorite way to pass time in bus/subway, especially with noise canceling earphones.

SailingOnASmallSailboat

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #28 on: January 10, 2020, 12:44:27 PM »
My biggest issue is there is not enough room in my fridge for a week's worth of food.. Sharing a fridge with 2 other people that is not even full size is tough. I am tempted to buy one of those freezer chests and converting it to a fridge.

Suggestion on the fridge/food thing: check out boat cookbooks. There's a lot of food that lives in fridges in the US that doesn't need to be in there - and people on boats have tiny tiny fridges. Mine is 40 quart (looks like a cooler) and I can have food for 10 days+ for a family of 4 in it. A friend of mine has a course/book out on "Living Well With a Tiny Fridge"

Arrian

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #29 on: January 13, 2020, 08:19:39 AM »
So many of our friends eat out constantly here ó even students. Cook at home, and make use of the plethora of happy hours available when you do want to go out. Try not to fall into the Uber/taxi trap like others do too. Podcasting/reading make the subway very doable.

This is right on the mark! When you live in NYC, the temptation to order out is intense. Both my wife and I love cooking but when we lived in Manhattan years ago, we ordered out at least two or three times a week (and this was in the pre-internet era, its probably even worse now). And also agree with podcasts - my favorite way to pass time in bus/subway, especially with noise canceling earphones.

Good call outs, thank you both.

Arrian

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #30 on: January 13, 2020, 08:22:34 AM »
Summarizing:
  • Housing is the single largest expense. Choose carefully. (Good values to be found on fixeruppers in places like Flatbush)
  • Make meals at home. Resist the going out culture.
  • Use the Public Library.

Anything I'm missing?

Hula Hoop

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #31 on: January 13, 2020, 09:25:18 AM »
If you must go out to eat, eat in Chinatown or other 'ethnic enclaves' in the various parts of NYC.  The Indian and Colombian food in Jackson Heights is also yummy. Also do your grocery shopping in these types of areas.

When you go out, take advantage of all the free/cheap things that are on around town.  Last time we were visiting my family in NYC we did a free kite making/flying workshop with the kids, played in some amazing free playgrounds, used ping pong tables etc for free in a park, listened to some world class street musicians and went to some outdoor concerts, took the Staten Island ferry, saw a movie in the park, and various other free things. 

Be aware that the Metropolitan Museum is still free for NY residents (ie they ask for a contribution, which could be any amount).  This also applies to the Cloisters. Your library card will do as proof of NY residence.

Avoid trendy things and avoid (rich) out of towners.  When I lived in NYC, I worked with a lot of people who were from other parts of the US or overseas who seemed to think that living in NYC meant drinking expensive cocktails, living in fashionable neighborhoods, going to expensive clubs and buying shoes all the time. Maybe they watched a bit too much 90s TV.  My native NYer friends are just normal people who happen to be from the city.  Much cheaper to hang out with them and grab a few beers in a dive bar in Queens.

Take the subway everywhere.  As a single woman in NY, I took it all the time even late at night.  Never had a problem.  I just made sure that there were other people around. 

freya

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #32 on: January 14, 2020, 07:40:14 AM »
Summarizing:
  • Housing is the single largest expense. Choose carefully. (Good values to be found on fixeruppers in places like Flatbush)
  • Make meals at home. Resist the going out culture.
  • Use the Public Library.

Anything I'm missing?

I did a piece on NYC in the relocation stickied thread.  There are lots of positives about being FIRED (or working towards that) in this city.

I was inspired by a friend of mine who FIRED and lives here (in Manhattan) quite happily.   When you househunt, look in neighborhoods that aren't fashionable (e.g. avoid the Upper West Side and Greenwich Village) and try to prioritize a decent sized kitchen so you will be less tempted to order out frequently.   We take advantage of happy hours and New York Restaurant Week to enjoy occasional restaurant experiences without breaking the bank.  A favorite weekend activity is to take the free ferry from Wall Street to IKEA in Red Hook.  My friend joined a community garden for $25/year and grows/preserves/freezes a lot of produce, definitely helps keep grocery costs down.  She's also a member of a choir.  My job doesn't permit me to join it (schedule is too demanding) so I volunteer to usher at the concerts.  Apart from this there are lots of opportunities to enjoy classical music in an intimate setting for very little or no $$:  house concerts, free performances at the Julliard School, local churches and events at two neighborhood coop apartment complexes.  There are also meetup groups for things like playing scrabble on weeknights, or I was thinking of getting together a group in my building.  Endless possibilities.

For transportation, I use primarily the subway, bike or walking.  Since I walk to work, I don't get the unlimited ride cards.  Don't get into the habit of taking Ubers everywhere. I've found Via to be a very useful and lower cost option when needed.

Basically if you think just a bit outside the box, plan carefully, and enjoy life's simple pleasures you can live a pretty frugal existence here.

Daisyedwards800

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #33 on: January 15, 2020, 07:17:51 AM »
One more bit of advice.  Even if you are good with credit cards, there is SO much temptation in NYC for any activity or any food or any experience that it can be hard to resist.  Suggest not doing the credit card game here at least until you know you have good willpower not to do much.

historienne

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Re: Moving to NYC. How to stay on FIRE track?
« Reply #34 on: January 16, 2020, 10:10:25 AM »
Do you have kids, or foresee having them?  If so, there's a whole other set of issues to think about (daycare, schools, etc).  If you're pretty sure you don't want kids, you'll get the best value in places with a reputation for bad schools; no need to pay a school-district premium if you don't need it.  Brooklyn is in the process of a big school districting reorganization right now, so things are somewhat in flux anyway, but location of residence still plays a role.