Author Topic: Different Cities, Same Salary: Comparing The Lifestyle Of Two Twentysomethings  (Read 12949 times)

mustachejd

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http://www.buzzfeed.com/alisonvingiano/how-do-two-22-year-olds-in-different-cities-survive-on-less

There are pictures, but I only copied and pasted the text:

Despite New York Cityís reputation for being the most expensive city in the nation, recent college graduates swarm the city each summer, looking for jobs, apartments, and the start of a new, glamorous life.

Considering the average apartment in Brooklyn is now reported at $3,035, itís not always easy to establish yourself.

Twenty-two-year-old Madeleine Harrington of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, makes slightly less than Brooklynís average median income of $32,135, racking in $31,000 a year working two part-time jobs. Harrington also pays less in rent than Brooklynís average: Her home costs only $2,000 a month. Still out of her price range, the two-bedroom apartment has been converted into a three-bedroom, although the additional room is ďquestionable.Ē There are no walls, and you have to walk through it to reach the bathroom.

While this might be standard for a NYC lifestyle, it is an anomaly in other parts of the country: In Waco, Texas, for example, the average cost of a two-bedroom apartment is just $683. Mia Francis, 22, of Waco, makes well over her cityís average of $26,264, pulling in $33,000 a year, and is able to live in a spacious three-bedroom, two-bathroom house, equipped with a backyard, patio, washing machine, and a driveway for her car. The monthly rent is $900, and she splits it evenly with her fiancť.

Of course, there are incredible opportunities in New York City and other big cities that are unavailable elsewhere. Is the payoff worth it?

Here is how Mia and Madeleine live off their average salaries of $32,000.

Mia Francis, 22, Waco, Texas

Waco, located in between Dallas and Austin, has a population of approximately 124,805.
Mia lives in a three-bedroom house with her fiancť, who is an airplane mechanic, and their two dogs, Juliet and Storm. The total monthly rent is $900.
There are two full bathrooms, a kitchen with a dishwasher, a washer and dryer, and a backyard with a patio. Including utilities, she pays $500 a month.

Salary: $33,000/year
Rent: $450/month
Utilities: Approx. $50/month

Whatís your job?
I am the project & royalty coordinator for WRS Group, a leading manufacturer of health education products. I am the liaison between our marketing and editorial departments, and I coordinate the production of our three catalogues.

Whatís your commute like?
I have a 20-minute commute to work via car (but there is almost never any traffic here).

How much money do you save?
Right now, I am saving for my wedding! After student loans, paying off wedding vendors, and medical bills, there isnít much left to save. I make sure to leave some money aside to buy a book or two per month, and I love taking trips to Dallas and Austin, which are both an hour and a half away in each direction.

Whatís your biggest splurge?
Hardcover new releases and furniture! Right now, Iím paying off this massive sofa sectional that I put on layaway right after I got my first paycheck. It was a little over $1,000. Next, Iím buying a washer and dryer (since laundromats are expensive and a pain ó itís about $1.25 per load to wash). After that, Iím buying a dining room table.

Do your parents help foot your bills?
My parents donít provide any money toward my bills ó Iím making enough to meet all of my needs, and most of my wants ó but they are helping with the wedding expenses, and that is a huge help.

How many different types of food can you get delivered to your house?
There arenít many places that offer different types of food. There was a Vietnamese restaurant that served the best pho, but it closed down a few months ago. If you want something delivered, Iíve found that my choices are pretty limited. Waco has some very interesting, eclectic places that serve great Southern and Tex-Mex fusion.

How often do you eat out?
Only on the weekends. At my favorite restaurant, an order of steak fajitas (serving two) costs around $15. A taco is usually under a dollar. Food is cheap here, and during the week, I like to eat at home.

Where do you buy your food?
I shop at HEB, which is a Texas institution, but to others, itís just a grocery store. I prefer to shop at Whole Foods for my pets and myself, but the nearest one is about an hour away, so I often find myself at HEB. My grocery bill is around $200 a month.

How far away is the closest bar?
The closest bar is about a 10-minute drive from my home ó at a bar, beer costs around $3Ė$4, and a cocktail is around $5Ė$6. Itís typically higher in a restaurant.

What about the cityís culture? Whatís the closest museum?
Waco is the home of Dr. Pepper! There are about five or six major museums in town, but the closest, the Dr. Pepper Museum, is about a 10-minute drive.

Relationship status?
Engaged!

Madeleine Harrington, 22, Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn is New York Cityís most populated borough, with 2.5 million residents.
Madeleine lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, in a two-bedroom apartment that houses three people.
The third room is questionable ó there is no wall between it and the living room, and you have to walk through it to reach the bathroom.
Her room fits a full-sized bed and has a large closet. There is one window that faces a busy highway. Including utilities, she pays $900 a month.

Salary: $31,000
Rent: $750/month
Utilities: $150

Job: I work two part-time jobs. My first is at Primary Research Group, a textbook publishing company. My second job is at the ESA Foundation, a nonprofit.

Whatís your commute like?
I take the subway to both of my jobs. My first job takes 50 minutes to an hour [to get to], because the C train is terrible. My second job takes 40 minutes.

Approximately how much money do you save a month?
I budgeted this out once and I came to the rough calculations of having a $24 or $25 daily budget. On a good day, I spend about $8; on average, about $15; on Fridays and Saturdays, about $40. So Iím going to calculate that the answer is not much.

Whatís your biggest splurge?
MakeupÖespecially $56 blush and a brush from Sephora.

Do your parents help foot your bills?
No, but they would. Iím currently part of their health insurance plan, since I donít have a full-time job.

How many different types of food can you get delivered to your apartment?
All the foods. Our immediate neighborhood is very Polish, but weíre also 10 minutes from the hub of Williamsburg, which means everything else. The hot Cubano, which is a vegan Cuban sandwich from Champs Vegan Bakery, costs $9. I think about it often.

How often do you eat out?
I only really eat out on weekends, but I will definitely get at least one premade meal throughout the week and unlimited pizza and bagels. I do pride myself on packing a lunch the night before literally every day of the workweek. No matter how drunk I come home, I will sautť that kale or boil that fucking egg.

Where do you buy your food?
If Iím feeling ambitious/responsible, I go to the Trader Joeís at the beginning of the week and get everything there. I have yet to see a better offer than a $1.99 jar of pesto. However, I tend to go to the overpriced grocery stores in my neighborhood.

Where is the closest bar?
The closest bar is about 30 feet away from our apartment. The closest bar I actually go to is a 10-minute walk. Beers and gin and tonics are $5. They have sandwiches and thereís a backyard. Iím set.

Whatís the closest museum to your apartment?
If weíre not counting the infinite surplus of independently run galleries in the Bushwick/Greenpoint area, then Iím pretty positive itís MoMA PS1, which is in Long Island City, several stops away on the train.

Relationship status?
OkCupid second date.

Where would you rather live?

Watchmaker

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Between those two?  Brooklyn.

mustachejd

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Ditto on Texas.  Only I would move to Dallas or Austin =P.

serpentstooth: And I'm glad your life is different than the Brooklyn gal.  $50+ on a makeup brush?  C'mon.

mustachejd

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NYC can be pricey, but the one huge advantage it has over other US cities is the amount of free stuff for the taking.  When I lived in Manhattan and was a twentysomething, I became an expert at finding free events with free alcohol and food.  While I generally fended for myself for breakfast and lunch, weeks would go by before I spent money on dinner and entertainment.  There were tons of gallery openings and restaurant and store promotions - and all I had to do was show up looking relatively nice! 


 

capital

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This is a comparison between two very different people at very different places in their lives, despite being the same age and having the same wage. Professional salaries probably don't get all that much higher in Waco, with its county having an average weekly wage of $756, versus an average weekly wage of $2,464 in Manhattan. The Waco-ite has her shit together, whereas the Brooklyinite is just stringing together a couple jobs. There probably aren't that many shit-together 22-year-olds in NYC making $32k.

There's also absolutely no need for a car in NYC, and the Brooklynite is paying a premium to live in a hip neighborhood and getting ripped off on utilities, especially when she's splitting them with three roommates. Rent is pretty much the only mandatory bill here, unlike places where missing the car payment means you're trapped.

So long as you don't need or want a lot of living space, Brooklyn is a fine place to live. It'd be better if they allowed enough housing construction for rents to go down, but even as-is things ain't bad. And there are always Queens and the Bronx for the budget-minded.

And there are, indeed, a ton of free events with free food and drink, and in many neighborhoods people leave stuff they don't want outside their buildings on weekend mornings so you can go shopping for free.

Jamesqf

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Some of the questions asked seem...  Well, really strange from my point of view.  Like how many kinds of food you can get delivered?  You're young and presumably healthy, but living on a budget: why would you pay to have food delivered instead of going to pick it up?  Assuming, of course, that you don't take the more Mustachian course of cooking yourself :-)

The_Captain

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I'd definitely prefer the city. No matter how many times people point out you can get really cheap living in the middle of nowhere, I know my preference for living somewhere dense trumps the pain of paying the higher living costs. Besides, I desperately want to avoid owning and using cars as much as possible. I live in Toronto, where I can bike to pretty much anything I could possibly need, and I'm 20 minutes away by bike from my job and a bunch of other potential jobs in my field. I could be saving a ton moving out to the suburbs but I'd be trading it for giant, soul sucking commutes. There's really only one small city nearby that does work in my field, and I might consider moving there some day when I need room for a family and can't rely on the small city apartments, but my # 1 priorities will always revolve around making my life efficient with regards to getting to work & stuff I want to do.

Eric

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What about the cityís culture? Whatís the closest museum?
Waco is the home of Dr. Pepper! There are about five or six major museums in town, but the closest, the Dr. Pepper Museum, is about a 10-minute drive.

Hahahahahahahaaha *gasp* Hahahahahahahaha

Yes, of course, the home of Dr. Pepper has a Dr. Pepper museum.  Now that is some culture right there.

mbk

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I did an interview for a position at Baylor University, Waco at the beginning of this year.
Its a small city with nothing interesting (practically boring). But the opportunities
to save money are great. If you are university employee, your kids education is free.
Plus, if you live within the vicinity of university, you can manage without a car. There is a bus
to that small HEB mentioned. There is a river which goes thr' the city and there are lot of scenic
spots for hiking and picnics. Plus you will always find  entertainment in university towns.

voidmain

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A pretty poorly done article IMO. Of course your money goes further in Waco then NYC. It would be much more informative to compare people with similar jobs and similar levels of experience. And they don't discuss one factor that tends to be in favor of the NYC resident, transit costs.

capital

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The culture of NYC in many ways actively discourages people in their twenties from being the sort of people who have their shit together, particularly for anyone in "creative" type fields like Madeline.
Whereas the culture of Texas encourages the purchase of large trucks and houses, as well as early marriages which often lead to early divorce:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/fashion/weddings/new-jersey-has-lowest-divorce-rate.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

grantmeaname

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as well as early marriages which often lead to early divorce
That's pretty much only the cause for people who get married at 18. Even 21-year-olds get divorced at the same rate as those marrying at the average age.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 06:51:30 PM by grantmeaname »

Osprey

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This is interesting, although the article was definitely pushing an angle.
Ok so. What happens when the 1/3 apartment lady falls in love with her OKCupid guy and wants to have a kid? All I know of NYC is what I've seen on TV. Do you lug your baby to gallery openings and whatnot so that it can take in the culture and free food? Really curious, not trolling.
I'd take the city if I were single, it looks like you could save a lot of $$.

capital

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This is interesting, although the article was definitely pushing an angle.
Ok so. What happens when the 1/3 apartment lady falls in love with her OKCupid guy and wants to have a kid? All I know of NYC is what I've seen on TV. Do you lug your baby to gallery openings and whatnot so that it can take in the culture and free food? Really curious, not trolling.
I'd take the city if I were single, it looks like you could save a lot of $$.
Depends on the parent, but maybe. My cousin, who's an artist, brought his new baby to his opening and he was the star of the show. He takes him on long walks to parks and museums and stuff too, since his schedule is flexible.

Things definitely can get expensive if you're a parent in the cityó apartments and extra bedrooms and day care can apparently get really expensive, especially in desireable neighborhoods, and rich people engaging in competitive parenting like to spend $40k+ per year for private schools or hundreds of thousands of dollars for an extra bedroom in a place like Park Slope, a popular neighborhood for parents. The most inescapable thing is high housing costs, though it's not unusual for even rich kids to share a bedroom in the city, and for rich families not to own cars. Just like anywhere else, it's a matter of being concious about costs.

MrsPete

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Captain, you can rent or buy a house inexpensively in the middle of nowhere, but rural life comes with quite a few other expenses -- things that aren't so evident at first glance.  A car is a necessity and the miles pile up quickly, larger yards = more time and money, less competition among retailers = higher prices, some services that are available in the city must be provided by the individual (i.e., city water vs. having your own well).  It does add up. 

I was raised out in the middle of nowhere, and right now we're considering where we want to live when we retire.  I half-way want to go back to the quiet and privacy, but the extra costs and the work involved are considerations.   I keep making lists, but I don't know where we'll end up. 

oldtoyota

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The thing I don't get--and what I've never found a great answer to--is how to handle the job uncertainty in smaller towns. If you work in a company town--or a town with not that many jobs--how do you recover from job loss?

I used to live in a verrrry small town with one employer. Even though I did not lose my job, the experience soured me on the idea of ever living in a "company" town again.

galliver

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Isn't it nice that there are cities besides NYC and SF, cities in which rents are not $2k for a dilapidated 1BR? So you can get your preferred environment without the extortion?

Chicago isn't exactly the dumps as far as cities go, and the rents are within the realm of reason. http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=Chicago+rent Not representative of fancy neighborhoods, but decent ones. Jibes with experiences of friends looking for housing recently.

Similarly, I'm sure there better-located places with COL similar to Waco, TX.

mgreczyn

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Captain, you can rent or buy a house inexpensively in the middle of nowhere, but rural life comes with quite a few other expenses -- things that aren't so evident at first glance.  A car is a necessity and the miles pile up quickly, larger yards = more time and money, less competition among retailers = higher prices, some services that are available in the city must be provided by the individual (i.e., city water vs. having your own well).  It does add up. 

I was raised out in the middle of nowhere, and right now we're considering where we want to live when we retire.  I half-way want to go back to the quiet and privacy, but the extra costs and the work involved are considerations.   I keep making lists, but I don't know where we'll end up.
It seems that megacity vs desolate wilderness is a false dichotomy.  There are TONS of places in between where you can get 70-80% of the culture and action of an NYC or San Francisco at a much lower cost.  Medium sized cities where you can get an extra bedroom or two for a reasonable price, not need a car for everything and still have plenty of things to do nearby.  Of course, those places will never BE NYC or San Francisco, so one just needs to decide if the place matters more than the lifestyle and act accordingly.

ace1224

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they seem like polar opposites on purpose.....what about the option of a suburb outside of a city.  but if i had to pick i would pick texas based on the simple fact that i severely dislike crowds of people.  i went to NYC once, it was sensory overload and i couldn't wait to get home.  it sounds awesome, its just not for me.

capital

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Isn't it nice that there are cities besides NYC and SF, cities in which rents are not $2k for a dilapidated 1BR? So you can get your preferred environment without the extortion?
The high rents don't happen through magic, though: the salaries in the right industries in NYC and SF are high enough to enable people to bid apartments up to ludicrious prices. Even if your housing expenses are unreasonable, those same high salaries can enable a very high savings rate, especially if you're a young person with simple tastes who doesn't need much space.

galliver

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Isn't it nice that there are cities besides NYC and SF, cities in which rents are not $2k for a dilapidated 1BR? So you can get your preferred environment without the extortion?
The high rents don't happen through magic, though: the salaries in the right industries in NYC and SF are high enough to enable people to bid apartments up to ludicrious prices. Even if your housing expenses are unreasonable, those same high salaries can enable a very high savings rate, especially if you're a young person with simple tastes who doesn't need much space.

Sure, but I think there's still a bit of a...bubble mentality, if you will? People crowd to those places because "OMG the jobs! The paycheck is enormous, I can afford the rent!" But if you do the math, it doesn't, at least at the standard of living they would like to maintain (I'm not talking super-fancy, either. Just safe neighborhood, newer building/no mold, stuff like that). Maybe I'm wrong.

randymarsh

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It seems that megacity vs desolate wilderness is a false dichotomy.  There are TONS of places in between where you can get 70-80% of the culture and action of an NYC or San Francisco at a much lower cost.  Medium sized cities where you can get an extra bedroom or two for a reasonable price, not need a car for everything and still have plenty of things to do nearby.  Of course, those places will never BE NYC or San Francisco, so one just needs to decide if the place matters more than the lifestyle and act accordingly.

Agreed. By NYC standards, I probably live in the wilderness because I'm surrounded by corn fields. But big box stores/bars/grocery are 10 minutes away. You do need a car where I live - rural area near a city of 60,000, but as a mustachian you wouldn't have to drive it much.

Move an hour away to Columbus and you still have low cost living with more culture (university), access to jobs, and an airport nearby.

Unless you're earning a superstar salary in one of those big cities, I'd bet you'll do better financially living in an area like this. These smaller cities can offer comparable income too - plenty of households here with 100K incomes for those with education or in the right field.

capital

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Sure, but I think there's still a bit of a...bubble mentality, if you will? People crowd to those places because "OMG the jobs! The paycheck is enormous, I can afford the rent!" But if you do the math, it doesn't, at least at the standard of living they would like to maintain (I'm not talking super-fancy, either. Just safe neighborhood, newer building/no mold, stuff like that). Maybe I'm wrong.
New York is a very safe city overall these days, with a lot of nice neighborhoods, especially if you don't need to think about schools. Its murder rate is apparently a bit under that of Witchita, and apparently the lowest rates of property crime and burglary in the country (that's actually even shocking to me). The buildings themselves aren't new, but developers generally do a lot of renovations when jacking up the rents, and most were very solidly built. People generally pay extra for 'original detail', in fact. And pretty much every normal young person doesn't have a car and lives with roommates, so there's no social pressure to spend money in those categories.

I'm from the Midwest and I've seen a lot of it, and definitely agree it has a lot of nice places to live with quality arts and cultural opportunities. But $100k in income for a household isn't all that much compared to the average Manhattan wage (for one person!) of ~$125k. Smart, hardworking friends back home who studied the same things I did make tens of thousands of dollars less. High wages are less common amongst freelance writers and other people producing the media these days, so the common cultural image of life in New York City is that of the struggling young creative. The city also offers plenty of opportunities to squander your income, but no one requires you to.

Of course, you don't have to live in one place your whole lifeó you can live in NYC when you don't need or want much more than a room to yourself, and then buy a house elsewhere (in cash, using what would be a down payment in NYC) if you want more space or to retire early. And you'll have made enough business contacts that you might well be able to work remotely at an NYC salary.

Obviously living in a big city isn't for everyone, nor should it be (especially with bad policy strangling the housing supply in high-wage cities like NY, SF, and DC, leading to the high rents we all lament). But many big cities are clusters of high-productivity employment with wages to match, and if you want to save up a lot of money, they're not a bad place to be. Saving 50% of $125k gets you to early retirement much more quickly than saving 60% of $60k if both savers retire in the same low-cost area.

Jamesqf

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Regarding transit being cheaper in NYC than in places where you pretty much need a car...  Well, I was curious, and so looked for info on transit costs.  Here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_transit_fares it says that a bus or subway ride costs anywhere from $2.50 to $7.50 (unless you qualify for some sort of reduced fare).  Double that, and that's $5-$15 per day for commute to & from work. 

Now figure that my car (older, very good mpg) costs less than $1/day for insurance & registration, plus under $0.10/mile for gas &c, so I could do a 20 mile one-way commute for less than minimum NYC transit cost.  Of course I could spend much more on an expensive gas-guzzler, but that's a lifestyle choice, just as your denizen of the Big Apple could spend money on taxi fares, limo services, even helicopter commuting.

New York is a very safe city overall these days, with a lot of nice neighborhoods, especially if you don't need to think about schools. Its murder rate is apparently a bit under that of Witchita...

But deliberate murder is hardly the only factor in safety.  There are, for instance, the drivers.  I admit my one experience may not be typical, but honestly, is there another place in this country where a bus driver who finds a garbage truck partially blocking the entrance to the parking lot he intends to enter, would think the appropriate course of action is to make the turn anyway, ramming the middle of the bus into the truck?  And then back up and do the same again?  And again, and again?

msilenus

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Now figure that my car (older, very good mpg) costs less than $1/day for insurance & registration, plus under $0.10/mile for gas &c...

$.10/mile is difficult to credit.  Vehicle cost plus maintenance alone (no gas) for $.10/mile is doing really, really well.  If you're getting 35 MPG, that's $.084/gallon even in the cheapest parts of the country.

galliver

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Regarding transit being cheaper in NYC than in places where you pretty much need a car...  Well, I was curious, and so looked for info on transit costs.  Here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_transit_fares it says that a bus or subway ride costs anywhere from $2.50 to $7.50 (unless you qualify for some sort of reduced fare).  Double that, and that's $5-$15 per day for commute to & from work. 

Now figure that my car (older, very good mpg) costs less than $1/day for insurance & registration, plus under $0.10/mile for gas &c, so I could do a 20 mile one-way commute for less than minimum NYC transit cost.  Of course I could spend much more on an expensive gas-guzzler, but that's a lifestyle choice, just as your denizen of the Big Apple could spend money on taxi fares, limo services, even helicopter commuting.

New York is a very safe city overall these days, with a lot of nice neighborhoods, especially if you don't need to think about schools. Its murder rate is apparently a bit under that of Witchita...

But deliberate murder is hardly the only factor in safety.  There are, for instance, the drivers.  I admit my one experience may not be typical, but honestly, is there another place in this country where a bus driver who finds a garbage truck partially blocking the entrance to the parking lot he intends to enter, would think the appropriate course of action is to make the turn anyway, ramming the middle of the bus into the truck?  And then back up and do the same again?  And again, and again?

Parking. You're forgetting parking. Also that bus driver sounds like he had issues...

mgreczyn

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JamesQF, people who commute daily usually just buy s monthly unlimited pass, which is $112, and often pre-tax at that.
Ahem, not to take sides or quibble, but that's $5.60 per workday.  Still great, mind you, but he did say $5 - $15 per day.

Jamesqf

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Now figure that my car (older, very good mpg) costs less than $1/day for insurance & registration, plus under $0.10/mile for gas &c...

$.10/mile is difficult to credit.  Vehicle cost plus maintenance alone (no gas) for $.10/mile is doing really, really well.  If you're getting 35 MPG, that's $.084/gallon even in the cheapest parts of the country.

But I did say very good mpg.  35 mpg to me is barely acceptable.  I'm currently averaging 71.2 mpg (for over 120K miles), so say 5 cents/mile for gas.  Maintenance is cheap: it's a Honda, so very little is required, and I do it myself.

Parking. You're forgetting parking.

No, I wasn't really forgetting it.  You see, in most of those places where you really need a car (like where I live) parking doesn't cost anything :-)

Anyway, I'm sure we could quibble about details, and work out costs for particular locations to fractions of a cent, but the point I was trying to make is that there really doesn't have to be all that much difference if you approach it with a suitably Mustachian mindset.

galliver

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Now figure that my car (older, very good mpg) costs less than $1/day for insurance & registration, plus under $0.10/mile for gas &c...

$.10/mile is difficult to credit.  Vehicle cost plus maintenance alone (no gas) for $.10/mile is doing really, really well.  If you're getting 35 MPG, that's $.084/gallon even in the cheapest parts of the country.

But I did say very good mpg.  35 mpg to me is barely acceptable.  I'm currently averaging 71.2 mpg (for over 120K miles), so say 5 cents/mile for gas.  Maintenance is cheap: it's a Honda, so very little is required, and I do it myself.

Parking. You're forgetting parking.

No, I wasn't really forgetting it.  You see, in most of those places where you really need a car (like where I live) parking doesn't cost anything :-)

Anyway, I'm sure we could quibble about details, and work out costs for particular locations to fractions of a cent, but the point I was trying to make is that there really doesn't have to be all that much difference if you approach it with a suitably Mustachian mindset.


I thought we were comparing commuting to car owning in NYC/big cities?

Jamesqf

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I thought we were comparing commuting to car owning in NYC/big cities?

Wasn't my intention (depending on your definition of "big city", of course).  I was following the original post, and comparing NYC to someplace like Waco, or even smaller.

And on the weekends you never go anywhere if you're a car owner? An unlimited metrocard breaks even at 48 rides. Figure 20 working days a month, plus one round trip per weekend.

This assumes that the places you want to go on weekends are within reach of the NYC bus/subway.  If what you want to do on weekends is to get out of the city (which would be true for me, whether I lived in NYC or Waco), you would have to figure additional costs for that.  So as a car owner in Waco, some part of the overhead of keeping a car falls under the recreation part of the budget, further reducing the differential cost of a Waco+car commute vs an NYC+mass transit one.

msilenus

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Now figure that my car (older, very good mpg) costs less than $1/day for insurance & registration, plus under $0.10/mile for gas &c...

$.10/mile is difficult to credit.  Vehicle cost plus maintenance alone (no gas) for $.10/mile is doing really, really well.  If you're getting 35 MPG, that's $.084/gallon even in the cheapest parts of the country.

But I did say very good mpg.  35 mpg to me is barely acceptable.  I'm currently averaging 71.2 mpg (for over 120K miles), so say 5 cents/mile for gas.  Maintenance is cheap: it's a Honda, so very little is required, and I do it myself.

Okay, I'm going to go back and fix up your previous post now:

Quote from: Jamesqf
Now figure that my car (older, I get more than seventy MPG because I hyper-mile it that aggressively) costs less than $1/day for insurance & registration, plus under $0.10/mile for gas &c, so I could do a 20 mile one-way commute for less than minimum NYC transit cost.  Of course I could spend much more on an expensive gas-guzzler, but that's a lifestyle choice, just as your denizen of the Big Apple could spend money on taxi fares, limo services, even helicopter commuting.

I still doubt that you're getting ten cents a mile -even doing your own maintenance, and hypremiling up the wazoo of a semi everywhere you go.  But whatever.  Let's grant that.  You originally implied above that it's sufficient to just pick a hunble high-MPG car (make a simple thrifty lifestyle choice.)  That's not true.  To get anywhere near what you'd have to make a radical lifestyle choice to drive a car so as to get 71 MPG out of it.  And sustaining that for 100k+ miles?  Sorry: I don't buy that there is a safe way to get that kind of mileage out of everyday driving.  (Please get health insurance if you're going to do that.  :D)

I'm impressed though.  I can barely squeeze 50 out of our Prius for any sustained period of time.  Just learning how to pulse and glide, but I can't do that on many of our roads without single-handedly congesting them.

Jamesqf

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I still doubt that you're getting ten cents a mile -even doing your own maintenance, and hypremiling up the wazoo of a semi everywhere you go.

I don't keep any sort of detailed records, so (as I think I said) ten cents/mile is a guess.  I don't think it's wildly off, though.  As for hypermiling, I don't, beyond some obvious things like not racing up to red lights and slamming on the brakes.  Now I might get up the wazoo of a semi, except that I seldom have the opportunity.  Rural roads, mountain roads, not much semi traffic, and usually going way slower than I want to.  (Used to do it when I drove to the Bay Area regularly, but that's because if I left more than a car length between me and the vehicle ahead, some Californian would cut in.)

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To get anywhere near what you'd have to make a radical lifestyle choice to drive a car so as to get 71 MPG out of it.

Sorry, but could you tell me exactly what my radical lifestyle choice is here?  To buy a small, economical 2-seat hatchback instead of a 4-door sedan or SUV, when I'm a single guy?  Not to do street racing, or think that my manhood depends on a big engine or jacked-up suspension?  OK, maybe these aren't what the majority does, but I think that just makes me more sensible than them.

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And sustaining that for 100k+ miles?  Sorry: I don't buy that there is a safe way to get that kind of mileage out of everyday driving.

Sorry, but I've done it, and quite safely too.  Only car accident I've ever had was when I was stopped at the end of a line of traffic in a left-turn lane, and some idiot rear-ended me.  No injuries to me, or my dog who was riding with me.

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I'm impressed though.  I can barely squeeze 50 out of our Prius for any sustained period of time.  Just learning how to pulse and glide, but I can't do that on many of our roads without single-handedly congesting them.

Prius = 4-door sedan, no?  Bigger, heavier car, lower mpg.  I used to get around 45 mpg out of my old CRX, driving it like the sports car it was.  Nor am I really a fan of P&G, especially in a hybrid.  Though I suppose you could say I do a long pulse up the mountain, and a long glide down.

capital

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We've established that an incredibly thrifty car owner who does their own maintenance and specifically seeks out a car that hasn't been made in ten years or so can have the similar transportation costs to the average NYC subway commuter. But the average NYC subway commuter has far-lower transportation costs than the average car owner, and the thrifty in NYC can ride their bikes or walk just about everywhere, which will still be far cheaper than driving.

And a lot of those NYC subway commuters are making significantly more money.

dragoncar

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I still doubt that you're getting ten cents a mile -even doing your own maintenance, and hypremiling up the wazoo of a semi everywhere you go.

I don't keep any sort of detailed records, so (as I think I said) ten cents/mile is a guess.  I don't think it's wildly off, though.  As for hypermiling, I don't, beyond some obvious things like not racing up to red lights and slamming on the brakes.  Now I might get up the wazoo of a semi, except that I seldom have the opportunity.  Rural roads, mountain roads, not much semi traffic, and usually going way slower than I want to.  (Used to do it when I drove to the Bay Area regularly, but that's because if I left more than a car length between me and the vehicle ahead, some Californian would cut in.)

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To get anywhere near what you'd have to make a radical lifestyle choice to drive a car so as to get 71 MPG out of it.

Sorry, but could you tell me exactly what my radical lifestyle choice is here?  To buy a small, economical 2-seat hatchback instead of a 4-door sedan or SUV, when I'm a single guy?  Not to do street racing, or think that my manhood depends on a big engine or jacked-up suspension?  OK, maybe these aren't what the majority does, but I think that just makes me more sensible than them.

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And sustaining that for 100k+ miles?  Sorry: I don't buy that there is a safe way to get that kind of mileage out of everyday driving.

Sorry, but I've done it, and quite safely too.  Only car accident I've ever had was when I was stopped at the end of a line of traffic in a left-turn lane, and some idiot rear-ended me.  No injuries to me, or my dog who was riding with me.

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I'm impressed though.  I can barely squeeze 50 out of our Prius for any sustained period of time.  Just learning how to pulse and glide, but I can't do that on many of our roads without single-handedly congesting them.

Prius = 4-door sedan, no?  Bigger, heavier car, lower mpg.  I used to get around 45 mpg out of my old CRX, driving it like the sports car it was.  Nor am I really a fan of P&G, especially in a hybrid.  Though I suppose you could say I do a long pulse up the mountain, and a long glide down.

It's not very believable to get 71 MPG without hypermiling.  I'd say that whatever you are doing qualifies as "hypermiling" if you really get 71 MPG.  Unless all your trips just happen to be in the exact optimal RPM/gear ratio and you never have to stop. 

Jamesqf

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We've established that an incredibly thrifty car owner who does their own maintenance and specifically seeks out a car that hasn't been made in ten years or so can have the similar transportation costs to the average NYC subway commuter. But the average NYC subway commuter has far-lower transportation costs than the average car owner...

Now you're making the assumption that those NYC folks only ride the subway, which I'd say is pretty equivalent to me driving an efficient car.   In other words, it's the low end of the (non-bike or walk) transit.
How often does the average NYC commuter take taxis &c, boosting their transport costs.  As I said in the beginning, I'm looking at what is reasonably possible for a Mustachian, not how much costs can be bumped up by lifestyle choices.

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...and the thrifty in NYC can ride their bikes or walk just about everywhere, which will still be far cheaper than driving.

Well, so can I, if by "everywhere" you mean reasonable (for me) bike rides to stores, library, etc.  Telecommuting (which is how I get to work) is possible in both places.  Now there are a lot of places I choose to go to that I couldn't readily get to by bike (at least with the dogs), but New Yorkers couldn't get to similar places without driving, either.

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And a lot of those NYC subway commuters are making significantly more money.

Maybe, maybe not.  If you look at what I could be making if I chose to work a 40 hour week (or more, as many highly-paid New Yorkers seem to do), and the cost of living differences, I think I'd be pretty close to NYC average.

It's not very believable to get 71 MPG without hypermiling.  I'd say that whatever you are doing qualifies as "hypermiling" if you really get 71 MPG.  Unless all your trips just happen to be in the exact optimal RPM/gear ratio and you never have to stop. 

Well, I do it.  If you choose not to believe it, that's your problem.  Though you are close to right about the never stopping part.  One of the benefits of living fairly rural is that I don't need to stop much.  As for instance, going to visit friends about 60 miles from me, I make at most 3 stops, two if I time the one traffic light correctly.

dragoncar

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We've established that an incredibly thrifty car owner who does their own maintenance and specifically seeks out a car that hasn't been made in ten years or so can have the similar transportation costs to the average NYC subway commuter. But the average NYC subway commuter has far-lower transportation costs than the average car owner...

Now you're making the assumption that those NYC folks only ride the subway, which I'd say is pretty equivalent to me driving an efficient car.   In other words, it's the low end of the (non-bike or walk) transit.
How often does the average NYC commuter take taxis &c, boosting their transport costs.  As I said in the beginning, I'm looking at what is reasonably possible for a Mustachian, not how much costs can be bumped up by lifestyle choices.

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...and the thrifty in NYC can ride their bikes or walk just about everywhere, which will still be far cheaper than driving.

Well, so can I, if by "everywhere" you mean reasonable (for me) bike rides to stores, library, etc.  Telecommuting (which is how I get to work) is possible in both places.  Now there are a lot of places I choose to go to that I couldn't readily get to by bike (at least with the dogs), but New Yorkers couldn't get to similar places without driving, either.

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And a lot of those NYC subway commuters are making significantly more money.

Maybe, maybe not.  If you look at what I could be making if I chose to work a 40 hour week (or more, as many highly-paid New Yorkers seem to do), and the cost of living differences, I think I'd be pretty close to NYC average.

It's not very believable to get 71 MPG without hypermiling.  I'd say that whatever you are doing qualifies as "hypermiling" if you really get 71 MPG.  Unless all your trips just happen to be in the exact optimal RPM/gear ratio and you never have to stop. 

Well, I do it.  If you choose not to believe it, that's your problem.  Though you are close to right about the never stopping part.  One of the benefits of living fairly rural is that I don't need to stop much.  As for instance, going to visit friends about 60 miles from me, I make at most 3 stops, two if I time the one traffic light correctly.

Sounds like you are using techniques to increase your fuel efficiency, aka "hypermiling"

mgreczyn

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JamesQF, people who commute daily usually just buy s monthly unlimited pass, which is $112, and often pre-tax at that.
Ahem, not to take sides or quibble, but that's $5.60 per workday.  Still great, mind you, but he did say $5 - $15 per day.

And on the weekends you never go anywhere if you're a car owner? An unlimited metrocard breaks even at 48 rides. Figure 20 working days a month, plus one round trip per weekend. When I had one I generally used about 12 trips during the work week, plus a round trip on the weekend to run errands or go somewhere.
The obvious counter-argument, right?  I would think in a place as dense as NYC you could find everything you needed within walking distance of your place.  If you're travelling on a weekend it's a choice.  We ALMOST never use our cars on the weekend.  We deliberately chose a house in an area where we could avoid driving for any reason except getting to or from work or out of town trips. Our situation made it very difficult to find a house within biking distance of two jobs, so we got as close as we could by eliminating one commute and cutting the other to 10 minutes.  I guesstimate that we use a car one weekend a month or so.

Jamesqf

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Sounds like you are using techniques to increase your fuel efficiency, aka "hypermiling"

I guess that depends on where you draw the line between "sensible driving" and "hypermiling".  Now I do some things that increase my mpg, like not racing up to red lights and slamming on the brakes at the last second, but I consider that sensible driving (which I did long before I ever heard of hypermiling).  Indeed, I would say that people who don't drive like that are in fact "hypomiling", to coin a term.

The obvious counter-argument, right?  I would think in a place as dense as NYC you could find everything you needed within walking distance of your place.

Depends on your definition of "need".  (And "walking distance", too.) Now as it happens, I can - despite living in a fairly rural area, find pretty much everything I need for basic survival within comfortable biking distance.  But if your personal definition of "need" includes things like forests, mountain trails, and solitude...

Well, that's a different discussion, and off the point I was trying to make, which is that it is possible for a car-driving person in a smaller city like Waco to have transit costs as low as those of a mass-transit using New Yorker.