Author Topic: Mustachian cost of living in NYC  (Read 3488 times)

Glenans76

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Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« on: March 18, 2018, 11:01:47 AM »
Hello everyone,

We are a couple in their mid-30 contemplating a professional relocation to NYC. NYC isnt very mustachian as a city, but the job  my partner is being offered is really interesting, and we are looking to see how much we would ***really*** need to spend, and how much we would realistically save, before taking or declining the offer,

We would need to rent a 1 brm in Brooklyn or in the cheaper parts of Manhattan. For everything outside housing (food, entertainment, clothing) we pretty much spend as little as the MMM family, despite currently living in a country where everything (and i really mean everything) is more expensive than in Boulder, Colorado.

We would of course not need a car (bikes ! public transport !) or health insurance (taken care off by the job). Any ideas or thoughts are much appreciated!

Hula Hoop

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2018, 11:08:41 AM »
One question - why Brooklyn or Manhattan?  The non-sketchy, near the subway parts of Brooklyn are crazy expensive now as is most of Manhattan - even the parts that tourists don't go to.  If I were to move back to NYC as a Mustachian I'd avoid the areas you mention like the plague.

I assume that your partner's job must be in lower Manhattan since you mention Brooklyn and Manhattan as the areas you'd like to move to.  In that case, I'd look at close in parts of New Jersey like Jersey City, Hoboken or maybe slightly further out but near the PATH train. The PATH stops at World Trade Center and a number of other stops in Manhattan.  The close in parts of NJ are much cheaper (and nicer IMO) than similar areas of Brooklyn.  If his/her job is in Midtown Manhattan or above then I'd check out Queens (I'm rather partial to Jackson Heights myself but there are lots of interesting parts of Queens) or possibly parts of the Bronx or Westchester.  Maybe even Long Island via the LIRR.

IMO many people who are newly arrived in NY have no idea how vast the city is. When I lived there, I met so many non New Yorkers who had literally never heard of my old neighborhood - which was a great neighborhood and relatively inexpensive (not anymore though unfortunately).  People didn't realize that being a tourist somewhere and living somewhere are very different things.

For cheap eats, I always loved Chinese food in Flushing and Indian or Colombian in Jackson Heights. 
« Last Edit: March 18, 2018, 11:16:47 AM by Hula Hoop »

lhamo

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2018, 11:18:27 AM »
The keys to keeping living costs low in NYC are:

1)  Housing
2)  Food
3)  Transportation

Agree with the comments above about location of housing -- if you can change your search area to NJ or Queens (depending on commuting target) you will have a lot more options for cheaper housing.  Second the recommendation for Jackson Heights (lived there for 2 years, awesome neighborhood).

Food costs are much lower in the outer boroughs, too.  Access to ethnic markets helps a lot -- another vote for JH here:  we had Indian, East Asian and Latin American markets within walking distance of our co-op.  Our grocery bill was half of what it had been when we lived in the West Village.

Not having a car is a no-brainer.  But choice of neighborhood/access to diverse and reliable subway lines will help reduce the urge to Uber/Lyft.  Queens wins here -- the parts of Brooklyn that are cheaper also tend to have issues with reliability of the subway.  From Queens it is easy to get anywhere in Manhattan, and some places in Brooklyn, usually with at most one change of train.  Jersey is convenient to lower Manhattan, but having to change systems greatly increases your costs.

brooklynmoney

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2018, 01:25:51 PM »
Queens is gonna be the smart move. In addition to Jackson heights, the like sunnyside and woodside whixh are also on the 7 line. Astoria and LIC I think are probably entering Brooklyn price territory.

Hula Hoop

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2018, 01:46:26 PM »
Queens is gonna be the smart move. In addition to Jackson heights, the like sunnyside and woodside whixh are also on the 7 line. Astoria and LIC I think are probably entering Brooklyn price territory.

I agree about Sunnyside and Woodside.  I had a friend who lived in Sunnyside and it was relatively inexpensive, easy to get to and a nice area.  For Astoria, apart from it being pretty expensive these days, I also really hate the N/R line (AKA the "never" and the "rarely").

obstinate

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2018, 11:06:41 PM »
We moved to NYC about a year ago and opted to pay more to minimize the commute. It's hard to say what's reasonable around here because many jobs pay so much, and it can be mustachian to trade money for time in the sense of a reduced commute. E.g. I walk five minutes to work.

That said, our all in costs are pretty eye-watering. Our baseline costs (no travel no taxes) are about 10k/mo. That includes 2k of childcare and 6k of rent. Unfortunately the office is smack in a desirable part of town, so if we want to walk to work we pay heavily. Luckily the compensation our jobs here offer is such that this is still fairly affordable.

MonkeyJenga

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2018, 12:01:11 AM »
NYC can be very inexpensive if you choose a few things carefully. There's no need for a car, there's tons of free entertainment all the time, and if you live in the less trendy neighborhoods, rent doesn't have to be killer. I've lived here for ten years, and my rent ranged from $450 to $1,350. Queens, Jersey, some areas of Bk, northern Manhattan, the Bronx, etc. Don't expect to have a huge apartment, or outdoor space, or the perfect location right next to work or a park, and you'll be fine.

My last year in the city, I spent under $15k, not including charity. I'm on the extreme end of the forums, but it's definitely possible to keep expenses low here.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2018, 01:38:19 AM »
NYC can be very inexpensive if you choose a few things carefully. There's no need for a car, there's tons of free entertainment all the time, and if you live in the less trendy neighborhoods, rent doesn't have to be killer. I've lived here for ten years, and my rent ranged from $450 to $1,350. Queens, Jersey, some areas of Bk, northern Manhattan, the Bronx, etc. Don't expect to have a huge apartment, or outdoor space, or the perfect location right next to work or a park, and you'll be fine.

My last year in the city, I spent under $15k, not including charity. I'm on the extreme end of the forums, but it's definitely possible to keep expenses low here.

This is what I wanted say, NYC can be either crazy expensive or incredibly cheap.  There’s free stuff everywhere and so much to do. Your biggest expense will be the rent. Be creative and ask around.

mathstach

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2018, 01:41:24 AM »
I also recommend Queens; consider getting a three bedroom in Astoria (or perhaps somewhere east of Astoria) for around $2100/month or less, and sublet the extra two bedrooms (or get people to sign on to the lease with you) to get monthly rent down to $700/month for the two of you. Then, you can bike to work or take the subway; and get your food at Costco or some other reasonably cheap place.

If you work at it, stay in one bedroom together, and ride bikes everywhere, cooking all meals, you can take expenses below $1,000 per month for the two of you together, excluding charity. I've certainly done that for a while, and it worked well.

If you're set on Brooklyn, it's the same deal as Queens, but much higher rent if you're close to Manhattan.
In this case, I recommend a three bedroom or, better, a four bedroom, and get people to sign on to the lease with you.

I'd expect rent to be about $1000/month for your master bedroom after doing this; add $100 per month per person for groceries, ride bikes everywhere, and a few bucks for (shared) utilities, and you're looking at $1,250/month in typical expenses now, excluding charity.

That's how I live now, $1,250 per month typical expenses in Willliamsburg, Brooklyn; way higher than the $1,000 per month I had in Queens.

So, I'm now a spendypants in a super fancy neighborhood, and I live right at the mouth of the Williamsburg bridge. My commute into Manhattan is less than ten minutes by bike, though, which is cool. I strongly agree with the comments by @MonkeyJenga here. Lots of free entertainment.

If you're set on living in Manhattan, you'd probably want to look really far north, somewhere in Washington Heights or so, to find a suitably mustachian one bedroom. Less than $1,900/month rent for a one bedroom if you're set on that, but I'm unfamiliar with the area myself.

Glenans76

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2018, 03:46:14 AM »
Thank you so much everyone for chipping in with the recommendations so quickly - this is incredibly, incredibly useful, especially the neighborhood recommendations. It gave us the confidence we needed, and a sense we could keep our saving targets.  Off to checking some RE websites.
Again, a warm thank you to everyone,

lhamo

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2018, 08:57:26 AM »
Another neighborhood to look at in Manhattan, if it works for your commute, is Inwood -- way up at the north end of the island.   That is where we started looking to buy, moved out to Queens because it was already too expensive for us.  The section on the west side of Broadway, surrounding the park, is nicer and more expensive, but still cheaper than just about any other part of Manhattan.

affordablehousing

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2018, 11:15:32 AM »
I would also consider how long you want to stay in New York. If it could be for awhile, consider really trying to track down a local landlord or better yet live in a duplex, where the owner may be less comfortable over time escalating your rent. I had many friends "lock in" low rents for decades just by living in smaller buildings run by owner/users or families that value tenants sticking around over time. In several cases, ten years out and some friends are still paying what they paid when they moved in, when rent around them has doubled.

You could also look along Prospect Park in Brooklyn, like in Flatbush. Have fun. New York is a blast. Oh, and Circus Fruits in Midwood is crazy cheap for produce and a fun place to take kids since they have a lot of unusual fruits.

FireLane

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2018, 01:37:01 PM »
I thought I would have to stick up for Queens, but I'm pleased to see that lots of people have done it for me!

In my experience, the western Astoria/Long Island City area is becoming almost as expensive as Brooklyn, but there are good deals if you go further out, especially if you're willing to forego living right near a subway stop. The LIRR is just as good for getting into Manhattan.

One more thing to note: I'd be very cautious about living in New Jersey. The railroad tunnels are inadequate as is, there's damage from Hurricane Sandy that has to be repaired soon, and Trump is trying to kill the replacement Gateway plan for no apparent reason. The commute situation is going to be nightmarish in the next few years:

https://nypost.com/2015/07/18/new-york-new-jersey-on-the-brink-of-tunnel-mageddon/

grantmeaname

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2018, 02:35:29 AM »
I’m moving to NYC a month from today (yay!). My job is just south of midtown and I really value walking to work, so I have been looking for a 2 bedroom apartment to split with a friend in the lower east side. It looks almost as cheap as Inwood and it’s just over 2 miles to walk - about 2/3rds of a mile less than my commute currently. Is this crazy?

OP, check out the website streeteasy for apartments if you haven’t already. It’s been really easy to search within certain neighborhoods compared to craigslist, Zillow, etc. and I’ve been really pleased with it.

lhamo

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2018, 09:49:12 AM »
2 miles is a nice walk in spring and fall, when it isn't too hot or too cold.  I'd want to be sure there are decent transit options for times when you really don't want to be walking, though.

Also, check out what the grocery shopping options are -- if you are close enough to Chinatown, you'll be fine.  But there are parts of Manhattan that are kind of grocery store deserts (or there may be one option and it is really dirty and expensive) and you don't want to end up in one of those.

grantmeaname

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2018, 11:01:44 AM »
I've thought about the weather as a potential concern, because I've been in London the last three years where there is no winter and no summer. Before this, I walked to and from university in all weather a similar distance for five years so I think I can swing it.

LES does seem to be a bit of a grocery store desert. We're planning on using some combo of the chinatown grocery stores, the Costco in East Harlem, and delivery groceries. I walk about 1.5 miles now for a grocery store and it's tolerable but not ideal.

Dollar Slice

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2018, 11:35:33 AM »
The LES has plenty of grocery options around, but anything in that area will be expensive. There's a big Fine Fare at Avenue C & 4th Street (right on the M9 bus if you don't want to walk - depends what part of LES you're in) as well as a Whole Foods (which has surprisingly good prices for a lot of things compared to many Manhattan options) at Houston and Bowery. And if you're willing to go all the way to that East Harlem Costco, it's next door to an Aldi.

grantmeaname

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2018, 11:50:10 AM »
Yes! SWMBO is German so there is all sorts of good stuff we cook with ingredients that can only be found in Aldi (or painfully, online).

Hula Hoop

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2018, 12:03:18 PM »
Yes! SWMBO is German so there is all sorts of good stuff we cook with ingredients that can only be found in Aldi (or painfully, online).

LES is OK but can be really far from any useful subway lines.  I second what others have said, NY can be boiling hot in summer and quite cold (although not compared to the Midwest) during winter.  If you're not used to these temperatures, walking might be painful. 

grantmeaname

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2018, 12:07:42 PM »
Cincinnati's weather and NYC's look almost exactly the same with NYC very slightly milder in all respects.

I've heard this so many times I'm starting to wonder if New Yorkers think they are the only people on earth to experience weather.

Dollar Slice

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #20 on: March 20, 2018, 12:27:55 PM »
NYC is not that bad, weather-wise, but the unique nature of the city makes it a little worse than it should be. The summers are worse than you would expect from climate info, in large part because the subway system is poorly ventilated and the subway platforms can reach extreme levels of temp/humidity. Much worse than above ground. Winters I find fairly mild (I lived most of my life in Massachusetts, which is colder and snowier) but there are occasional cold snaps and snowstorms that most people wouldn't want to walk 2 miles in.

There are also a lot of old apartment buildings with poor or erratic insulation/heating/air-conditioning so it's not just when you're outside. I work in an office building in midtown that doesn't have any sort of ventilation or climate control in the office aside from horrible old steam radiators (it is 30C+ in my office when it goes on, so I just keep it turned off all the time). My apartment gets down to 13C in the winter with the heat on full blast. A lot of people are unhappy with that sort of thing so they talk about how horrible the winter is (or summer, if you're in a place with no A/C and bad insulation or spend a lot of time on 40C+ subway platforms).

grantmeaname

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #21 on: March 20, 2018, 12:55:12 PM »
I can definitely appreciate that. Everywhere I ever lived in Ohio was well-insulated and here in London it seems to be pretty optional. Combining that with a real range of temperatures wider than 30-70 would be tough. (And I totally agree about subway platforms. I don't even like going on the Tube in London "summer" if it can be avoided!)

Hula Hoop

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #22 on: March 20, 2018, 02:18:57 PM »
I also think that the weather feels worse in NYC as you're so often out in it compared to most other parts of the US.  For example, in a place like Cincinnati, most people get around in heated/air conditioned cars.  In NYC you're out in whatever weather there is waiting for the bus, roasting on a subway platform or biking to work. I briefly lived in a very hot part of the South of the US but people literally drove right up to their air conditioned houses in their air conditioned cars so they never really had to experience the heat.

drteter

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #23 on: March 21, 2018, 06:21:52 PM »
One thing I'd add is that as someone living in the area and with friends who don't necessarily subscribe to a Mustachian approach, I have found it harder here than in other locations to get folks excited about coming over for a dinner get-together or doing games/drinks in an apartment.

Though I don't always share the sentiment, it feels like other folks feel a strong desire/pressure to do things outside the house in a city that has so many amenities. There are always free or cheap things to do, but in the context of gatherings I've had a hard time consistently convincing folks to forego the standard dinner/brunch/drinks/pricey entertainment type activities for free or cheap ones either at home or elsewhere.

Will echo what others have said, however - rent is a huge determinant of your ability to stomach NYC living costs, and this is a GREAT place to live with a never-ending supply of things to do and see. Best of luck!

MrUpwardlyMobile

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #24 on: March 21, 2018, 06:59:13 PM »
It’d be uncomfortable to live and heavil save making less than $70k for a couple in nyc. I try to be frugal but nyc requires too much deliberate living to live and save with less than $120k for a couple.  If you’re young and social, you’re going to feel like you missed out on things there.  Some degree of Spendiness in nyc yields a lot of amazing memories doing a lot of stuff.

lhamo

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #25 on: March 21, 2018, 07:10:19 PM »
Some degree of Spendiness in nyc yields a lot of amazing memories doing a lot of stuff.

Most of my best memories of life in NYC were doing things that were free or very low cost. 

dubaych

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #26 on: March 21, 2018, 08:18:25 PM »
The LES has plenty of grocery options around, but anything in that area will be expensive. There's a big Fine Fare at Avenue C & 4th Street
That's more Alphabet City or East Village than LES, but LES does have two other Fine Fares on/near Grand St. plus a Key Food and, soon, a Target and a Trader Joe's, not to mention walkability to almost the cheapest food you could possibly buy (in Chinatown supermarkets). What it doesn't have much of is housing, unless you win the (literal) lottery and score one of the Essex Crossing units. It's cheaper than the rest of downtown Manhattan, but it is WAY more expensive than non-Brooklyn boroughs.
To answer the fundamental OP question, though, and leave the minutiae aside, NYC can be afforded, it can be frugalized, and it can be enjoyed. It makes every decision you make a conscious one, rather than an autopilot one, but that's part of its appeal. You are forced to  weigh every choice, and you are forced to call on every resource and capability. It's a little bad-ass.

secondchance

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #27 on: March 21, 2018, 09:57:28 PM »
Oh my goodness, I relate to this in a big way.  I lived in NYC for my 20's.  Two years ago I changed careers, left the city (and loved it), discovered personal finance ... and now I'm moving back for a job. Cue anxiety.  But I will make it work and so can you.

You two can easily split a 1br for $2k-$2500.  Not a shithole either!  Consider Brooklyn and Queens -- I like Ridgewood or Sunnyside.  I spent most of my time in various places in West Harlem (from Morningside up to Washington Heights) and Inwood is still a good bet too.  Personally I'm back with roommates for $1000/month.

Sell your cars because everyone takes the subway and so will you (unless you prefer to bike year round, which you mostly can -- and we have a great bike share).  Get Marie Kondo on your belongings because you will be doing some small space living.  Sign up for every free or cheap event listing you find.  If you adjust your expectations about how you live, it's not that crazy.  Which is pretty in line with the MMM thing.

Your (ok, my) main challenge will be keeping perspective despite living inside a 24/7 advertisement for the finest luxury goods and experiences in the world.  But it can be done.  *knocks on wood*
« Last Edit: March 21, 2018, 10:01:38 PM by secondchance »

MrUpwardlyMobile

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Re: Mustachian cost of living in NYC
« Reply #28 on: March 22, 2018, 05:46:55 AM »
Oh my goodness, I relate to this in a big way.  I lived in NYC for my 20's.  Two years ago I changed careers, left the city (and loved it), discovered personal finance ... and now I'm moving back for a job. Cue anxiety.  But I will make it work and so can you.

You two can easily split a 1br for $2k-$2500.  Not a shithole either!  Consider Brooklyn and Queens -- I like Ridgewood or Sunnyside.  I spent most of my time in various places in West Harlem (from Morningside up to Washington Heights) and Inwood is still a good bet too.  Personally I'm back with roommates for $1000/month.

Sell your cars because everyone takes the subway and so will you (unless you prefer to bike year round, which you mostly can -- and we have a great bike share).  Get Marie Kondo on your belongings because you will be doing some small space living.  Sign up for every free or cheap event listing you find.  If you adjust your expectations about how you live, it's not that crazy.  Which is pretty in line with the MMM thing.

Your (ok, my) main challenge will be keeping perspective despite living inside a 24/7 advertisement for the finest luxury goods and experiences in the world.  But it can be done.  *knocks on wood*

Good luck! Let us know how you do.