Category Archives: City Living

Fervent Goes West

Not to burst your bubble but I’m not financially independent and I haven’t quit working for the man to start a new exciting business. What I did do though, is attain the fabled “remote work” arrangement from my employer (for a six month period)!

I don’t delve into my personal life too much on Fervent Finance, besides my personal financial life of course, but my significant other lives in the Midwest. We have been doing the whole long distance thing for going on two years now, and it’s just getting old. We have talked about her potentially moving to NYC or perhaps us both moving to another major US city where my job has offices as well. To be blunt, I’ve had my fun in Manhattan these last two plus years and I’m ready for a change from city life. I was born and raised in a very small town in New England and kind of miss the slow pace of life. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a blast in Manhattan but I’d like to move away from a culture where people pride themselves on how much they work and how much cash they blow on brunches, bars, dinners, and rent. I’m ready to slow down a little and of course be closer to the ole GF.

Here are the quick details. In about a month I’ll be moving to a small city in the Midwest into a condo my girlfriend rents. I’ll still be based out of NYC for work and will travel as usual for work, but I won’t have to report to the office. Can anyone say Manhattan salary with a Midwest cost of living??? Geographic arbitrage for the win! After six months of this remote work arrangement my boss and I will sit down again. I’ll most likely try to squeeze some more time out of him, but he could ask me to report back to NYC at that time. I’m not worried about that yet, I’m going to enjoy my remote work arrangement and worry about that when the time comes. There are a ton of potential opportunities at that point which may include saying no and playing hardball, getting another job, just moving back to the NYC area, starting my own business, etc. Only time will tell.

Now let’s discuss what everyone has been waiting for – how the arrangement will affect my finances:

  1. Rent – Off the bat it appears my rent will go down by over two thirds and I’ll be living in a space that is more than twice as big as my current apartment. No surprise here, as Manhattan real estate is a tad on the highly priced side.
  2. Utilities – I’ll be moving to a bigger space and splitting utilities with one person instead of two, so this will naturally go up a little.
  3. Travel – Unfortunately I won’t have as many big airports nearby so personal travel will be more expensive. Luckily since my rent is decreasing, I will be able to recoup some of the extra potential cost of personal travel to fly back to the Northeast to see family and attend the multitude of weddings I have this year in that area. Why can’t eloping become the new hot thing to do? I kid, I kid.
  4. State income taxes – I’ll be moving to a state whose income tax rate will be less than half what I’ve been paying in NYC, and also has lower sales tax. One of the disadvantages of living in Manhattan is the NYC resident tax which is on top of NY state income tax if you live within the five boroughs. This is an additional ~3.5 percent tax on my income for the privilege of living in NYC.

I’ll definitely miss Manhattan. I’ll miss my reasonably priced gym within walking distance of my apartment, with four squat racks. I’ll miss the farmer’s market on my block with incredible produce and very reasonable prices. I’ll miss the convenience of walking everywhere and public transportation. I’ll miss three airports within an hour’s travel which made personal travel cheap. I’ll miss the overall convenience and buzz.

I won’t miss dogs doing their business anywhere they please, tourists walking four-wide on the sidewalk, staying at the office for long hours as a badge of honor, inclement weather when I need to walk somewhere, smokers blowing their pollution at my face, among other things.

I do look forward to time with the GF, more easily accessible outdoors, new adventures, slower pace to life, and of course being in a lower cost of living area.

For those wondering how I was able to convince my employer to let me do this, I’ll share that story in my next post. Hopefully it will benefit others looking to do something similar.

Who wants to help me move? Has anyone negotiated a remote work arrangement with their employer? Personally, could you go back to working at an office after working remotely for six months?

Moved to Manhattan to Make More, Save More, and Speed Up FI

Everyone’s path to financial independence is different. One of the big differences is where people choose to live while on their journey. I have seen blog comments and articles about how it is impossible to save any money while living in Manhattan, or how much harder it is to reach financial independence in a big city with the associated high cost of living. So instead of just telling people that it has benefited me financially and sped up my path to financial independence, I figured I’d be more transparent about how it has helped me specifically. There are always pros and cons to any situation, but it seems that the pros have been making their presence known more than the cons since I made the move to Manhattan.

Below I’ll explain how it has directly affected my personal income statement:

Income: Now this one is very dependent on personal situations, industries, performance, economy, career trajectory, employer, etc. My employer gave me a 12% raise for the move along with a one-time bonus. The also paid for all moving costs. These benefits made the move very affordable, and in actuality instantly increased my income and net worth. The move and job switch has also given me other opportunities to increase my pay, which I would not of specifically had if I remained in my other role in a smaller city. Over the course of an 18 month period my income increased a total of approximately 50% from my previous income before the move.

Own downside is that NYC also charges you another ~3.5% on your income for the honor of living here, in addition to New York state income tax.

Housing: My rent has increased approximately 90% or $600. I previously rented a three bedroom house in New England, and now rent a somewhat small Manhattan apartment within walking distance to work, and share it with two roommates. My roommates are my friends, and although I’d like my own place from time to time, I enjoy living with them for the most part, and would rather lower my cost of living with roommates than rent my own place. (Increase of ~$600 or $7,200 per annum)

Utilities: Have gone from about $300 a month to $100 a month. It costs a lot of money to heat a three bedroom house. It costs a lot less money to heat an small apartment, especially when heat and hot water are included in rent. (Savings of ~$200 per month or $2,400 per annum)

Transportation: Has gone from $400 a month to $50. I owned a car before the move, which was fully paid off. Including insurance, property tax, maintenance, and gas, it easily cost me about $400 a month. Right now I walk to work and for most of my errands. I take the subway from time to time at $2.75 a ride. If I want to visit the family or friends I take the commuter rail or Amtrak to their vicinity, and then usually someone is nice enough to swing by the train station to get me. (Savings of ~$350 per month or $4,200 per annum)

I sold my car for $6,500 when I moved to Manhattan. My savings ignores the fact that I had this money tied up in a depreciating asset. I used these proceeds to pay down student loans.

Another saving I didn’t include above comes from the fact that I have three huge airports within my reach where I can shop for killer personal flight deals, and never really have to worry about layovers since I can fly direct almost anywhere. This is a big plus for me since I fly a decent amount for personal travel.

Groceries: Food in the city costs more, and if you shop at the local grocery store prices are probably 25 to 50% higher than what I was used to. But then I found a hidden gem when it comes to grocery shopping in Manhattan – Trader Joe’s. TJ’s has been a life saver. For those who know TJ’s know they eliminate the middle man, and go straight to the source (i.e. farmers, producers, etc.). Therefore their prices are much better than the local corner grocery store. (Increase of $100 per month or $1,200 per annum)

Eating out / Restaurants: This expense can literally eat you alive in the city. In my new role between fancy work dinners for the hell of it, travel work dinners, counseling lunches, late work nights, work drinks, etc., I get my fare share of fancy restaurant food in Manhattan and around the US. This definitely helps curb my appetite to go out and drop my own cash on a fancy dinner. Therefore there has been no incremental costs for me, so I’ll call it a wash (when in reality this has actually been a savings for me since I used to go out more than I’d like to admit to my wonderful readers).

Gym: My only requirement for a gym is decent hours and a squat rack. When I first got to NYC I found an independent gym, within walking distance to my apartment, which was actually cheaper than my gym previous to the move (due to my negotiations). They have become more popular so now the price is pretty similar to what I paid before the move. Avoid the fancy box gyms, which include laundry service and hotel amenities, and gym memberships are pretty reasonable in the city. (No increase or savings)

Clothes, toiletries, home goods, etc.: I buy all this stuff on Amazon, minus clothing. Therefore this is a wash for me and doesn’t really matter where I live since I purchase online.

For those keeping track, my expenses have conservatively increased by approximately $150 per month or $1,800 per year. My cost of living adjustment alone when I first moved here outweighed this cost increase, along with covering the added NYC income tax. Therefore every raise and bonus thereafter has been icing on the cake, and padding on the investment accounts.

Now as a reminder, this is my personal experience moving to Manhattan for work. Others may have lifestyle creep, a job that doesn’t give them a COL adjustment, a family of their own which would cost more for housing, etc.

Now living in Manhattan hasn’t been all peaches and cream, and of course there are some negatives for me. For me personally not having a car to be able to hop in and visit friends and family on a whim, not having a yard, and the increased cost of living have been a pain at one time or another.

Have you sped up your path to FI by making a physical move? Would you give NYC a shot if it sped up your path to FI? Feel free to ask any questions if you’re thinking about a move.