City Living

At the beginning of 2014 I moved to NYC from New England to start a new position at my current employer. I had been offered a position in NYC which I could not turn down. It was in a different service line, one I was very interested in and they were footing the bill to move me to NYC, so I could not turn it down. I had never lived in a city, never mind NYC, so I made sure to do my due diligence before moving to make sure this was not going to bankrupt me or be a stressful transition.

As soon as I moved to Manhattan, I sold my car that same weekend. I loved that car, but I had priced out parking it in the city and any decent garage that was somewhat close to my apartment would run me about $400 a month. I don’t think so! Then I thought of leaving it at my parents a few hours away, but then I would still have to pay personal property taxes, car maintenance, insurance, etc. Plus it would just be capital sitting in their yard that I could put to work elsewhere. Although my parents would not have minded babysitting it, I decided to sell. I went straight to CarMax and sold it on the spot. It was really easy and I had a check in hand within an hour. I definitely could have squeezed out another thousand bucks or so if I took the time to advertise it and sell it on Craigslist, but I had just moved to NYC, was starting a new job, and had no time for that. I feel the quick process was well worth it compared to the time and effort I would have had undertake to sell it privately and try to squeeze out more cash.

Before I had even got to NYC I had decided to lease an apartment that was within walking distance to work. Luckily there was a friend of a friend with a bedroom opening up in his apartment at the same time my new job was starting. It is less than a 15 minute walk to work and I actually enjoy the walk (not so much lately when the temperature goes negative). Many people who live in NYC and commute to work have a monthly MetroCard to use the buses and subways for about $120 a month. But as I can walk to work, that is straight cash in my pocket!

Like I mentioned above I live with roommates, two to be precise. We live in a 2 bedroom apartment that was converted into a 3 bedroom. Because of that and the fact it isn’t a newer fancy building with a doorman, our rent is pretty reasonable for Manhattan. I would like to have my own place, but when I weigh out the pros and cons, it’s not even close due to the value I get by splitting everything with two other guys.

Unlike my previous apartments and houses I’ve rented in New England, heat is included in our rent. Although this may not seem like much, it is a big saver during the winter months as they can be harsh in the Northeast.

One thing I was really shocked of when I got here was the grocery costs! When I go to the grocery store I am shocked that some items can be over double the cost that I am used to paying (or triple – I pay $3.49 for a dozen eggs at the corner grocery store). Well luckily I found a remedy to this situation but unfortunately it is not a secret. Trader Joe’s offers prices that are no where close to the other grocery stores in the area, but everyone else seems to know this as it is always mobbed. Not only are the prices better, but I feel everything is fresher as they skip the middleman and order fresh from producers (unfortunately I am not affiliated…yet). It is quite the spectacle as the line for the 40 or so cashiers wraps around one whole level of the store. The closest one to my apartment is about 20 blocks away, but it is worth the trip!

Now that I’ve covered how I handle the big costs of city living, I’m going to talk about the other side of the equation – income. I would not have moved to NYC without a bump in income from my previous position. The mistake I see people making is moving to NYC making the same amount they would have made in their hometown or college town where the cost of living is much less. Wages in NYC are higher than anywhere else in the U.S. for most industries (maybe San Francisco for tech) so it is imperative to not settle for a low salary.

City living doesn’t have to drain your pockets. If you can secure a higher salary, and cut costs along the way, you can actually parlay the move into jump starting your financial independence!

14 thoughts on “City Living

  1. Brian @ Debtless in Texas

    I had family that used to live in Manhattan, and we were shocked at how much everything costs when we visited. They are both in the wine biz, so they have expense accounts for the AMAZING restaurants everywhere – we ate like royalty.

    I don’t know how anyone can afford to spend that much on food (and booze). I know income is generally higher to support such a lifestyle, but it is so expensive. I guess you just have to find the time that TJs ins’t mobbed…maybe it is like Costco and slows down before closing on a Friday or Saturday night when most are out partying and buying $9 bud lights!
    Brian @ Debtless in Texas recently posted…Yearly Bonus, Gender Roles, and Why My Wife is a BadassMy Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Yeah I’ve turned down more boozey brunches than I can count. I don’t need to spend $45 on breakfast and a hangover. I eat out enough for work at decent restaurants where I don’t feel like I’m missing out, and I don’t have to pay!

      The TJ’s I go to is two floors, so you shop the basement floor and then you shop the first floor while you wait in the line. It actually is a neat process and moves pretty fast since they have about 40 cashiers. Cheers!

      Reply
  2. Anne - Money Propeller

    It sounds like you were able to make some sweet financial moves while moving to the city. I am impressed that you jumped in with two feet on a whole bunch of things that many don’t want to give up when they move to very large cities like that.
    Good luck with settling in 🙂
    Anne – Money Propeller recently posted…Friday Jet Fuel #34My Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      I was surprised myself! I had always had my own car since I turned 16. It was essential for getting around rural New England. At times I now feel a little constrained without one, but I realize that not having one while living in the city will help me reach my FI goals that much faster! Thanks for stopping by!
      -FF

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  3. Abigail @ipickuppennies

    I was in NYC for a friend’s wedding, and one of the many people I was sharing a hotel room with for the weekend insisted on going to the Trader Joe’s. It was insane. I think we spent 20-30 minutes inline. It’s a funny anecdote, but I can’t imagine shopping there regularly.

    Still, it’s an amazing city. And probably a lot more affordable when you’re splitting rent with roommates.
    Abigail @ipickuppennies recently posted…7 personal finance lessons from Mr. SpockMy Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Hi Abigail. You are correct, steps do need to be taken to make it affordable, but it can be done! I wish more Trader Joe’s would pop up in the city so that they are not so hectic!

      Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Thanks FM. I’m not a NYC lifer, but I do plan to make the most of it while I am here.

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  4. Alexis @Fitnancials

    I recently moved to Chicago from St. Louis, and the spending hasn’t gone up as much as I thought it would by living in the city. I’ve had to make cuts here and there with certain things, but it hasn’t been anything too terribly drastic.

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Good job Alexis. I think people get caught up in what other people are doing and justify their spending that way. If I went out to eat or drink every time someone I knew was going I’d be broke. I’ve just learned to politely say no thank you, and it doesn’t bother me anymore. Of course for special occasions I’ll join them though. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  5. Lifestyle Accountant

    No car, walk to work, Trader Joe’s, and all while living in NYC…what more can a young guy ask for? It’s really admirable how you’ve structured your life so that you can reduce a lot of the main living expenses. I’ve thought about how living in a big city would be great because I could eliminate the need for a car and being able to walk or take a short cab ride for errands. Sounds like you are making smart moves to help you get to FI faster.
    Lifestyle Accountant recently posted…February 2015 Net Worth & Cash Flow UpdateMy Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Only issue is I was born and raised in a rural area and definitely miss having my space and a yard. I have another year or so in the city, but I don’t know after that. But yes you are correct, I’ve tried to make the best of my situation for sure. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Mrs. FI

    I can’t imagine living in a big city, let alone New York. But well done finding different ways to save! I’ll have to mention this post to a friend of mine that lives in NYC. He hasn’t lived there for too long and might find this informative 🙂

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      I hope they enjoy the post! If they asked me the best way to get started on saving money in NYC I’d say 1) sell your car if you have one, 2) have roommates, 3) avoid clubs, covers, and boozie brunches, 4) try to live walking distance from work, and 5) cook your own food from Trader Joe’s. 🙂

      Reply

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