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!