Times Square in New York City at night

Cost of Living in New York – The Ultimate 5 Boroughs Breakdown and Comparisons

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      Have you decided to relocate to the Capital of the World, or as New Yorkers call it, the greatest city where dreams come true? Becoming a resident of the most populous place in the US might trigger a thousand questions like what is the cost of living in New York, What salary you need to live in NYC, or Which borough is the most affordable?

      Girl enjoying Manhattan Sunset View - New York
      NYC has five boroughs for you to settle in

      Did you know that if the Big Apple were a sovereign country, its gross domestic product (GDP) would be roughly equivalent to the GDP of South Korea? You should take advantage of being in the global hub of business and get a job in one of many renowned national and international companies. Work up the career ladder and reach that six-figure salary. However, while still settling down, choose carefully which borough you will call home – some of them are more affordable than the others, but all have something unique to offer to its residents. To help you navigate the expenses, we broke down the costs and compared boroughs to one another so that you can make an educated decision.


      What Does the Cost of Living in New York City Entail?

      Moving to New York, one of the most densely populated cities in the US is the beginning of an exciting adventure that can make you or break you. To avoid dipping into your savings while getting accustomed to this urban jungle, carefully calculate your budget.

      The overall costs will entail the amount of money you need to maintain a life standard by affording basics like groceries, utilities, housing, and healthcare. That’s why salaries are higher in cities where living is more expensive, and the Capital of the World is surely one of them.

      Don’t get overwhelmed by high numbers though; there are more than a few ways you can save up, and still live a decent life in NYC. Depending on your lifestyle, you can spare a small fortune on food, all you have to do is opt for cooking on your own instead of dining out every night. Finding cheap things to do in New York with kids or alone can additionally help your financial status. Also, picking the right borough can affect your overall expenses, because some offer more affordable housing.

      However, if you want to live in Manhattan and are moving to a city alone, finding a roommate can be a great idea. Getting the hang of finances should not be that hard; all you have to do is keep track of your expenses. If other eighth million residents can figure out how to live in the metropolis, so can you.

      NYC area view
      Different cities have different types of expenses.

      How Much Are the Renting Prices in NYC?

      You will be staying in a metropolis where 65% of residents, or roughly 5.4 million people, rent their homes. Before you find the place that fits your budget and sign the lease, get to know the rules, laws, and regulations that affect you as a renter.

      Last year the state approved a package of laws that provide substantial protection to the renters. The Mayor’s Office launched a site where you can find more information about tenant protections. Here are changes the law passed in 2019 brought:

      • Security deposits landlords require are limited to one month’s rent. Those deposits have to be returned to the tenant within 14 days after they leave the unit, along with a statement covering all the deductions.
      • A property owner must give you at least 30-day notice if they intend to raise the prices by more than 5%.
      • Unlawful eviction is now punishable with a fine of at least $1,000.
      • Tenants have 30 days instead of ten to fix lease violations.

      Additionally, due to the COVID-19 situation, the Rent Guidelines Board voted to freeze rents for roughly a million stabilized or controlled apartments. This means that rents are frozen for one year, while for two-year leases, the amount can be increased by one percent in the second year.

      Knowing what kind of rights you have as a tenant is not the only thing you should consider when renting an apartment. Crunching numbers can help you predict just how much money you can set aside for a flat. This way, you will easily narrow down the search and find a perfect place to stay.

      According to data from the finance website ValuePenguin, the median monthly rent is $1,340, but depending on a borough you choose to settle down in, or the size of the flat, those prices can change.

      On the other hand, data from the website Numbeo shows that a one-bedroom flat in the center is around $3,330, while in the other parts of the metropolis, you can get the same footage for $2,000. Also, a three-bedroom place in the center is approximately $6,650 and can be rented for $3,700 in other parts.

      When you’re moving to New York, know that the size of homes varies considerably, but 70.5% have two bedrooms or fewer, while 8.1% are studios. This means that the studio apartments are four times more common here than throughout the US.

      Number of Bedrooms Number of Units in NYC Percentage
      Studio Apartments 279,528 8%
      One Bedroom Apartments 1,051,368 30%
      Two Bedroom Apartments 1,105,442 32%
      Three Bedroom Apartments 763,007 22%

      How Do Median Home Prices Affect the Cost of Living in New York?

      If you opted for becoming a homeowner in the Capital of the World, don’t let the numbers discourage you. After all, this is where dreams come true, so every dime you invest will be worth it. According to statistics from Zillow, the median home value is $652,300, while the median price per square footage is $660.

      The home prices will raise your overall costs, but to save up, you can choose among several types of homes available in the metropolis, because some are more affordable than the others:

      Types of Homes in the Big Apple


      When you buy one, you will have full ownership of the place, and you will have access to some common building areas such as the gym. Condos are an excellent option for people that aren’t looking for a long term investment. The Real Estate Board (REBNY) statistics show that the average price of a condo is $1.5 million.


      Co-ops are ideal for long term investment buyers because you get to share a co-op association, and with the other shareholders, you own a building. There are more co-ops than condos in the metropolis, making them more affordable. You can get one for an average of $832,000.


      Townhouses are usually three or four-story buildings and can serve as a single-family home. They often have gardens, rooftops, and they provide more privacy than condos. To become an owner of a townhouse, you will need, on average, $1,902,000.

      Fully detached homes

      Fully detached homes are easy to find in neighborhoods like Forest Hills and Ditmas Park. They are bigger and more spacious than any other type of unit you might buy. Even though single-family homes account for approximately 1.15% of housing units, their prices vary significantly. Depending on a location, you can find a unit for $150,000, while some go for $3.8 million.


      Lofts are mainly located in former industrial buildings that are converted into residential units. High ceilings, large windows, and vast open spaces are what defines them. Lofts can be mostly found in areas such as Soho, Tribeca, and Williamsburg. Their market value is similar to condos, so you can get a loft for $1.5 million.

      How Much Do Utilities, Groceries, and Transportation Cost New Yorkers?

      There are some things you can’t avoid paying, no matter where you live. Basic utilities such as electricity, gas, internet, and water will be a part of monthly expenses. However, know that the electricity market in NYC is deregulated, meaning that you can choose your energy service company, which opens up a possibility for a better electric plan, and lower fees.

      Information from website Numbeo shows that for a 915 sq ft apartment, basic utilities are around $140. Furthermore, if you want to have internet access, you should set aside an additional $65 for 60mbps, cable/ADSL.

      With high-speed internet access, you can check out some of the best restaurants in New York, that’s why those who like fancy nights out will spend less on groceries and more on dining out.

      If you are moving to NYC alone, know that a meal in an inexpensive restaurant for one person is around $22, while a meal in mid-range spot, with three courses, is about $50. Stopping by at the coffee shop for a cup of joe is $5 while relaxing with a cold beer is around $8. If you want to save up, cooking on your own is a way to go, because usually, a person spends about $470 on groceries every month. The essential groceries for making breakfast, such as milk and eggs, are $4.50 and $3.70.

      Another thing to put down on a paper when creating a budget is transportation. The metropolis has an extensive web of parkways, streets, and expressways, connecting boroughs. That’s why you might like to drive around, and if you decide to hire professionals to ship your car to the metropolis, don’t forget the rules regarding turning at red lights. Unlike any other part of the US, the state forbids right or left turns or red lights to increase pedestrian safety. Being behind the wheel might be a freeing experience, but it comes with a price. According to Parkopedia, you will need around $600 for a monthly parking spot and approximately $3 for a gallon of gasoline.

      If you forgo driving, the metropolis offers you one of the best public transit systems in the country available 24/7. To use it, you will need $127 for a monthly pass, or $2.75 for a one-way ticket. Buses, subway, and ferries will get you everywhere you want to go, and when you feel like spending some green, hop in a cab, and it can drive you wherever you want to go for $3.00 a mile.

      NYC grand central station
      If you have a business to take care of in the city, use some mode of public transportation.

      What Is the Average Cost of Living in New York City Boroughs?

      There are a total of five NYC boroughs you can settle down in. While a professional long-distance moving company is handling your stuff, you should look into housing options Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, The Bronx, and Queens are offering. Some locations are more affordable than others, while some have more diverse housing options. To help you make an informed decision, let’s break down the overall costs of settling down in each of the boroughs and compare them.

      Cost of Living in Queens NY

      Do you love being in the Capital of the World, but you want to avoid staying downtown? Queens is a great spot for young professionals and families that want to stay near Manhattan without actually being there.

      According to Numbeo, basic utilities for a 915 square feet apartment in Queens are $230. Since less than half of the population owns their homes, renting is a more obvious choice for the newcomers. Lease for a one-bedroom apartment in the center of Queens can be $2,410, while in other parts, you can find a unit for $1,930. However, if you want to be a homeowner, know that the square foot is $667.

      There are approximately 842,000 housing units in the borough, most of them built in 1939 or earlier, so you can expect large yards and colonial houses. However, there are modern apartments and lofts available as well. If you are on a tight budget, check out some of the most affordable neighborhoods in the area:

      • Jackson Heights has medium-sized, pre-war buildings where you can get a place for approximately $1,900. The location is well connected with the rest of the metropolis via the subway and trains.
      • Sunnyside is for those who are dreaming about moving to suburbs but still being close to all the amenities of the metropolis. There are semi-detached houses and residential buildings with backyards you can get a place for roughly $2,100.
      • Rego Park is a middle-class residential complex with Tudor-style houses ideal for young professionals and families. Renting here is around $2,150.

      Besides diverse housing options, Queens has the second-largest economy out of five boroughs, it has almost 50,000 businesses that are employing over half a million workers. With positive employment growth, and higher than national net salaries, the location attracts career chasers looking for work in leading industries like retail, healthcare, and hospitality. Numerous large national and international companies like Bulova, Steinway & Sons, and Glaceau have headquarters in Queens.

      All work and no play can make anybody grumpy. Avoid negativity and stress by indulging in some fun activities all around Queens. If you are a foodie, this is where you’ll spend all your money. Not only that, The Queens Night Market attracts over 10,000 people each night to try food from over 85 countries, but there are also many dinners with international cuisines, you can check out. A meal in an inexpensive restaurant is around $20, while a feast for two in a mid-range restaurant is around $78.

      Metro in NYC
      Business is booming in Queens, making the borough very popular with newcomers.

      The Average Cost of Living in the Bronx

      The Bronx is famously known as the birthplace of hip-hop, home of the Yankees, and the best gardens in the metropolis. With over one-third of residents born outside the US, this is one of the most diverse areas in the entire country. The impact of different cultures can be seen in the history, restaurants, and neighborhoods of the Bronx.

      If you want to put down roots in the birthplace of celebrities such as Jenifer Lopez, Billy Joel, and Kerry Washington, you will need $1,430 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. Besides, if you are considering becoming a homeowner in the Bronx, you will need around $485 for a square foot. When looking for a way to save up, remember that the Bronx, as every other part of the metropolis, has some neighborhoods that are more affordable than others:

      • Country Club is a great place to raise a family. With a renting fee of approximately $930 and a home price of $244,660, it is one of the more affordable Bronx areas. Here you can pick among rowhouses, apartments, and colonial-style buildings.
      • Kingsbridge offers affordable condos, single-family houses, and co-ops to newcomers. With a rent of $1,260, it is an ideal spot for millennials, young families, and professionals.
      • Riverdale is one of the safest neighborhoods in the Bronx. Add affordable rent of $1,305, and you got yourself a new place. This is the area that attracts young families and retirees because it has contemporary urban apartments as well as single-family homes with spacious backyards.

      When you settle down in the Bronx, you should take advantage of Yankees stadium’s vicinity and catch a baseball game or two. A single ticket is around $52, while season one’s vary depending on a position on bleachers. If all that cheering inspires you to hit the gym, you will need around $35 for a monthly membership, while renting a tennis court for an hour is $25.

      When you are done with running around, and you want to relax and spend some hard-earned money, head to prominent shopping areas such as Bay Plaza, The Hub, and Hunts Point Cooperative Market. Shopping districts are not only places for relaxing, but retail also represents one of the leading industries of the borough alongside healthcare and education.

      Yankees stadium
      The original Yankees stadium was built in 1923, and replaced with a new one in 2009.

      Staten Island Cost of Living

      Are you looking for a mix of bustling urban life and suburban atmosphere? Luckily, Staten Island can offer you both. With the nickname “Borough of parks,” you should expect plenty of open spaces. All of those that are moving with their pets will benefit from 170 parks Staten Island has. Besides numerous places where you can stroll, run, and have picnics, there are unique multicultural attractions and ethnic food options. You will need $20 for lunch in an inexpensive restaurant, while a three-course meal in a mid-range eatery would be around $35.

      On Staten Island, more people own real estate than they rent, so if you wish to buy a property in the Big Apple, this is where you should start your search. Data from the website Niche shows that the median home value is $478,600. Also, don’t forget that the property tax in Richmond County is 0.908%. However, if you want to be a part of the renting minority, you need around $1,290 a month.

      Utilities are on the pricier side since you’ll need $280 to cover them, but you can save up on gym membership that is $28 or on clothes such as a pair of jeans that are $40 or running shoes that are $60.

      Staten Island is well connected with the rest of the metropolis, so you don’t have to worry about getting to work. There are three vehicular bridges and one railroad bridge, and that’s why 82% of households own a car. Parkopedia states that commercial garages charge $8.40 for an hour while long term parking options vary from $165 to $225 per month. Additionally, Staten Island Ferry services are free, so if you want to save up money on the gas, the best solution is to ditch the car and hop on a boat and enjoy the ride.

      If you are still on the fences about relocating to Staten Island, know that this is an excellent spot to start, continue, and complete your education, no matter the level. That’s why it is ideal for families with kids and young adults in pursuit of knowledge. There are 60 schools as well as College and University. Young parents can enroll their kids in preschool or kindergarten for $1,200 a month while attending College of Staten Island would knock $6,730 out of your pocket for yearly tuition.

      a ferry to Staten Island
      Using the free-of-charge Staten Island ferry is the best way to save some money.

      Cost of Living in Brooklyn

      Brooklyn is the most populous of the five boroughs, and it includes tight-knit communities, plenty of park space, and reasonable housing fees. It is a place for young professionals, fresh out of college people, families, and artists.

      In Brooklyn, you can find a one-bedroom apartment for $2,000 a month, while three-bedroom places can be found in a price range for $3,000 to $5,000. Keep in mind that there are many distinct neighborhoods in Brooklyn, all with their own charisma and price tags, all you have to find the one you like the most to settle down in. However, if you are looking for a budget-friendly option, these are the most affordable spots:

      • Flatbush represents one of the most affordable places located in the heart of Brooklyn. With the median renting fee of $2,290 and plenty of public transportation options, it’s no wonder that it is becoming much more popular. Here you can find residential buildings, brick townhouses, sand Victorian style units
      • Bay Ridge has plenty of parks, and it is one of the last shreds of Old Brooklyn. You will find more than one family-owned business and some of the best mom-and-pop shops as well as rowhouses and single-family homes for a median rent of $2,000.
      • Bushwick might be one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world, and it is buzzing with nightlife and eclectic restaurants. Median rent here is $2,600, and you can easily reach the other parts of the metropolis via trains.

      When moving to Brooklyn, know that having a car can be a practical thing. However, it is by no means necessary. If you want to be one of many residents that own a four-wheeler, you will need a $26 daily parking spot. Those that decide to ditch the car can use the subway or walk and bike to the desired spots.

      The diversity of the borough can be seen in the countless ethnic cuisines, from Jamaican chicken to sticky sweet baklava, every craving you have can be indulged in Brooklyn. New and unique eateries pop up all the time, and there is always a new spot to try out. Set aside $19, because that’s how much you will need to eat in inexpensive restaurants while a three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant is $40.

      After all that food, you might want to do something energy consuming, and hitting the gym is a way to go, all you need is $64 for a monthly pass. If lifting weights is not your thing, renting a tennis court might be, and it will knock $33 from your pocket. Sports are not the only activity where you can spend your time, energy, and money. If you like shopping, Brooklyn malls got you covered. From Fulton Mall to boutiques scattered throughout Williamsburg, Park Slope, and Carroll Gardens, you will find a way to spend some green. Get a nice summer dress for $40, or a pair of sleek leather shoes for $127, with the diverse offer you won’t have the problem finding what you are looking for.

      Brooklyn bridge
      Did you know that the Brooklyn Bridge was the first steel-wire suspension bridge?

      The Cost of Living in Manhattan

      The area is for those that are not afraid of a fast-paced lifestyle. First things first, you can forget driving, not only that parking is obscenely pricey, finding private parking is a mission impossible. When you find a parking spot, know that daily rates are around $50. Get rid of your car, and don’t worry about getting around – this is one of the most walkable areas in the metropolis, plus there are metro lines, busses, and cabs that can take you anywhere you want to go.

      Being a resident means you will need to pay $136 for utilities. Also, dining out might not be an everyday occurrence, but you will need $100 for a three-course meal in a mid-range eatery when it comes to it.

      Becoming a homeowner here means you should expect to pay around a million for a condo, while if you opt for renting a one-bedroom apartment, you will need between $2,000 and $3,330.

      A pricy lifestyle is worth it if you want to be in the epicenter of the metropolitan economy. There are work opportunities in every industry conceivable. Top employers are healthcare, marketing, and finance sectors, but with a wide range of schools, there are also career prospects in Education. The average net salaries in Manhattan are $5,550.

      streets of new york city during the sunrise
      Manhattan can be pricey but it pays off

      What Is the Average Salary in NYC?

      According to data from PayScale, the average paycheck in the metropolis is $76,000 a year. Depending on a field of your expertise, this can vary significantly. The most popular occupations in the Big Apple are:

      • Software engineer with a paycheck of $102,000
      • Project Manager with a wage of $79,000
      • Financial Analyst that earn around $68,000

      Even if you don’t land a job in the most popular and well-paid industries, you can still afford to settle down in the metropolis. However, there is a difference between being on a tight budget and living comfortably.

      How Much Money Do You Need to Live Comfortably in NYC?

      Living in NYC comfortably can have a different meaning for different people. More often than not, it means being able to afford basic lifestyle amenities and funding long term needs and plans without a problem.

      Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimated that a family of four, meaning two adults and two children, staying in the NYC needs combined $124,130 a year, or $10,345 a month. However, since not all parts of the metropolis have the same prices, the EPI states that different boroughs entail different wages:

      • Brooklyn – $116,500
      • Queens – $129,330
      • Staten Island – $125,880
      • The Bronx – $106,590
      • Manhattan – $139,800
      NYC area view during the day
      Some careers pay more than others, but many can provide you with a comfortable lifestyle.

      Is It Really Expensive to Live in New York?

      There are eight million people in a place where dreams come true, so no matter how expensive it looks in the beginning, you can find a way to juggle your paycheck and monthly expenses.

      While professionals are packing and moving your belongings, look for an affordable apartment, and send out a resume. With a job waiting for you, it will be easier to concentrate on everything else the metropolis offers. This is, after all, the Capital of The World, so take advantage of everything it has, from tasty international restaurants to highly ranked educational institutions. Don’t let the constant worry about the money stop you from experiencing life in this urban jungle. When you find your footing and learn a few money-saving hacks, being in the city won’t seem pricey.

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