How Much Money Should I Save To Move To New York City?

Have you always dreamed of living in a big city as exciting as New York City? With Broadway shows, world-famous art exhibits, movie premieres and every cuisine imaginable just waiting for a taste, it is difficult for anyone to get bored in NYC.

NYC is also among the cities with the highest population in the US. In 2019, this place has a population of about 8.7 million people.

Many people moving to NYC do not prepare beforehand and end up finding themselves in a tight position. You can be well prepared if you know how much to save for moving costs and a few months of cushioning until you’re settled in.

To move to New York City, you should save at least $3000 at the bare minimum for the moving costs. To live comfortably within an hour away from New York City, you need to have three months of expenses saved, which is around $10,000 to $12,000.

Let’s take a look at the overview of the costs associated with shipping, housing, utilities, food, transportation, and the breakdowns of sample budgets to help you think through every cost you might incur and fully prepare yourself for a move to the Big Apple.  

Shipping Costs

Shipping is one of the most significant expenses involved in moving, as it costs at least $695 to ship a container from Los Angeles.

Moving to new house concept

If you are fortunate enough to be relocating from somewhere else in New York, your moving costs will likely amount to roughly $1,250.

However, moving from a one-bedroom in Los Angeles to New York City with a distance of 2,447 miles and without packing services will cost approximately $3,781 to $5,271.

Moving from Tampa, Florida, or Minneapolis, Minnesota, costs approximately $4,890. Moving from a one-bedroom in Chicago to New York City with a distance of 711 miles and without packing services will be about $2,364 to $3,169.

You can save a considerable amount of money on this step if you know anyone with a large van or truck who might be able to help, and you leave any of the largest, most easily replaceable items behind. Plus, selling belongings you do not need will give you extra money for your move.

If you have to fly to New York City, a flight from Los Angeles to New York City will cost approximately $297, whereas a flight from Chicago to New York City would be roughly $157.

Cost of Accommodations

Young woman in studio apartment

As New York City is basically composed of islands, there is not a great deal of land on which to expand.

New housing can only be acquired vertically, although there are also limits to how high buildings can be.

Thus, there is a limited number of available apartments in the city and a high demand for housing. Because housing is a commodity that everyone needs, it does not come inexpensively.

Since winter is a lower season for real estate and has the lowest number of listings available, housing prices are lower than other seasons, making it the ideal time to move to NYC if you are looking to save money.

There are five boroughs in New York City: Manhattan, The Bronx, Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn.

The price of rent in New York City varies wildly depending on the borough that you choose and the size of your apartment. Below is a price comparison by borough and number of bedrooms, according to Renthop.

Staten Island$1,472$1,624$2,122
The Bronx$1,595$1,750$2,200

The cost of living in NYC is approximately 70 percent higher than the national average, and Manhattan specifically is twice as high as the national average, according to Smart Asset.

Regarding renting in NYC, it is also crucial to remember that the first month of rent is due when you sign the lease, as well as the security deposit, which is typically equal to a second month’s rent.

New York City three-bedroom average monthly rental prices:

  • Three-bedroom apartment in the center of the city: more than $4000
  • Three-bedroom apartment outside the center of the city: more than $2,175

Cost of purchasing a New York City home:

  • Price per square meter (10.7 square feet) to buy in the center of the city: $8,488.05
  • Price per square meter (10.7 square feet) to buy outside the city center: $3,229.17

Ways to save on housing costs

  • Share the rent costs with a roommate or two. You can use a website such as  Spareroom, NY Habitat, New York Apartment, Brick Underground, June Homes or Metro Roommates to find someone to live with. 
  • Live outside of Manhattan—if you live in Staten Island or The Bronx, you will save the most money.

Related: How to Live Alone on Minimum Wage

Utility Costs

Saving money for heating, water, electricity, internet and garbage is also crucial. Without internet, a basic utility package for a 915 square-foot apartment will cost approximately $145.55 a month, and internet will cost roughly $62.77 a month.

Furnishing Costs

Bedroom with floral motif

If you cannot move all of your furniture to New York City with you, there will also be a cost for furnishing your new space. 

You will need at least a bed, a table, curtains (unless you rise early or do not mind a very bright room in the morning), shower curtains and a bath mat.

You can find inexpensive second-hand furniture on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or Offer Up. If you would rather have new furniture, IKEA or Amazon are both affordable options.

Food Costs

Female cook, salad cooking on the kitchen

An average week of groceries for a household of one person will include 21 meals.

It might include a pound of chicken (four meals), a pound of yogurt (three bowls), 12 eggs (six meals), a pound of beef (four meals), one box of cereal (10 bowls), two onions, green beans, tomatoes, a half-gallon of milk, an apple, a banana and potatoes. 

Average price of food in NYC:

  • Chicken costs $6.14
  • Yogurt costs $4.87
  • 12 eggs cost $4.10
  • Beef costs $7.79
  • Cereal costs $4.08
  • Green beans cost $3.30
  • Onions cost $1.56
  • Milk costs $3.49
  • Tomatoes cost $2.81
  • Apples cost $2.26
  • Bananas cost $2.09
  • Potatoes cost $1.63.

Thus, the total cost of a week’s worth of groceries would come out to $44.12, which equals approximately $176.48 a month

More sample prices:

  1. Inexpensive restaurant:$12 – $25
  2. Takeout coffee: $3.00 – $5.00
  3. Bottle of Coke:$1.25 – $3
  4. 1/4 gallon of milk:$0.79 – $1.52
  5. Loaf of bread:$2.20 – $5.50
  6. 12 eggs:$2.40 – $4.89
  7. 2.2 pounds of chicken: $6.59 – $17.64
  8. 2.2 pounds of beef:$6.61 – $24.25
  9. 2.2 pounds of apples:$2.43 – $8.82
  10. 2.2 pounds of white rice: $3.31 – $8.80

Utilities are surprisingly lower than the national average, but food is 30 percent more in the city. Thus, if you usually pay $200 a month for groceries, you will be paying $260 each month in New York City. 

Transportation Costs

Smiling young woman riding on a bus listening to music

Most people in New York use the subway and buses to travel within the city.  The New York metro system is actually the largest subway system in the world, going by the number of stations.

It operates 24 hours a day. Buses are more suited for short trips, such as traveling from one shop to another.

Below are some sample ticket prices.

  • Adult single metro or bus ticket: $2.75
  • One-day ticket:$5.50
  • Monthly pass, unlimited: $127

How to save money on public transport

  • If you purchase a Metrocard, you can get 11 percent more on every $5.50 you spend.
  • You can also purchase an Unlimited Metrocard, which costs $33 for seven days of travel.
  • As long as you live a reasonable distance from where you work, buying a bike is a great way to save money in the long run.
  • You can also rent a bike through a service such as CitiBike. CitiBike offers a single 30-minute ride for $3, a day pass with unlimited 30-minute rides for $12 and an annual membership with unlimited 45-minute rides for $169.
  • If you are fortunate enough to live within walking of your job, you will not even have to worry about paying for transportation.

If you already own a vehicle, you can use that to get around, but it is likely to elevate your stress level considerably, due to the car traffic as well as the large number of bikes and pedestrians to worry about. Below are sample costs for owning and driving a car in New York:

  • Cost of a Volkswagen Golf: $23,000
  • ¼ gallon of gas: $0.67
  • Other fees: the average cost of state and local taxes, license, title and registration fees is $665 per year.

As you can see in the table below, it is possible to save approximately $1,000 a month by getting a public transportation pass and not having a car in the city. Parking, insurance and gas are all more expensive within New York City, making the ownership of a car a less budget-friendly option.

Monthly expenses with a carMonthly expenses without a car
Rent: $2,000Rent: $2,000
Utilities: $145.55Utilities: $145.55
Internet: $62.77Internet: $62.77
Parking: $533.00Parking: N/A
Car Insurance: $333.33Car Insurance: N/A
Gas: $200.00Gas: N/A
Transit Pass:Transit Pass: $127
Groceries: $176.48Groceries: $176.48
Two dinners out: $75.00Two dinners out: $75.00
Two movie admissions: $28.00Two movie admissions: $28.00
Total: $3,554.13Total: $2,614.80

Because parking is an unpleasant and costly ordeal, ride sharing might be a better option.

Apps such as Car Pool World, New York Ride Share, Carpooling and Ridesharing, eRideshare and Commuter Link will help you find others to share the cost of operating a vehicle.

Services such as UberPool or Lyft can also be useful and less expensive than taxis. UberX, the most basic option, has a bare fare of $2.55, costs $.035 a minute, $1.75 a mile and a minimum fare of $7.

However, all ride sharing apps are more expensive than renting a bicycle.

Cost of Clothing, Toiletries and Miscellaneous Items

Walk-in closet with wooden wardrobes

Here are some average clothing prices, together with other useful prices:

  • Pair of jeans$35 – $80
  • Summer dress: $25 – $65
  • Running shoes: $60 – $100
  • Business shoes: $75 – $200
  • Short doctor’s visit (15 mins): $184
  • Deodorant: $3.83
  • Shampoo: $5.56
  • Toilet paper (4 rolls): $3.68
  • Gym membership: $25-$130 per month
  • Movie ticket: $13-$16

It is also important to keep in mind that the sales tax in New York is 8.875 percent, which means that is an added cost to goods and services you purchase.

Usually, the cost listed on an item does not have the sales tax included.

Sample Budgets

Cityscape of Manhattan, Empire State Building in the centre.

Comfortable Moving Budget That Includes Living on Your Own:

If you are moving from Chicago to NYC, your costs for the first month in NYC might include:

  • $2,364 for shipping
  • $157 for your flight ticket
  • $1,900 for an Upper East Side studio apartment
  • $1,900 for the security deposit
  • $135.54 for utilities
  • $62.77 for internet
  • $127 for an MTA monthly pass
  • $176.48 for groceries

Approximate total: $6,822.79.

After your first month, the total cost of living for a month would be $2,401.79, not including entertainment, eating out at restaurants or other luxuries.

To be safe, you would want to consider having enough money saved for three months of expenses. Thus, to move from Chicago, you would ideally want to have roughly $11,625 saved.

Reasonable Moving Budget for Living with Roommates:

If you already know someone in New York City whom you can stay with for a week or two while you find housing, that will make your moving expenses considerably less expensive.

Assuming you do not have to pay for a moving service (i.e., you convinced a friend with a large vehicle to help), you can stay with friends in New York City for free and you find a spare room on Craigslist in a safe, yet not overly desirable neighborhood, you can most likely move on a budget of $5,000.

However, this does not allow you much of a cushion, so it will be crucial to have dozens, if not hundreds, of interviews in order to find a job within three months.

Another great way to tide yourself over is to do freelance work on a website such as Upwork or Fiverr—just be sure to start it up several months before your move in order to establish a consistent client base.

Additionally, keep in mind that moving with $5000 will not allow you to eat out or furnish your living space if it is unfurnished—those luxuries will have to come later.

One man moved with only $400 by moving from couch to couch at various friends’ apartments and houses, getting a job as a club bouncer and eating turkey sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

This is not a recommended course of action if you do not enjoy living on the edge, but it does demonstrate that a move is possible on less than $4,000 if you have connections and are willing to make a great deal of sacrifices.

Ways to Save Money Each Month

  1. Cancel any monthly subscriptions that you do not use very often, such as video or music streaming websites.
  2. Create a Google spreadsheet of your current living expenses that you can view on your phone. Whenever you spend money, write it in the Google sheet so that you know exactly where your money is going and you will be less likely to spend if you see how much small purchases are adding up during a month.

New York Living FAQ Answered

Begin networking, expanding your locale search for your job search. Have your resume on several job sites and give yourself a deadline to move.

At the moment frontline e-commerce workers are in demand. These are personal shoppers, delivery drivers and fulfillment specialists. Loan and mortgage experts are also in demand followed by healthcare professionals who are very much in demand at the moment.

Ilion is the cheapest city in New York to live in. With a population of 7,812, Ilion is one of the most affordable cities to live followed by Ogdensburg.

Key Takeaways

While everyone’s experience and moving costs will be slightly different, there are certain expenses when moving to New York that should be planned for in order to avoid stress and unpleasant surprises. To summarize, here are a few of the main points we have discussed in this article:

  • Unless you are moving from somewhere else in New York, moving costs will likely be higher than $1,250.
  • If you have to fly to New York City instead of driving, a flight will most likely cost at least $150.
  • Manhattan is usually one of the most expensive boroughs in NYC to live in, and Staten Island and The Bronx are the least expensive.
  • Rent for a studio apartment in New York City will cost at least $1,400 a month, and a one-bedroom apartment will cost at least $1,600 a month.
  • Sharing the cost of living with at least one roommate (preferably more) is essential.
  • A basic utility package for a 915 square-foot apartment will cost roughly $145.55 a month, and internet will cost approximately $62.77 a month.
  • The total cost of a month’s worth of groceries is approximately $176.48. 
  • Buying a monthly Metro pass for $127 will save you almost $1,000 a month, as opposed to owning and operating a car.
  • If you cannot walk to work, renting a bike is also a cost-efficient option.
  • A comfortable moving budget that includes three months’ worth of expenses is $10,000–$12,000.
  • An economical moving budget that includes sharing living costs and not going out is $5,000.
  • However, it might be possible to move on as little as $400 if you are willing to couch surf, take the first opportunity for work that comes along and survive on as little food as possible for a few months.