A taxi in the streets of New York City

City Guide / New York City

What Is the Cost of Living in New York City?

By Bri Hand | Aug 30, 2021

To live in New York City is to fulfill a dream for so many people. Skyscrapers tower over the packed pavement full of young artists, entrepreneurs, and hustlers. At night, the skyline dazzles like a million jewels, and during the day, sunny Central Park stretches through the city, offering an alluring urban oasis. 

The only oft-bemoaned subject for this city? The high cost of living in New York City.

That said, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Check out our guide below, which covers the average costs in different neighborhoods, including: 

  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Transportation
  • Food
  • Entertainment

Cost of living in NYC: Rent

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that housing is the largest expenditure category for New Yorkers, making up 38 percent of their overall budget in 2018-19. In comparison, the U.S. average is 32.7 percent.

Rent prices will vary by neighborhood, so this guide will look at average rent overall in NYC as well as average rent in favorite neighborhoods and across housing in the five boroughs.

As of March 2019, these were the median rents for apartments in New York City compared to apartments nationally: 

Apartment SizeMedian Rent in NYCNational Median Rent 
Studio Apartment$1,899/mo$827/mo
One-Bedroom Apartment$2,098/mo$947/mo
Two-Bedroom Apartment $2,499/mo $1,175/mo

New York hopefuls can control these costs somewhat based on the neighborhood they choose for their housing. In 2018, Business Insider compiled average rent prices for Manhattan’s 28 neighborhoods, listed here from least expensive to most expensive:

  1. Washington Heights: $2,176/mo
  2. Roosevelt Island: $3,379/mo
  3. East Harlem: $3,412/mo
  4. Tudor City: $3,287/mo
  5. Theatre District –  Times Square: $3,839/mo
  6. Clinton-Hell’s Kitchen: $3,877/mo
  7. Murray Hill: $3,918/mo
  8. Turtle Bay: $3,948/mo
  9. Kips Bay: $3,951/mo
  10. East Village: $4,003/mo
  11. NoMad: $4,005/mo
  12. Gramercy Park: $4,005/mo
  13. Flatiron District: $4,050/mo
  14. Greenwich Village: $4,076/mo
  15. Garment District: $4,128/mo
  16. Financial District: $4,128/mo
  17. Yorkville: $4,145/mo
  18. Carnegie Hill: $4,145/mo
  19. Chelsea: $4,173/mo
  20. Hudson Yards: $4,176/mo
  21. Lenox Hill: $4,250/mo
  22. Civic Center: $4,419/mo
  23. Lincoln Square: $4,644/mo
  24. Upper West Side: $4,697/mo
  25. Manhattan Valley: $4,707/mo
  26. SoHo: $5,287/mo
  27. Battery Park City: $5,575/mo
  28. Little Italy: $6,013/mo

Studio and one-bedroom apartments in Manhattan are on the lower end of the above averages, while two-bedroom apartments are slightly more expensive. Of course, you can’t forget about New York City’s other boroughs. As of 2017, here are the average rents for each borough:

  1. Staten Island: $1,500/mo
  2. The Bronx: $1,700/mo
  3. Queens: $2,992/mo
  4. Brooklyn: $3,045/mo
  5. Manhattan: $4,044/mo

Looking to find housing in one of these five boroughs? Save by renting already furnished apartments in NYC and apartments that offer flexible, short-term leases.

Cost of living in NYC: Utilities

Renters often forget to factor the cost of utilities into their renting budget. As of 2019, the average cost of a basic utilities package in a 915-square-foot apartment in New York was $145.55 per month. That includes:

  • Heating
  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Garbage

New Yorkers are getting a pretty good deal. The average cost for basic utilities across the U.S. is slightly more at $152.02 per month. The average monthly cost of internet is also similar to the national average, at around $62/mo. 

If you’re renting an unfurnished apartment, you will likely need to set up these utilities yourself. When you rent a fully furnished apartment, however, the utilities are often already set up prior to your move-in.

Cost of living in NYC: Transportation

The same BLS report mentioned above found that New Yorkers spend approximately 12.5 percent of their budget on transportation. The national average is 16.8 percent. Residents of the New York metropolitan area spend about $9,255 annually on transportation, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks down into:

Transportation CategoryNew York CityNationally
Buying, operating, and maintaining private vehicles79.8%92.4%
Public and other transportation20.2%7.6%

Translation? New Yorkers spend more on public transportation, less on private vehicles, and less overall on transportation compared to the national average.

Most New Yorkers don’t have cars because of the quality of the city’s public transportation system and the added expenses of vehicle ownership. Two of those expenses are parking and gas. While parking in the outer boroughs is slightly less expensive than in Manhattan, a 2017 and 2019 study found the following: 

  • Average Cost of Parking: $606.37 per month
  • Average Price of Gas: $3.08 per gallon
  • Average Insurance Rate: $4,400 per year

In each case, this is more expensive than the national average. While New York has one of the best public transit systems in the United States, it is also one of the most expensive:

CityCost of Monthly Transit Pass
New York City$127/mo
Chicago$105/mo
Los Angeles$100/mo

Although the cost of public transportation is more expensive in New York, transportation is overall still less expensive because most people don’t need a car. With just your MetroCard, you will be able to access world-class restaurants, theaters, nightclubs, bars, museums, and more.

Cost of living in NYC: Food

When it comes to living expenses, New Yorkers’ average spending on food was similar to the national average:

LocationFood Expenditure
New York City13.3%
United States12.9%

Although New York is known for its extraordinary restaurants, residents spend a similar percentage on food inside the home versus outside the home as the average U.S. household:

CategoryNew York CityU.S. 
Food expenditure at home54.4%56.6%
Food expenditure away from home 45.6%43.4%

In New York, this works out to $5,352 on food at home each year and $4,491 on food away from home each year, or $9,843 total. As for groceries, in 2019, New Yorkers paid an average of $471.34 each month per person. This is more expensive than the U.S. average, which is $324.40.

The inflated grocery costs can be attributed to the overall cost of living (companies have to pay workers more and pay higher rental costs) and the difficulty of making deliveries on such a busy and crowded island.

Cost of living in NYC: Entertainment

Another reason to love New York? The city has incomparable entertainment options. See a show on or off-Broadway or spend the day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or Natural History Museum.

New Yorkers spend 4.1 percent of their budget on entertainment, which is slightly less than the 5.1 percent national average.

Of course, that 4.1 percent doesn’t cover food or alcohol. New Yorkers spend 0.9 percent of their budget on alcoholic beverages, which is the same as the national average. To help you imagine your big-city future, here are the average costs for some entertainment options:

  • Average movie ticket price in Midtown New York: $15.25
  • Average cost of a ticket to see the Brooklyn Nets: $87
  • Average cost of a ticket to see the New York Knicks: $190
  • Average cost of a ticket to see the Mets: $27.60
  • Average cost of a ticket to see the Yankees: $47.62
  • Average cost of a ticket to a Broadway show: $122.73
  • Ticket price for the Metropolitan Museum of Art: $25
  • Ticket price for the American Museum of Natural History: $23

Discover your next home, wherever you are

The average cost of living in New York might be higher than the national average, but there’s a reason that people of all ages and backgrounds flock here. It’s the city that never sleeps. The Big Apple. The Empire City. It’s whatever you want it to be, and it can be yours with Landing

Moving to the capital of the world has never been easier. Access one of our already furnished apartments in NYC on a flexible lease and create your new home today.

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About the author

Bri Hand

Bri Hand is Landing's Content Marketing Manager. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, with her partner and dog, Arlo, but relishes any opportunity she can to travel so she can try new foods, see gorgeous sights, and daydream about living somewhere new after visiting there for less than 24 hours.