As a 20-something living in NYC, I’m well aware of the financial challenges young adults face living in this city. Yes, it’s one of the most exciting places to live in the entire world. But it’s also one of the most unforgiving cities to live in.
I know many 20-somethings who dream of living in the Big Apple. We’re mesmerized by the bright lights, shiny buildings and fast pace. But behind all of that is a tough reality. It’s one thing to survive in this city but it’s a whole other thing to thrive. So what does it really take to live in New York City for a 20-something? Let’s take a look at the reality of it.
1. Jobs. One of the best things about New York City is the opportunity that’s available. It’s a great place to jumpstart your career. Some of the biggest companies in finance, technology, and fashion call NYC home. But at the same time, its one of the most competitive job markets (and highest income taxes) in the country. While NYC has experienced job growth over the past year, the growth is mostly limited to lower paying and entry level jobs. Many applicants have to settle for jobs they’re overqualified for. As a young 20-something, finding your dream job in NYC is completely possible. But you might have to pay your dues for a little while.
2. Rent. If you live in NYC, your biggest expense undoubtedly will be rent. In May 2015, the average cost of a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan was $3039 per month. That’s equal to an average monthly paycheck in other parts of the country. It’s safe to say that unless you have a well paying job, you won’t be living in your own apartment in a prime location. To save money, many 20-somethings in NYC opt to share apartments, live in the outer boroughs, or both. While it’s typically recommended to spend no more than 30% of your take home pay on rent, you might have to shell out more if you want to live in NYC.
3. Food. New York City is home to some of the best restaurants in the world. But you probably won’t be eating in any of them, unless you want to drop a few hundred bucks on a single meal. Eating out is expensive and spending anywhere from $50 to $100 on a meal with a couple drinks is pretty average. To save money, you’ll have to cook most of your owns meals. But you’ll have to learn to be a savvy shopper, as groceries here cost 28% to 39% more than the national average. Check out budget chains, like Trader Joe’s, and ethnic markets for better deals.
4. Entertainment. If you have any time to spare or money leftover, New York has plenty of entertainment options. The typical events like a Broadway show will of course be pricey. But the great thing about NYC is that there are plenty of free events too. Just do your research. Many museums offer admission on a donation basis, so you can give as little or as much as you want. In the summertime, parks host free outdoor concerts and movie nights. You can also always go to the movie theater, but that will set you back about $15.00 a ticket.
We all know how expensive NYC can be and that alone can scare you away. But for a 20-something, it’s one of the best places to live in the world. While living in this city isn’t for everyone, the reward is worth it if you’re ready to put in the work.
Have you lived or would you ever live in NYC, especially as a 20-something?