Moving to New York City: Rent, Home Sales Cost High for Relocating to the Big Apple

Anyone who relocates to New York City learns about the sticker shock that comes with sky-high apartment and home rental prices. On the flip side, newcomers, especially seniors, also learn they can live comfortably without a car and thus save huge sums that would go for gas, parking and garages.

With over 8.3 million people, New York is the largest U.S. city. It is divided into five “boroughs.” Manhattan is the smallest borough in acreage but has the highest density of any metropolitan area in the U.S. The largest population is in Brooklyn, followed by Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island.

New York Has City and State Income Taxes

Those who come to New York to start a high-paying job may be shocked at where their paychecks get spent. For starters, New York has a city and state income tax deducted from paychecks. Newcomers can also expect to pay as much as $1,500 to rent a studio or small one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan or parts of Brooklyn.

New York City has confusing rent guidelines. The rent stabilization and rent control laws govern how much money a landlord may collect, especially longtime tenants. These people wind up with great deals on large apartments that they sometimes sub-let to others at a profit, although such deals may be illegal. Meanwhile, those who sign a lease for a new house or an apartment in a new or almost-new and unregulated rental building pay much higher amounts.

Even more confusing are the buying opportunities for those who would rather own a home. New York, especially Manhattan, is a landscape of apartments that are either familiar condos or much less familiar “co-ops.” The difference is crucial: condo regulations are similar to anywhere else, where buyers own their interior space but share common corridors and amenities such as lawns.

Co-ops involve buying shares in a corporation that owns and runs a building. Members of the co-op have the right to decide who they will and will not allow to buy, and typically demand personal recommendations, detailed financial statements, tax returns, and personal interviews.

The 2008 economic crisis increased the inventory of available homes for sale in New York, and prices as of March 2009 had dropped as much as 25%. Nevertheless, the sale prices and rental rates of homes in the most desirable neighborhoods, such as Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Greenwich Village, Tribeca, Chelsea and the Upper West Side are comparable to prices in London rather than to another U.S. city.

Some Manhattan Residents Walk to Work

On the bright side, moving to New York often means living within a 15- to 40-minute subway commute to a Manhattan office job from an apartment in Manhattan or many parts of Brooklyn and Queens, or even within walking distance. The subway fare is now $2.25 per ride, but dips when riders buy the 30-day unlimited Metro card for $89. Transfers are generally free. Cheap public transport is available to area airports.

In summary: New York is an expensive place to live but cheap to get around.