We have gotten this topic requested a few times over the past weeks so would love to share a bit more authentically about the cost of living between NYC and LA. As Kelly now has lived in both cities she can definitely speak more candidly about the differences. However I will definitely dive into an honest review of how I have found the cost of living in New York City!
SHOP COURTNEYS LOOK BELOW:
As I am sure many of you know New York City is not in any way cheap! Expect for manicure’s and pedicure’s. I still have no clue why this is, but they are cheap af is NY – I am talking $9-$10. So other than that know if moving here, it will be a stark difference from every other city except maybe San Francisco.
When I moved here straight from college I was making a decent salary, honestly, probably better than many of my other friends working in the NYC fashion industry. I had the blog which was also just starting to pick up, so I was able to make a little extra cash here and there which was incredibly helpful. To be honest any second job in NYC is helpful. Whether you are babysitting after work, dog walking, or teaching a yoga/workout class, having a second sort of income just makes you feel better about going out on the weekends or going to nice dinners. Extra spending money is key!
So to break the cost of living really down for you I will go through a couple key parts of living in any city! Starting with the cost of housing. (NOTE: That I will only be referencing my personal experience or close friends personal experiences with moving to NYC. In no way do I think you should swear by these #’s. Just breaking down MY experience.)
HOUSING IN NEW YORK CITY
It ain’t cheap. When I moved to NYC living in the city was out of the question for me. I couldn’t afford it, and I was moving in with Kelly and her two college friends that also couldn’t afford it. Therefor we lived in East Williamsburg. Not to be confused with the Bedford Ave part of Williamsburg, which is now almost more expensive than Manhattan. We lived in a cute little 4 bedroom apartment on the top floor of a new building and each paid $1,200. In MY experience, especially compared to coworkers and friends, this was a great price for what we were getting. It was larger than a lot of apartments in Manhattan and had a ton of outdoor space AND a gym. Looking back I feel extremely lucky for that starter apartment. So many of my friends moved to the city blindly and were living in literal jail cell apartments for $1,600 each.
Kelly and I lived there for 2 years before outgrowing it and in desperate need of more space. Space is not easy to come by in many parts of NYC so we decided to move to Bushwick, which is deeper into Brooklyn. The cost of living in Bushwick is great. It is up and coming but it is a great spot for the artistic/creative types who are looking to live without claustrophobia and save money. At this time in both of our careers – Kelly & I needed an office as the blog was starting to grow. We found a 3 bedroom apartment (turning the 3rd bedroom into a closet/office/guest room) each paying $1,400. This is of course not dirt cheap but we were only 20 mins outside of Manhattan and were able to feel like we could breathe! After about 8 months in that apartment Kelly got the offer to move to LA so I started my journey of moving to Manhattan because of the L TRAIN – WHICH DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THIS TOPIC I GET SO UPSET ABOUT IT – IS NOT ACTUALLY CLOSING.
Apartment hunting in Manhattan is no freaking joke. I have a whole blog post dedicated to it HERE. (I am not going to go into more detail about that because if you are interested read the above article.) In transparency Kyle and I did not want to go above $3,000 for a 1 bedroom. I was really comfortable with what I was paying in Bushwick and wanted to stay there, especially because I was leaving Macy’s and was a little unsure (at the time) how blogging full time was going to go. We tried finding a 1 bedroom in Long Island City (Queens) but couldn’t find anything cheaper than $3,400. When we looked in downtown Manhattan we were devastated by the prices. Nothing fit our budget and a studio was out of the question. Luckily we found a decent sized 1 bedroom apartment in Murray Hill (which we live in now) for $2,800 and we couldn’t be happier with it.
Moral of this long ass story (sorry) is that housing is expensive. It will be the biggest expense you will have if you live in NYC. However I can guarantee that it is worth it. I also wanted to be honest in ours/& my current rent #’s so that if you are in the same budget range as us/me then you know it is achievable to find a decent apartment at a great price!
TRANSPORTATION IN NEW YORK CITY
Here you will find your largest budget saver. You do not in any way need a car to live here. I have never had one and never needed one. I pay $121 each month for an unlimited rides subway card that gets me everywhere I need to be in the city. You have no insurance payments, gas payments, or car payments! So can I get a yay for cost savings!
EATING IN NEW YORK CITY
Eating out is also not cheap here. So if you are looking to save money try and limit that expense, but not completely get rid of it. NYC has too many amazing restaurants to not indulge now and again! There is also this magical place called Trader Joe’s. Such a cost saver!! Kyle and I have really gotten into a groove of only grocery shopping there (the lines suck I know, but I swear they go fast!) because of the prices and quality of the food. Last night we bought multiple dinners/lunches/snacks that will last us at least 2 weeks and only spent $51.50. Try to not get caught in a Seamless (NYC Postmates/Grubhub) habit!
THE LIVING PART OF LIVING IN NEW YORK CITY
My absolute favorite part of calling NYC home is the actually living in NYC part of it. There is so much to do here and something going on at all hours of the day and night. Some things are expensive (Don’t be shocked by a $25 cocktail at a rooftop bar) but there are also things that are extremely affordable. Comedy shows, visiting the MET, visiting the MoMA, Central Park, The Staten Island Ferry (actually this is free), The High Line, Top of the Rock are all AFFORDABLE. Also when you are actually living here and calling this city home you find places and ways to make it work. You find the bars that don’t overcharge you and the restaurants with great food and deals. However no matter which bar you go to in the city the drinks will NEVER be cheap, so don’t quote me on cheap drinks. Expect maybe $1 beer night at 13th Step but I wouldn’t want you to succumb to that treachery. However do note that the 13th Step is now just called The Step. Groundbreaking I know.
SHOP KELLYS LOOK BELOW:
As Court mentioned, I have now lived in both cities and the cost of living really does differ.
HOUSING IN LOS ANGELES
It’s cheaper. There I said it. My secret is out! During my apartment search, rent in general was much cheaper than what I was used to when searching for NYC apartments. My LA apartment is probably AT LEAST 3-4 bigger than any apartment I have lived in in New York. I have a back porch (right off my room) full kitchen, huge living room, separate dining room, washer/dryer room, walk-in closet, etc. I pay $1200 and live in The Grove/West Hollywood area (which is basically synonymous to living in Chelsea/West Village I would say). Paying that rent and getting that much space really doesn’t happen in NY. However my LA friends have also told me that I really came across a serious gem. For additional context, one of my best friends lives in a beautiful full one bedroom for about $1700 in the heart of West Hollywood. In general however when it comes to housing, you just get more bang for your buck in LA because there is more room for housing as opposed to NY. If you want something cheaper and are interested in living alone, looking further east like Silverlake, Echo Park, Los Feliz is absolutely your best bet!
TRANSPORTATION IN LA
Not easy, but not a deal breaker. For the first 4 months of living here, I Uber Pooled everywhere and that added up very quickly. I was traveling so much that I didn’t have time to get a car and ended up relying on Uber and my friends to cart me along. I sold my car a few years ago so had to purchase a new vehicle once I moved here (which was a stressful thing for me). I went back and forth on whether to purchase or lease a car and decided on purchasing a Volkswagen Passat. Either way, (depending on the car of course) I would end up paying a couple hundred dollars a month for my car payment and generally pay about $60 to fill up my tank. As opposed to New York however, I now rarely rely on Ubers to get me anywhere. Overall, a car payment is new to my budget.
EATING IN LA
Where ordering food was a big expense for me in NY, I think I have maybe seamlessed (actually Uber Eats here) twice. I generally walk to the Trader Joes which is around the corner and get the pre-made chicken breast and cauliflower salad which I divvy out throughout the week. It maybe comes to around $10 and lasts me at least a few nights. I splurge when Matt and I have date night and although we try and hit up happy hour spots we usually each spend at least $50 each when we go out on dates – which we are working to decrease in our 2019 budget 🙂
So much of our activities have to do with the outdoors. I absolutely love hiking and try to do so often (which is obviously free). During the Summer I am constantly at a beach or by the pool and the only thing I am spending money on for those activities are some cocktail accoutrements and snacks (duh.) I absolutely travel a lot more living in LA since I have a car and one of my goals is to continue to explore the West Coast so that is a new expense. For me, living in LA is cheaper than living in NY because of lifestyle changes and of course rent!