New York City. Bright lights. Concrete jungle. The city that never sleeps. For many people, it’s the American dream. I’m one of them.
About 5 years ago when my then fiancé and I were planning our wedding and deciding where we’d be moving to (we had both grown up in North Dakota and wanted to try big city living), we narrowed our options down to two places: Chicago or New York City.
I had recently graduated with a degree in French and had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. My soon-to-be husband was a BFA Musical Theatre graduate and was on a clear path to following his passion.
So we chose Chicago, a great stepping stone for us both in so many ways.
But about 2 years into living in The Windy City, that itch for The Big Apple started to grow. I slowly started scratching it and pretty soon, we were putting money into a moving fund and making plans to head another 800 miles away from our hometown.
When we moved to Chicago, we had rented a U-Haul, packed it with wedding gifts and hand-me-down furniture and way too many clothes and drove the 12 hours to our new home. In total, we spent about $1,000 and a lot of energy hauling all that stuff up to our new three story walk-up apartment.
So when we decided three years later that we were ready for NYC, I immediately knew I wanted to sell everything and start fresh.
How Much Does It Cost to Move to NYC?
Below outlines how much it cost my husband and I to move to New York City. Some things to keep in mind: We were 26 and 27 years old at the time. We were a couple. We had saved for about a year before we moved. We are both naturally frugal and budget conscious.
If you’re moving as a single person, your costs will be different than ours. If you’re moving in your early 20’s, you may not care to furnish your apartment in the way we did. Whatever your situation, I hope you can use the numbers below as a guide to help you save for and find your dream NYC apartment!
1. The Apartment
This was our biggest and least negotiable expense.
When we started our search, we knew we wanted a 2 bedroom and that our max rent was $2,500 per month. We researched neighborhoods before starting our search and decided we wanted to live in the Upper Manhattan area, specifically Washington Heights.
It took us 7 days and 3 brokers to find the apartment we now call home which came in under budget at $2,095 per month. Still, even with the price being lower, we had to front a heck of a lot of cash to get our dream place.
Due on the day of our lease signing:
- 1st month’s rent: $2,095
- 2 month’s rent as security deposit: $4,190*
- Broker’s fee (15% of total yearly rent): $3,771
- Fee for 3 separate cashier’s checks: $30
Total Apartment Cost: $10,086
*We will get the $4,190 back once we move out of this apartment, but we still needed that much money up front.
We were required to give two month’s rent as our security deposit instead of one because even though we had a large savings, we didn’t have jobs at the time.
2. The Move
When we left Chicago, we had a bit of a unique situation. Ty and I spent three months between our move from Chicago to New York City volunteering in Africa and traveling through Europe. We decided that instead of paying to store all of our stuff for those three months, and then spending another $1,000 to move it, we would sell everything and buy what we needed once we got to NYC.
This drastically cut down on moving expenses. Instead of a big moving truck, we simply drove a small car from Chicago to New York City with the few belongings we had housed in a friend’s place while we were abroad.
From Europe, we first flew to NYC and found our apartment. Then flew back to Chicago with Spirit for $117.18 each which we included in our moving costs. We then rented a car from Budget for $200.20 through Hotwire and made our way back to New York. We also spent $13.50 on car insurance, $56.63 on gas, $18 on parking, and about $27 on tolls.
Total Move Cost: $549.69
3. The Stuff
Now this cost is totally variable and dependent on the person. When we made the move to NYC, Ty and I were in our mid-20’s and had been married over 3 years. We wanted more of an “adult” apartment. We took a measuring tape with us everywhere we went and made sure to buy pieces that fit our apartment exactly.
If you’re moving on your own and have a really tight budget, you could honestly really get by with just a bed and a few other essentials. We bought:
- This amazing and cheap bed frame. It’s 18″ off the ground and can fit 8 storage totes under it! We love it.
- This crazy cool and affordable mattress. It expands once you unroll it. Even after almost a year of use, it’s still super comfy!
In total, we spent around $5,000 furnishing our apartment. We refer to it as our “Minimalist Retreat”. We’ve kept it simple with the necessities and have filled it with only things we love.
Total Stuff Cost: $5,000
4. Other Costs to Consider
Temporary Lodging. We were fortunate enough to stay with a friend while we were looking for an apartment in NYC. If you’re coming to the city without knowing anyone, you’ll definitely want to budget for few nights stay. I highly suggest staying at an Airbnb in the area you’re looking to live. This is significantly cheaper than renting a hotel plus you’ll get familiar with your new ‘hood before committing to it with a lease.
Related: Get $40 off your first Airbnb stay!
Utilities. There’s more cost to an apartment than just the rent. Our place has all utilities included except electricity. This runs us about $50 a month. We also spend $45 per month on internet. Take these costs into consideration when you’re figuring out your monthly budget and how much you can afford on rent.
Transportation. The only people I know who own a car in NYC are definitely not in their 20’s, and if they are, they live way out of the city making their rent much cheaper which offsets the costs of a car. If you’re like me and most of my New Yorker friends, you’ll ditch your vehicle and say hello to the subway. Currently, it costs $121 for a monthly MTA pass.
I hope these numbers help give you an idea of how to budget for your move. If living in New York City has always been your dream, DO IT! A year later and I’ve never once regretted moving here. NYC can be hard, and sometimes way too expensive, but at the end of the day, living in this city is unlike living anywhere else and it’s all worth it.
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