If you're residing in 432 Park...you're probably set and don't need to read this post. For everyone else not living there...(yet ;)) let's talk about how to ball on a budget and make your big city dreams become a reality.
The first thing most people say when I tell them I live in Manhattan is "woah! That is so cool!" The 2nd is "but isn't it SO expensive?!" Short answer. Yes. Singapore, Hong Kong, London etc. hurt the wallet more, but per capita, I pretty much chose the most expensive place in the United States to live. Well, me and 1.62 million other people because, well, it's amazing. And worth the price of admission in my opinion.
I have a few friends moving to the city, or thinking about moving to the city and their big question is: how much should I be paying for rent? Side note: this is useful whether you're moving to Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago or a small town in Montana. Cost of living varies but we all have these expenses.
Rent (most likely) will be your biggest expense, and for me, I am willing to cut back on other things in order to live in a nicer building, in a nicer area of town. Some people don't place as high of an importance on this, therefore they would rather have more dough left for other things instead of forking out a lot on the place where they rest their head. I also have a lot of friends that work CRAZY hours or just constantly travel, therefore it doesn't really make sense for them to pay an arm and a leg for a condo or apartment they only spend a couple hours a week in.
For everyone else, here are some things to consider. The 50/20/30 rule is one to live by (or try to at least.) 50% of your salary should be going towards your needs: rent, electricity, groceries etc. 30% for your wants: shopping, traveling, restaurants. 20% is for the future or paying down debt. Now, living in a high-priced city, these percentages may need to be tweaked because everything comes at a premium. You may be making more living in big cities but a dollar doesn't get you as far.
For my friends looking for new homes I tell them to think about a few things.
1) Location to work. You're going to be going there every single day therefore you need to figure out what that will cost. If you want to cut a cost, then live within walking distance to your office, therefore you can eliminate gas, the subway, bus, or Uber from your monthly expenditures. If living close to work is more expensive, see if you can justify it by those transportation savings.
2) Workouts. Gyms, ClassPass etc. in any big city are SUPER expensive. If you are doing that monthly, this needs to be incorporated into that monthly fixed cost section. A thing to consider is getting a building with a built in workout facility. Once again, these buildings may come at a premium, but what kind of savings are you looking at? First in an actual dollar amount but also 2) convenience of just having to walk right downstairs instead of walking 6 blocks to do weights on a freezing December morning. A big part of this is deciding what you value. Do you value convenience? Do you value quality?
3) Surrounding area. Is this the place where you will want to go out on the weekend? What type of restaurants are around you...is it an expensive area? If you live where you go out, you save on cab fares. The other side to that is these areas are usually pretty expensive because of their popularity. A thing to weigh is the ease of getting to these areas. If you plan on being in one of these popular areas many nights a week (let's say your friends are all in West Village but you live and work on the Upper East Side,) you need to think about your time cost of getting to happy hour in 5:00 rush hour traffic when Uber has a 3x surcharge (of course there is always the underground option in most cities.)
This borough map saved me when I first moved here. I highly recommend the website StreetEasy to find a sweet place. Using this map will help you narrow down your search results when you determine which neighborhood you want to live in. Look for No Fee places to save even more (that is the brokers fee which can be as much as 12-15% of the first years total rent.) A No Fee unit means you, as the renter, will not pay this fee. The landlord/owner of the unit will pay.
The other thing, you do NOT need a broker. I started with one and then using this site was able to find a place on my own, therefore eliminating that hefty cost. With a little, ok maybe a lot of, research you'll be good to go on your own, too.
The last thing is there are different "types" of places you'll see on this site. Apartments or Rental Units are the normal thing you would think of, probably the same deal as you had in college. There usually is no application process for these. Condominiums require an application and approval process. Usually there is an application fee and come with more paper work because the building's board must approve all tenants. Co-op's are similar in terms of the application process. If you're interested in a co-op or condo I would recommend starting the process sooner rather than later. Generally, in New York City, about one month out is when places come on the market so keep checking StreetEasy, contact the broker and get an appointment set up to see the unit as well as learn about what processes, deposits, reference letters etc. are needed.
Being able to prove you can pay the rent via your salary or a guarantor (your parents etc.) will also be something to investigate because getting that paper work can be a large task. Every building is different in how many times the rent you must be able to show (for instance you might have to prove you can show 20 times the rent so if you're paying $2,000/month, you need to be making at least $40,000.) The reason this is a big thing in NYC is because it is nearly impossible to evict someone. Renter laws are written to protect the tenant.
Moving anywhere new is stressful but choosing a huge city can amplify those worries. My advice: just do it. Start saving your bucks with Barneys, Bergdorfs & Bill$ so you can live how you want and just take a leap of faith and go for it. I'm big on risking it for the biscuit. You don't want to jump without looking but in my opinion, it's better than never jumping and simply being content. If you really want something, go get it!
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