Living in New York City is expensive — even if you have a high-paying job.
And while it’s possible to balance out costly splurges with affordable activities, it’s not for everyone. If you’re thinking about packing up and heading to the Big Apple, it’s important to make sure you can truly afford it before making the jump and landing in debt.
And the biggest red flag that you can’t weather life in an expensive city has nothing to do with how much you make. The top sign you can’t afford to move to New York comes down to whether or not you have a thorough budget — and stick to it.
“It comes down to numbers,” says Mary Beth Storjohann, a certified financial planner and CEO and founder of Workable Wealth. “Crunching the numbers on what it’s actually going to cost to move is a big one.”
Earning a good salary might make it easier to afford New York’s exorbitant rent prices, but if you aren’t keeping track of where your money is going, the constant stream of temptations make it easy to blow it all in the blink of an eye. Building out an honest, detailed budget — and sticking to it — will make or break your chances of surviving in an expensive city.
Storjohann suggests building out your “big city budget” first thing if you’re considering a move.
“You want to figure out what’s your rent, what are your expenses, what do you need to get by,” she explained to Business Insider. “And then factor in some savings, retirement, and your emergency fund as well. That’s where you want to aim your salary.”
It’s also important to consider how your taxes will change if you’re moving from another state, says Alan Moore, a certified financial planner and cofounder of XY Planning Network.
An $80,000 a year salary doesn’t translate to $80,000 in your pocket. To understand how your taxes will be affected, Moore recommends playing around with the IRS Withholding Calculator.
But even so, creating a detailed budget means absolutely nothing if you don’t follow it.
“You can do it all, but you don’t do it all at once,” Storjohann says. “You have to be aware that you’re going to have to make some sacrifices and then actually make them, as opposed to getting there and thinking, ‘I have seven weddings to go to this year, let me put all those flights on my credit card.'”
Be honest: Once you figure out where you’re willing to sacrifice, will you hold yourself accountable? If the answer is no, you might want to head back to the drawing board.
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