What it's really like living in New York City on a $100,000 salary

Astrakan Images/GettyNew York City’s sky-high cost of living and high taxes keep a six-figure salary from going as far as it could.
  • New York City has some of the country’s highest-paying jobs.
  • Nearly 30% of New Yorkers make six-figure salaries.
  • But a high income doesn’t render you impervious to the city’s high taxes and infamously high cost of living.
  • From tiny, 260-square-foot apartments to above-average-priced milk, here’s what living in New York on a $US100,000 salary can really look like.

New York is a relatively high-income state.

Source: Data USA

And New York City has higher incomes than other parts of the country.

Source: Data USA

Many people flock to the Big Apple for the assortment of high-paying jobs the market has to offer.

Source: CNBC

About 30% of New Yorkers end up making six-figure salaries.

Source: Statistical Atlas

Jobs in New York that pay a $US100,000 salary include business analyst, executive assistant, and software engineer.

Source: Indeed

That’s compared with the average salary in New York City — $US69,211.

Source: PayScale

With $US100,000 rolling into your bank account annually, you may think you’re ahead of the game, which is relatively true.

But in reality, your take-home pay will be closer to $US65,000 after income taxes.

Source: Go Banking Rates

Then you have to account for New York’s infamously high cost of living.

The cost of living here is 129% higher than the national average, according to PayScale.

Source: PayScale

A gallon of milk in New York, for example, costs $US4.53 on average versus the national average cost of about $US3.50.

Amy Sussman/AP Images for ALDI

Source: Investopedia and Studying in the US

When it comes to discretionary spending, it costs an average of $US100 a month to have a gym membership in New York …

Source: Business Insider

… a basic dinner for two people at a neighbourhood pub costs an average of $US57 …

Source: Business Insider

… and a men’s standard haircut costs $US26 on average.

Source: Business Insider

To get around the city, a monthly public-transit ticket is $US121, which is the fifth most expensive monthly transit ticket compared with 50 cities globally.

Source: Business Insider

The city’s sales-tax rate sits at 4.5%, and combined with the 4% state sales tax, consumers pay a total 8.5% sales tax to shop in New York City.

Source: New York City Department of Finance

For reference, the average sales-tax rate in the US ranges from 2.9% to 7.25% in the majority of states, with some states not enforcing one at all.

Source: USA Today

Then there’s the issue of housing, which is by far the biggest contributor to New York’s high cost of living. Housing is a whopping 369% higher than the national average in New York.

Source: PayScale

The city’s property taxes are relatively low at 0.8%, compared with the statewide and national averages of 1.65% and 1.19%, respectively.

Source: Smart Asset and Smart Asset

If you want to buy a home in the New York City metro area, a yearly salary of $US105,684.33 could afford you the cost of the principal, interest, taxes, and insurance on a median-priced home, according to mortgage rate site HSH.

Source: HSH

Of course, this is assuming you already have a 20% down payment of about $US80,780 already saved. And your options for buying a home in the city for $US403,900, the median home price in the greater metro area, will be a little slimmer.

The median home value in the five boroughs of New York City is closer to $US680,000, according to Zillow.

Source: Zillow

And renting isn’t any easier.

If you abide by the advice to put no more than 30% of your annual income toward housing costs, that leaves you with $US2,500 a month for rent.

Source: Naked Apartments

While that may seem like a lot, this is New York City we’re talking about …

… where the average renter pays $US3,667 for an apartment, according to Investopedia.

Source: Investopedia

In Manhattan, the average rent for a studio apartment is $US2,550.

Source: Naked Apartments

If you opt for a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, that will cost you closer to $US3,100 a month in rent.

Source: Naked Apartments

And on top of that, New York renters often have to cough up what’s called a broker’s fee, which usually amounts to about one month’s rent of an apartment up front at lease signing.

To afford something roomier than a studio apartment, there’s a good chance you’ll need to find a roommate, like many New Yorkers do.

NBC/IMDbThe actresses Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox, who played roommates in the TV show ‘Friends.’

In fact, a 2017 study found that 40% of adult renters in New York City were living with a roommate.

NBC/IMDbThe actors Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc, who played roommates in the TV show ‘Friends.’

Source: New York Curbed

You could also live in one of the surrounding boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, which are still pricey but more affordable than Manhattan.

Source: Naked Apartments

The average studio rent in the Bronx is $US1,450, while the average rent for a studio in Queens and Brooklyn is $US2,175 and $US2,350, respectively.

Source: Naked Apartments

If you’re determined to have your own space in Manhattan, you could adopt the tiny-living lifestyle.

Leanna Garfield/Tech Insider

Tiny apartments aren’t uncommon in New York City, but the 55 micro-apartments at Carmel Place in lower Manhattan take that concept to a new level.

Leanna Garfield/Tech Insider

Source: Business Insider

The apartments were developed in 2015 as a tiny-living experiment to help aid the city’s growing population and resulting lack of affordable housing.

Source: Business Insider

The units range from 260 to 360 square feet. For comparison, the average size of an apartment in Manhattan is 702 square feet.

Source: Business Insider and RENTCafe

Monthly rent there starts at $US2,775, so it’s a bit over budget.

Leanna Garfield/Tech Insider

Source: Business Insider

But gym access, housekeeping, laundry facilities, grocery delivery, and access to social events are included in that price, as well as up-to-date appliances and furniture, which trims your cost-of-living elsewhere.

Leanna Garfield/Tech Insider

Source: Business Insider

Business Insider’s Leanna Garfield spent a night in one in 2015 to see what living in the units is really like.

Leanna Garfield/Tech Insider

Source: Business Insider

She found the room to be beautifully decorated and designed, and said “it’d be easy to live here” if she could afford the monthly rent.

Leanna Garfield/Tech Insider

Source: Business Insider

Overall, the micro-apartments at Carmel Place are newer than what you would normally find in the hunt for an apartment rental, micro or otherwise, in New York City.

Leanna Garfield/Tech Insider

Source: RentHop

But space is just something you have to sacrifice sometimes if you’re going to live in New York. The YouTuber Chris Buell said he paid $US2,600 a month for this 350-square-foot apartment in an undisclosed New York City neighbourhood.

Source: Chris Buell/YouTube

There was a small closet in a small bedroom …

… but at least the apartment had full-length windows with sunlight streaming through, which can be a desirable feature in the New York City rental scene.

Source: The New York Times

And a lack of space isn’t always the only hurdle you may have to jump.

Many New Yorkers live in buildings that weren’t built anytime recently, including the YouTuber Jeremy Bernier, who lived in a 100-year-old building.

Source: Jeremy Bernier/YouTube and


He was working as a software engineer making $US150,000 a year in 2016, when he was living in this one-bedroom apartment in the East Village for $US2,500 a month.

Source: Jeremy Bernier/YouTube and Jeremy Bernier/YouTube

The average age of a residential building is 90 years old in New York City, so even with a $US100,000 salary, there’s a good chance you’ll be renting an older apartment.

Jeremy Bernier/YouTubeThe bathroom in Bernier’s East Village apartment.

Source: Rent Hop

This article has been updated since publication.

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