This is how much money you need to save before moving to NYC

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May 27, 2020
save this amount before moving to nyc

Whether you’re a recent college graduate or professional taking on a new job in the Big Apple, moving to NYC can be a big task. This is how much money you’ll need to have saved up before the big move.

New York City is one of the most populated cities in the United States and is made up of five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. It has a population of 8.7 million people as of 2019 and has one of the highest population densities in the country of about 28,210 people per square kilometer.

New York was the gateway where many immigrants first entered the United States and as a result, NYC has the largest foreign born population of any city and various languages are spoken within the city. 

Despite New York not being the main port for immigration to the U.S. today, many people are still looking to relocate to NYC for job opportunities. This doesn’t just include those living in different states, but also those living in other countries. This is because NYC is seen as a place full of opportunities and the “American Dream” and is a hub for media, finance, real estate, tech, and so much more.

money needed to move to move to nyc
Looking for a one bedroom apartment? Consider the Upper West Side of Manhattan for affordable rent prices

Cost of living in NYC

It’s no secret that living in New York City can get expensive. The United States’ cost of living average is 100 and in comparison, NYC’s cost of living is 187.2. This is also higher compared to the State of New York, which is 120.5 and Los Angeles with 173.3. One of the biggest reasons why living in the big apple is so expensive is due to housing cost.

This is because since NYC is essentially made up of islands, there isn’t a lot of land to expand on. New housing can only be built going up and are even limited to how high they can go. Therefore, it leads to a limited number of apartments available in the city compared to the high demand for housing. As a result, since housing is a limited commodity everyone needs, it comes with a high price tag.

So the best time to move to NYC can be related to the housing market. For instance, since Spring and Summer is a hot season for real estate, there are plenty of listings on the market. This means there are plenty of different apartment spaces to choose from in order to find your perfect home.

However, Winter is a lower season for real estate and has the least amount of listings available. But the positive to this is because of the slower market, housing prices are also lower than those compared to Spring. This means the best time to move not only depends on your job opportunity and own schedule, but what you look for in a home and if you prioritize pricing or finding the perfect space.

Can you move to New York with no money?
You can find great studio apartments like this one on the Upper East Side of Manhattan

How much to save before you move to NYC

Since New York City has a high cost of living, one of the biggest questions is “how much money should I save before moving to NYC?”. We’re here to break down all the potential costs you would have to look out for when living in the city along with its estimated monthly costs. By using this estimate, you can save up at least 4 months worth of living costs in order to prepare for your big move.

Shipping & moving

One of the biggest parts of moving to NYC is shipping all your belongings there. This cost is important to keep in mind especially if you’re moving from one state to another. It’s also good to research this beforehand as you might have to limit how much stuff you can bring and costs can vary depending on distance. A simple way is to use a cost calculator to estimate how much shipping your belongings will cost you. 

For instance, moving from Los Angeles to New York City with a moving distance of 2,447 miles, move size of 1 bedroom, and no packing services will cost you $3,781-$5,271. However, moving from Chicago to New York City with a moving distance of 711 miles, move size of 1 bedroom, and no packing services will cost you $2,364-$3,169.

Flight to NYC

After figuring out how to get your belongings to New York City, the next big task would be to figure out how much it would cost to get yourself over there. It is important to do your research as costs can vary depending on the time and season you decide to go. If you’re flying from Los Angeles to New York City, it would cost you around $297. However, if you’re going from Chicago to New York City, the flight price would be $157.


The biggest cost when moving to the city would be rent. Prices can vary depending on where you’re looking for apartments as well as how big the space is. The building, amenities, and surrounding neighborhood can also affect pricing. You can find smaller studio apartment rentals in Manhattan for $1,500/month or larger options for $4,300/month, like this one one the Upper West Side. One bedroom spaces in Manhattan could cost as low as $2,500/month or more, like this listing on the Upper West Side for $4,250/month.

When renting in NYC, it is also important to keep in mind that the first month’s rent is due when the lease is signed along with the security deposit. The deposit is usually one month’s rent so when signing a lease, you must be able to put down two months worth of rent at one time.

Additionally, if you’re not able to move all your main furniture to NYC with you, you might also have to think of the cost of furnishing your new space. Luckily, we have a few affordable options for you if you’re on a tight budget in our previous article.

How much does it cost to move to NYC
You can find stylish one bedroom apartments like this one in Tribeca

Utilities & taxes

Your monthly rent for your space isn’t the last of your housing costs. You’ll also have to think about utility bills such as the internet, heating, electricity, water, and garbage. Not including internet, the basic utility package that includes all of these for a 915 sqft apartment will cost about $135.54 per month and the estimated cost of internet will be $62.79 a month.

Along with your monthly utility bills, you’ll also have to keep in mind taxes. This includes city taxes as well as income tax in order to fully determine how much your paycheck will be. This is because NYC is one of the few cities that has a personal income tax and it ranges from 3.078% to 3.876% depending on income level. So if you make $6,000 a month, with a 3.078% income tax, your salary is already down to $5,815.32.

Transportation fares

The price of transportation can vary depending on which mode you choose. For instance, you can take public transportation which includes the subway or bus. You can also choose to Uber to your destinations or bike using CitiBike. The subway and bus have the same fare price that goes for $2.75 per ride, $33 for a seven-day pass, or $127 for a monthly pass. CitiBike has various pricing options to fit your lifestyle. It includes a single 30-minute ride for $3, a day pass with unlimited 30-minute rides for $12, an annual membership with unlimited 45-minute rides for $169 and many others.

Uber also has many pricing options depending on the type of car you request for, but is the most expensive mode of transportation of the three. The basic low cost option is UberX that has a bare fare of $2.55, costs $.035 a minute, $1.75 a mile, and a minimum fare of $7.


Similar to housing, the price of groceries can vary depending on the location, type of market, and if it’s non-organic or organic products. On average, a week worth of groceries for a single person household will be for 21 meals. It can include a pound of chicken (4 meals), a dozen eggs (6 meals), a pound of yogurt (3 bowls), a box of cereal (10 bowls), a pound of beef (4 meals), two onions (4-8 portions), green beans (2 portions), tomato (2 portions),  half gallon of milk (8 bowls), apple (1 snack), banana (1 snack), and potato (2 portions). 

Using the average food cost in NYC, chicken is $6.14, dozen eggs are $4.10, yogurt is $4.87, cereal is $4.08, beef is $7.79, onions are $1.56, green beans are $3.30, tomatoes are $2.81, milk is $3.49, apples are $2.26, bananas are $2.09, and potatoes are $1.63. The total cost of a week of groceries would be $44.12, which comes out to $176.48 a month. 

Total cost

With these estimates, we can calculate how much you’ll need for your first month in NYC which includes moving costs and your security deposit for your rental apartment. We can also determine how much on average you can expect to spend monthly after the first month. 

If you’re moving from Chicago to NYC, the first month in NYC will include $2,364 for shipping, $157 for the flight ticket, $1,900 for the Upper East Side studio apartment, another $1,900 for the security deposit, $135.54 for utilities, $62.79 for internet, $127 for the MTA monthly pass, and $176.48 for groceries. This all adds up to $6,822.81.

After the first month, not including moving costs, flight tickets, and security deposit, the total cost for a month will be $2,401.81. Keep in mind that this is just an estimated amount with just the basics you’ll need when living in NYC. it doesn’t include entertainment, eating out at restaurants, and other luxuries.

nyc cost of living calculator
Explore large Upper West Side studio apartments on Localize

Moving to and living in New York City is definitely expensive. However, if you prepare beforehand and save accordingly, the transition can be a relatively easy one financially. We hope this article helped prepare you for your future move! If you’re apartment hunting in NYC or just curious about different housing options, Localize is here to make your search easy. We have insights on all listings in NYC so you can find your perfect space.

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