Manhattan’s Steep Cost Of Living Expenses: How The Big Apple Takes A Bite Out Of Your Wallet

June 24, 2013  |  

Everyone knows New York City is an expensive town. In fact, it regularly tops the list of most expensive places to live in the U.S.

But even the most jaded New Yorker would be surprised at how much residents pay for basic living costs compared with people living in the rest of the country. Business Insider (using’s cost of living calculator) reports Manhattan rates a high 225.4 on a cost of living index, much higher than the national average which balances out at 100, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research. First off, a home in Manhattan costs, on average, a whopping $1,303,420.67 — more than $1 million higher than the national average. And if you’re renting in Manhattan it will cost  $3,032.10 more than the national average. Rents there are about $3,902.10 a month, while the national average is $870.

But even little things have higher sticker prices in Manhattan.  A newspaper subscription is $8.67 more expensive than the national average of $16.68. A simple hair cut will cost$22.21 in the Big Apple, versus $13.66 on average  nationally. If you go shopping for women’s slacks, they will likely have a price tag of $37.37 in Manhattan, but in the rest of the U.S. you’ll pay about $28.06.

Outrageous it seems to pay such high prices. But according to a recently New York Times article entitled “What Is Middle Class in Manhattan?” there is still a middle class in Manhattan against all odds. “And yet the middle class stubbornly hangs on, trading economic pain for the emotional gain of hot restaurants, the High Line and the feeling of being in the center of everything,” reported the Times.

The middle class in Manhattan is relatively small. “The middle class makes up a smaller proportion of the population in New York than elsewhere in the nation…Household incomes in Manhattan are about as evenly distributed as they are in Bolivia or Sierra Leone — the wealthiest fifth of Manhattanites make 40 times more than the lowest fifth, according to 2010 census data,” notes the newspaper.

Being middle class in Manhattan is also on a difference scale than the rest of the country. In Houston or Phoenix, for example, middle class income ranges between $33,000 and $100,000 a year. In Manhattan, it would be  between $45,000 and $134,000. If you are taking into account Manhattan’s  high living cost index, then you are crunching different numbers. “[If] you are defining middle class by lifestyle, to accommodate the cost of living in Manhattan, that salary would have to fall between $80,000 and $235,000. This means someone making $70,000 a year in other parts of the country would need to make $166,000 in Manhattan to enjoy the same purchasing power,” explains the Times.

Would you live in a city with a higher cost of living because of the “excitement”  of the location?

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