Even outside the congested sprawl that is New York City, moving anywhere in New York State has benefits. The state is busy, beautiful and full of potential.
Whether you’re set on big city living or want to take advantage of the fall foliage and outdoor space upstate, if you want to call New York home, you’re going to need to take a close look at your budget. Calculating your cost of living, based on New York State prices, is a great way to start. Consider costs in these essential areas to see if this northeastern state is right for you.
New York Housing prices
It’s no secret that New York, overall, is an expensive place to live. Especially in and around The Big Apple, housing prices can skyrocket to the point that you’re cramming five people into a one-bedroom apartment.
That said, there’s always a deal to find, even if it means living a little further out than you’d anticipated. Here’s the cost of living in New York for housing in major cities.
As the state capital, Albany sits upstate along the Hudson River with a thriving urban center. It’s known for its diverse culture, great architecture and a lot of college students. Housing prices here are on the rise at 6.2 percent above the national average.
Rent prices are increasing only slightly year-over-year, keeping things pretty affordable. A one-bedroom apartment averages out to $1,267 per month, up 3 percent over last year. A two-bedroom apartment averages out to $1,465 per month, up 9 percent over last year.
Housing prices are also increasing at about the same rate, up 4.4 percent over last year. The median home price in Albany is currently $235,000.
The largest New York City borough when it comes to population, Brooklyn is well-known for its people. The diverse crowd comes from all over the world, many to orchestrate a start-up or pursue an opportunity at one that’s taken off. A trendy place, that’s easy to navigate, Brooklyn is an attractive home for a lot of people, which is most likely why its housing prices are 196.7 percent above the national average.
Although rent prices are coming down in Brooklyn, when compared to last year, they’re still on the higher end. A one-bedroom apartment, down 25 percent, still has an average monthly rent of $2,600. Two-bedroom apartment prices have dropped by 53 percent, but are still $2,650 per month, on average.
Home prices are on the rise and pricy. The median home price in Brooklyn is $1.02 million, up 3 percent over last year.
The only city on the list coming in under the national average for housing, Buffalo is 6.8 percent below. The second-largest city in the state, situated right on Lake Erie, is what you think when. you think upstate.
Rents in Buffalo offer a mixed picture. One-bedroom apartments are up 5 percent, and two-bedroom apartments are down by 12 percent. This may make renting more affordable than buying since home prices are on the rise.
An average one-bed rents for $1,327 per month, a two-bed is at an average of $1,446 per month, but median home sales in Buffalo sit at $216,00, which is an 8 percent increase over last year.
As the literal center of everything, it’s no surprise housing prices in Manhattan are 382.7 percent above the national average (wow!). This is the most densely populated of the five boroughs, home to the Empire State Building, Times Square and Broadway. It’s also a major commercial, financial and cultural center. You get it all.
Average apartment rent aligns with this heightened housing cost. At $4,517 per month, finding an affordable place could be a challenge.
Home prices aren’t much better. The median home price in Manhattan, which stayed the same as last year, is currently $1.2 million.
Situated on Long Island, Queens is home to the U.S. Open tennis tournament, as well as great museums, restaurants and attractions. It’s also considered one of the safest New York City boroughs to live in and a great place for families. These attractive qualities have definitely boosted housing prices, which are 109.1 percent higher than the national average.
Apartment rent isn’t very cheap either, although prices are rising slowly. The average one-bedroom rent is $1,900, up 6 percent over last year, and two-bedrooms have an average monthly cost of $2,300, up 15 percent.
House prices are up 2.3 percent from last year. The median home price in Queens is pretty high though at $706,000.
Another cost of living in New York is food. Averaging in all of New York State, food prices aren’t that expensive. The average New Yorker only spends between $233 and $267 per month on groceries, which isn’t that much. Of course, it depends a lot on where you live, whether you fit into what’s ‘average.’
- Buffalo is 4.6 percent below the national average
- Albany is 12.9 percent above the national average
- Queens is 25.7 percent above the national average
- Brooklyn is 29.2 percent above the national average
- Manhattan is 44.4 percent above the national average
It’s no surprise that food prices are higher the closer in you get to New York City. You can see these differences much better when looking at the cost of individual items. For example, eggs in Manhattan are 38 percent more than eggs in Buffalo. Bananas in Brooklyn are 18 percent more than bananas in Albany.
This same price difference is apparent when on a date for two. A three-course meal in Brooklyn for you and a special someone is $90, but that same meal only costs you $73 in Buffalo. That’s a 19 percent difference just to live in the city.
Throughout New York State, utility prices hover pretty close to the average across the country. Two cities even tie, with utility prices slightly below average.
- Albany and Buffalo tie at 4.6 percent below the national average
- Manhattan is 3.3 percent above the national average
- Queens is 4.4 percent above the national average
- Brooklyn is 6.6 percent above the national average
Even with reasonable utility prices, monthly energy bills are high, on average, in every city on the list. They’re all above $150, with some even close to $200. It makes sense, though, when you think about how much electricity it takes to power this state, most of it concentrated in those neon signs in Times Square (they’re bright).
However, even with this energy consumption, the state’s Clean Energy Standard mandates New York provide 100 percent carbon-free electricity from all sources by 2040. They’re moving in the right direction for this cost of living in New York.
Public transportation is big throughout New York, which is good because driving in some areas is downright intimidating. This includes city driving, as well as navigating all that winter snow. With a combination of buses, trains and your own car, here’s how the cities stack up when it comes to transportation prices as a cost of living in New York.
- Buffalo is 0.6 percent below the national average
- Albany is 0.8 percent above the national average
- Queens is 9.2 percent above the national average
- Brooklyn is 14.9 percent above the national average
- Manhattan is 17.6 percent above the national average
Depending on where in New York you live, a car may really not be necessary. Public transportation in certain spots is amazing, and all five boroughs have impressive walk and bike scores. Manhattan, for example, has a walk score of 97 and a bike score of 87. You can definitely get around there without a vehicle.
The New York City MTA extends its reach to all five boroughs, including Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. With subway, bus and rail lines, you can really get just about anywhere you need with the MTA.
Fares vary based on what line you’re riding and whether it’s an express. Most subway routes and local busses cost $2.75 per way. The express bus is $6.75.
The best way to use the MTA hassle-free is with a MetroCard. The cards themselves cost $1 plus the fee for the type of card you want. You also get unlimited swipes within a certain amount of time. For example, a 30-day unlimited MetroCard costs $127, but you get unlimited subway swipes for those 30 days.
CDTA in Albany
The Capital District Transportation Authority offers bus routes throughout Albany, but also services other cities within the Capital Region of the state. In Albany alone, there are 40 different routes.
The base fare for a ride on the CDTA is $1.50. For the most cost-effective ride, residents use a Navigator card which lets you add pay-as-you-go funds or buy a discounted monthly pass.
NFTA Metro in Buffalo
A combination bus and rail system, the NFTA actually covers both the Erie and Niagara Counties of New York. Within the heart of Buffalo, the rail system gets you where you need to go.
A standard fare is $2 for all NFTA Metro services. Monthly passes are also available for $75. There’s also a mobile app you can use to buy Metro funds to board both buses and the rail system.
Overall, the cost of living in New York for healthcare prices are pretty reasonable, with no city that much higher than the national average.
- Buffalo is 8.2 percent below the national average
- Brooklyn is 4.2 percent above the national average
- Queens is 4.9 percent above the national average
- Manhattan is 7.9 percent above the national average
- Albany is 11.3 percent above the national average
Interestingly enough, the highest overall city, when it comes to healthcare prices, has the least expensive average doctor visit. Albany costs $99 on average to see the doc, while the most expensive visit will be in Queens at $132.86.
Goods and services prices
Overall, most of the things you have in your budget that aren’t completely necessary, but you really like having, cost more in New York, on average, than around the country.
- Buffalo is 8.3 percent below the national average
- Albany is 13.9 percent above the national average
- Queens is 20.2 percent above the national average
- Brooklyn is 23.8 percent above the national average
- Manhattan is 33.1 percent above the national average
The sticker shock of childcare
One other item in the goods and services category that can really shift your monthly budget is childcare. Maybe you don’t need to pay for this now, but it’s a pricy item in New York, so it’s good to know.
A full-day, private preschool costs $2,043 per month in Brooklyn. Prices in other boroughs exceed $1,100 per month, as well. It’s not until you get further away, to Buffalo, that this cost dips below the $1,000 market. Preschool in Buffalo only averages out to $935.42.
Taxes in New York
Sales tax in New York can get high fast. The state has a sales tax of only 4 percent, but local areas can then add up to 4.875 to that total. That means the most you could possibly pay in sales tax is 8.88 percent. At this level, for every $1,000 you spend shopping, you’re automatically forking over $88.80 straight in taxes. That’s a high markup.
Of course, the areas within New York City max out their sales tax. Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens all have an 8.88 percent sales tax rate. Buffalo is barely less at 8.75, and Albany is only slightly lower right at an even 8 percent.
Altogether, it’s expensive to shop (and live) in New York (but you knew that already).
How much do I need to earn to live in New York?
Living in New York comes with a hefty price tag, so it’s very important you calculate your cost of living properly in order to ensure your budget can handle it. The best way to do this is with our rent calculator, but there are a few basic numbers you can crunch, as well.
One of them is calculating how much you’d need to make annually to afford the average New York rent, which is $2,355 per month. To do this, you need to put 30 percent of your annual salary to rent. So, at this average price, you’d need to make $94,200 a year.
This is possible, but not always probable being that the average annual income in New York is only $88,030. This number comes close, but a few places may still be out of reach unless you bring in a roommate to supplement costs. That’s a game-changer for the budget.
Living in New York
The most amazing thing about New York is the assortment of lifestyles you can lead. You can take urban living to the extreme throughout New York City, or slow things down upstate. Sometimes, your budget will drive where you end up, and sometimes, you’ll cram yourself into a tiny apartment with roommates just to live in the middle of the action. Either way, New York has so much to offer and is a great place to take up residence.
The Cost of Living Index comes from coli.org.
The rent information included in this summary is based on a calculation of multifamily rental property inventory on Rent. as of June 2022.
Rent prices are for illustrative purposes only. This information does not constitute a pricing guarantee or financial advice related to the rental market.