Budgeting for moving to New York City
Since I resigned my job at Microsoft in February, I have been working part-time remotely for a stealth startup on the East Coast from home here in Bellevue, WA since my apartment lease runs through May. Soon I have to decide whether to renew my lease for another year, go month to month for another $300 a month, or move on.
My big interest is to once again live in New York City. Places like Bellevue and Boulder, CO are certainly "nice" if you like the suburban small city lifestyle, but I really enjoy the energy level of Manhattan. Affording life in "The Big City" is a separate question. I have looked at my budget carefully and decided that although it will be tight, I can (barely) swing it. My short-term savings rate will fall to near zero, but I expect to increase my income level gradually over time.
There are two big costs associated with a move to Manhattan: 1) higher apartment rent, and 2) New York State and City income tax. There are plenty of things in Manhattan that are more expensive, but a little budgeting can keep most of the other expenses under control.
On the other hand a big expense is eliminated for me by moving to Manhattan: the cost of budgeting two trips a year to Manhattan. In fact, a big advantage for me living in Manhattan is that I can take trips by train and bus to Boston and Washington, D.C. much more cheaply. Also, I can enjoy life in Manhattan without the need to travel expensively just to get to some place where I can enjoy life more than I can in Manhattan. Sure, I would eventually like to do some world travel, but I am unable to afford that today anyway, so it will have to wait until I (eventually) strike it rich.
I am hoping to get a studio apartment in Manhattan for $1,400 or $1,500, but I may have to pay $1,650. Ouch. But, that included utilities. In fact, if I were to renew my lease here in Bellevue, I will be paying $1,060 once I add in utilities, so the incremental rent is not totally outrageous. In truth, a lot of people will spend a lot more than $590 a month for entertainment and recreation out here in the Seattle area while I simply get a lot of entertainment and recreation for free simply walking around the streets of Manhattan.
I haven't finalized my decision to move back to New York City, but I am almost "there."
Incidentally, I have lived in Manhattan twice before, back in 1994-1997 and 2000-2005.
My next step is to contact my old real estate broker and see what prices and availability are like. I have already been scanning Craigslist for a couple of weeks now, so I know roughly what apartments are going for.
I will probably gravitate back to Tudor City which is in Midtown East, at the east end of 42nd Street across First Avenue from the United Nations, since it is convenient, safe, economical, and has a reasonable level of service.
I will need to budget for a "house hunting" trip, the cost of moving my stuff back East, and a final, one-way trip to Manhattan. I have been thinking about taking the bus or Amtrak train for that final trip. I was originally planning on a trip back to New York City in May or June anyway, so the money I will save by not having to pay for a hotel for 10 days (at $250 to $300 a night) will actually pay for a big chunk of my move.
Other options I have for comparison purposes are moving back to Boulder, CO, to Washington, DC, or to San Francisco. The latter would be interesting, but the simple fact is that as much as I like visiting San Francisco (or Seattle for that matter), I simply really, really enjoy living in Manhattan much better.
The basic downside of moving to Manhattan is that I will be forced to budget myself extremely tightly, but that is probably a good thing in any case. As I said, the nice thing about Manhattan is how much I can enjoy for free.