Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Another interesting article from The New York Times - this one about how New York is totally affordable compared to other places in the country.

Part of their argument is that most people don't own cars, so the costs of car payment, gas and vehicle maintenance make up for the much higher cost of housing. They also cite massive competition as lowering prices on everything from manicures to cookies.

Right when Peanut and I got married, he quit his job to go freelance and we were living off of my income alone. Right now, I am staying home with the baby and we are living off of his income alone. The dollar amounts of these two salaries are almost identical, so we are in a unique situation to compare everything. So, as a recovering ex-New Yorker, here's my take.

In New York, our rent was $1,444 for a one-bedroom 500 square foot apartment. Here, our mortgage is $1,366 for a three-bedroom, two bath 1,500 square foot house with a lovely backyard. Point: Minneapolis

In New York, metrocards cost us $100 per month each for unlimited bus and subway rides. We didn't take taxis. Here, our vehicles are paid for, and monthly maintenance costs are around $150-200. Point: Close tie, tipping toward Minneapolis because I don't have to carry a stroller up and down subway stairs here.

Crunching the numbers, we spend virtually the same amount of money for groceries and eating out. In New York, grocery shopping was a pain at best because we had to physically carry everything home and no store doubled coupons. Here I have a Target, local chain, and an Aldi all within two miles of my house and can get better deals. Point: Minneapolis. In terms of eating out, New York wins hands-down, for quality, price, and sheer diversity. Point: New York

Certain things in New York were cheaper due to competition - massages are the best example and pretty much the only one that has ever actually popped up in my life. Point: New York

So, it's an awfully close tie. But the tie-breaker point definitely goes to Minneapolis, because even though the costs of living wind up fairly even, the quality of life is so much better as to be priceless. Living in a detached house with private outdoor space? Having the option of public transportation or personal vehicle? Easy access to specialized medical care? Local family support? Having our child grow up in an environment we are more comfortable with? All of these things are beyond measure.

So, yes, New York. You are more affordable than most people realize, and I love to visit. But I am so glad I moved away!


  1. I'm headed to NYC tomorrow any must sees?

    1. Oh, I hope you get this in time!

      I prefer Top of the Rock to the Empire State Building.

      Take the Staten Island Ferry for a great (free!) way to see the Statue of Liberty up close.

      Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

      Restaurant recs: Panna 2 (Indian), Zen Palate (vegetarian fusion), Greek food in Astoria. Have fun!

  2. This post is so close to home! I'm from Minneapolis, moved to NYC for 2 years after college and now I'm back. You're absolutely right, life is completely different between the two places. Ultimately the quality of life in Minnesota (minus the snow in April) make it worth it to be here. I will strictly reserve it for visiting and really live it up when I do instead of living there 24/7 and pinching pennies.

  3. I didn't know you were in Minneapolis! NYC was my dream destination since from my first visit at six. Since I had to pay for my own college, Minneapolis (thanks to reciprocity) was the largest city that I could afford. I do wish I would have lived in NYC at some point, but two kids and a 2500 square foot house later, not a chance anytime in the near future. However, you are right, restaurants in Minneapolis are a struggle. There is a lot of great food...for a high price. My theory is more mid-priced independent restaurants struggle here because servers have to be paid Minimum wage - a huge increase to overhead. Thoughts?

    1. I did not realize that Minneapolis servers get paid the same minimum wage as other industries! That actually explains quite a bit. I'm glad for their sake that they get a more fair wage, but it does pinch our ability to eat out as much.

  4. And for me, the quality of life in Brooklyn is far superior than it would be in Minneapolis. Even if the cold were a non-factor, which it definitely isn't, I would still prefer New York. I have no desire to ever live in a private, detached house. Ugh, the maintenance! I like that I take my garbage to the shoot when the bin is full and never have to think about it again. I love that I have no lawn to mow or snow to shovel. I love that I can walk a block and go to a great local pub and have a wide selection of restaurants in my (very affordable) neighborhood to choose from. I don't have kids and probably won't but if I did, I think the city is a fantastic place to raise independent, awesome kids.

    I know a lot of people see New York as a temporary place for their 20s and maybe early 30s before moving to their forever home in the suburbs or elsewhere in the country but plenty of us don't see it that way. I might move somewhere else for a little while, for the right opportunity, but I think of the city as my forever home that I'd eventually return to.

  5. My quality of life in NYC would win that point for me. The culture and life experience that I got in my years in NYC far outweigh anything I learned in my suburb growing up or even my years living abroad. And my social life was amazing and there were constant new friends. Also, I lived in a very large apartment for $800 a month, so if you're not picky about location or you're savvy about your hunting/negotiating, you can lower that cost significantly. And if you want a yard, move out to Brooklyn or Queens. Or live across from a park. New York has it all.

  6. This is the problem with using the term NYC. Is Manhattan more expensive than the Midwest? YES. Is Brooklyn/Queens/Bronx/Staten Island more expensive than the Midwest? Not by much.


Thanks for commenting!