You Need To Earn Six Figures To Just Make It In NYC


nyc072806_026More than $2,000 a month for day care. Some of the highest phone bills in the country. Jam-packed, 50-plus-minute commutes to work. You knew it was tough to live in New York City – but this tough? A recent report shows just how ugly – and expensive – New York City can be, especially for the middle class, squeezed by skyrocketing living costs and stagnant wages. The study, released by the Center for an Urban Future, shows that New York City is hands-down the most expensive place to live in the country.Among the findings:

-A New Yorker would have to make $123,322 a year to have the same standard of living as someone making $50,000 in Houston.
-In Manhattan, a $60,000 salary is equivalent to someone making $26,092 in Atlanta.
-You knew it was expensive to live in Manhattan, but Queens? The report tagged Queens the fifth most expensive urban area in the country.
-The average monthly rent in New York is $2,801, 53% higher than San Francisco, the second most expensive city in the country.

“Income levels that would enable a very comfortable lifestyle in other locales barely suffice to provide the basics in New York City,” the report concludes.

Other belt-tightening details include:
-New Yorkers paid about $34 a month for phone service in 2006. In San Francisco, similar service cost $17 a month.
Home heating costs have jumped 125% in the past five years and are up 243% since 1998.
-Full-time day care costs can run up to $25,000 a year for one child, depending on the neighborhood.
-Wages in the city have remained mostly flat in all boroughs but Manhattan – even during the boom years from 2003 to 2007.

It’s not only money that makes life here hard, researchers said – which might not be news to most New Yorkers.

Take commutes, for example. The report found that many New Yorkers put up with commutes double the national average of 25.5 minutes.

Commuting to Manhattan from St. Albans, Queens, can take 51.7 minutes, while getting there from Canarsie, Brooklyn, can run 50.8 minutes.

Researchers said the combination of skyrocketing costs, stagnant wages and a deteriorating quality of life forced hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to flee the city for cheaper areas during the boom years from 2002 to 2006.

The report found that more New Yorkers left each year during the boom than left during the dark days of the early 1990s.

Center for Urban Future Director Jonathan Bowles noted that the number of people fleeing the city has slowed since 2007 as the rest of the country has sunk into recession, jobs have dried up nationwide and home values here started to sink.

Mayor Bloomberg downplayed the report but said he is concerned about the constant drumbeat of job losses in the city.

“There is turnover all the time. That’s very healthy,” Bloomberg said. “We’re doing fine, but it is very worrisome, the number of people who are losing their jobs.”

{Center for an Urban Future, Elisha Newscenter}