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Thread: NYC: The Costs of Living

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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Default NYC: The Costs of Living

    There have been a number of posts in various threads regarding the cost of living in NYC. This thread is for discussion / posting of related info.

    This article pulls some of that information together:


    Gotham Gazette

    http://www.gothamgazette.com/article...0051004/5/1608

    Who Can Afford to Live in New York City?


    by Andrew Beveridge
    04 Oct 2005

    Affordable housing has been one of the few concrete campaign issues this year; every candidate seems to have a plan. But is it possible to satisfy the need for affordable housing in New York City?

    Usually housing is considered unaffordable if it costs a household more than 30 percent of its income. With that definition, about 1.1 million of the 3 million households (36.7 percent) are living in housing that is not affordable to them. In fact, over 600,000 (19.9 percent) spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing.

    By reviewing housing data http://www.huduser.org/datasets/cp.html based on the U.S. Census from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, one can understand just how unaffordable housing is in New York City.

    The department has determined that the median income for a family of four in 2000 was $52,100, and it labels income as "low," "very low," or "extremely low" depending on how far income falls below that median.

    Slightly less than half of all households in New York City are considered low income (anything $41,700 or below for a family of four), and most of them must pay a large percentage of their total income to obtain housing -- whether they are renting their home, or own it. Almost two thirds of these households spend more than 30 percent of their income for housing. Almost two-fifths spend more than 50 percent on housing. Housing is even less affordable for those with very low (under $26,050) or extremely low (under $15,650) incomes.

    To live in New York City and not spend a tremendous fraction of your income on housing requires the household to have higher income. Even among those with higher incomes, 13.4 percent spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. (Only 2.9 percent spend more than half). These results and others are in the accompanying table.

    (For TABLE see article: http://www.gothamgazette.com/print/1608 ).

    It is important to emphasize that New Yorkers spend a large amount on rent even though New York City is one of the few places in the United States with rent regulation. It also has a very large number of its residents living in public housing or availing themselves of other federal subsidies, and there are also such housing programs for the middle-class as Mitchell-Lama housing.

    Yet, when compared to the 107 places in the United States that have at least 100,000 housing units, New York City ranks first in the proportion of "low income" residents who pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing costs, and ranks fourth for all residents whatever their incomes who pay more than half, following Miami, Los Angeles, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

    The accompanying map shows the distribution of those households who pay more than 50 percent of their income throughout New York City.



    Housing cost burdens are highest in areas of most poverty. An earlier column defined the areas where the poor live.

    These areas, include, the following:

    • The Bronx, including the South Bronx; part of Harlem;

    • Brooklyn, including the area around Bedford Stuyvesant and Flatbush, as well as some parts of Greenpoint and Williamsburg,

    • In Queens, some areas of Jamaica.

    Many of the residents living in these areas are either in a housing project or have a housing subsidy, yet they still spend a very large amount of their income on rent.

    The conclusion is inescapable: Many low income New York City residents cannot afford the homes in which they are living. For all the publicity in the mayoral race given to affordable housing plans, given the scope of the problem, these amount to little more than token developments for a lucky few.

    *

  2. #2

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    Thank you for this information. One factoid that really stands out is that $52K is about average for a "living" salary (for a family of four). This Year 2000 amount of course has to be adjusted for inflation.

    I had a single friend who lived in Bed-Stuy on a salary of $46K. His 1-bedroom apt was under $900. After 3 years he finally had to leave NY, it was too expensive for him.

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    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Aza, I think it was just too expensive for him for other reasons.

    I was at 33K in Hoboken with an $800 rent, car insurnace and the whole lot when I first started out.

    My bank account was dead even for a good year, including about a trip a week to the bars on the weekends.

    The thing was, I had to drive to my folks to do shopping at Shop-Rite, do my laundry and all the rest, which saved me some $$. But I can't see where your friend could not afford to live on what you were saying.


    Unless, of course, he liked eating out and drinking more often, which is a HUGE drain on a budget in NYC.

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    I understand the issue, but I think the 30% rule is kind of arbitrary. NYers pay more for housing because we're choosing to live here. Most of the people I know here want to live here, and consider it somewhat of a luxury in itself, so what's wrong with paying more for housing when where we live is more important to us?

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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    That is $46K before taxes.
    The take home is that minus say 25%.
    So take it down to ~ $35K.
    Housing at $900 / m = ~ $11K
    So now we're down to $ 24K.
    Food: $100 / week = $5200
    Puts you at ~ $19K.
    Transportation (gas @ ~ $50 / wk; Insurance @ ~ 3K / yr, Repairs + ??) = ~ $6K.
    Down to $13,000.

    This leaves ~ 1k / month for:
    Entertainment
    Education
    Medical
    Who knows.

    Easy to see how there would be nothing left.

  6. #6
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryan
    ...so what's wrong with paying more for housing when where we live is more important to us?
    Nothing "wrong" with it, just that if, at the end of the year, you can't afford it and have to leave then the "luxury" of being here has disappeared.

    I know that is the same for anywhere, but the point is that NYC is more expensive than most places -- and the compensation salary-wise isn't necessarily in line with that.
    Last edited by lofter1; October 4th, 2005 at 05:22 PM.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by ryan
    I understand the issue, but I think the 30% rule is kind of arbitrary. NYers pay more for housing because we're choosing to live here. Most of the people I know here want to live here, and consider it somewhat of a luxury in itself, so what's wrong with paying more for housing when where we live is more important to us?
    Look at the areas where the struggle is hardest. The South Bronx, Manhattan North, Brooklyn North, and Queens South. Most people in these neighborhoods are working to leave them. These aren't the New Yorkers going to Times Square on Friday night for a good time. These New Yorkers stay in their neighborhoods. Many work in their neighborhoods. These are working class neighborhoods with very low incomes.

    In these neighborhoods, most of the people paying more then 30% of their income on rent don't live in NYC becuase they think "Wow, i'm a New Yorker!". They live in NYC becuase this is home.

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    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1
    That is $46K before taxes.
    The take home is that minus say 25%.
    So take it down to ~ $35K.
    Housing at $900 / m = ~ $11K
    So now we're down to $ 24K.
    Food: $100 / week = $5200
    Puts you at ~ $19K.
    Transportation (gas @ ~ $50 / wk; Insurance @ ~ 3K / yr, Repairs + ??) = ~ $6K.
    Down to $13,000.

    This leaves ~ 1k / month for:
    Entertainment
    Education
    Medical
    Who knows.

    Easy to see how there would be nothing left.
    I know what you are saying loft.

    I watched every penny when I was at my starting salary in Hoboken. I did not drive anywhere I did not absolutely have to go, and I tried to reduce things like eating out to a minimum.

    Pasta was only 50 cents a box on sale, got OJ when it was $1.50 a half gallon, etc etc......

    The only thing was, I had no change in my savings account for two years while I was at that salary. When it went up, I started my 401K, etc etc.....


    NYC and the surrounding area is not the easiest place to afford to live. The irony is, if you want to be able to enjoy some of the things NYC has to offer, you may not be able to if you actually live here...

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    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BxOne
    Look at the areas where the struggle is hardest. The South Bronx, Manhattan North, Brooklyn North, and Queens South. Most people in these neighborhoods are working to leave them. These aren't the New Yorkers going to Times Square on Friday night for a good time. These New Yorkers stay in their neighborhoods. Many work in their neighborhoods. These are working class neighborhoods with very low incomes.

    In these neighborhoods, most of the people paying more then 30% of their income on rent don't live in NYC becuase they think "Wow, i'm a New Yorker!". They live in NYC becuase this is home.
    Bx, the only thing that I see is a major problem is that the very thing that is making these working families leave is the same thing that made their lives better in those areas.

    NYC was not always the place where everyone wanted to live, and it did not always have the $$ to do things that were needed to improve itself.

    We talk now of being able to walk through pretty much all of manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx without worrying about being mugged. The subways are cleaner and better, and so are a lot of other things.

    So neighborhoods are getting nicer which is great, up to a point. That point is where the Whole Foods store, or Kings replaces Key Foods or Stop and Shop or even the corner grocery that some of these people could afford their daily groceries.

    It is at the point where people are able to have a hous whose rent is 1/3 their neighbors, but feel somehow cheated when their place is sold to condo developers....


    It is very difficult to be able to work a solution to benefit both sides. You cannot just give prime real estate away, people do not appreciate it. But at the same time how can we keep our blue collar and below workforce within commutable working distance?

    How do we enable "affordable housing" without it becoming a "project"?

    How can you improve something without making it worth too much?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjahedge
    So neighborhoods are getting nicer which is great, up to a point. That point is where the Whole Foods store, or Kings replaces Key Foods or Stop and Shop or even the corner grocery that some of these people could afford their daily groceries.
    Not a single Whole Foods in NYC has been built in a recently-gentrified area - Chelsea, Union Square, and Columbus Circle have been expensive areas for some time. And I've never heard of Whole Foods replacing something like Key Foods. There's still a Gristedes on 14th street just 2 blocks from WF. And King's doesn't even exist in the NYC market, just Hoboken.

    And frankly, those corner bodegas are often as or more expensive than a C-Town or even Whole Foods. Fancy grocery stores are not really an indicator of anything but an new niche market. The only thing that really displaces poor people is rising rents.

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    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arbeiter
    Not a single Whole Foods in NYC has been built in a recently-gentrified area - Chelsea, Union Square, and Columbus Circle have been expensive areas for some time. And I've never heard of Whole Foods replacing something like Key Foods. There's still a Gristedes on 14th street just 2 blocks from WF. And King's doesn't even exist in the NYC market, just Hoboken.

    And frankly, those corner bodegas are often as or more expensive than a C-Town or even Whole Foods. Fancy grocery stores are not really an indicator of anything but an new niche market. The only thing that really displaces poor people is rising rents.

    It is more than just rents you know. Rents, for the most part, make people wanting to come in or change their living situation much more difficult.

    The selling out and redevelopment of buildings is what pushes a lot out as well.

    I see it as a gross cost of living increase that is preventing a good economic spread here.

  12. #12

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    Rich New York City residents certainly aren't heading to Times Square to whoop it up on a Friday night.

    If you'd ever been to that area at night, you'd see that it's filled with people from the exact neighborhoods you mentioned, BxOne.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1
    That is $46K before taxes.
    The take home is that minus say 25%.
    So take it down to ~ $35K.
    Housing at $900 / m = ~ $11K
    So now we're down to $ 24K.
    Food: $100 / week = $5200
    Puts you at ~ $19K.
    Transportation (gas @ ~ $50 / wk; Insurance @ ~ 3K / yr, Repairs + ??) = ~ $6K.
    Down to $13,000.

    This leaves ~ 1k / month for:
    Entertainment
    Education
    Medical
    Who knows.

    Easy to see how there would be nothing left.
    Why would you figure car costs for NYC? With a few exceptions for certain types of employment, a car is a completely unnecessary luxury.

  14. #14
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Ninjahedge made mention of a friend with a car / insurance, so I figured that in.

    I don't have a car -- and wouldn't even know what to do with one in NYC after all these years.

    But some people do have them -- and if you do then you have to figure it into the budget.

    I figure that my transportation costs = ~ 1,200.00 / year. That is mostly using subway / busses with the occasional taxi and very infrequent rental car (which blows the budget immediately).

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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Living costs heating up in new EU capitals

    http://www.e-warsaw.pl/new/index.php...k_id=501&kat=1


    The capitals of four of the newest member states of the European Union are experiencing the fastest rise in living costs on the continent, a survey released yesterday showed.

    The bi-annual Worldwide Cost of Living survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit found Warsaw, Prague, Budapest and Bratislava surging up a list that includes 130 cities from across the world.

    The Polish capital has shot up 37 places in the ranking, from 92nd to 55th, surpassing a number of US cities including Miami, Boston, Seattle and Atlanta. Prague occupies the same spot, having risen from 75th since the last survey results were released in March.

    Similarly, Budapest and Bratislava have jumped 12 and 10 places respectively according to the survey, which compares the US dollar equivalent of prices and products across the world.

    Tokyo remains the world's costliest city, closely followed by Oslo and Osaka, Japan. Reykjavik in Iceland, Paris, Copenhagen, Zurich, London, Geneva and Helsinki make up the world's remaining top 10. But several eurozone cities are slipping in rank under the influence of a weakening euro.

    At the other end of the table, the Iranian capital Tehran is the cheapest measured in the survey, followed by Manila in the Philippines and Yangon in Myanmar.


    source: Yahoo News


    2005-08-10, Biuro Promocji Miasta

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