New York City is considered to be the most expensive US city. While the cost of living is slightly cheaper than other global cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Zurich, the Big Apple is by no means a cost-friendly location. Mercer's 2024 Cost of Living City Ranking ranked New York City as the 7th most expensive city out of 226 cities evaluated worldwide.

To help new arrivals overcome this economic intimidation, most employers will offer a relocation allowance for those moving to NYC. This initial supplement is designed to ease employees into life in the city; it helps tremendously when it comes to finding an apartment, paying deposits and shouldering the burden of set-up costs while jumpstarting a new life.

Cost of accommodation in New York City

New York City comprises five boroughs: Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx, Staten Island and Brooklyn.

New arrivals who choose to live in Manhattan will find the cost of living extremely high, particularly those who choose accommodation in the more sought-after neighbourhoods of Manhattan. But those willing to look beyond Manhattan may be able to find reasonable deals on housing in one of the other four boroughs.

Cost of transport in New York City

New York has a comprehensive subway system covering all five boroughs, so there's no need to purchase a car. That said, the cost of public transport is high compared to other cities in the US. Those regularly utilising public transport can save by purchasing OMNY or MetroCards.

Cost of education in New York City

The cost of education in New York City varies significantly depending on the type of institution. Public schools are generally free for all residents, but they may not always meet the needs of expat families due to differences in curricula or the language of instruction. Some public schools also offer specialised programmes, which may attract additional fees. Private schools, on the other hand, can be quite costly, with tuition fees depending on the institution's reputation and resources. These schools often offer smaller class sizes and more individualised attention, making them a popular choice for many expat families.

Another option is international schools, which offer globally recognised curricula such as the International Baccalaureate or the national curriculum of another country, such as the UK, France or Germany. These schools are tailored to meet the needs of expat families, making it easier for children to transition between countries. However, these schools are known for their high tuition fees, which can be a significant financial consideration for families. New arrivals must thoroughly research educational options and weigh the benefits against the costs before deciding on the most suitable school for their children.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in New York City

Eating out at some of New York's culinary hotspots or enjoying an evening of wine and cocktails can come at a hefty price. That said, those on a budget will still find plenty to see and do, whether taking a stroll through Central Park or taking advantage of one of the many free-entry museums dotted around the city.

Cost of groceries and clothing in New York City

Everyday groceries and clothing will be much more expensive in Manhattan than in other boroughs. New arrivals will undoubtedly find better deals outside Manhattan, but failing that, they can try buying online or from large main-street stores. The smaller corner shops and clothes stores downtown are fun to browse, but they can be pricey.

Cost of healthcare in New York City

New York City has fantastic healthcare facilities, but this high quality of treatment comes at a price. Those relocating to New York should establish whether their employer will provide them with comprehensive health insurance coverage or whether they would need to organise this themselves. Insurance will cover most expenses, with only a small co-payment required.

Cost of living in New York City chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for New York City in May 2023.

Accommodation (monthly)
One-bedroom apartment in city centreUSD 3,950
One-bedroom apartment outside of city centreUSD 2,400
Three-bedroom apartment in city centreUSD 7,200
Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centreUSD 4,100
Eggs (dozen)USD 4.70
Milk (1 litre)USD 1.25
Rice (1kg)USD 8.13
Loaf of breadUSD 4.25
Chicken breasts (1kg)USD 17
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)USD 16
Eating out
Big Mac MealUSD 12
Coca-Cola (330ml)USD 2.72
CappuccinoUSD 5.35
Bottle of local beerUSD 8
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurantUSD 100
Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)USD 0.10
Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)USD 70
Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)USD 172
Taxi rate (per kilometre)USD 1.86
Bus/train fare in the city centreUSD 2.75
Petrol/gasoline (per litre)USD 1.11

Expat Health Insurance

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Moving your family abroad can be intimidating, but learning about medical options such as family health insurance early on can help you settle successfully.

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