The Real.Est List
#5: The price of life without roommates? $35,672 after taxes
(Originally posted on 5/4/11)
New York's a notoriously expensive town. Young, single New Yorkers like me often bypass high rents by living with roommates to cut expenses. And I have. For the past eight years (since my freshman year of college) I've shared a bathroom, living room, cooking space, utensils and the goings on of my personal life with roommates.
I'm almost 27 now and have had enough of explaining to my guests--who can only come over during times that won't inconvenience my two roommates--that what kitsch and occasional filth they may see does not belong to me. The problem is, I'm not sure that I'm quite financially ready to take on the burden of living alone.
The cheapest option, of course, would be a studio, which, according to a quick Craigslist search, would be at least $1,000 a month in the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan and closer to $1,500 in lower Manhattan. With that in mind, here's a calculation of how much I think it would cost me to live in a reasonable, clean, somewhat spacious outerborough studio that will make me feel like more of an adult.
Starting with the basic apartment expenses, there's rent ($1,100 compared to my current $750 rent), plus cable/Internet ($150) and electricity ($60 give or take), which I'd no longer be splitting three ways. Assuming heat and hot water are included in the rent, that brings us to $1,310 per month--or $490 more than I'm paying now.
Regular monthly bills--Metro card ($104), student loans ($200), cell phone ($70)--add on $374/month.
Total so far: $1,684/month, not including food, entertainment, and dare I say, savings.
A few more recurring expenses include monthly cab rides ($160, assuming two $20 rides per week), food, laundry and dry cleaning ($400), shopping & entertainment expenses ($500, and I'm probably low-balling this, but if I make the move, I'll tighten my belt, I suppose). That's $1,060 on top of the apartment and my regular monthly bills.
The grand total is $2,744/month, or $686 a week, which would mean, if I didn't have any savings plan whatsoever, medical expenses, bed bug infestations or any surprise expenses beyond this budget, I, or any other New Yorker would have to earn at least $35,672 a year, after taxes, to live a reasonable New York life, without roommates, compared to $29,302 with roommates.
Maybe I'll wait for a raise.