New York City: Cost of Living

For our inaugural 2023 ‘New York State of Mind Study’, we asked 1,000 New Yorkers (across all 5 boroughs) about their experiences living in what many call “the greatest city in the world.” Twice yearly, our team will dig deep into what New Yorkers think, feel, and do. This enables us to understand the most exciting and urgent issues facing New Yorkers today.

Here, we explore one of the most critical concerns that came to light in the survey: the cost-of-living crisis. The below is an overview of our findings on this topic and emphasizes the extent to which this problem impacts New Yorkers.

Three in ten New Yorkers are unprepared for a potential emergency expense

The rising cost of living is weighing on millions of New Yorkers. When asked to describe their financial situation, one in ten (10%) New Yorkers report struggling to afford necessities such as food, medical care, or rent, with Black New Yorkers (14%) being twice as likely to fall in this category than white New Yorkers (7%). An additional one in five (18%) reported that they would struggle in the wake of an unexpected expense.

New Yorkers notice rise in rent, grocery, and dining prices

New Yorkers are noticing hikes in prices across a range of expenses. Almost 9 in 10 (88%) New Yorkers have observed an increase in the price of groceries, while 77% have noticed an increase in the price of dining out, and 68% report an increase in rent/housing costs.

The average New Yorker is rent-burdened and spends a third of their income on housing

On average, New Yorkers report spending 34% of their pre-tax income on housing. Because the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines “rent-burdened” as when someone spends over 30% of their pre-tax income on housing, this means that the average New York resident is rent-burdened.

New Yorkers think a six-figure household income is required to live comfortably in the city

When asked what household income a household “with the same number of people as yours” would require to live comfortably in the city, the average response across all household sizes was $115,000.

According to the US Census Bureau, the median household income in New York City was just over $70,000 from 2017-2021 and the per capita income was only about $44,000 during this same time period. Even accounting for wage growth since that time, the majority of New York households are unfortunately earning significantly less than what they deem necessary for a comfortable life, further illustrating the strain that New Yorkers across all boroughs are experiencing.