How Much Money do you Need to Move to NYC?

Before I moved to NYC, I was convinced I needed to save $10,000 to comfortably move without a job. But in all honesty, that number was pretty lofty, and since it was practically unachievable, it kept me from taking any action. Since money is so important in moving, I thought I’d share my thoughts on how much money you need to move to NYC.

Everyone asks how much money do you need to move to NYC? This guide will help you understand how far your money can go once you move to New York.

So, how much money do you need to move to NYC?

The answer is it depends, and it depends on how fast you can find a job. I set a goal to find employment within three months of moving here (which is pretty realistic) and tried to save enough to get me through life until my first paycheck. A note about the NYC job search: it can take a long time.

When I moved to New York I had about $4,000 in cash saved and could still depend on a little bit of freelance work that paid me about $2,000. By the time I landed a full-time job, three months later, I still had cash leftover.

The amount of money you bring with you will likely determine how easy your transition will be. Mostly, money buys you time to figure things out (like finding the right job) and allows you to live in nicer apartments and neighborhoods. Just remember, the amount of money you start with doesn’t necessarily dictate how successful you will be once you are here, how your life will be six months after you’ve settled, or whether you’ll be one of the transplants that move back.

Don’t move with debt.
Just don’t. Money will be incredibly tight and you can’t stretch it if you’re paying off a car loan or credit cards. Before you move, tackle that debt. (Ok, so I did move with a low-ish student loan payment but part of my savings accounted for three monthly payments toward the loan.)

How much money do I recommend you bring?

I think you should have at least $4,000 start with. It gives you time to find the right place and get somewhat settled, and if you’re smart, it can go a long way. Here’s an example of one woman who moved with $3,000. If that number seems unrealistic for you, it can be done for cheaper, like this guy who only moved with $400. Just hope you have a lot of generous friends in the city who have couches.

Regardless of your financial situation, the trick is to not buy anything you don’t need the first few months.

With $4,000, here’s where I think it can get you*

*If you’re doing it the cheapest way possible.

Day of arrival:
You can rent a room in a hostel, hotel, or airbnb for a night or two the moment you arrive. This will give you some time to browse Craigslist for semi-permanent housing (but it’s probably a good idea to start this before you leave).

A note about day of arrival: I was able to stay for free for about two weeks in a friend’s spare bedroom. A lot of people do this when first moving to New York and many established New Yorkers are willing to help newbies out and let them crash for a few days on their couch. Before you move ask if you can shack up with a friend temporarily, but don’t overstay your welcome.

Week of arrival:
With some savings, you can establish more permanent living, like renting a craigslist room or airbnb (hopefully furnished) for a few months without signing a lease or broker’s fee. For something around $600 – $700 a month you will have roommates and you likely won’t live in a nice neighborhood, but it will be safe neighborhood.

You’ll also be buying yourself time to travel throughout the city to look at Craigslist rooms and different neighborhoods.

Month of arrival:
Once you’ve established some housing, your savings gives you time to apply for jobs (ideally you’ve done this before moving) and go on interviews. Expect tons of interviews.

Unless you’ve moved with no bills, it’s likely you may still have to pay your cell phone, student loan, or health insurance. Your savings can go toward this to keep it from going into default.

Having a little cushion will also help you nurture your social life a little and not feel too stressed for grabbing a beer with new friends. But don’t forget to explore the city’s many free things, go to meetups, and network!

Beyond:
You’ll probably be living in an apartment with a roommate for a while. Once you’ve found a job that can better support you, you may want to move out of the temporary room into an apartment with a lease. If so, be prepared to be hit with a ton of costs (read: broker’s fee, first month’s rent, security deposit). Any leftover money from your initial savings could be used for that.

Here’s what you won’t be able to do with $4,000

  • You will not be able to get on a lease or rent an apartment by yourself.
  • You won’t be able to be unemployed for much longer than a month or two, which means you can’t be picky with jobs. If one is offered to you, take it. You can apply to better ones later, but you need that paycheck now.
  • You won’t be able to live in a nice neighborhood. You won’t be able to live alone.
  • You won’t be taking any taxis, but you’ll get really comfortable with the train.
  • You won’t be able to furnish an apartment (that can come later).

I hope this was helpful in determining the amount of money you’ll need to move. I do want to say everyone’s situation is different and what worked for me may not work for you, you may need more money depending on your expenses and lifestyle preferences.

I’m curious. If you’ve moved to NYC, how much money did you bring?

Comments

  1. Reply

    This is an incredible post for people considering the move! I’ve been wanting to live on the East coast for awhile but I’m definitely going to try getting a job first before moving. So informative, love it!

    xo, alice / T Y P E N U

    1. Reply

      Definitely, if you can, get a job before moving, but it’s not the only way to do it. I love the East Coast!

  2. Reply

    This was a great read! I moved to NYC a year & a half ago with money saved of about 5,000. I also moved with no job and landed one in the first month. I also agree that moving debt free is the best way. It took a lot of the pressure off. And I actually pay less than half in bills living in NYC as I did in Atlanta, Ga… (of course I do live with roommates now)
    So glad to find some other NY bloggers. following you on IG now!

    1. Reply

      Yeah, I found my bills went down thanks to splitting them with a roommate. I used to live in Tallahassee! I’m glad to find another southern transplant blogger too! Will follow you. Thanks for stopping by.

      1. Reply

        I live in Tallahassee now and want to move to NYC with my fiancé and daughter. I’m about to get my tax return which is about $3000 because of child tax credit, and I will be selling my car because my parents are giving me their car. So altogether I should have about $5000-$6000 if I don’t spend any of it before the move. Also, the plan is to go in August so that’s 7 months worth of extra saving we can do before the move. In addition to all of that, I’m already getting requests for interviews (I’m a social worker) and my fiancé is a cook so there are tons of jobs for him. Would it be possible for us to get an apartment? Shockingly, we can make a 1 bedroom work if we make the main room with our bedroom like a usual studio and give the bedroom to my daughter with a twin size bed. I doubt we can land a 2 bedroom, but if we can that’d be awesome. We’re looking to move to Brooklyn (like everyone else) but I don’t know which area yet. We’re going to visit soon so we can scope out neighborhoods. Sorry to throw all this out at you, but I’m curious of what you think about this scenario? Possible?

        1. Reply

          Hi Kristen. I moved from Tallahassee to Brooklyn too! It’s awesome that you’re already getting requests for interviews. My advice is to definitely put in a ton of applications before you move, it seems to take me about 2 months to hear back from anyone. A few thoughts on your scenario: I don’t know what it’s like to financially care for a child, so you should consider things like the cost of health insurance, childcare, and having a bigger emergency fund and savings goals when you move here. Depending on the age of your child, you should also look into how the school system works here (it’s way different than Tallahassee).

          In terms of finding an apartment, since you have a family you’re looking to move, I imagine you’d want to sign a lease straight away, instead of do the craigslist roommate situation. In order for you to sign a lease, landlords like to see that you make 40X the rent (so if your rent is $2k, you should make $80k), which means they want to see that you have a job, so it’s in your best interest to try to have one lined up before you move. Employers in NYC are used to people relocating for a job, so don’t be shy about applying early. You have the added benefit of a fiance who can contribute financially, so that’s great. You’ll also have to likely have the first month’s rent (or two), plus a security deposit, plus a potential broker’s fee (there are no fee apartments too0. I recommend doing some research on the neighborhoods you like when you visit and the average rental price so you can have that saved up (Zillow and Trulia are good resources). The good news is, we’re in a little bit of a slump with housing and landlords are sitting on empty properties longer, which means you have room to negotiate. There are lots of new developments in downtown Brooklyn that are waiving broker’s fees right now. In short, the more money you can save above that two months rent line, the better.

          Also, in addition to Brooklyn, there’s also Queens and New Jersey, which are usually more affordable and have more space for families.

  3. Reply

    Only just found your blog through the #fblchat. It’s so inspiring! Keep doing what you’re doing.

    1. Reply

      Thanks so much for stopping by! It was great chatting with you!

  4. Reply

    I lived in NYC for a year and we didn’t realistically figure out how much it would take to live there and wound up moving to CT. This is great advice for any move.

    1. Reply

      NYC is so expensive! It’s crazy. I’m glad you think it’s great advice. The good thing about CT is you’re only a train ride away! Best of both worlds.

  5. Reply

    I imagine finding shelter is the hardest part. I’ve always wanted to move there, I grew up an hour away but nothing was quite as magical as NYC. I think 4 grand sounds reasonable, especially without much debt. It sounds doable, someday!

    1. Reply

      Living only an hour away is awesome! NYC is magical. Yes, finding shelter is definitely the hardest part, but fortunately, with all of the temporary rooms available, it’s pretty easy to find something. It’s even better if you try to arrange it ahead of time.

  6. Reply

    This is really encouraging, as I’m planning a move and have only managed to save about 5k, so to know it can be done with 4k is really helpful. Thank you so much for this, you have no idea how helpful this was for how stressed I’ve been about it.

    1. Reply

      I’m so glad you found this helpful. Everyone’s situation is different, but you can definitely land on your feet and buy some time with $5k. When are you moving? Be sure to check back occasionally, I’ll post more tips on moving to NYC. Good luck!

  7. Reply

    Hi Heidi!! I have a question. I do not have a “set” career. I am wanting to go back to school, but I was hoping I could do that when I got to the city. Is it REALLY possible for someone to move to New York City (With 4,000) and actually live a decent life with a couple “normal” jobs for a while?? Thanks!! Great article, by the way.

    1. Reply

      Absolutely! There are so many opportunities for work here and so many different types of work. You can find anything to do. There’s still a lot of competition, but the pay is usually better. Good luck!

  8. Reply

    I have the savings and had more than 10k at one point which I hope to get back to, (Thanks to unexpected root canal I had, :/ ) However, I hope to establish myself as a freelancer where I am currently located before moving to NY. Having a 9yr old also makes the latter a crucial step.

    1. Reply

      Establishing yourself as a freelance writer is a great option, since you won’t be reliant on location for income. I would definitely recommend that to anyone looking to move to New York.

  9. Reply

    I read this other lifestyle blog, and she moved to Dallas, Texas after NYC. But I see that you didn’t move! That’s #loyalty. If I could, I would bring a bit more money (around $5,000-$6,000) if I have it. Who knows what the future holds?
    By the way, feel free to check out my blog also: theinquisitivewriter.com

    1. Reply

      Yeah, actually, one of the weird realities of New York is that a lot of people only stay a few years. It’s very transient. Yeah, if you move here, I suggest bringing as much as you can. More is always better.

  10. Reply

    I have a job that can be transferred to New York. My partner and I are looking to relocate within the next year. With one of us having a job would it $5,000 be idea for two people? Also, we have 3 dogs how much harder will it be for us to find housing

    1. Reply

      Hi Angie. It’s great you’ll have a job ready to go here.Because you have three dogs, it will be harder to find housing, especially if they’re big dogs. But lots of people in New York, especially Brooklyn, have dogs. It’s a dog city. I would say because you have dogs and a partner, your biggest challenge will be finding housing (it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to do a craigslist roommate situation.) That means you’ll need to consider saving for first month’s rent, a security deposit (which may be higher because of the dogs), and a brokers fee, which could cost close to $5000 total. Depending on when you plan to get your first paycheck in NYC (also, hopefully you negotiate for a higher salary), you may want to save a little more.

      Here’s an overview of broker’s fees: https://streeteasy.com/guides/renters-guide/pros-and-cons-of-using-a-broker-to-find-an-apartment/

      Best of luck, Angie!

  11. Reply

    This was such a helpful post to find!! I can’t thank you enough for posting it. This is something I think about so much! I’m hoping to move from Seattle to NYC next year (without a job) and have been saving for a few years. I have $8k saved right now but figured I would need something like $15k before I could realistically move. Granted, moving across the country will present it’s own difficulties.. Did you move with a mattress and everything? Were you just paying for storage while in temp housing?

    1. Reply

      I did pay for storage for three months while I was in temporary housing. Truth be told. I should have just sold everything instead of storing it. I really don’t own anything valuable. New York is so transient, it’s easy to buy all the furniture you’ll need for cheap. Good luck with your move!

  12. Reply

    Hi! I loved your article so much, it gave me so much hope. Although I was born in Manhattan, I pretty much have lived in a really small, redneck-ish town in Western PA. My dream has always been to move back. It’s where I’ve felt the most ‘at home.’ As I am currently a freshman in college, I am planning on moving right after I graduate (with no student debt! Yay scholarships!) with a friend. I’m hoping to have around $5k myself, and I believe she’ll have the same, if not more. Are there any long-term goals we should be aiming for these next few years?

    1. Reply

      I think moving right after college is a great idea. You’re already in a state of transition and there are SO many college grads to move to the city. Be prepared to hustle and be broke for a while, but it will be worth it, especially if you have a friend (NYC can get lonely). $5k is a starting point, but if you can save more you’ll be more comfortable. As for long-term goals, I would focus on setting yourself up to be employable. Take advantages of internships while in college, so you can get a really great paid internship when you move to NYC. Work a part-time job in the industry you want to work in, just so you can say you have working experience. That will set you ahead. Good luck!

  13. Reply

    I visited NYC earlier this year and it totally solidified my plans to move once I complete university! This article was really helpful, I’ve got a few years to save up so I definitely can get to the $4000 at least. Like what you said at the beginning of the article I had also heard that you needed at least $10,000. I’ll most certainly be referring to this website for more information 🙂

    1. Reply

      Hi Keira, thanks for visiting! That transition period after completing university is a great time to move to NYC. It’s tight on a $4000 budget, but it can definitely be done. See if you can line up some side hustles that you can do remotely, which can help provide you with income after you move here while you’re looking for a job. Hope that helps!

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