Why City Life Has Gotten Way More Expensive

Why City Life Has Gotten Way More Expensive

Introduction

Though living in major metropolitan areas can be great, it comes with its fair share of challenges. Rents are higher than ever, which means that residents need to fork over more money just to keep roofs over their heads. According to research from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, people making minimum wage need to work at least 122 hours each week in order to afford an average one-bedroom apartment in the United States—and that doesn’t even include additional utilities and other housing costs like groceries and health care.

Rent

The average rent for a studio apartment in Manhattan is $2,996 per month. That’s more than double what a comparable unit would cost in New Orleans ($1,109) or San Antonio ($922). And that’s just for a shoebox with no windows. Factor in utilities, internet and cable and it gets even pricier. According to Zillow’s research, median rent costs are going up faster than home values (Zillow predicts 4.4% annual growth versus 2.5% for rents), putting low-income tenants at risk of being priced out of their homes by landlords eager to flip units from long-term leases to short-term rentals.

Home Ownership

To rent or to buy, that is not a question. There are many factors involved in making such a big decision, but one of them should be your personal finances. A University of California study found that, on average, renters spend about 30 percent less than homeowners when it comes to their monthly housing costs. That difference can add up and make renting more cost-effective over time—especially if you’re not sure you want to stay in one city for long (or ever).

Transportation

One of biggest challenges in most cities is transportation. In New York, where I live, subways are overcrowded. The cost to own a car is out of reach for many people and even if you can afford one, there’s almost nowhere to park it—at least not without paying an arm and a leg. And in San Francisco, mass transit options are limited. So how do we get around? Some of us rely on public transit systems or ride-sharing programs like Uber and Lyft.

Restaurants and Bars

It’s no secret that when you go out to eat in a city, your tab will be significantly higher than if you ate at home. That’s because restaurants take advantage of local, seasonal ingredients that are often more expensive than frozen or canned produce. And bars can charge more for cocktails and beer—in New York City, even domestic beer has jumped from $5 to $7 dollars in some spots. When you tally up restaurant prices and drink tabs over time, it starts to add up quickly!

Groceries

A Pound of Produce Tackles Hunger, Health & Your Budget. Most Americans pay more than twice as much for a pound of produce compared to their European counterparts. But you can get more bang for your buck—and have healthier food on hand, too—with these strategies.

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