The Height of Luxury

One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.

– Tom Wolfe

Just like everything is bigger in Texas, everything is more expensive in New York City. The New York City sales tax can add an extra 8.875% to the end price of any given good or service. This is because of the New York City (4.5%) and State (4%) sales tax, as well as the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation surcharge (0.375%). Not only does this extra cost make a vacation getaway very expensive, but it also makes Manhattan a very expensive place to live. With a cost of living 148.5% above the U.S. average and average rent prices starting around $4,888 a month, Manhattan is the most expensive U.S. city to live in according to Kiplinger. Futhermore, for someone to live comfortably as a renter in Manhattan, they would need to earn at least $128,552 a year according to a GoBanking Rates study. Between housing, food, transportation, healthcare, taxes, and other necessities, one can expect to spend $51,323 a year (this is more than what the average United States worker earns in one year). 

Woman putting her groceries in a Taxi
Photo by: Hans Von Rittern

I became very familiar with the factors that influence the annual cost of living in New York City over the summer. Instantly, I was exposed to how expensive grocery shopping is. A quick trip to the grocery store for a few things easily costs about $25, if not more. Aside from this, figuring out the best way to grocery shop is a challenge in itself because the more someone buys, the more they have to carry back. Dealing with a significant amount of groceries can be VERY difficult because of the amount of people, taking a taxi or uber can be another $10 (transportation costs are 27% above average), and depending on how much someone buys and where they live, walking can be a nightmare. 

    Considering these facts, it is no surprise that New York City is known for its high prices and wealthy residents. As a matter of fact, a CNBC article by Kathleen Elkins reports, “[New York] is home to nearly 1 million wealthy people, more than any other city in the world.” New York City consistently ranks on top 10 lists as one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in. With the cost of rent surpassing historic rates and 1.5 million New Yorkers living below the poverty level, I cannot help but wonder what this means for the future of New York City. Just by being in the city for the summer, I was able to experience exactly how expensive life in the city is. From walking the streets of all the high-end designer stores to taking notes on fancy apartment buildings with doormen and glass corporate buildings with very tight security, it is without a doubt that New York City is a hot spot for the rich.

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