LA or NYC? Which is Cheaper to Live?

The age-old feud continues. Which city is better? Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different answer. Some New Yorkers can’t tolerate LA, while some Angelenos can’t tolerate New York, and a select few regularly switch between the two cities, and lead bi-coastal lives. It’s no wonder why so many dream of moving to these two cities. Many young people worldwide see a move to New York or Los Angeles as the start of their adulthood, as their first taste of freedom and cosmopolitan life.  

Is it Better to live in LA or NYC?

Typically, Los Angeles was seen as the choice for those who wanted to break into the Film & TV industries, while New York was the city for those into fashion, theatre and music. However, these reputations do not necessarily fit anymore. For many, a move to NYC or LA has become a decision based on personal (and lifestyle) preference rather than an intentional career move. Let’s compare two cities:

Weather & Convenience:

Living in Los Angeles has its perks when it comes to getting around and general day-to-day convenience. LA is located on the water and has year-round warm climate, which means that trudging through the snow is a rarity. However, it’s not so easy to get around in LA, or run simple errands like going to the grocery store or a pharmacy like it can be in New York. Often, you may have to go for a long drive or call an Uber to get something done. But at least you won’t have to freeze in sub-zero temps! 

Nightlife & Culture

Nightlife in Los Angeles can be challenging. Due to the enormous sprawl of the city, there aren’t as many opportunities to go bar-hopping like there are in NYC. In LA, nightlife may feel more intentional, as in you go out with a specific destination in mind. Moreover, in Los Angeles, many stick to house (or should we say mansion) parties, where the guest list may be exclusive. In New York, anyone is free to stumble into a bar unplanned, and uninvited and hang out there. But in both cities, there are various types of bars; you can head to a posh rooftop venue or chill in a  low key dive bar depending on what you’re in the mood for. 

The cultural offerings are comparable in both their scope and availability. LA is home to plenty of art galleries and museums like LACMA Museum and Getty Museum; but when it comes to theatre, LA is known more for its comedy clubs than traditional drama theatres. In the Big Apple, cultural venues are aplenty like MoMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Moreover, in NYC you can catch a Broadway show or visit the Met Opera, which regularly hosts some of the most spectacular voices in the world. Whichever city you choose, you won’t get bored when it comes to finding something to do! 

Is it cheaper to live in LA or NYC?

Both Los Angeles and New York City are considered to be two of the most expensive cities in the United States, if not the world. Both cities charge a higher cost of living that is more than the national average. But, Los Angeles is slightly cheaper when it comes to certain expenses, while NYC is more expensive when it comes to other expenses. Let’s break it down.

Transportation Costs: Which City is cheaper?

A single ride on the NYC subway famously costs $2.75, while a monthly pass costs $127. The MTA public transportation system is well-connected and offers linkage to all 5 boroughs and the greater metro area of NYC. 

Though the Los Angeles public transit system monthly pass is cheaper (at $100 a month), the LA subway system is not as developed, though the bus system tends to be on time and reliable. There are plenty of neighborhoods within LA that are not connected by subway, which means that most Angelenos end up taking buses, ride shares or getting around by car. 

Owning a car can be a huge expense due to monthly car payments, insurance costs, gasoline, parking tickets and maintenance. Owning a new car in the state of California can cost you around $22,000 a year. If we are analyzing this question by looking at annual car costs, then LA can be more expensive in terms of transportation since a car may be more of a necessity. However, LA residents can also bike around or use scooters (if they aren’t going far) as the weather generally permits.

Rent & Real Estate Costs:

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, rent prices have dropped in almost all major US cities like LA, NYC and San Francisco. Though 2020 rent prices have decreased, we will analyze this category based on both pre-pandemic (and current pandemic) price points. 

Typically NYC is more expensive than LA. As of November 2020, the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in LA is $1969 while in NYC, this price stands at $2425, meaning that LA generally has cheaper rent. 

The area you choose to live in affects the affordability of expenses like rent and groceries. In New York, Manhattan and Brooklyn are typically more expensive boroughs than Queens or The Bronx. In Los Angeles, the Westside of LA (Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood area) is more expensive than the Eastside of LA (and other parts of the city). 

In both LA and NYC many people rent for their entire lives and never buy property! Becoming a homeowner versus a renter depends on your budget and current market trends. Home prices average at around $697,000 in LA and $995,000 in NYC (according to a 2019 Streeteasy analysis) although pricing can vary according to area. 

In terms of general real estate pricing, the average price per square foot in NYC ($673) is more expensive than LA ($528), which means that you can get more space in LA. However, in both cities the sale price per square foot averages out at $500+, as these two cities are generally very expensive. In Manhattan, the average price per square foot is even more expensive at $1000+. 

General Cost of Living: 

In short, the cost of living index analyzes that life in Los Angeles is cheaper. According to Numbeo’s cost of living calculator, New York has a higher cost of living in almost every category: groceries, utilities, restaurants and rent. Moreover, the household income in NYC is higher as well, with the average monthly salary being $6000 in NYC compared to LA’s $4640, which means that you have to earn more in NYC (than LA) to attain a comparable quality of life. 

Ready to move?

LA and NYC are cities overflowing with opportunity and excitement. Whether you are planning a move to the east coast or west coast, be sure to reach out to a local moving company in your area and ask for a quote. Both Movers NYC and LA Movers have got your covered!

 

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