See How Far Your Paycheck Goes In NYC, Get Depressed


If it is true, as is often said, that “New York is a city for only the very rich and the very poor,” perhaps it’s also accurate to say that the scales have tipped more in favor of the very rich, in recent years. Nothing illustrates this quite like a glimpse at the Brooklyn real estate market, which is kind of liking staring at the sun. We here at Brooklyn Mag have detailed how the globalization of the real estate market has driven up prices that don’t necessarily reflect local fundamentals, like how much people earn. As a result, prices have increased nearly 1000% over the last decade.

Then there are the broker’s fees, produce costs, taxes, MetroCards, and so on–all the big-little costs that make New York much more expensive than a normal American city. It begs the question: how much is your paycheck worth in New York City?

Thankfully (or not!), we now have some idea of the (depressing) answer. NPR’s Planet Money analyzed a trove of income data for 356 metropolitan areas recently released by the government. They found that making $37,064 in New York actually “feels like” making $28,799 in a normalized Anywhere, USA, when you account for cost-of-living. Washington, D.C., Boston, San Jose, and San Francisco are among handful of cities whose residents fare even worse than New York’s. Adjusting for cost of living is good for the people of Danville, Ill., where $30,079 feels like $35,973. That’s the biggest absolute rise amongst the cities analyzed.

Follow Phillip Pantuso on Twitter @phillippantuso.

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  1. Your math indicating that ” prices have increased nearly 1000% over the last decade” is way off. Using your own data from the article written 1/7/14 (excerpt below) it’s states it’s the sales volume that has risen nearly 1000% not the prices.

    “Ten years ago, there were just 12 Condo sales in Bed-Stuy with an average sale price of $351,000 and an average price per square foot of $310/S.F. The Condo apartment market 10 years later revealed sales volume increased to 124 sales (+933%), an average sale price of $416,000 (+19%) and an average price per square foot of$404/S.F. (+30%).”That is almost an increase of 1,000%!

    Very misleading!

  2. I make $70K a year and have barely any discretionary income living in NY.

    $1,700 – right off the bat taken out of my paycheck monthly in Federal/ Local taxes
    $1,500 – my share of rent for my not huge apartment
    $112 – Metro Card
    $300+ groceries