Living in NYC on one income–some numbers

Gallon of milk
FL: $3.49 on sale at Publix
NY: $3.59 regular CVS price

8 oz block of cheese
FL: $2.00 Kraft, on sale at Publix
NY: $1.99 generic, regular grocery store price

Goya can of black beans
FL: $0.89 regular price at Publix (by memory)
NY: $0.89 regular grocery store price

Health insurance – family coverage
FL: under $200
NY: $1,200.00 or $1,000.00 COBRA

Housing expenses, incl. electricity
FL: ~$1000/mo for 1200 sq ft house
NY: $1450/mo for 250-300 sq ft studio apt in Manhattan (electricity included in rent)


Groceries are definitely more expensive in general for non-sale items, but we found a favorite grocery store and the staples we buy don’t seem to be much more than we were paying in Florida!

But, in keeping our living expenses under $3000, we don’t have much to work with after paying $1000/mo for COBRA health coverage from the last job and $1450 of rent. Yikes.

More keys to the cheapo life that we hope will continue to work:

1. We don’t have to eat meat with every meal. Cool Dad usually has on-sale deli meat sandwiches for lunch, while I eat a LOT of beans and rice with cheese (I was blessed with an undying love for this meal, which may help us stay here!). Cool Baby has the best and most varied diet–he gets the best stuff and we eat his leftovers. I sometimes shake my finger at CD if he tries to eat some of it before it has been turned down by CB. Sad?

2. We shop at the produce stands on nearby streets–super cheap. Especially if you happen to be there as they are closing down for the day. A shining example–eight large bananas for a dollar! And I didn’t spend any gas money to get there, just a one minute walk from our place.

3. Walk. Everywhere. Cool Dad has been getting his unlimited metro card covered so far, but I don’t have one. So I try to avoid using public transportation ($2 each way) more than twice a week. I like walking, but it may get tough in the dead of winter!

4. Did I mention beans and rice?

Some areas for improvement:

1. Sometimes we can’t resist the 2-3 dollar slices of pizza, which may add up quickly.

2. We need to find a better solution for health insurance. This one item is killing our budget!

3. The occasional thrift shop or clearance rack clothing purchase. Ah, New Yorkers sure do have some cool cast-off clothing.

So there are some numbers for the curious, as promised. Thank you for giving me more motivation to analyze this stuff! Any advice?

8 notes on “Living in NYC on one income–some numbers

  1. Mandy C.

    Blue Cross Blue Shield has some great health plans at affordable rates. That is if there are no pre-existing conditions.

    Buying beans & soaking them/cooking them would save a bit. You can get the equivalent of 4-5 cans out of one .88 bag.

    Sounds like you guys are doing all the right things!

  2. Elizabeth

    Your breakdown makes me smile. It’s interesting to read the similarities between our lives these days… walking, walking, walking and shopping at vendors. :) We’re also realizing that meals don’t require meat… mostly because meat (other than sandwich meat) is the hardest thing for us to buy here). One of our new favorite forms of protein is lentils.

    Once upon a time we used Preferred Health Care Benefits as our “insurance” – though it’s technically not… it’s a medical discount program. Still, it was affordable and met our needs at the time.

  3. Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect

    We’ve used Assurant Health insurance in the past, when one of us was between jobs. It’s supposed to be temporary, but you can do it for several months at least.

    It’s interesting that some of the groceries are about the same – what a blessing considering that rent!!

  4. Chad Wright

    We’re not crazy about them, but we’re currently insured through Unicare. Entire family of 5 for $550 a month. I know each situation is different, but it works for us.

  5. Amy Wright

    I think it sounds like such a fun game!!! Hope we can get up there to visit (and buy you a nice dinner out) before you guys leave!

  6. Tam

    i know its tight – but i am marveling that you all are making it work. that takes discipline. i am SO impressed!

    [i love it when the “word verification” makes sense. it says “hasmet”]

  7. cool mum

    thanks everyone! i’m going to check into those ideas this weekend. oh yeah, i forgot to mention that our house in FL is STILL on the market! yikes.

  8. Amy Wright

    I would like to report that my security word for this comment is “gaterbit.”

    I think it’s pretty awesome, like the way Oklahoma will feel on January 9.


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