Big city life, is it worth it?

I love New York. After Paris, it is probably my favorite city in the whole world. My mum took me there to visit some family when I was 15, and I guess you never forget your first love, well, NY was my first travel crush and has held a special place ever since. An article about the housing situation on the Daily Mail caught my attention recently.

Big city life, is it worth it

It starts by stating that housing isn’t cheap in NY but


city-dwellers were given some good news today with the announcement of plans to build a  block of economically-friendly, micro-apartments where renters will inhabit under 400 square feet. 

Hey new yorkers, good news! You can now live in less than 400 sqft and it is only going to cost you an arm, a leg and your first new born!




Once your guests are gone, you fold your table, and the sofa that was not on the picture cluttering your tiny cocktail party will suddenly appear to unfold as a bed.

Since NY is also a surfing mecca, you can store your board on the upper storage space.


new york apartment

All the apartment units will be made in Brooklyn and assembled with a crane. I wonder how they will link them with hallways, and put the water pipes or electric wiring. Wow, some even have four windows.

ny apartment

The post goes on:

The 55 new units are planned for East 27th Street in Manhattan – with 40 per cent of homes available to low and middle-income New Yorkers.

So you can also buy if you are rich.


The units will be 250-370 sqft.

The building will have rehearsal spaces on the ground floor, lecture halls and a cafe.  

And laundry rooms, and other stuff you can’t possible fit in your tiny tiny home.


Mayor Bloomberg said on Tuesday: ‘New York’s ability to adapt with changing times is what made us the world’s greatest city – and it’s going to be what keeps us strong in the 21st Century.


Is that Mayor Bloomberg’s idea of sustainable quality housing for his fellow new yorkers?


Don’t get me wrong, I have lived in such a small apartment, during my college years in Paris. BUT it was a temporary situation, I was not a fully grown adult with a stable five to six figures income looking for a safe haven to unwind after a 60 hours week.

How can it possibly be worth all the sacrifices to live the city life in such conditions? I thought only in Honk Kong people were crazy enough to rent 90sqft coffin sized “living” quarters. It’s not so bad, I hear you say because:

“I am young”. So get a big loft, and two roommates. Get a two bedrooms and rent the other one to visiting tourists via Airbnb.

“I earn more”. You SPEND more. I know NY needs teachers, and firemen, and nurses, and you are very kind to take the position. But if you work in those fields, you would only make slightly less in other areas of the country where the cost of living is much more affordable.

“I love the city life”. Me too. Two or three times a year, I go to a big city and have tons of fun. Go out, visit friends, shop, eat, attend big events… You name it. When was the last time you went to a Broadway show? Climbed on top of the Empire State Building or went to Ellis Island? More than a year ago? Not since you moved there? Then you should be living somewhere else, going out to Chipotle is not the city life, you can do that in any medium town with a median home price of $80K.

“Yeah, but my kids won’t go to the museum/prep school/cupcake party on the Upper East Side”. No, they won’t. That was one of my big concerns when leaving Paris. Then I realized the small town kids can run around, learn about animals and the flora, go camping, biking and fishing… and once a year, you can take them to the Air and Space Museum.


If you can afford to live comfortably in the big city, that is awesome.

My cousin still lives in NYC. She married a trader, works at one of the best art museums in the world (not a gallery in the Village), and they pay effortlessly for their big apartment, the crazy tuition of the French Lycée for their two kids and a couple of European holidays for Christmas and summer.

They sure work hard but aren’t slaves to their mortgages or lifestyle.


I have always tried to limit my rent/mortgage to 25% of my take home pay. As I almost always had extra income on top, housing was more to the tune of 10-15%. It is not uncommon for friends of my promotion to see half of more of their pay disappear into rent, and commute costs (plus they spend at least 45 minutes each way to go to work).


Yes, it is fun to feel like you are living in the center of the world, where everything happens, and some, like this woman, would rather live in 90sqft in Manhattan than 1500 sqft in any other city.


Felice Cohen lives in a Manhattan apartment that measures just 12 feet by 7 feet. Her choice to live small allows her to live on the Upper West Side, where rents average $3,600 per month. For her 90-square-foot microstudio she pays just over $700 per month.


$700 per month?? I have a hard time getting that. Having friends and family around is certainly nice, although you can make new friends anywhere. Your primary concern should be your own well-being and the one of your immediate family, spouse and kids. If you can’t give them the basics, a room where they have space to play, a kitchen where you don’t have to take turns to avoid bumping into each other, and a storage pace that doesn’t require you to have the discipline of a Tibetan monk, why are you staying where you are?

Houses in Guatemala are ridiculously big. Middle and upper class people live in places that have a walk in closet and bathroom for each bedroom, a room and bath for the maid and guardian, a play room, reception room, living room and more. When we went to Europe, BF was quite shocked about the size of my friends’ places, in spite of them making a good living. Still, the majority didn’t have to sleep in the living room like Mayor Bloomberg offers. Many were considering relocating in the South of France once they had kids, to get more living space.


Yes, it is unfair and everyone should be able to afford decent housing on a middle class salary. But what you can’t change is the size of Manhattan. They can’t build many more houses there, and the price will go up with demand. Do you want to live there so bad you are ready to compromise your well-being?


I quite like the idea of a small house. My house is very small by Guatemalan standards, but I have room to stretch, store things, have friends over, and it is set in the middle of nowhere. Should I feel claustrophobic, I can look out the window and see some water and some trees, not the creepy neighbor who always forgets to dress.

It all comes down to your priority, but take a little time to reflect on the price you pay to live in the big city.

– extra mortgage or rent costs

– extra taxes

– higher food prices

– higher entertainment prices

– transport costs

– commute time

Is it all worth it?


What about you? Would you live in the big city with a small paycheck?






A 30 something French girl embarking on a journey towards Financial Independence. I blog about money, travel, simple and deliberate living, freedom and choices. You can find me on Twitter, Google+, or Reach Financial Independence's Facebook Page

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  1. I kind of do (though I live in the burbs not the CBD).

    There are only two major cities in NZ, and I live in one of them. I would only ever consider living here where the jobs and our family are, or the other big city (because Wellington is just way cooler and funkier). I like visiting small towns but I wouldn’t live in one (maybe after retiring?)
    eemusings recently posted..Bad money habits: the boyfriend editionMy Profile

    • You do have the benefit of an incredible location, it is very easy to get to the beach, and so many outdoors activities. If you drive one hour away from Paris, you are still in the suburbs with malls and all the houses are the same. Auckland doesn’t feel like a big city, which is pretty neat.

  2. I would love to live in a big city like NYC. Currently, I live close enough to a large city to commute in by train. But I would love to live in the middle of the city. There’s just so much to do, and see, and be involved with. But the insane cost of living keeps me out.

    In the past I’ve lived in suburban areas which are cheaper, but kind of dull. I’ve lived in college towns – also cheap, which got old as soon as I stopped being a college student. And I lived in mid sized family focused towns – cheap again. Which were boring since I was single.
    My Financial Independence Journey recently posted..Walgreens (WAG) Dividend Stock AnalysisMy Profile

    • nothing worse than being single in a family town! Suburbs can get dull, I never lived in them, the idea of needing a car to get anywhere was not appealing. I’d rather be in the center of a small city, or the middle of nowhere with nature around.

      • That’s where I’m at right now. I lived in a suburb of NYC my whole life up until recently. I went to school and worked in the city, and Brooklyn. All my friends lived in the city, and Brooklyn. I only hung out in the city and Brooklyn. I would go early in the AM, for work or school. I would do all my shopping in between classes or after work for convenience, but I spent total 3 or 4 days commuting which is a total of 15-28 hours each week of just commuting. Lots of times I crashed at friends houses especially if we were hanging out late. I was hardly ever home to enjoy my “bigger less expensive house of the suburbs”. There was never anything fun to do that matched Brooklyn or NYC. Have you ever seen Bedford Ave on a Friday night? That doesn’t happen in S.I. I moved to the suburbs in the deep south, where there’s no jobs, no nightlife, no young people. Everything I thought I loved about small towns..everything that seemed romantic about living in a place that wasn’t the city is now overshadowed by these things. For a young designer with no kids, and lot’s of energy, it’s almost torture. I would pay $2500 a month for a shoe box in NYC if it meant I never have to live in a place like this ever again. The city is so convenient. I lived there my whole life and never went to the statue of liberty. I went to Ellis Island when I was like 10. It’s more then just the tired tourist attractions that us native NYers got out of our systems with elementary school and junior high school class trips. The art down here is no where NEAR as diverse and amazing as the small town art down here. There’s free gallery openings to go to. There’s free concerts in the park. You can ride your bike through central park. There’s tons of FREE things to do! The food is diverse and you can get anything from $1 pizza at 2 brothers, $2 falafel at Mamouns to $100 entrees. Here, there’s McDonalds, Hardees, Taco Bell. There ISN”T EVEN A CHIPOTLE. Then you’ll get the hidden treasures every once in a while…the Indian food, or amazing oyster house, but they’re very few and far between, they don’t advertise well, you have to be a local to know where all of the best spots are, and you have to drive 20-30 mins to get to them. Where in NYC you can just throw on your shoes and hop on a subway or walk down the block. I don’t know.. my husband thinks I’m crazy. Maybe I am.

  3. I could never live in the city, I go there once a month for work and that’s it. It’s all about countryside and lots of trees for me!

    • after a few years in the country it gets overwhelming to face traffic and smog for me too. I do enjoy all the entertainment and social life for a week or two but am happy to go back to the peace and quiet.

  4. I would love to live in a larger city that was walkable. Or at least I think I would like to. The city I live in is large enough to feel metropolitan, yet is small enough it is pretty safe and clean. Parking is plentiful and cheap! So I don’t know if I would want to give that up for a more urban environment….

    • Parking and traffic, two big city nightmares! living in the core center and being able to walk/bus/tram everywhere is lovely, commuting one hour each way with everyone else from the suburbs, not so much.

  5. I enjoy the city and think I’d like the tiny apartment, actually! However, we moved to the country partly because I appreciate the city so, so, so much more now. When I lived in the city I never took advantage of anything. Now, when we head to Dallas or Houston I gobble it up because I’m only there for a few days before I head back out into the middle of nowhere.
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  6. I love the city, but do not envy city life. I’d take my suburban life, where Chipotle is an acceptable eating option, any day over a lifestyle where unnecessary spending becomes essential for status reasons.
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  7. Wow, 90 square feet!? I lived in Chicago growing up and learned that while it’s a great place to visit it’s just not worth the cost. The house we live in now would cost 3 – 4 times as much there and you have all of the other hassles that come with big city living.
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    • wow 4 times more expensive,the discrepancies are huge, I would say bigger than Europe. Say your house is worth $150K and $600K in Chicago, with the interest if you earn around $100K you would have to work for 10 to 15 years more just to pay for the house!

  8. I used to think that I would want to live in the city, but now I think I prefer country living! Such a drastic change in less than 1 year haha
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  9. I’d love to visit New York one day but I can’t imagine I’d EVER want to live there. While you do make more the expenses are insane and it would simply be too much commotion for me. I enjoy the peace and quiet.
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  10. Hi. I live in NYC. Out of your bullet points, two aren’t really so bad: Transportation & Entertainment.

    I doubt I will ever find cheaper transportation than nyc. My monthly commute costs are never more than $100 for the train. By cycling to work I can cut that in half. I never have to worry about unexpected car trouble costs.

    Entertainment is actually very cheap in this city, depending on what you’re going for. Indie movie theaters are cheaper than cineplexes and some even have double features for one price. There are loads of free comedy shows, free weekly bar trivia, free book launches & signings, free discussion panels, free open bars, free variety shows, free outdoor movies in the summer, cheap drink happy hours. Plus, walking around is free and there is a lot to see on foot. Walk the bridges, visit a new neighborhood, explore all 3 chinatowns, grab a $1 slice of pizza, see the ocean, walk through a park, walk along one of the rivers… there really is a lot you can do for cheap/free if you want to.
    leslie recently posted..January 2013 Monthly Spending for Urban LivingMy Profile

    • $100 for a train pass is not too bad, although I lived in medium cities where it was $20/$30, or walked to work. Regarding entertainment you are very right that there are tons of free events to attend, and cool activities. I was referring more to bars/restaurants that are usually more expensive, the plays, opera, concerts. While I love to cycle or walk around a city most of my friends don’t consider it an evening out if they haven’t dropped $60 on drinks.

      • The MTA runs 24 hours a day all year round (minus hurricanes) and takes you anywhere in the city for a metrocard swipe. That’s a pretty good deal.

        There are cheap and expensive bars/restaurants in every city. My friends and I don’t mind dive bars and we know where to go on which days for the best deals. Entertainment like operas or broadway shows, I consider to be more one-time-things and not something you’re attending every week – although there are cheap/free options for those too (tkts booth, lottery).

        You can live an expensive lifestyle in nyc but you don’t have to!
        leslie recently posted..January 2013 Monthly Spending for Urban LivingMy Profile

  11. I first visited NY when I lived in Seattle. I was in awe, and it was really exciting, but I couldn’t wait to get back to a city like Seattle where it still was a big city, but felt small enough not to be overwhelming, and so much beauty, breathing room, and open spaces, and I could afford to live there. So for me I like a little combination of both. Restaurants, art, culture, theater, etc. But I need my space too. LA has space-although it’s sprawling, but of course it isn’t cheap. Not NY expensive, but not cheap. The beauty is I can now go to NY to visit, then go home. :)
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  12. You would have to any me to live in a big city. I like space and hate being cramped. I don’t do well in large crowds. My wife is the same way, so I know we don’t have to worry about living in a big city. I don’t see the allure.
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    • it is best if both spouses are on board with the living arrangements. I grew up in Paris but we had a big flat and a park at the door. Being a broke student I didn’t see the big city with the same eyes and wanted my space!

  13. No Way!! If I was rich sure but other then that it’s so not worth it. Sometimes I question if it’s even worth it to live in Cali but even this place doesn’t compare to NY. I lived in a 450 sq foot studio for 5 years and at the end of that 5 years I was ready to pull my hair out. I can’t do it. I need space to breathe and I got so tired of the community and quarters laundry lifestyle. It just makes life so hard when you have cramped quarters and your day to day life is made difficult by your living situation. No thank you!
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    • 5 years in 450 sqft I can imagine why you’d want some space! I was talking to the guys who work on my house here about big buildings and city living, they wouldn’t understand why people would live on top of each other! Buildings are rare outside the capital city and around here, apart from 2-3 stories houses you don’t see many.
      California sounds pretty good for what you get, in state college, sun, beach, national parks… although real estate is so expensive.

  14. Growing up in NJ, I say that the city is a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there. New York has a weird mentality, also. The population more or less doubles during the day, but city dwellers look down on the “bridge and tunnel” crowd. I have a friend who lived in Manhatten for a decade before moving across the river to Edgewater where he was able to get a 3500 sq ft two-family home for $400k He’s renting out the lower level for about half of his mortgage. It was a very savvy move, but he lost friends for it!

    Speaking of weird places, Fort Collins tries very hard to keep a small town feeling and largely succeeds, except for the fact that the population is over a quarter million when school is in session. I really hate driving in this town for those 8 months out of the year!
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    • Same mentality in Paris, you either live inside or outside of Paris and people look down on the later. Sounds like your friend got a real bargain, it does make the commute worth it.

  15. I’ve never been to New York City, although I do want to visit it someday!

    I am not a city person at all. I like the suburbs and more space. Noise and traffic, and throngs of people give me anxiety after awhile.
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  16. Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says:

    I live in LA, so I’m familiar with living in a high-cost city. And if you don’t make a decent salary (which is generally high for others places) it is definitely not an easy place to live. My husband and I are fortunate to have well-paying jobs and we both grew up here. I do agree that if you’re not truly “living” in your city, then ask yourself why you chose to live there – particularly if you’re financially struggling.
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    • Around me a majority of people don’t enjoy the city enough to justify living there, but maybe it has to do with age, being young parents, etc. it is a stretch for most and they lack space for their family but seem to imagine life like this until retirement.

  17. There are building those small units in Vancouver, BC, Canada as well. I saw the drawings for them online a few weeks ago. I guess Vancouver is Canada’s version of NY in terms of cost of living and lovely location.

    I remember a few years ago on the Ellen show they interviewed a young girl (freelance writer) that was living in a NY apartment that was so small that when she stretched her arms out she could touch from one side to the other. Her ceilings were incredibly high so she stored her things up as high as she could. It all looked very nice and tidy, and she said that she really loved it.
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  18. Living in London is SO much more expensive than Scotland – over three times! Commuting costs a fortune and the quality of life is vastly reduced… I’ll be out of here soon! :)
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  19. I love city living. I’m quite happy in my 500 square foot condo as well. I don’t need a lot of space right now and would feel wasteful having empty rooms that I don’t need. One day, I might like to have a townhouse in the city but I have no desire to own a whole house.
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    • they come with their share of problems too, maintenance, landscaping… I like being out of a HOA though, and being able to decide what improvements/expenses I want.

  20. The Happy Homeowner says:

    I’m way too much of a country bumpkin to even think of living in NYC. Boston is big enough for me–I need trees and green space and hiking trails!! :)
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  21. Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom says:

    I could never live in the city. We currently live in a town with 10,000 people and it’s still not ideal. I’m really excited for our home-on-the-lake renovation!!!! P.S. I think Berlin is my favorite city I’ve ever visited, although Amsterdam and Paris were pretty cool too :)
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    • Berlin is awesome and really doesn’t have that big city feel. I think its extension is around 8 times Paris for the same population. Paris is cool but really, really crowded.

  22. Great post. I lived in NYC for 20 years. My time in Brooklyn was absolutely the best. It is a very cool way of life, and you get used to living in a small space. It is truly electric all the time (sometimes not a good thing!). I hope to retire there, actually. The cost is a lot, but so are the NJ suburbs where I am! NYC has a flat property tax rate, where NJ is in the 10s of thousands……
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    • ouch! I am used to small living quarters but not noisy and/or nosy neighbors, and having a HOA on top I don’t appreciate much either. At my mum’s they just changed the mailboxes: $300 a pop! And you can’t say no, you just shut up and pay. A little house in Brooklyn like Bill Cosby’s on the Cosby show would be awesome.

  23. I love the surf board, you didn’t surf when you visited New York?
    I doubt that I could ever live in a city. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the suburbs and hated my apartment, but I doubt that I could live in a densely packed city.
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  24. I love to visit cities, but I can’t wait to get home to population 10,000. Maybe we lack big city culture, but I’d take nature and the mountain activities we have her any day. It takes me less than 10 minutes to drive the extent of the town. We also have a big house with a big yard that costs less than a shoebox in NY. I get to have my dogs and grass for them and the kiddo to play on. I could even get a turkey if I wanted, but birds and I have never gotten along.
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    • a 10 minute maximum commute is something I didn’t know existed when I lived in Paris. Now anything over 15 minutes I get annoyed. Your little corner of the world sounds really lovely.

  25. The big city life is definatly not for me. I like the open fresh air, and my space as well. I think this comes from the fact that I grew up on a farm as a child.
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    • of course, you grow up to like what you were brought up in. I didn’t mind being packed like a canned fish in the underground because I didn’t know there was another way to live. Now, having experienced space it is hard to go back.

  26. I’m the opposite – if I was allowed I would live in NYC in a heartbeat. I LOVE cities and dislike living in the countryside (where I live now). My husband works in London and commutes in everyday (while we pay off our mortgage)……..we’re very tempted to move there eventually even though it will be expensive.
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    • I would be fine with the big city, but not to live in cramped quarters. If I can afford 100sqm on a central, walkable location, in the heart of a vibrant city, I’d go for it. But I wouldn’t work for an additional 20 years to pay for it when I can own outright elsewhere and visit the city 2/3 times a year.

      • My ex lived in a studio room in a suburb of NYC by choice. It was $400-600 a month. It had a bed, a toaster oven, a hot plate, a mini fridge, a bathroom, and a closet. It was in a prewar building. For someone who didn’t have any kids, and was always out and about anyway it was perfect. He even had parties there. It all depends on your lifestyle. He didn’t mind not having much furniture. He didn’t mind not having lots of space. It’s not about the space. He had a roof over his head, privacy, heat, and a place to eat his bagels in the morning. He had many friends, and there was always something going on. Music venues, bars, galleries, free concerts in the park. And all of it was a stones throw away. He never had to worry about finding a parking spot. Which is hell in NYC. If you like the outdoors and the city. Move to the Seattle area, or New Orleans even. New Orleans is an amazing mix of old world european charm, prewar buildings and condos. Then you can go outside the city and go fishing or sailing, or drive 3 hours to Pensacola beach Florida. I would live in New Orleans or NYC in a heart beat. There are some people that are super outdoorsy and thrive in those types of environments outside the big city. Every single day they jog through the hills and mountain tops at 4am before work, and go for a surf or something, go fishing to catch their dinner, or have a small farm, go hunting, go hiking everyday. Which is awesome. That’s what makes them tick and feel alive! More power to them! I would love to do that some day…but I couldn’t do that every single day. I grew up in the city. Maybe going to those outdoorsy places during the weekend to decompress. I live in an outdoorsy place now, and It’s alright. The best advice is to find out who you are, what you want, where you want to go in life, find the right place for you, live there and take advantage of everything it has to offer. If you live in a place that isn’t meant for you, you will resent it and have nothing but negative things to say. Find what works for you and do it. You can’t go wrong. No one is right or wrong.

  27. Pauline, love this thought-provoking post. I personally would never live in a big city like this. It may be right for some people, but I totally agree with you about suggesting people think long and hard about sacrificing that kind of money for living in the city. Thanks for the eye-opener!
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  28. I guess I’m lucky since I have the best of both worlds. I live in a rural farming community (by choice, I was born abd raised in NYC) but only have a short drive to get to downtown Raleigh. No tthat Raleigh NC is the thriving metropolis that NYC is but it’s a nice compromise. One think I do miss about working in Wall St was the energy. I remember leaving the train station every morning on my way to work. the energy would hit you as soon as you hit the street after climbing the stairs from the station. Has anyone else ever noticed that?
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    • Yes I did! Never stayed in NYC for more than a few weeks at a time but it is quite incredible to get that energy kick, all the people moving around like crazy. I was high on energy for a few days but couldn’t be an ant of the anthill full time.

  29. I would only live in a huge city if I could live cheap, but not with 10 roommates. I have the problem now where I love where I live, because I can live cheaply, but wish I was closer to the bus or transit system. My ideal place would be something in between the sky high rates of NY with tons of transit, and the cheaper area with no transit system of where I live now, Denver, CO. :)
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    • Medium towns could get you the best of both world, since living in the center is affordable and you can walk around if there is no bus network. I did a test once and Roanoke, VA was the perfect city for my taste apparently. I have never been, but it looks small and affordable!

    • Move to Staten Island! You can get an apartment in downtown Staten Island by the ferry for $1200-$1500 a month (high ceilings wood floors, prewar buildings) and the ferry is free and is 30 mins from NYC. Good luck!

  30. We love to live in a city, but the cost of living scares us. We have been living in Los Angeles. It is big city but we never ventured out much due to battling the traffic almost all the time. There is no public transport, so car is the only option. The next place we move, we would like to be close enough to a city with public transport but also have a house with some land for me to garden.

    On a different note, my husband would be quite happy in a 100 sq ft apartment. He finds our 600 sq ft apartment excessive and have been asking me to get him a small shed in the garden where he can spend most of his time. He is weird.
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    • he seems pretty strange! I love those small houses like rowdy kittens’ bloggers have, they are super cute and incredibly functional, but don’t think it would be a good long term solution for me, I enjoy having a lounge to relax, a big table to feed guests…

    • I have a decent sized 2 BR, 2 Bath apartment in the deep south, which is very reasonably priced. The funny part is I spend most of my time in just one room anyway. If we analyzed how we live, you’d be surprised what we can make work and what we can tolerate!

  31. I’ve lived in the big city and in little villages and in a bigger city again and I don’t mind either. Would I live with a smaller pay sure as long as I wasn’t digging myself into debt. That is when I’d have to make a decision to find a job in an area that was cheaper to live. I’m a guy who loves to wander and see new things so either or is good for me. P.S I love surfing…
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  32. 30kto30million says:

    Cool post, I live in Toronto, Canada and have what would be considered low income in big city.. So i do live in big city with small paycheck.. but would i move here on these circumstances probably not.. There is lots to do.. but nothing that can’t be experienced by traveling into the city for the day/night.. which leads to the thinking that big money is needed to be in the city.. Yet when i think about the people i know that enjoy and can afford all the city has to offer they usually have big incomes and live outside the city..
    30kto30million recently posted..Is Knowledge Still Power?? Was It Ever??My Profile

  33. I would love to live in New York City if I could afford the rent. The groceries and clothes are expensive (or less expensive) everywhere.
    Doable Finance recently posted..Talk to human instead of robotMy Profile

  34. Since I moved away for college I’ve always lived in big cities. Bf and I have had this very discussion many many times. If we moved somewhere cheaper we might have a better quality of life, bigger home, more money to save, backyard, driveway etc. But for now we’re happy with where we are. We don’t have kids and we’re still living the 30-something life with friends. We love the restaurants, entertainment, museums and cultural events. Many are actually free. As for the broadway shows, you can get tickets for $40-50 if you know the right places to go and/or buy them discounted online. We go at least quarterly. What’s the sense of living here if you don’t do the things that everyone talks about? Is it worth it now, yes. 5 years from now when we have kids, maybe not.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..Big Beer Companies Paid Me $350 Last YearMy Profile

    • the big city is really worth it when you live like you do. it seems to be a well thought decision, not just ”we live here because we don’t know better”.

  35. Loved reading your post. I’m in the big city (not in USA) with a big pay packet. The pay is the only reason I stay. But with the cost of living so high, I often wonder if it’s worth it at all. I couldn’t imagine any reason to live in the city without the pay packet. I have no idea why anyone would want that?
    DayDreamer recently posted..Why do people do this to themselves?My Profile

    • I wouldn’t stay jam packed in a small apartment for minimum wage either. When I lived in the city, I had more disposable income, but between commuting time, dressing up for work, paying for convenience (parking, supermarket, take out because you have no time to cook) and higher taxes for making more, the difference was actually pretty small with now, and for a much higher level of stress. I had a goal, kept patient a year more, and left with enough savings to ensure a smooth transition.

      • Wow! This is exactly where I’m at now and where I want to go! The city is so not worth it and I’m being as patient as I can to make the right plans so I can leave in a responsible way and actually create a better, less stressful life!
        DayDreamer recently posted..A bit about my work…My Profile

  36. Yikes, I just do not get it. We have many friends with children who are sharing places in NYC in tiny apartments not suitable for one person let alone three. Since we are in Philly, commuting up there for shows and shopping is the only way to go. I think living in a place like Philly you clearly get more bang for your buck. Friends of ours just moved into a 3000 square foot brand new town house for a reasonable price, one comparable to a suburban home of equivalent price. Very beautiful and practical for these empty nesters. So come to Philly for great deals and more square footage for your buck!
    STEVEN J. FROMM, ATTORNEY, LL.M. (TAXATION) recently posted..Estate Planning 2013: Now What? A Must Read For EveryoneMy Profile

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  38. Small living quarters, constant people and vehicle congestion, and a astronomically high cost of living? No. thank. you. I’m not drawn to it, not in the slightest. I’ll take my mid-sized Midwestern city with room to spread out. I can fire up my grill and my smoker for a lot less there. 😉
    Brock @Cleverdude recently posted..The Trouble With Hotel Reservation LinesMy Profile

  39. I live in NY! I was born and raised on the West Coast and never had any intention of moving here, but I came out for a freelance gig and never left. At first I had an apartment in a very desirable neighborhood, but the rent kept going up, so I moved into what at the time was a less desirable hood (now everyone’s following me). I have a great rent and a full floor of a brownstone. NY to me isn’t about expensive restaurants, etc., but being surrounded by diversity, not just racial, but people from all over the world, so many different opinions and lifestyles. I love commuting by subway and bus and can’t imagine ever having to own a car again. Cars and a suburban lifestyle seem like hell to me. My major hobby is cycling. I leave my apartment, ride over the George Washington Bridge, and go on a 50, 60 mile bike ride both weekend days, more if I’m not working. Yes, it is more expensive than other places, and at times I think about moving, but there are plenty of ways to keep your expenses down if you try.

    • I completely understand what you mean! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t see it as this impossible way to live. My parents are older now and I think if they moved to the city their quality of life would go up! They always order in or go out to eat anyway! There would be less house for them to clean, they wouldn’t have to worry about cooking. My mom loves plays, they can go catch them on broadway or go to those free comedy clubs. It would be a short commute to work, therefore relieving stress, commute time, money on gas parking and tolls. You know how much the Verazzano bridge is? $15. You know how much parking is in some areas? $40 for 2 hours. Owning a car in NYC is not necessary. I didn’t get my license until I was 27 and had no choice because I moved from NYC. I’d go back in a heart beat if I could.

  40. I would live in the big city, with a better pay check then I’m getting now in the sticks, more job opportunities, more of a night life for young people. I’m from a suburb of NYC. The cost was way cheaper, the train was free, provided you weren’t transferring to the ferry. The ferry was free and a 30 min trip to NYC. We had a house, and a backyard, where we had a pool and had BBQs in the summer. I went to school in the city and worked in NYC and Brooklyn. I took the train and buses everywhere. I didn’t get my license until I was 27 but you didn’t need a car in NYC! It was completely do able. The hour and a half commute was exhausting at times but that’s the price you pay for wanting to pay LESS to live. It’s a give and take with everything in life obviously. Now I live in a small town in the south. Smaller town then I lived in when I was in NYC. The pace of life is so much slower here. Which would be great if I wanted to feel like I was on a permanent vacation. But I was always the type of person that started getting bored towards the end and couldn’t wait to get back to work or school. Down here is perfect for people that like to live leisurely by the beach, and eat oysters, and critique paintings of oysters and buy gifts for people with shellfish on them, and attend crawfish festivals, fish, sail, and go crabbing…people can retire down here! But it’s not a good place for someone fresh out of college with a degree in design, from the big city, struggling to find a job. There are places that are in-between, where you can have the best of both worlds. They are called Staten Island, NY, or Jersey City, NJ. People have pre-conceived notions of both and I think they’re great places outside of the city to live, that aren’t as expensive, you don’t necessarily need a car, but if you have one you can go to the jersey shore or long island to the beaches, or even take the LIRR, you might have a backyard, and more space and the downtown areas of the suburbs have that old world NYC charm. Sometimes it helps to talk to the locals, to find out where all the good spots are.

  41. I would love to live in a big city like USA. The big city is really worth it when you live like you do.
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