I recently moved to New York City. I’ve always loved it here, and when an opportunity for a two-month sublet presented itself, I went for it.
My rent for a centrally located, 400-square-foot studio? $1,750 per month.
That’s by far the most I’ve ever paid in rent. But my friends who live here tell me it’s a good deal.
7 cities with rent that’s half the cost of NYC
I understand why people want to live in New York City or San Francisco; they’re incredibly vibrant cities with unparalleled career opportunities.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider other places — like the cities below, which offer median one-bedroom rent that’s half the cost of the Big Apple.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: $970
If you want a metropolitan vibe, culture, and art without the sky-high prices of NYC, Philly might be the place for you. Although it has a population of nearly 1.6 million, its historic neighborhoods mean it rarely feels overwhelming.
It’s also conveniently located near many other big cities. For example, you’ll be two hours from NYC and three from Washington, D.C.
Sacramento, California: $940
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Want to live in the Golden State but avoid the astronomical prices near the Golden Gate Bridge?
Try the capital of Sacramento, about 90 miles inland from the Bay Area. It’s the fifth-most diverse city in the U.S. and has a population of nearly half a million. It might not be SF, but it has culture and history as well as a sizable river and wilderness area.
Nashville, Tennessee: $920
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One of my favorite cities in the country is also one of the hottest on the block. When I was there last year, an Uber driver told me 100 people move to Nashville every single day. According to The Tennessean, he was right.
If you like mild weather, live music, great food, and hipster bars, it might be just what you’re looking for. And if that’s not enough, this city of 660,000 is only three hours from Dollywood.
St. Petersburg, Florida: $930
I’m gonna put it out there: St. Pete is the coolest city in Florida. It might not have the all-night clubs of Miami or the theme parks of Orlando, but this 260,000-person city is insanely livable. (I would know; I lived there for over a year.)
It has a walkable downtown filled with locally owned restaurants and boutiques and an enviable position right on the shores of Tampa Bay. Plus, the local economy is booming, so you should have no trouble finding a job there.
Durham, North Carolina: $920
Durham is popping off. Since I lived there a decade ago, this city of 263,000 has undergone a serious revitalization.
A perfect example is the American Tobacco Historic District, a collection of trendy lofts, office spaces, and restaurants housed in old tobacco factories. You’ll also find a twice-weekly farmers market and Durham Bulls Athletic Park, home to the local Triple-A team, downtown.
Minneapolis, Minnesota: $910
In this city of 414,000, the winters are cold. But the abundant parks, nearby outdoor access, and growing tech scene might make up for it. You’ll find plenty of Midwestern sensibility and hospitality here too.
Minneapolis is also home to several professional sports teams and the Mall of America. And if you’re looking for a career, big corporations such as Target, General Mills, and UnitedHealth Group have headquarters in the Minneapolis metropolitan area.
Boise, Idaho: $700
I’m fascinated by Boise. It’s always on Outside’s list of the best places to live — and it’s certainly an outdoor mecca, with easy access to biking, hiking, climbing, rafting, and skiing.
Its four mild seasons encourage its 223,000 residents to get outdoors, so it’s no wonder it’s one of the healthiest cities in America. It still knows how to have fun, though, with more than 10 craft breweries located downtown and nearby.
How much moving would save you
Although nothing compares to the energy of New York City, the numbers might make you think twice about living there.
Because your income could decrease when you move, let’s consider rent alone — not any of the other lower costs of living in other cities.
If you were paying $2,090 per month in NYC and moved to Minneapolis, you could save $1,180 per month. Over 10 years, that would add up to $141,600.
In Minneapolis, the median home costs $237,400. So, in a little over three years, those savings could equal a down payment of 20 percent.
Or let’s say, for 10 years after moving, you invested that $1,180 per month into a retirement account that earned a 6 percent return. Forty years from now, even if you never contributed another dime, you’d have a nest egg of $1.1 million.
So, the next time you crowd into a packed subway car or pay $28 for a pizza, you might want to ask yourself the following question: Living in New York is fabulous and all, but is it worth a million bucks?
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