Image of cost of living NYC vs Seattle

Making a big move from one city to another is a difficult decision, with plenty of factors to consider. To help size them up, we present the StreetEasy Cost of Living Calculator. Today, we’re comparing the cost of living in NYC vs Seattle. From northwest to northeast, we consider housing costs, incomes, transportation, and even coffee between the home of Amazon HQ1 and the future home of Amazon HQ2. Let’s take a look.

Median Rent for a 1BR: Edge to Seattle

It’s not exactly affordable to rent a 1-bedroom in either city. The median rent for a 1-bedroom in both Seattle and New York is higher than Zillow’s nationwide rent index, which was last recorded at $1,311 per month. Personal finance 101 suggests that spending over 30 percent of your income on housing is unaffordable for the typical renter. In both Seattle and New York, renters often spend above the affordability threshold. As of 2016, 36 percent of Seattleites spent more than 35 percent of their gross income on rent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By comparison, 45 percent of New Yorkers spent 35 percent or more of their gross income on rent

Median Sale Price: Seattle Wins

Looking to buy? You’ll get more bang for your buck in Seattle. The median square footage of a home in Seattle is 1,420 square feet, according to the 2017 American Housing Survey. That means the median price per square foot is around $494. In NYC, the median size of a home is 1,100 square feet, bringing the median price per square foot to approximately $909.

Cost of Public Transportation: Toss-up

  • Seattle: $130 per month
  • New York City: $121 per month

In New York, a ride on the subway costs $2.75. Commuters who rely on the subway every day will opt for an unlimited MetroCard, at $121 per month, which nets out to $1,452 annually. Commuters who use the Long Island Rail Road will pay between $140 and $500 every month for an unlimited pass. Commuters who live in the northern suburbs and Connecticut can take MetroNorth, which costs between $60 and $500 for a monthly pass, depending on the line and length of the commute. Eastern New Jersey commuters can take the PATH train for $2.75 a ride. An unlimited monthly SmartLink card, which allows access to the PATH, costs $89.

In Seattle, commuters use an ORCA card to get around. This allows riders to pay for the bus, Link light rail trains, the Sounder train, the Seattle streetcar and the King County water taxi. Fares vary depending on mode of transit and distance, but average $2.75 per trip. That comes out to about $130 per month for adults who commute each way to work.

Average Salary and Income: Edge to Seattle

According to the U.S. Census, there is large gap between the median annual household income for Seattlites and for New Yorkers. Amazon, however, plans to add 25,000 jobs at a new campus in Long Island City, with an average annual wage of $150,000. That could potentially change the median income in New York, though only time will tell.

PayScale, a site that averages salaries for jobs that require bachelor’s degrees in both states, calculates average wages in New York City as comparable to Seattle. According to their findings, the median salary is $69,409 in Seattle and $69,026 in New York.

Average Commute Time: Seattle Wins

  • Seattle: 26.9 minutes
  • New York City: 40.3 minutes

The average one-way commute time in America is 26.1 minutes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s just a hair longer than that in Seattle. New York City, as we know all too well, is suffering from a major public transportation crisis, pushing the average commute time to 14 minutes longer than the nationwide figure.

Quality of Life Index: Seattle Wins

The quality of life index is an average of several different indices, including purchasing power, safety, health care, cost of living, property price-to-income ratio, traffic commute time, pollution and climate. As of the middle of 2018, Seattle ranked number 24 of all the cities measured in the world, while New York ranked 138.

Coffee Index: New York Wins

  • New York City: 1
  • Seattle: 2

It’s official: New York beats out even the hometown of Starbucks when it comes to good coffee.  New York is rated number one among the best coffee cities in the country according to WalletHub, with Seattle trailing behind at number two. This means that when it comes to having the most coffee shops, coffee houses and cafes per capita, New York prevails, with Seattle sitting just ahead of Portland and San Francisco. And for what it’s worth, New York also has the most donut shops per capita.

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