When people think about New York City, they picture high-class people, streets filled with cars, luxurious skyscrapers, and a lot of noise.
Manhattan is one of the five boroughs of New York City, and it is the borough that best embodies this image.
You may think that the skyline, excitement, and hope are priceless, but you will learn very quickly that there’s a hefty price tag attached to everything in the greatest city in the world.
What gives landlords the gall to charge up to $7,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in SoHo?
We will cover the top 10 reasons Manhattan is so expensive.
Why Is Manhattan So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Business Opportunities
Manhattan is arguably the business capital of the entire world, but no one can argue that you can find work in numerous fields.
New York City had a gross domestic product (GDP) of $1.4 trillion in 2020, making it the city with the largest GDP in the country and the city with the second-largest GDP in the world (just slightly behind Tokyo).
New York City has the most jobs in the country in banking and finance.
However, there are plenty of opportunities for people in other industries as well.
- Financial services
- Professional services
- Retail trade
- Educational services
It’s also a great place for people who want to start a small business.
You may find yourself intimidated by the competition, but you may also find a lot of opportunities.
Some of the fastest-growing small business opportunities include food carts/shops, food delivery, cleaning services, insurance, and child care.
Remember that if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.
You just have to get started!
2. Art Scene
Throughout history, artists have used their talents to portray the world as they see it, reflecting both beautiful and challenging aspects of society and moments in history.
While most artists attempt to keep their work untainted by commercialism, they inevitably quantify their work monetarily.
Otherwise, artists in Manhattan would try to get out of paying rent, like the struggling New York artists in Rent.
For people looking to sell their art, New York is the place to do it.
Manhattan is home to many people with the resources and the taste to buy fine art.
Of course, you need to make a name for yourself in the industry first.
Emerging artists get the opportunity to make connections and learn by getting involved in the large artistic communities in Manhattan.
They also get the opportunity to go to the numerous art schools in the area.
People will pay a lot of money to enjoy art and live in a location conducive to an artistic lifestyle.
MoMA emphasizes modern and avant-garde art, ensuring that it maintains an important place in the community as art trends evolve.
You will see the newest and most innovative artistic minds displayed in MoMA.
Some of the great artists currently on display in MoMA include Picasso, Dali, and Pollack.
The Guggenheim building is a piece of art in itself, and you’ll immediately spot the famously circular building as soon as it comes into view.
The Guggenheim has a broader approach than MoMA and houses some of the best classic and modern artists.
You will see works by Van Gough, Kandisky, Picasso, Cézanne, and Gauguin.
Whether you prefer casual food or gourmet cuisine, you will find a plethora of restaurants and food carts available to you in Manhattan.
People who grow up in Manhattan may not realize exactly how great they have it until they move to a town like Gary, Indiana that has a much smaller selection of usually mediocre food.
There’s a reason that pizza places throughout the country advertise their pizza as “New York Style” pizza.
New York has some of the best pizza in the country.
(Sorry, Chicago, but your pizza resembles a casserole more than a pizza.)
You will also find amazing street food, such as hot dogs and kabobs.
You will also find just about any cuisine you want in the different food trucks you’ll encounter.
When it comes to gourmet cuisine, you will be able to find some of the best chefs in the world in Manhattan’s fine dining restaurants.
Even if you don’t have the means to eat gourmet cuisine regularly, everyone should experience a fine dining experience at least once.
What’s a better time than during a trip to Manhattan?
New York City has been referred to as the melting pot of the world thanks to the influx of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island in the 1800s and 1900s from every corner of the planet.
Many of the people who arrived stayed in New York and developed communities of people who spoke the same language and understood each other’s culture.
Today, you can find a community for every culture and religion in Manhattan so you’ll never have to feel away from your family’s original culture.
See the following populations of different ethnicities in Manhattan:
- White: 56.4%
- Black: 17.4%
- Other: 16.9%
- Asian: 9.4%
The different cultures all come together to create the melting pot that we see today when we walk down the streets of Manhattan.
Increasing diversity in Manhattan more, New York is one of the largest tourist destinations in the world.
People from almost every country travel to see the beautiful skyline and enjoy the excitement for themselves.
Accommodating the people costs a lot of money.
However, the initial investment generates more money since tourists spend a lot of money at the different sites, stores, and restaurants in the area.
They also must stay in a hotel and find transportation during their stay.
5. Lots To See And Do
Times Square is a popular location for tourists to gather and see New York City in all of its glory.
The large advertisements and television screens give the area a modern and bright feel.
You will see people taking a lot of pictures.
Actors even walk the streets in costumes so that you can take a picture with a Ninja Turtle or Johnny Depp lookalike.
As a tourist hot spot, Times Square is especially crowded, and the prices are high even by New York standards.
However, first-timers must experience it at least once.
Central Park is a slice of nature in the middle of the concrete jungle.
The large park offers plenty of space for people to ride their bikes, jog, picnic, and simply take in the sights.
If you are a fan of the Beatles, you should take the time to find the plaque that honors John Lennon who was killed right outside of his Central Park apartment by a crazed fan.
The park also hosts events, such as Shakespeare in the Park.
Shakespeare in the Park is a free performance of Shakespeare plays put on in Central Park.
Private funders provide the financing, and the free tickets are given out on the day of the performance.
To show their support, many celebrities have acted in some of the shows, including:
- James Earl Jones: Othello (1964)
- Martin Sheen: Romeo (1968)
- Meryl Streep: Taming of the Shrew (1978)
- Michelle Pfeiffer: Twelfth Night (1989)
- Denzel Washington: Richard III (1990)
- Patrick Stewart: The Tempest (1995)
- Al Pacino: The Merchant of Venice (2010)
- John Lithgow: King Lear (2014)
This is certainly not a complete list, and it continues to grow.
You never know who may perform in 2022.
New York City is the city that never sleeps, and that’s in large part thanks to the active nightlife in the city.
On any night of the week, you will find people at numerous bars and clubs.
Even on a Tuesday night, you can find people enjoying luxurious drinks in heels and cocktail attire.
The clubs are rarely dead as they may be in smaller cities.
You are sure to meet plenty of people and have a great time no matter where you go.
The active nightlife also contributes to dating success.
You have many more options than in a small town where the same people go to the same bar every weekend.
New York City is a place to be seen.
If you work in fashion or have a passion for designer attire, the streets of Manhattan can be your own personal catwalk.
People in New York City aren’t afraid to take risks when it comes to fashion.
You will get inspired when you walk down the street and see the different people.
New York also has some of the greatest shopping in the world.
Whether you live in SoHo or the East Village, you will find top-notch shopping in every neighborhood.
You won’t only find high-end department stores like Barney’s, but you can also find more reasonably priced items for people who can’t necessarily afford to work at Barney’s.
There’s also New York Fashion Week every year.
Celebrities come from all over the world to see and show off new fashions and learn what the new trends will become.
It’s impossible to talk about the value of Manhattan without talking about Broadway.
Broadway is known for putting on large-scale live shows with first-tier casts before the show moves on to other locations, such as Chicago or Los Angeles.
When the curtain goes up, the audience escapes into the story unfolding on the stage.
The stage and sets resemble performances in other locations, but Broadway shows stand out thanks to the superb talent.
Not only does the cast have to memorize their lines, but many shows require singing and dancing talent.
The cast also doesn’t have the luxury of reshoots or elaborate CGI alterations to fall back on.
They must perform it perfectly the first time and move past any small mistakes quickly.
Cities across the country may put on “off-Broadway” productions of their favorite shows, but they must provide their own cast.
Some shows require the magic of a particular talent, such as Lin Manuel Miranda as Hamilton.
A budding performer may give a valiant effort, but many secondary casts leave us feeling unsatisfied.
The shows tend to rotate based on how much demand there is for each show.
New shows may be forced to perform in a new city before coming back to New York again, but they will continue to run until the demand runs out.
Sometimes, the demand for certain shows lasts for years or even decades.
You can always assume that you can find a performance of The Phantom of the Oprah, The Lion King, and Chicago since they are the three longest-running shows in Broadway history.
- The Phantom of the Oprah (1988): 13,370 performances
- Chicago (1996): 9,692 performances
- The Lion King (1997): 9,302 performances
Broadway tickets can get expensive, especially when a show is especially hot, but it’s worth it to see a show as soon as it comes out.
Many people live in Manhattan simply to stay close to Broadway and fulfill their love for the theater.
For those who feel a call to the stage, it’s almost required to move to New York to pursue a career in theater.
Broadway shows hold auditions in other major cities, but they will not accommodate you if you can’t reliably get yourself to New York for the rehearsals and shows.
It’s almost impossible for everyone in New York to drive.
If they did, the roads would be even more congested than they already are during traffic.
To alleviate traffic concerns, New York City offers fabulous public transportation throughout Manhattan, to the other boroughs, and beyond.
Learning the subway system may take some time, but it works off of a grid.
The cost to take public transportation adds up over time, but it’s much less expensive than driving (and possibly even faster).
Public transportation in Manhattan runs reliably, and the vehicles are usually clean and modern.
It cost a lot of money for Manhattan to create a transportation system that supports millions of people every day.
To cover the expenses, people in Manhattan pay more in taxes every year.
With the increase in rideshare options and especially after the recent pandemic, fewer people are choosing to take the subway, resulting in 40% less revenue.
Luckily, the federal government has authorized an additional $8 billion in transportation funding.
Much of the funding will go toward maintaining the current systems through 2024 and updating old technology to help make trains and buses more reliable and more enticing to commuters.
Prices may need to go up to prevent the city from going into the red instead of the public transportation generating income for the city.
Alexander Hamilton and many other of the founding fathers advocated for New York as the country’s capital.
However, Hamilton conceded in order to appease Thomas Jefferson in exchange for Jefferson’s support regarding overriding concerns (such as the national debt after the Revolutionary War).
Even though we don’t know exactly how the men came to their agreement since no one else was in the room when it happened, they settled on Washington, D.C. as the capital.
While New York did not end up becoming the country’s capital, it’s still an extremely important locale regarding politics thanks to its large population and popularity.
Not only did Hamilton and many of the other founding fathers consider New York home, but five presidents were born in New York:
- Martin Van Buren (1837 to 1841)
- Millard Fillmore (1850 to 1853)
- Theodore Roosevelt (1901 to 1909)
- Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933 to 1945)
- Donald Trump (2017 to 2021)
The presidents ranged from a liberal with big government policies (FDR) to conservative with small government policies (Trump), and both parties have substantial support in Manhattan.
However, New York as a whole tends to lean left.
Whenever politics is involved, money follows and prices go up.
New York City appeared on everyone’s television screens on the morning of 9/11/2001 as two planes flew into the iconic twin towers of the World Trade Center.
The towers fell, but the act of terrorism only showed people how New York citizens (and Americans) will come together when it matters most.
New York citizens, including volunteer firefighter Steve Buscemi, jumped to help salvage what they could from the destruction.
People all around the country showed their support from afar.
We lost innocent people tragically that day, but the world saw how New Yorkers united and set the tone for the rest of the country.
The relief effort cost a lot of money.
Today, you can visit a museum at Ground Zero to learn about the incident in detail and show your support for the people who lost loved ones.
10. New York State Of Mind
When you first walk down the streets of Manhattan, you will feel the energy and ambition all around you.
There’s something about New York’s aura that makes people believe in themselves and chase their dreams, and that hope is contagious.
You will feel inspired and hungry.
The emotions run so deeply that many musicians have tried to capture the unique vibe of New York in song:
- Ella Fitzgerald, Manhattan
- Frank Sinatra, New York, New York
- Stevie Wonder, Living for the City
- Billy Joel, New York State of Mind
- Jay Z (feat. Alicia Keys), Empire State of Mind
Once drunk on the possibilities of New York, people either succeed or crawl back to their hometowns with their tails between their legs.
Madonna moved to New York as an adolescent with only $35 and fought to become one of the greatest pop singers of the ’80s.
It’s hard to imagine her reaching the level of fame that she did if she had stayed in Michigan.
That doesn’t mean that fame comes easy, though.
Madonna was actually mugged at gunpoint in her early New York City days, but she refused to go back home as many people would.
The New York mentality encourages people to keep trying.
Native New Yorker Jerry Seinfeld bombed his first standup comedy act but tried again until he made a name for himself and created a wildly popular sitcom Seinfeld in the comedy with his collaborator Larry David.
You can’t fully capture the feelings until you experience them for yourself, though.
Manhattan is expensive.
There’s no doubt about it.
However, it’s the best place in the world for those people who love the hustle and bustle of the city and appreciate art, fashion, and theater.
Plus, you won’t find better pizza anywhere else in the country.
If you want to enjoy Manhattan but can’t afford it, you have the option of living in a less expensive borough or New Jersey.