New York tops most overpriced city list

Expensive real estate, like these buildings in SoHo,

Expensive real estate, like these buildings in SoHo, contributes to NYC's expensiveness. (Credit: Nancy Borowick)

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If you're looking for the best place to break your bank account you've found it right here in the Big Apple.

A report by Forbes magazine places New York City in a tie with Honolulu for the nation's most-overpriced city, largely because of expensive housing and a higher cost of living.

Experts and city leaders say the problem is only going to get worse, making the city a less enticing place to call home.

"From ever-soaring rent levels to higher priced foods and goods invading lower-middle income neighborhoods, many lifelong residents are being pushed out of their homes," said City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan).

Trailing New York on the 20-region list are southern Connecticut -- Greenwich, Norwalk and Stamford -- Boston, San Jose and Long Island.

Only cities and regions with more than 600,000 people were counted.

Erin Carlyle, who authored the Forbes report, said the ranking was based on a number of factors, such as housing affordability, the cost of food, utilities, gas, transportation and other expenses.

Housing was given a higher weight than other variables, putting the Big Apple at the top.

A report issued by the real estate group MNS in January found that the average Manhattan rent rose from $3,762 in 2012 to a record high $3,905 in 2013. During the same period, the average weekly wage for Manhattan residents went up just $10, according to the U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has pushed for more affordable housing and aims to create or preserve 200,000 affordable housing units over the next decade that would "lift the floor" for New Yorkers. His administration announced a deal Monday that would create 700 new affordable apartments at the former Domino Sugar site in Williamsburg.

Carlyle said the city's other costs of living are also above the national median. Groceries were 22% higher, utilities were 29.6% higher, transportation was at 12.8% and median health care was 12.6% higher, according to the cost index used by data analyst group Sperling's Best Places.

She also noted that there are other factors that come into play that can't easily be quantified.

"The restaurants, the cultural institutions, the vibe of New York, you pay for it," she said.

Austin Shafran, legislative director of the Working Family Party -- which is pushing for a higher minimum wage -- said the report didn't surprise him. Even though the city has seen a job growth recently, many of those opportunities simply don't pay enough to match the high rent plus the cost of a MetroCard, food and other services, according to Shafran.

"Workers need to have more money in their pockets so they can better handle the higher cost of living," he said.

Currently the state's minimum wage is $8 an hour but it will rise to $9 in 2015.

Shafran, whose group is pushing for a minimum wage higher than $9, noted that other cities that were on the Forbes list, such as San Jose and San Francisco, have higher minimum wages, enabling residents to handle their higher costs of living.

De Blasio, whose office didn't return messages for comment, has made raising the minimum wage a priority.

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