New York City Nurses Make Less than You Think | NYC Cost of Living

September 9, 2012

BLOG job offer 300x227 New York City Nurses Make Less than You Think | NYC Cost of Living

Scrubs is a nursing magazine with an on-line blog which recently posted the “Top U.S. States to be a Nurse in 2012” by Linda Lampert.  Linda, using salary data from a 2012 staff survey published by Physician’s Practice, includes New York as one of the top three states to be a nurse.  I agree that the numbers might look good to an outsider, but the reality is that most nurses in New York State work in Manhattan hospitals and compared to the cost of living, nurses don’t make as much money as you think.

I was recently offered a critical care position at a major New York City hospital while I was working as a contract employee.  The hospital is unionized and the salary is non-negotiable.  Here is the breakdown:

.          Base pay:                             $68,812

.          BSN pay:                              $1,600

.          7 years experience:            $2,831.13

.          ———————————————-

.          TOTAL (gross)                       $73,243.13 per year (equivalent to $37.56 per hour)

In order to be approved for an apartment in Manhattan, rental applicants must provide tax returns that indicate their gross income is FORTY times the cost of one month’s rent.  According to a June 2012 Bloomberg report, the median cost for a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan is $3100/month.  In a March 2012 article by the NY Post, $54.46 per square foot (annually) is average.  MNS reports that the current mean rental rate of a one bedroom apartment (no doorman, no elevator) is $2986/month.  NY Habitat reports the range for a midtown one bedroom (no doorman, no elevator) is between $2200-$3000/month.  From personal experience, a one bedroom for $2500 (no doorman, no elevator) is reasonable.

Let’s do the math:

.          $2500/month X 40 = $100,000 minimum annual income.  Application DENIED.

.          $1825/month X 40 = $73,000 minimum annual income.  Application APPROVED.

After a $1825 broker’s fee and a $1825 deposit, $1825 per month will afford a tiny 402 square foot studio (no doorman, no elevator) in Manhattan.  Now let’s consider all annual expenses combined using conservative estimates.

.          Rent                      $21,600

.          Utilities                $960  (electric)

.          Groceries             $7000

.          Transportation     $3648 ($200/month taxi fare, $104/month unlimited MetroCard)

.          Cell Phone            $1200 (Verizon smart phone service)

.          Laundry                 $850

.          ——————————

.          TOTAL                   $35,258

Remember, New York City residents pay some of the highest city, state and federal taxes in the country.  On average, one-third of gross pay will be deducted.

.          $73,243.13 – 1/3 ($24,170.23) = $49,072.90 annual net income

.          $49,072.90 annual net income – $35,258 basic living expenses = $13,814.90 remaining

The remaining $13,814.90 must be used to make student loan or credit card payments, join a gym, budget entertainment or hobbies, purchase household incidentals (extra roach spray and mouse traps), pay for medical costs, buy uniforms, clothes/shoes, gifts, pets, and possibly a vacation.  One word:  Impossible.

According to the Scrubs article, the magazine conducted a poll to rate nurse’s happiness levels.  Only 4% of local respondents indicated that they were happy or extremely happy.  Lynda Lampert writes, “I think we can all guess that this number is a low ball figure, right? I mean, really, what self-respecting New Yorker admits to being ‘extremely happy’?”

I can assure you that 4% is not “a low ball figure.”  The lives of New York City hospital nurses are compromised by the high cost of living.  Living with roommates, moving to an outer borough, and getting a second job can alleviate financial stress but will make for a stressful life.  Seeking employment at a non-union hospital (New York Presbyterian Cornell, Hospital for Special Surgery, Memorial Sloan Kettering) can allow some negotiation in salary.  But in general, nurses choosing to live and work in Manhattan must truly enjoy New Yorkers, the city and nursing because there is nothing to love about the pay.

 

For additional reading:

New York City Nurses Don’t Get Paid to be Nice

Welcome to New York

Internationally Educated Nurses in New York

Lack of Education Among New York City Nurses

 

 

 

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13 comments

Comments (13)

  1. Nicely done. Many people don’t understand the cost of living in New York. Most professions don’t yield anywhere near the same standard of living as they would just about anywhere else in the country.

    • Thank you Mrs. Fringe! Nurses move to NYC thinking they’ll be making $85,000 per year with the same cost of living as their hometown. THANKS for reading!

  2. Pediatricians in Manhattan make 120K

    • Thanks for reading, Dave. I like the extra info you shared but I’m not sure how you feel about it. I think $120K for a pediatrician in Manhattan is NOT enough. I have a friend who makes $300K as an interior decorator. Her worst days involve late furniture deliveries.

  3. Here is a great breakdown for the cost of one and two bedroom apartments by Manhattan neighborhoods posted on Nov 18, 2013.

    http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/11/18/mapping_the_median_rents_in_new_york_city_neighborhoods.php

  4. I love the Curbed.com “Curbed Comparisons.” Here is what $2200 will get you in NYC:

    http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/09/20/what_2200month_can_rent_you_around_new_york_city.php

  5. This is a bit inaccurate I pay 2500 for a 2 bedroom utilities included and my brokers fee wasn’t as high as this one in the example , and the same for cell phone bill , and Laundry , groceries , and yes I do live In manhattan and transportation is about correct

    • Thanks for reading. Congratulations on getting a good deal with your apartment! They are out there for people who want to look. My neighbors in midtown converted a one-bedroom into a two-bedroom and they share the rent which I think is around 2300-2500/month. It took a little construction work but they are able to save a lot of money (well, comparatively speaking). The standard broker’s fee is close to one month’s rent. I’m wondering what your square footage is and what neighborhood you live in? Might be helpful to readers. Thanks for your comment!

  6. Interesting article. I live in NY but in Queens and I get to Manhattan within 15-20 mins. You don’t HAVE to live in Manhattan the cost is way too high. You can get a larger place for a much cheaper price elsewhere. And your money will go much further. Just a thought!

    • Thanks for reading and offering another perspective for readers. I have some friends who adore Queens and wouldn’t live anywhere else. They like the pace and the community feel. Restaurants are great, too. For me, I attend NYU (Wa Sqr Park), am a concierge nurse making house calls (usually upper east side), and my social life is also in Manhattan. But living across the river is certainly a great option for folks with other situations. Again, thank you for commenting!

  7. This article reads like my friend’s (BSN at Presbyterian Hospital L&D) life. Her outter borough home was foreclosed upon and now she lives in Arizona.

  8. Definitely not enough to live well in NYC. Still, it is decent money compared to some other professions. A NYC teacher starts at 45,000 with a bachelor’s (same amount of education as the nurse in this article). And a teacher actually works FOR the city. How the hell are they supposed to afford to live in the city they serve? Plus, the amount of work teachers take home during the year they average closer to 55 hours which more than makes up for the time off. After seven years of experience and even a masters degree a teacher STILL wont make what a nurse does.

    • You are so right and my heart goes out to teachers. I have done some substitute school nursing and have a huge amount of respect for the teachers that I have met and witnessed working with kids here in NYC. It is truly a labor of love. I think your point about the master’s degree is a good one. Nurses can get a master’s degree and dig themselves out of a financial hole here in Manhattan, but even teachers with master’s degrees struggle. From what I understand, it is very difficult to get a teaching job at many private Manhattan schools without one. Thank you for your comment and sharing your perspective.

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