How Far Does a New York Dollar Go? [Part II]

(This post continues off of my previous one, How Far Does a New York Dollar Go? [Part I].)

If you’re seeking to live a well-off lifestyle in New York City when you get older, you better plan to have a very well paying job and marry rich. (This goes for guys and girls.) A New York Times article called “You Try to Live on 500K in This Town” explains just how expensive New York can be. After calculating costs of private school, mortgage, nanny, and co-op maintenance fees, the article states, “We are already at $269,000, and we haven’t even gotten to taxes yet.” Now, the expense listed in this article may seem a tad excessive to some, but to many in New York, these things are parts of the lifestyle they are accustomed to.

The Value of a New York Dollar

New York’s high cost of living is partially due to it’s low dollar value. In a New York Magazine article, “The Value of a New York Dollar,” the New York dollar was stated as being worth only 76 cents. That measly amount was calculated back in 2006, was when the article was published. Because of a number of factors, including regulations and zoning, housing caused the dollar’s value to drop 14 cents. Taxes drag its value down 5.6 cents, while basic costs like the higher prices in New York, decrease it even more by 4.4 cents. These are all further explained in the article, as well as the difference in lifestyle costs and wages.


How Far Does a New York Dollar Go? [Part I]

The money you earn and spend in New York does not go as far as it does in other cities. The New York Dollar is, by definition, “calculated by subtracting the additional cost of living in New York, and then adding back the additional income residents tend to command as a result.” It’s common knowledge that the cost of things in large cities are going to be more expensive than in small towns. But do you know just how big this price difference is?

The cost of living in New York City is much higher than it is in other cities. However, the salary one earns in the city also is higher in comparison. (Though, it may not always be high enough to accommodate the difference of cost of living.) For instance, an Information Technology Director living in Tallahassee, the capital of Florida, has a median income of $147,493, according to, while a person who holds the same position in New York, NY earns a median income of $193,881. To find out how far your salary can go in any city, take a look at the CNN Money Cost of Living Calculator and the PayScale Cost of Living Calculator.

The MTA Wants Your Pay

The Metropolitan Transit Authority, more commonly known as the MTA, is a wonderful service that provides public transportation to millions of people, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Railroads, subways, buses…it’s all good! On the contrary, they also often perform actions that make their customers want to start protests called “Occupy MTA Offices.”

This past summer, I visited my friend via the MTA Metro-North railroad, traveling from Grand Central Station in Manhattan to the Cos Cob train station in Connecticut. Minor setback: I accidentally bought a ticket to the Croton Harmon station while rushing to catch my train. My fingers touched “Croton Harmon” instead of “Cos Cob.” I mean, seriously, with all the commotion of rushing and trying to meet my friend in the station, it wasn’t my fault, okay?! (At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.) That one little accident did not mean I couldn’t get a full refund for my mistaken ticket… Or so I thought.

I then bought a ticket to Cos Cob, my intentional destination, figuring I could return my useless Croton Harmon ticket. (“Useless” because who the hell do I know in Croton Harmon? No one! I don’t even know where that is.) It turned out I was right about returning it. All I had to do was fill out a form at Grand Central, show them my ticket, and they would send me a refund… in 6-8 weeks! Yippee! There was one more catch: I had to pay the MTA $10 to get the refund. That’s right, you heard me. I had to pay to get a refund.

(I didn’t even use the ticket at all, which you’d think would help my case, but apparently, the MTA likes to be “different.”)
Don’t ask me how this makes sense, because I have no clue. All I know is that it made me want to rip my hair out! Well, not literally. That would just be loco. Anyway, the point is that paying for a refund is just ridiculous. It cancels out the reason for requesting a refund in the first place! Furthermore, they do not even give a reason as to why they charge $10 per transaction. “Service charge.” What service? Servicing me with a fee for a refund? My $24 roundtrip ticket was now worth $14… a $10 loss for the simple mistake of choosing the wrong station. Thanks a lot, MTA. (I’m sticking to my word of denying I was at fault.)

On another note, and no, not a good one, the teller at the Metro-North desk at Grand Central told me it would take 6-8 weeks for the refund to be mailed to me. I mean, that’s cool, I guess. Make me pay to get my money back and then take 2 months to return my $14. Yes, I know, it must be a nuisance for them to look at a piece of paper, put $14 in an envelope, and send it. I’m pretty sure that can be done in less than 6-8 weeks. As it turns out, the form I filled out stated my refund would be delivered in 2-3 weeks.

That’s like, the same amount of time, right? Tsk, tsk, MTA.