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Old 01-03-2010, 06:01 PM
 
16 posts, read 99,438 times
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My husband just got a job in Hartsdale, salary is in the low 60's. We are doing as much research as we could before he decides to accept or refuse the offer, as it will be a big move from Western Australia to New York. I will also be looking for a job as soon as he gets "settled" on his job, but for the mean time, we'd like to work on a budget as if he's the only one working.

My questions relate to renting and area selection, driving and commuting, and utility and other bills. I apologize in advance for the length of the questions.

Rent and area selection:
We're a young couple with no kids. We are looking at renting a 2br unit in a safe area within a reasonable driving distance (max. 1 hour one way) to and from Hartsdale, and close to public transport. Is a maximum of $1500/month on rent enough? Is it also possible to rent a house for this price? Which areas do we need to start looking?

I also read in a different forum that the amount we can rent will depend on the x40 rule. Is this correct information?

Driving/Commuting
We know traffic is really bad in the NYC area. I'm hoping it's not as bad in the Westchester area. Is it safe to take public transportation? What's the average cost of running a car in Westchester, esp. insurance?

Utility and other bills
Which company should we sign up with for Internet/Phone/TV bundle? What is the average cost of basic groceries, electricity, water, gas and sewer(?)?

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. I'd really appreciate any input.
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Old 01-03-2010, 06:12 PM
 
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Generally the 40X rule does apply.

It's hard, outside of White Plains, to get by without a car. And getting to Hartsdale is almost impossible without one, because the buses aren't all that frequent. Public transportation is very safe.

You do have to get your own visa to work here legally, as I'm sure you realize, but jobs are hard to come by these days.
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Old 01-03-2010, 06:33 PM
 
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Thanks for that Viralmd. I was hoping we can get by without a car. I guess we better start looking into that as well.

My husband is a US citizen, and I have been previously approved a spouse visa but we chose not to move then and it has expired (I just need to re-apply for another one).
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Old 01-03-2010, 08:50 PM
 
Location: Danbury CT covering all of Fairfield County
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You can get a nice 2 apartment up in the Danbury area or even a small house. Commute would be about 50 minutes by car depending on traffic. A lot of people live up here and drive that way because the prices are much more reasonable.
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Old 01-04-2010, 12:35 AM
 
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First, you should decide if to make this move or not. Think well about the reasons to relocate to the other side of the globe.
Generally speaking, 60K+ is a low salary by NY standards. I think that you getting a job is key factor in the decision. Once you figure that out, finding a place to live is more a technical issue. One car is necessary (and depending on your situation you might need two in Westchester/ Fairfield). As a rule, getting further north in Westchester lowers the rent/ mortgage bills.
Another approach is to target the city as your living place (Bronx, upper Manhattan) and use public transpiration (MTA train) to Hartsdale. This way you save the car money and pay higher rent.

Last edited by oberon_1; 01-04-2010 at 12:49 AM..
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Old 01-04-2010, 07:17 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdhall1 View Post
You can get a nice 2 apartment up in the Danbury area or even a small house. Commute would be about 50 minutes by car depending on traffic. A lot of people live up here and drive that way because the prices are much more reasonable.
I can't imagine going to Danbury on a daily basis. You'd need TWO cars (one for each of you) if you wanted to do that. Kind of wipes out any savings you'd have on rent, plus getting to NYC on weekends would be a true pain.
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:37 AM
 
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I think your question is whether or not you can live comfortably with your salary. As was said already, with a second income we would recommend the area. But with just one income it would be pretty tough.

As far as the specifics, if I were you, I'd get a 6 or 12 month lease on a 1 bedroom apartment in Hartsdale or white plains to give you time to scope out the area. You should be able to find a decent 1 bedroom for $1500/month. I was going to rent my 1 bedroom in Hartsdale for $1500, but selling it instead. Then when the second salary is in place you can get a 2 bedroom for more money or explore your options. Also, look for a place with the heat included as that can get expensive.

As far as a car, I agree with the others that you will need 1 at least. I was looking at car prices recently and as an example you can get a decent 2008 maybe 2009 USED subaru impreza with AWD (for the snow) for about $16k after taxes.

Hard to tell what you will spend on food prices. For the two of us, we eat out half the time and cook the other and I estimate we spend about $300/month in food. But I am horrible at estimating how much I spend on food, so don't quote me.

Also, for 1 car, we spend about $120/month on a 25 mile commute to work a month. But I get cheap gas, probably, expect to pay around $170.

As far as cable, internet, phone. I suggest you get verizon dsl for $19.99 a month. Buy magic jack for a phone and watch hulu.com for tv shows for free. Otherwise expect to pay about $130/month on those 3 services.
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Old 01-04-2010, 02:07 PM
 
Location: East Millcreek
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I can't personally imagine an international move from Oz to NY suburbs for any $60k job if that's even remotely comparable to what you're making in Australia. Does the job have health insurance? If not then add that to your expenses, and even if it does your contribution may be much more than you're used to. I think you're signing up for some serious downwards lifestyle mobility. Is there some backstory here?
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Old 01-04-2010, 06:44 PM
 
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Thanks everyone, we really appreciate your feedback. The main purpose of this post is to help us make an informed decision. Your inputs helped put things in perspective. And yes kletter1mann, there is a backstory.

Please keep your comments coming...
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Old 01-05-2010, 11:09 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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I think that you could look in the area and find something for around $1500 for a 1BR apartment. It might be a smaller 1BR, but since you do not need to worry about schools, that opens up some options.

Hartsdale is great, and you could get by with one vehicle if you were to drop your husband off, or he takes the car on days when you'd be doing things via the train, as in going to NYC, etc. Other areas to consider nearby, outside of White Plains, would include: New Rochelle (away from the downtown areas), Pelham, Eastchester, and Tuckahoe.

Yonkers would have some decent rents, but there are two issues: one is not every neighborhood is nice, so you need to be careful; and there's a city income tax surcharge (10% of your NYS tax) that you'd need to pay each year. Since you're on a tighter budget for two people, I'd recommend trying not to pay that tax, since better neighborhoods in Yonkers might not offset the added tax burden.

If you don't mind driving a bit north, you could look in Mount Kisco. And, on the west side of the county, you could find something in your range in Tarrytown or Sleepy Hollow. And, if you're flexible, it's possible to find an apartment sometimes in a great area, such as downtown areas of Larchmont, Dobbs Ferry, or Hastings, but they are likely to be over a commercial shop.

It's possible in some areas to find a 2BR for your price range, and in some towns/villages, you can get a decent deal. You have flexibility, and the furthest area, Mount Kisco, is 30-minutes to Hartsdale, but you would need to drop your husband off since there are some things to do in town without a car, but not every day. However, if his office is within walking distance of the trian in Hartsdale, he could take the train to work, since it's on the Harlem Line (same as Mount Kisco). Time-wise, it would be about the same as driving on an early morning train because he would have to switch trains at White Plains because of the express to Grand Central where stops are skipped during morning rush hour on trains from above White Plains.

You can get deals on groceries and the like at Costco, BJs, Trader Joe's, and some of the larger markets. And, since you would not be working at the outset, you could definitely have the time to track down the deals and keep the household costs under control.

The only way to be car-free in Westchester, however, is to live in an urban area, such as White Plains, or Yonkers, and to go to the local area for items that you need at home, but the main focus of your life would be in NYC. This comes at a price for the convenience, with higher prices than you would pay for items at a super warehouse club/market.

You should be able to get a reasonable car (pre-owned Honda/Acura/Subaru, for example), at least one to last for a couple of years, before upgrading, or adding a second vehicle to the family. Carrying a car is not as expensive in Westchester as it is in the city, but there will be an added expense to the budget. However, if you're close to your husband's office, one car would be sufficient. If you want ideas on cars, check out City-Data's Automotive section, since there are people who post there who have tons of expertise with many sorts of vehicles and can give insight as to good models to look for, as well as common problems when you find a car that you like and might want to buy. Be sure to get any used car inspected, though, since that can help make an informed purchase decision.

Westchester can be expensive, but if you keep your costs under control, I think you could make it work on his income.
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