Anne and her husband knew it was time to leave New York City, where she had grown up, when in February of 2021, they went out to dinner for the first time since the pandemic began.
“We just went to a local place on the Upper West Side,” Anne recalls. “It was five degrees … and our totally ordinary salads were $38.” Anne and her husband, who works in commercial finance, were already struggling to keep up with their bills. Despite working through the pandemic, the couple, who have two kids aged 8 and 6, had been unable to save much money. “Everything we made was spent on babysitting and sending our kids to private school,” Anne says.
Anne, who worked at a school in Manhattan, was forwarded a job posting at a school in New Orleans. She applied and received the position. Within a few months, her family had packed their belongings, and moved down to the Big Easy.
It hasn’t always been easy. Anne and her family had to evacuate when Hurricane Ida hit the city. Even still, they have few regrets about making the move.
“We 100% feel like we’ve made the right decision,” she says.
A large part of the reason for this is that they can live better lives for much less money in New Orleans. She saves a ton on housing and tuition, as well as some other things. Here’s what the family will save this year because of their decision.
Housing: Estimated annual savings, $12,000
In Manhattan, Anne and her family were spending $4,200 a month on a 700-square-foot apartment. Their downstairs neighbors, who traveled frequently for work before the pandemic began, constantly complained about the noise Anne’s kids made when they woke up in the morning during the lockdown.
“The kids would wake up every day, and I would just take them outside even if it was freezing just so that we didn’t get yelled at,” Anne says.
Now the family lives in a 1,900-square foot home with a covered parking spot and private driveway for $3,200 a month.
Tuition: Estimated annual savings, $71,000
Even with a discount, tuition for both of her kids in Manhattan was $112,000 a year. Now Anne sends her kids to the school where she is employed, and the cost is $41,000 a year.
Other: Estimated annual savings, more than $4,000
Plenty of other things are less in New Orleans too, says Anne, including extracurricular activities for the kids. She estimates she spends about $1,700 a year less on soccer programs for the kids than she did in Manhattan, with the added bonus that concession stands sell beer for $1.
“It’s so cool and casual,” Anne says.
In NYC, she’d pay $25 an hour for her sitter in New York, while in New Orleans $15 an hour is more the norm. Getting her hair done costs under $100, while it would have been about $300 in New York, and her gym membership is $1,800 a year less. Many of her go-to groceries are less as well, she says, though she drives her car more in New Orleans.
Of course, there are plenty of things she misses about New York City, but Anne notes: “New Orleans is a great place to live. People are warm and friendly, the food is great, and we have more space.”
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