Are These Items More or Less Expensive in NYC?

Snowy New York City

I can’t remember the last time I watched The Price is Right. Not because I don’t love it, but it seems like it’s only appropriate to indulge when you’re laying on the couch with a wretched stomach bug. But if memory serves me correctly, they have/had a game where you guessed which item cost more or less. So in the spirit of Bob Barker, we’re going to play an NYC version of the game.

Here’s how it works. Listed below are 10 items. Five of them are more expensive in New York City, while the other five are less expensive. Some are more obvious than others, but we’re hoping we can stump you on at least a few. So look at the list, make your predictions, and then check and read the answers below. Ready, set, quiz time!

  • Dry Cleaning
  • Milk
  • Museums
  • Preschool
  • Hair Coloring
  • Fruit
  • Rent
  • Movie Theaters
  • Pizza
  • Transportation



Last chance to change your answers.

And the survey says…

Dry Cleaning: In other parts of the country, dry cleaners are several miles apart from each other. What’s nearby is what you get. But out here, every block has a dry cleaner, which keeps the prices competitive. With a little searching, you can usually find a place that charges only $1 a shirt. But you’ll be hard-pressed (ba dump ching) to find many places that charge more than $2/shirt. Answer: Less

Milk: If you follow my Instagram or saw my picture on Facebook, this should be an easy one. Most local grocery stores are over $5 per gallon. The only places I’ve found that are less than $4 per gallon are Trader Joe’s and Costco, but I’ve heard some drug stores are a good deal, too. No two gallons for $5 out here! Answer: More

Museums: NYC houses some the most famous museums in the world. And many of them, such as the Museum of Natural History, the Met, and the MoMa have suggested donation amounts. In other words, you can pay as little or as much as you’d like to gain admission. Cha-ching! But for the quality of these museums, really any price can’t be beat. Answer: Less 

Preschool: We’ve been looking at programs for Sally, and preschools are way, way pricier out here. I recently got a quote from a very typical preschool with no special acclaims or teaching methods, and for two full days a week (not five days) it would cost $1690 per month. Many options are more expensive than this. We’ve done a lot of searching, and the least expensive option I’ve found averages about $15/hour for your child’s care. Yeesh! Answer: More

Hair Coloring: If I went and got my hair cut and highlighted at a decently reputable place out here, I’d walk away at least $250 poorer. If I paid less than that, the quality of the hair coloring would be questionable (which I learned the hard way the last time we lived out here). Moral of the story: enjoy getting your hair did for less, America-minus-NYC. Answer: More

Fruit: If you look in the right places, fruit is super reasonable out here. We buy all of our fruit from local fruit stands on the street, which is the best deal we’ve found. In the middle of winter, two packages of strawberries only runs me $3. I may be paying an arm and a leg for all of our other groceries, but at least we can afford fruit! Answer: Less

Rent: Okay, so this was a giveaway one. Our rent out here is over twice what we paid in Utah, and what we’re getting is smaller, older, and missing amenities like a washer/dryer and central heat and air. We hope to make up for it by taking advantage of all the amazingness this city has to offer. Answer: More

Movie Theater: While we’re NYC residents, it’s matinees or bust for us. Why? Well, regular-priced movie tickets are $20/person. This is where someone a generation older than us chimes in and remarks how when they were a kid, you could buy a movie ticket, a Snickers bar, and a tall, refreshing, glass-bottled cola for $1. The only way we will ever see an evening showing is if I can somehow fit Johnny in my purse. Answer: More

Pizza: Something about the pizza out here just can’t be beat — especially the crust. Most of the best pizza places out here are on par pricewise with other pizza in the country. Keep in mind our pizza is fresh, handmade stuff, not the Papa John Domino Hut stuff. But to top that, we’ve also got $1 pizza slice places all over the city. The slices are big, fresh, and umm… $1! Johnny likes to do this for lunch at least once a week. Answer: Less

Transportation: Depending on how much you pay for gas and car insurance, NYC could be more or less than the rest of the country. An MTA pass costs $112/month, which gives you unlimited access to the subways and buses. Johnny purchases this each month, while I refill $80 every month and a half or so on my MTA card. A typical cab ride is anywhere from $10 to $20, depending on the traffic and how far you’re traveling. It sounds like a win, but with the incredible gas prices all over the country right now, this answer is up in the air. Answer: Less Draw

Well, how did you do? Tell us your score and what answers stumped you. Who’s ready to move out here and experience all of this firsthand?!

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  • Reply Jill January 15, 2015 at 8:01 am

    I did pretty well on this quiz but I cheated a bit because even though I’ve never lived in NYC my daughter lives in Boston which seems to be comparable to NYC. I live in suburban SC and our milk is about $4.50 per gallon,(and the price for milk has always been higher than my relatives in Ohio) I pay $60 to have my hair cut( but I think average is about $150) and colored, our preschool runs about $450 per month for 4x per week at a private, church run school and we’re complaining because our movie tickets went up to $12 for non-matinee. Salaries here, though, are quite a bit less than large cities so we’re making less and paying less – on most things except milk it seems.

    • Reply Joanna January 15, 2015 at 10:44 pm

      Love reading your price comparisons! I was paying $65 for a cut and full highlights in Utah, so I don’t know what I’m gonna do out here! And that’s crazy your milk is so expensive! What is going on?!

  • Reply Taylor Lee January 15, 2015 at 8:23 am

    I did pretty well on this, but that’s largely I think because I also live in the Northeast. Though I was surprised about the dry cleaning prices. We’ve dry cleaners about every block here too but they’re still $2-3/shirt.

    • Reply Joanna January 15, 2015 at 10:46 pm

      The dry cleaners in NYC are nutzo cheap… We had a bunch in Boston, too, but they were significantly more expensive. I have no idea why, but I’ll take it!

  • Reply Ashley January 15, 2015 at 9:06 am

    re: hair – try Scott J — its an Aveda salon with a couple of locations on the UWS. I recently got a cut and single process color for $188 – with tip! That’s actually less than I paid when I was in Atlanta. Still a lot, but better than I was expecting. They also have an offer for new customers on their site.

    • Reply Joanna January 15, 2015 at 10:47 pm

      I looked that salon up last weekend! I was wondering what their prices would be… so good to know! I’ll have to look into the new customer offer. Thanks, Ashley!

  • Reply Holly S January 15, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Love it! I’ve only been to New York once but I got all 5 right. I’m not sure I would like to necessarily live there but I would certainly like to visit again soon.

    • Reply Joanna January 15, 2015 at 10:48 pm

      That’s how I felt, too, yet here I am living here somehow! Crazy how life happens sometimes!

  • Reply Alicia January 15, 2015 at 9:23 am

    MoMa unfortunately is not a suggested donation museum. At $25/person, it has one of the steepest entry fees. The last few times I went, I went with a friend who had a Membership, so it only cost me $5 🙂 There are also a ton of art galleries that are free, but you go through a lot of galleries before finding work that you actually like. If you go to the Met in the spring or summer, make sure you check out the roof. It’s open to all guests, and usually has an art installation. The views from the rooftop are amazing!!

    If you make it out to Brooklyn, you should spend a few hours in Sunset Park. There’s a chinatown type of area on 8th ave where you can get amazing food (and chinese pastries and bubble tea!) for pretty cheap. There are also a million dollar stores and fruit/veggie markets. I used to live 1 block away from 8th avenue, so we were able to get fruits/veggies for a decent price. It’s also a family-friendly area, so you don’t have to worry.

    I also managed to find a few movie theaters that showed cheaper movies, but I think they were out in Brooklyn. They’re not as nice as the theaters with stadium seating, but much cheaper, and definitely worth it!

    • Reply Joanna January 15, 2015 at 10:50 pm

      You’re right! I’ll have to take that off the list. When I was looking into it, I must have misread. We’ve been to the Met roof before and it’s amazeballs. I can’t wait to take Sally in the spring. We’ll definitely check out Sunset Park once the weather’s nicer — thanks for the tips!

  • Reply Little House January 15, 2015 at 9:43 am

    I have family in NYC so I was able to pretty much guess these correctly. All in all, NYC is expensive, but provides an awesome experience.

    • Reply Joanna January 15, 2015 at 10:50 pm

      Too true… despite the high cost of everything, it’s still a pretty amazing place to call home.

  • Reply Tarynkay January 15, 2015 at 9:53 am

    I got most of these right (though I assumed fruit would be pricier in NYC) but we lived in LA for a few years. It sounds like a lot of things are similar, though all groceries were cheaper in LA. Movie prices made us nuts! We were like, but they MAKE movies here! Why are they so expensive???

    I think you win on transportation costs, once you figure in taxes, depreciation, and maintenance on a car. Gas will go back up. Plus you get to ride the subway. Just think of the incalcuable benefits to your immune system!

    • Reply Joanna January 15, 2015 at 10:58 pm

      None of us has gotten sick out here, so maybe you’re onto something! All hail the mighty subway germs. I actually caught Sally putting her mouth on a subway pole the other day — absolutely horrifying.

  • Reply Lindsey January 15, 2015 at 10:59 am

    Love this post! I was surprised by a couple of the answers. The preschool cost makes me cringe….ouch!! And I was recently grumbling about a $400/month preschool for my kids 🙂

    • Reply Joanna January 15, 2015 at 10:59 pm

      The preschool costs make me cringe, too, but they’re also gonna make our wallet cringe before long! Ready or not, I guess!

  • Reply Melanie January 15, 2015 at 11:42 am

    OMG the preschool cost is INSANE and I cant even believe that’s real. Insane.

    • Reply Joanna January 15, 2015 at 11:00 pm

      Haha, yes. It’s very, very real unfortunately.

  • Reply Anne January 15, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Got most of them, but fruit surprised me especially least this time of year- I mean, they can’t be growing those strawberries there?!

    I’d also take a look at cosmetology schools if you haven’t tried them, you might find that students who are hoping to work at high end salons do a great job at a fraction of the cost.

    • Reply Joanna January 15, 2015 at 11:03 pm

      I know… the fruit carts are pretty great. Admittedly, they’re a little bit ghetto, but Johnny and I are all about that kind of stuff.

      I didn’t want to blabber on too much in the post, but I’m planning to try the Aveda hair school out here. I’ve been to them once before years ago, and they did a great job. When I go, I’ll report how it goes!

  • Reply Zoë January 15, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    I got most of them correct, except for fruit – I figured it would be more. I also thought transportation would be less because NYC has such great public transportation. Atlanta doesn’t have much in the way of public transportation, and it costs $2.50 to ride on the MARTA train/bus, no matter how far you go, but you can get a $95 unlimited ride/30 day pass. That’s not too bad, but it can take my friend 1-1.5 hrs to get to work, and she lives about 8 miles away from her office. Yeah, public transportation is not my current city’s strong point. As a Londoner, that kind of hurts.

    However, preschool for us is cheap. My youngest goes full-time and we pay $650 per month! It was even cheaper back in small-town Tennessee at $95 per week, even for toddlers.

    • Reply Joanna January 15, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      I honestly don’t know how NYC keeps up its transportation so well. We all complain about it, but with this many people being shuttled to and fro, it does a pretty stellar job. I’ll enjoy the public transit out here, and you enjoy those incredible preschool prices. Thinking about adding that expense to our budget is kind of frightening!

  • Reply Brandy January 15, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    I guessed most of them correctly, but that is probably because I live in LA. LA have similar higher costs for the same things. But sorry, I think I’ll chose the warm Pacific coast over the cold Atlantic one.

    • Reply Joanna January 15, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      I don’t blame you one bit. Maybe Johnny and I will join you eventually!

  • Reply jennifer p January 15, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    the cost of nyc is just does have so much to offer but still,its so expensive.however sometimes you can find a diamond in the rough.i go to a hair salon close to where i live.its in brooklyn.its worth it to come to brooklyn for these prices.the place is named hena and the owner and hair dresser is helen.she does a great job and she is so cheap. a haircut is 19.00 and a haircolor is would think for those prices it wouldnt be good ,but she really the place looks like an old lady hair salon from 1990,just overlook the decor.i have been going to her for about ten years.the phone number is 718 377 6568

    • Reply Joanna January 15, 2015 at 11:11 pm

      Oh my! Those prices are incredible. Thanks for the tip. I’ll be looking into it STAT!

  • Reply Suzanne January 16, 2015 at 5:06 am

    I had a look and converted some figures (from Euros here in Ireland) and if we were to pay in dollars, to dry clean a man’s suit would cost about $23, 4 litres of milk (nearest to your gallon) would be about $4, hair colouring could be as cheap as $60 and as high as $200, a day return train ticket from home to work would be about $10.50, movie would be about $10.50 for one person for just the ticket. In Ireland (and indeed the UK), most of us are keen to be home owners so renters are a minority, although since the recession, getting mortgage approval is a lot more stringent now. We bought our home in 2006 (in peak house price times in Ireland) for €225,000 ($260,000) and on that we pay approx €730 ($850) per month over a 30 year term. To rent would cost someone about $460 a month to share an apartment/house. For a family to rent a 3 bedroom house here would cost about €700-€800 ($815 – $850) per month. Hope this gives you a little insight into the cost of things this side of the globe!

    • Reply Joanna January 19, 2015 at 9:35 am

      I loved reading your price comparisons! It’s crazy how comparable some things are in our countries. Most of our country the movie tickets are about $10/person… NY is kind of an anomaly at $20. And your home and rent prices would be comparable everywhere but NYC, too. We’re living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, but I promise the rest of America isn’t nearly so outrageous!

  • Reply Brian January 16, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    Not that I ever did, but I will not complain about the costs of daycare/preschool to you. We pay $425 a week for two kids (2.5 years and 6 months old) and that is for 5 days.

    Those prices make me glad I live in a decent sized Midwest city. Of course, there are times I would kill for good public transportation

    • Reply Joanna January 19, 2015 at 9:38 am

      Preschool is nuts out here. Also, I was searching ‘potty training in NYC’ on the interwebs (since there are some logistical issues with the lack of public bathrooms), and all the search results that popped up were for companies that come to your home and potty train your child for you! Apparently that’s a thing out here. We live in such a crazy city.

  • Reply Kristin S. January 16, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Oh, my… I don’t think my kids would go to preschool if it cost me that much! Good thing I don’t live in the city, because I’d go crazy if they didn’t go to preschool for at least a few hours a week! LOL Maybe a try a co-op instead of a traditional preschool?

    • Reply Joanna January 19, 2015 at 9:39 am

      I hear ya. There are a few people who do co-ops out here, and that might be something we look into in the future!

  • Reply Angie January 16, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    Well, obviously I surrendered my blonde hair when I moved here, but I did get $30 haircuts at a salon in Chinatown for a couple years. Then I found a friend who cuts hair, so she’s been doing it for a while. But she’s moving away soon so it’s back to chinatown I go! I’ll give you the contact info… Chinatown sounds a little scary but it’s a really nice, full service salon.

    • Reply Joanna January 19, 2015 at 9:43 am

      I don’t want to surrender my blonde hair! I got it darkened before we moved out here, and I’m already missing it! You look great with your natural color, but I don’t think I can say the same. I’d love to hear more about where you go in Chinatown. And we’re still figuring out where Johnny should go, too!

  • Reply Michelle January 19, 2015 at 6:04 am

    Ok, my eyes popped out my head when I saw the preschool costs.

    • Reply Joanna January 19, 2015 at 9:43 am

      I know… it’s ridiculous!

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