To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

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glitched
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To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby glitched » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:09 pm

To those NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for their first (or second) year and was unmarried during that time, how was it? Was the commute unbearable? Would you advise someone to do it?

I could save a lot of money (tax, rent, costs of living) by just living in NJ as opposed to the city, but if the first year hours/commute are unbearable, I'd be willing to just pay the premium of living in NYC.

I know there are a bunch of threads on the math on the savings and how that makes sense, but I wanted to know some of the unmeasurable factors to consider. Just trying to figure out where to live right now.

(is this the wrong forum? lol)

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby imchuckbass58 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:18 pm

I haven't done this, but I have lived in NYC for most of my life, so hopefully that helps somewhat.

I think it would largely depend on where your firm is. If it's downtown and you live close to a PATH station in NJ, the commute should be a breeze, and in fact shorter than most intra-NYC commutes. If your office is in midtown west, it won't be too bad, since you'd take NJ transit into Penn Station, then hop the 1/2/3 one stop. I would think Midtown east is pretty unsustainable as it may involve as many as three trains (NJT to 1/2/3 to Shuttle, or best case NJT to E).

Some other considerations:

(1) Keep in mind many nights you may be taking a car home, so you may not have to do this trip by train 10 times a week (probably more like 6-7).

(2) Think about how this may interfere with your social life. When you only have one or two nights when you can actually socialize, will you find it a pain in the ass that you have to take a train 30 minutes into NYC to do so instead of just walking outside?

(3) Some people really like living near the office. If you need to take care of something on the weekend, you can just pop in, get it done, then go back home. Similarly, if you're only 5 minutes from the office, that's an extra 30 minutes of sleep you have every day.

Bottom line, time how long your commute would be. In some cases, it may be comparable to what your commute would be within the city. If that's the case, I'd live in NJ if you don't mind the negative social effects. But if the commute time is significantly more, or if you would otherwise live walking distance from the office, it's probably not worth it.

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glitched
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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby glitched » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:26 pm

Thanks for the reply!

This might be a stupid question, but how do unlimited passes work for NJ transit/MTA? If you go from the ACE and ride the PATH, does the same unlimited pass work for both?

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:37 pm

I find the monthly subway passes not to be worth it.

Just get a preloaded card that refills when you get too low. They still charge the reduced per-ride price if you preload.

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby imchuckbass58 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I find the monthly subway passes not to be worth it.

Just get a preloaded card that refills when you get too low. They still charge the reduced per-ride price if you preload.


The breakeven is 48 rides per month (about 1.5x per day). If you ride more than that, an unlimited is worth it.

Source: http://www.mta.info/news/stories/?story=841
Last edited by imchuckbass58 on Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby imchuckbass58 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:13 pm

glitched wrote:Thanks for the reply!

This might be a stupid question, but how do unlimited passes work for NJ transit/MTA? If you go from the ACE and ride the PATH, does the same unlimited pass work for both?


For NJT, you have to buy your own separate tickets (either individual tickets, packs of 10, or a monthly pass). The fare varies based on your station in NJ - I'm sure you can find it online, but if I remember correctly, a monthly pass for the stations right over the river (e.g., secaucus, newark, etc) are about $80.

For the path, you can use a pay-per-ride metrocard (the fare is the same), but not an unlimited metrocard. You can alternatively buy a monthly PATH ticket, which I believe is cheaper than an unlimited metrocard.

As a side note, the MTA just released a new feature on metrocards allowing you to load both an unlimited pass and pay-per-ride money on the same card, so that can potentially make things easier since it eliminates the need to carry around two cards.

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:15 pm

I did this.

Commute is fine. Live near a path station in Jersey City or Hoboken and you're into the city in 15 minutes. Now to get to your actual office it depends on which line it's off of. I was right near grand central so it was about another 15-20 from the WTC (walk to fulton, 4 or 5).

I would do it again if I had to make the choice.

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:16 pm

I've lived in Jersey City and worked for a V100 in Midtown for 18 months. I'd say it's pretty manageble and I do save a fortune. My commute is about 40 minutes door to dungeon and at night I just take a car if I work late (which takes about 25 minutes). I still go out plenty and it's pretty much comperable to living in Brooklyn (where many of the associates live).

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby imchuckbass58 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:23 pm

One more thought: You may not actually save as much as you think living in NJ, at least compared to relatively close outer boroughs (e.g., Astoria, LIC, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill).

For one thing, if you live in NJ and work in NY, you still have to pay NY state income taxes. The only thing you save is NYC income tax, which is about 3.5%.

Also, rents in the areas of NJ that are easily commutable (e.g., Hoboken, Jersey City, etc.) are on par with rents in outer-borough neighborhoods that are comparable distance (LIC, Astoria, some areas of Brooklyn). They may be slightly lower, but you won't save a huge amount.

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glitched
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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby glitched » Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:51 pm

imchuckbass58 wrote:One more thought: You may not actually save as much as you think living in NJ, at least compared to relatively close outer boroughs (e.g., Astoria, LIC, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill).

For one thing, if you live in NJ and work in NY, you still have to pay NY state income taxes. The only thing you save is NYC income tax, which is about 3.5%.

Also, rents in the areas of NJ that are easily commutable (e.g., Hoboken, Jersey City, etc.) are on par with rents in outer-borough neighborhoods that are comparable distance (LIC, Astoria, some areas of Brooklyn). They may be slightly lower, but you won't save a huge amount.


Yeah it's like $5.7k for NYC tax itself. Then that drops to probably $4k after you deduct it on your federal income tax. On top of the $4k though, you pay 2% less on sales tax, have a lower cost of living (unverified but I'm guessing), and possibly get a higher value in rent. But even ignoring all these "soft" savings, that $4k is enough for me to move if the commute isn't bad. My thoughts are... if my firm (or some other employer) were to instead just give me a $5.7k bonus (which would equal $4k post tax) at the end of the year if I lived in NJ, I'd take it. But that's me. haha I find this stuff pretty interesting. what's this called? tax inefficiency?

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby AP-375 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:59 pm

Not to change the subject too drastically, but any thoughts on commuting from Connecticut to Midtown East for the same tax-saving reasons? Longer commute, but doable?

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby SemperLegal » Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:20 pm

I grew up in a NJ town that was a bedroom community for NYC. A lot of our parents were I-bankers, lawyers, and other assorted professionals. They took the train in every morning without a problem. My sisters, and many of my cousins, took jobs in the city with Biglawish hours (financial services, consulting, etc.) and most of them moved to Hoboken or JC. A few of my friends moved to Brooklyn/Queens. Having spent a lot of time in both of those areas a few things to point out:

1. Rents in Hoboken/JC are comparable to the accessible parts of the outer Boroughs, the farther you get from Midtown, the greater the NJ advantage is.
2. IMO its easier to get from Manhattan to NJ than from Manhattan to much of BK and Queens. The PATH Train, NJT Buses, Ferries, and NJT trains are frequent, (decently) on time, and much more comfortable than the 1 Line.
3. For non-hipsters, nightlife in Hoboken (and Newport in JC) is much better than the Outer Boroughs. 90% of the people in the areas where you might live in NJ are going to be young professionals in a very similar situation. Tri going out in Hoboken and see if any of the NYC magic is missing. In BK and Queens, you have mostly hipsters and unassimalted ethnic communities (ie Hasdic, non-English speaking East Europeans, etc.) that aren't well-known for the nightlife. However, there are Bocce Ball bars in BK though, that is kind of fun.
4. Aside from taxes, the COL in NJ is much, much less. This is because once you leave the city, its much easier to get a Zip Car (or own a car) and drive around to outlets, restruants that don't have to pay millions in rent, etc.
5. I am biased to living outside of the the City because I think that NJ, NYC, and Upstate have a lot to offer in terms of culture, nature, amusement, and food. People who live outside the city get the best of all worlds since its easy to take the train in. However, people who live in the City rarely get a chance to go to the Beach, visit real parks (with all due respect to the greatest feat of city planning in the world, Central Park), or attend some of the amazing sports and music events that are held outside the city. Its just too hard to leave the city if you are not used to crossing the Hudson.
6. If you live in NYC, you will never go out with coworkers spontaneously. That can be a good or bad thing (IMHO, having clubbing friends and work friends be separate is preferable, but I have strange issues with booze). However, it is very easy to go out for drinks all night in NYC and then get back across the river, if you want to celebrate a birthday/deal/etc., its just not easy to do regular spur-of-the-moment stuff

I sincerely HTH

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby francesfarmer » Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:25 pm

SemperLegal wrote:I grew up in a NJ town that was a bedroom community for NYC. A lot of our parents were I-bankers, lawyers, and other assorted professionals. They took the train in every morning without a problem. My sisters, and many of my cousins, took jobs in the city with Biglawish hours (financial services, consulting, etc.) and most of them moved to Hoboken or JC. A few of my friends moved to Brooklyn/Queens. Having spent a lot of time in both of those areas a few things to point out:

1. Rents in Hoboken/JC are comparable to the accessible parts of the outer Boroughs, the farther you get from Midtown, the greater the NJ advantage is.
2. IMO its easier to get from Manhattan to NJ than from Manhattan to much of BK and Queens. The PATH Train, NJT Buses, Ferries, and NJT trains are frequent, (decently) on time, and much more comfortable than the 1 Line.
3. For non-hipsters, nightlife in Hoboken (and Newport in JC) is much better than the Outer Boroughs. 90% of the people in the areas where you might live in NJ are going to be young professionals in a very similar situation. Tri going out in Hoboken and see if any of the NYC magic is missing. In BK and Queens, you have mostly hipsters and unassimalted ethnic communities (ie Hasdic, non-English speaking East Europeans, etc.) that aren't well-known for the nightlife. However, there are Bocce Ball bars in BK though, that is kind of fun.
4. Aside from taxes, the COL in NJ is much, much less. This is because once you leave the city, its much easier to get a Zip Car (or own a car) and drive around to outlets, restruants that don't have to pay millions in rent, etc.
5. I am biased to living outside of the the City because I think that NJ, NYC, and Upstate have a lot to offer in terms of culture, nature, amusement, and food. People who live outside the city get the best of all worlds since its easy to take the train in. However, people who live in the City rarely get a chance to go to the Beach, visit real parks (with all due respect to the greatest feat of city planning in the world, Central Park), or attend some of the amazing sports and music events that are held outside the city. Its just too hard to leave the city if you are not used to crossing the Hudson.
6. If you live in NYC, you will never go out with coworkers spontaneously. That can be a good or bad thing (IMHO, having clubbing friends and work friends be separate is preferable, but I have strange issues with booze). However, it is very easy to go out for drinks all night in NYC and then get back across the river, if you want to celebrate a birthday/deal/etc., its just not easy to do regular spur-of-the-moment stuff

I sincerely HTH

+1 from personal experience and the experience of various coworkers. I am a Brooklyn dweller and I effing love NJ.

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby shadow. » Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:44 pm

AP-375 wrote:Not to change the subject too drastically, but any thoughts on commuting from Connecticut to Midtown East for the same tax-saving reasons? Longer commute, but doable?


Also same for WC county (eg Pelham, Larchmont, etc.).

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby keg411 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:00 pm

Ugh, I so want to do this, but my entire family has basically told me that it's a bad idea and I should live in MFH for my first year (because even a short commute sucks and it's harder to have a good social life since night PATH trains are SPS). I just despise the idea of "City Tax" and that applies even if you live in BK/LIC/other places where you can get cheaper rents/more amenities for your money.

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:17 pm

I'm considering living in New Jersey as well but for various reasons, I'm looking at New Jersey cities in Bergen County. I know it's not near any trains, although there are buses that go to Port Authority. Has anyone done this or know of people who have? Is the commute gonna be that much worse?

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby vinnnyvincenzo » Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:38 pm

AP-375 wrote:Not to change the subject too drastically, but any thoughts on commuting from Connecticut to Midtown East for the same tax-saving reasons? Longer commute, but doable?


I do this commute regularly and it sucks. And I dont work 12 hour days. But I'm the type of person who cant stand any commute, when I'm done I want to sit back and relax not have to squeeze into a train with some fat mouth breather leaning on me. Plus a monthly pass is like 250/mo + the subway monthly so your dropping an extra like $350 per month when all is said and done and I dont think CT is that much less expensive then certain spots of Manhattan that would be much more convenient and Manhattan blows CT nightlife outta the water. That being said, its definitely doable if you have the patience, I personally don't.

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:51 pm

Sorry to hijack, but what do you guys think about long island? I have a significant amount of loans and my parents are trying to convince me to move in with them for a few months to save some money. Commute on the LIRR would be about 45 minutes + 5-10 minute walk. What are your thoughts?

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby irie » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Sorry to hijack, but what do you guys think about long island? I have a significant amount of loans and my parents are trying to convince me to move in with them for a few months to save some money. Commute on the LIRR would be about 45 minutes + 5-10 minute walk. What are your thoughts?


I grew up on LI too and have been living in NYC since 2008 (will be graduating law school this May and working in biglaw in manhattan).

When I first worked in NYC (financial district) after college I also did this commute, for about 3 months, before sucking it up and finding an apartment in Manhattan. I have to say... it's pretty miserable. My work hours were decent (9-6:30 on average) and I still found myself absolutely drained at the end of each week. The commute really cuts into your free time, and the whole pushing/shoving/squeezing during rush hour adds to the stress. I would get up around 6am everyday, hit the gym near my house, then shower/change and rush onto the train. At the end of the day, I knew precisely when I needed to leave the office to catch my train home. I literally had my routine down to the minute. Biglaw won't afford you that flexibility, and your hours will probably be much longer.

Since you can walk to work from Penn Station, that makes it a bit better for you. I had to get off the LIRR at Hunters Point, switch to the 7 train, then switch again at Grand Central for the 4/5 downtown. So after my LIRR commute, I had to tack on another ~30 minutes. I also had to buy BOTH a LIRR monthly pass AND a subway monthly pass, both of which are quite pricey.

I found it difficult to hang out after work with friends/colleagues in Manhattan, and to attend after-work functions (office sponsored happy hours, etc.) Given the ~45 minute commute I'm guessing you live somewhere on the border of Nassau and Suffolk, which means you are beyond Jamaica and probably won't have the option of hopping on a train every 15 minutes from Penn Station. That means that on some days, you'll end up staying an extra 20-30 minutes at the office with nothing to do, because you need to wait for the next train. On others, you'll be flying through your work to try to get out of the office in time to catch the next train. That is the most noticeable difference between commuting via subway or the PATH (which operates continuously) versus commuting on the LIRR/Metro North, which both have set schedules.

In my personal opinion... as a young adult who wants to have some sort of a social life, it's not really sustainable beyond a few months, but I think it completely depends on your lifestyle and expectations.

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby imchuckbass58 » Fri Mar 01, 2013 3:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm considering living in New Jersey as well but for various reasons, I'm looking at New Jersey cities in Bergen County. I know it's not near any trains, although there are buses that go to Port Authority. Has anyone done this or know of people who have? Is the commute gonna be that much worse?


Commuting by bus (or by road in general) can be absolutely brutal during rush hour. Theoretically it may be as little as 20 minutes, but it's not uncommon for the wait for the lincoln tunnel to be 45 minutes to an hour. My friend's dad commutes from Bergen County (theoretically, 25 minutes to midtown), and he leaves at 7am because otherwise the traffic is unbearable.

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 01, 2013 5:24 pm

irie wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Sorry to hijack, but what do you guys think about long island? I have a significant amount of loans and my parents are trying to convince me to move in with them for a few months to save some money. Commute on the LIRR would be about 45 minutes + 5-10 minute walk. What are your thoughts?


I grew up on LI too and have been living in NYC since 2008 (will be graduating law school this May and working in biglaw in manhattan).

When I first worked in NYC (financial district) after college I also did this commute, for about 3 months, before sucking it up and finding an apartment in Manhattan. I have to say... it's pretty miserable. My work hours were decent (9-6:30 on average) and I still found myself absolutely drained at the end of each week. The commute really cuts into your free time, and the whole pushing/shoving/squeezing during rush hour adds to the stress. I would get up around 6am everyday, hit the gym near my house, then shower/change and rush onto the train. At the end of the day, I knew precisely when I needed to leave the office to catch my train home. I literally had my routine down to the minute. Biglaw won't afford you that flexibility, and your hours will probably be much longer.

Since you can walk to work from Penn Station, that makes it a bit better for you. I had to get off the LIRR at Hunters Point, switch to the 7 train, then switch again at Grand Central for the 4/5 downtown. So after my LIRR commute, I had to tack on another ~30 minutes. I also had to buy BOTH a LIRR monthly pass AND a subway monthly pass, both of which are quite pricey.

I found it difficult to hang out after work with friends/colleagues in Manhattan, and to attend after-work functions (office sponsored happy hours, etc.) Given the ~45 minute commute I'm guessing you live somewhere on the border of Nassau and Suffolk, which means you are beyond Jamaica and probably won't have the option of hopping on a train every 15 minutes from Penn Station. That means that on some days, you'll end up staying an extra 20-30 minutes at the office with nothing to do, because you need to wait for the next train. On others, you'll be flying through your work to try to get out of the office in time to catch the next train. That is the most noticeable difference between commuting via subway or the PATH (which operates continuously) versus commuting on the LIRR/Metro North, which both have set schedules.

In my personal opinion... as a young adult who wants to have some sort of a social life, it's not really sustainable beyond a few months, but I think it completely depends on your lifestyle and expectations.


I'm the above anon. Thanks a lot for this. I found it extremely helpful. I'll likely end up living in Manhattan, but I was toying around with the idea. Thanks for your input.

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I did this.

Commute is fine. Live near a path station in Jersey City or Hoboken and you're into the city in 15 minutes. Now to get to your actual office it depends on which line it's off of. I was right near grand central so it was about another 15-20 from the WTC (walk to fulton, 4 or 5).

I would do it again if I had to make the choice.


I did the same as an SA (3L now, so can't speak to actually being an Associate), plan to do it again once I start work. Totally doable even for Midtown East, 30-35 minutes door to door from Jersey City to office in Midtown East via the WTC/Fulton St.

Didn't save much money on rent because I got a very nice apartment, but the same apartment would have been way more in Manhattan. Even as an SA saved a fair amount on taxes, and for a first-year associate not paying NYC income taxes is worth about $6k a year, which is at least 2-3 months' rent just for living in NJ. Hard to beat that. Nightlife is not at all awful, especially in Hoboken, though I'm not much for nightlife anyway so maybe not the best to testify.

Commute from Bergen County by bus is not that great. I grew up there, parents did that commute. Can be hugely variable by traffic, and the express buses are often standing-room-only halfway through their routes to Manhattan.

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby imchuckbass58 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Didn't save much money on rent because I got a very nice apartment, but the same apartment would have been way more in Manhattan. Even as an SA saved a fair amount on taxes, and for a first-year associate not paying NYC income taxes is worth about $6k a year, which is at least 2-3 months' rent just for living in NJ. Hard to beat that. Nightlife is not at all awful, especially in Hoboken, though I'm not much for nightlife anyway so maybe not the best to testify.


I think your general point still stands, but just to quibble slightly with your numbers, it's closer to $4k savings (about $4250) since NYC taxes are deductible on your federal returns (if you itemize, which you undoubtedly should, since state + local taxes will exceed the standard deduction unless you have dependents).

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:50 pm

imchuckbass58 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Didn't save much money on rent because I got a very nice apartment, but the same apartment would have been way more in Manhattan. Even as an SA saved a fair amount on taxes, and for a first-year associate not paying NYC income taxes is worth about $6k a year, which is at least 2-3 months' rent just for living in NJ. Hard to beat that. Nightlife is not at all awful, especially in Hoboken, though I'm not much for nightlife anyway so maybe not the best to testify.


I think your general point still stands, but just to quibble slightly with your numbers, it's closer to $4k savings (about $4250) since NYC taxes are deductible on your federal returns (if you itemize, which you undoubtedly should, since state + local taxes will exceed the standard deduction unless you have dependents).


Only until you hit the AMT, which will happen pretty quickly (not as a first-year unless you're married, but by fourth year at market + bonus).

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Re: To NYC biglaw associates who lived in NJ for 1st year

Postby thesealocust » Mon Mar 04, 2013 1:58 am

Anonymous User wrote:
imchuckbass58 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Didn't save much money on rent because I got a very nice apartment, but the same apartment would have been way more in Manhattan. Even as an SA saved a fair amount on taxes, and for a first-year associate not paying NYC income taxes is worth about $6k a year, which is at least 2-3 months' rent just for living in NJ. Hard to beat that. Nightlife is not at all awful, especially in Hoboken, though I'm not much for nightlife anyway so maybe not the best to testify.


I think your general point still stands, but just to quibble slightly with your numbers, it's closer to $4k savings (about $4250) since NYC taxes are deductible on your federal returns (if you itemize, which you undoubtedly should, since state + local taxes will exceed the standard deduction unless you have dependents).


Only until you hit the AMT, which will happen pretty quickly (not as a first-year unless you're married, but by fourth year at market + bonus).


It's indexed for inflation now though at least, and in the crosshairs of tax reform (if Congress ever gets around do doing anything ever again)




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