Long Island NY Cost of Living 💰| Is Long Island Affordable? [Data, Tips]

Are you considering living on Long Island? Famous for the Hamptons, white sand beaches, and world-class outdoor recreation, the quality of life on Long Island comes at a premium. Long Island’s Nassau County is one of the most expensive counties in America, but the area is made up of dozens of towns, villages, and hamlets with a huge range of home prices and average living costs.

So, how much does it cost to live on Long Island? To help you decide if Long Island is the right move for your family, this comprehensive guide covers the Long Island cost of living and explores the cost of living on Long Island by county and town.

Understanding the Cost of Living on Long Island – One Island with Four Counties, Two NYC Boroughs & Two that Make up “Long Island”

The Cost of Living Index (COLI) is one of the best ways to get an overall idea of how much it costs to live in a city or metropolitan area. Published by the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER), it’s calculated using cost data on 60 goods and services collected by more than 300 researchers at the local level. To understand how the cost of living index works, the average for all participating locations is equal to 100. Each city’s index is a percentage of the average for all places.

However, Long Island itself isn’t a city, nor is it a metro area. Instead, it’s part of the New York City metro area. Long Island is an island that’s made up of four counties:

  • Kings County or Brooklyn, a borough of New York City
  • Queens County or Queens, a borough of New York City
  • Nassau County
  • Suffolk County

When someone refers to Long Island, they are only referring to Suffolk and Nassau counties combined. Together, these counties make up a region, but not one that’s an official, independent body. Both counties are also home to several cities, towns, and villages that vary drastically in terms of cost. This means understanding the cost of living in Long Island becomes a bit more complicated.

To understand how much it costs to live on Long Island, we’ll look at Suffolk and Nassau County and major towns and villages.

Long Island Cost of Living Index

How much does it cost to live on Long Island? The cost of living index for Long Island is 147, or 47% higher than the national average. However, the COLI depends on the county and town or village.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks metrics that are also useful for understanding the cost of living. These reports are best for comparing how much you will pay to live in the NYC metro area compared to where you live now as the data is regional.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the average changes in prices consumers pay for goods and services in a region. Long Island is part of the New York-Newark-Jersey City area. A recent CPI update found regional prices were up 3.5% over a year. Prices for most services and goods declined, but food prices rose 3.4% and energy costs rose 17%. A 1% drop in electricity prices year-over-year was offset by a 9.8% increase in natural gas prices and a 40% increase in gas prices.

You can also look at the Consumer Expenditure Survey for the New York metro area. Households in the New York area spent $73,806 per year on average for 2018/2019. That compares to the average $62,395 expenditure for the typical U.S. household. Here’s how the typical Long Island household budget breaks down for major categories.

  • Housing: 38% ($28,040) compared to the U.S. average of 32.7%
  • Food: 13.3% ($5,352 at home, $4,491 away from home) compared to the U.S. average of 12.9%
  • Transportation: 12.5% ($9,255) compared to the U.S. average of 16.8%

It’s no surprise that the region’s high housing costs eat up a lot of the typical New Yorker’s budget. It’s also not shocking that New Yorker’s have lower transportation costs than average as it’s the only U.S. city where the majority of households don’t have a car, especially in Manhattan. However, Long Island is car-dependent with 75% of Long Islanders driving to work.

Suffolk County vs Nassau County Cost of Living

The best way to understand the average cost of living is to look at the cost of living index for Nassau and Suffolk counties and major areas in each. The Long Island cost of living index is higher in Nassau County or the south shore of Long Island than the east shore. The Nassau County cost of living index is 162, or 62% higher than the national average, compared to the Suffolk County cost of living index of 132.

What sets the two counties apart? Nassau County is more expensive due to higher transportation costs (67% above the national average) and higher housing costs. Nassau County has a housing index of 236 versus Suffolk County’s housing index of 178.

Long Island’s Nassau County is one of America’s most expensive counties and one of the most affluent.

Cost of Living Index for Major Cities & Towns on Long Island

Suffolk and Nassau counties can be broken down further into several cities, towns, incorporated villages, and hamlets. Looking at the cost of living index for the largest towns and villages of Long Island offers better insight into how much it costs to live on Long Island.

  • Brookhaven, Suffolk County (pop. 481,000): 124.5 COLI
  • Islip, Suffolk County (pop. 330,000): 128 COLI
  • Babylon, Suffolk County (pop. 210,000): 133 COLI
  • Huntington, Suffolk County (pop. 200,000): 146 COLI
  • Southampton, Suffolk County (pop. 58,000): 278 COLI
  • Hempstead, Nassau County (pop. 767,000): 138 COLI
  • Village of Garden City, Town of Hempstead, Nassau County (pop. 22,000): 212 COLI
  • North Hempstead, Nassau County (pop. 231,000): 229 COLI
  • Oyster Bay, Nassau County (pop. 298,000): 172 COLI

Cost of Groceries, Food, Gas & Household Items on Long Island

Can I afford to live on Long Island? Looking at common living expenses on Long Island is another good way to answer this question.

Cost of items on Long Island, NY:

  • Imported beer, 12 oz: $6
  • Milk, one gallon: $4.10
  • Bread, one loaf: $3.06
  • Eggs, one dozen: $2.50
  • Chicken fillets, one pound: $4.36
  • Fitness club, monthly membership: $51.75
  • Movie ticket, international release: $14

You’ll also want to know the cost of utilities, gasoline, and transportation, some of your largest expenses after housing.

  • Price of gas on Long Island: $3.19 per gallon (same as national average)
  • Average Long Island natural gas price: $248 to $344
  • Average electric bill on Long Island: $162 (PSEG Long Island)
  • Average water bill on Long Island: $59.31 minimum ($5.424/1,000 gallons) in Nassau County; $29.17 quarterly (plus $2.12/1,000 gallons) in Suffolk County

You can also check our complete guide to Long Island utilities.

Long Island Real Estate Market – Average Home Price on Long Island

Is Long Island affordable? It depends on where you decide to live, especially when it comes to the Long Island housing market. Housing isn’t just your biggest living expense, it’s also the most variable based on the area of Long Island and the town or village.

The average price of a home on Long Island is $603,000 or $381 per square foot. The average price in Nassau County is $675,000 compared to $535,000 in Suffolk County.

The cost of housing on Long Island has skyrocketed recently due to extreme demand. In spring 2021, the median home price on Long Island was up $89,000 year-over-year! The median contract price, or what buyers actually pay, rose to $600,000 in May 2021 from $482,500 a year before.

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Many homes are being bought sight unseen with buyers paying for the seller’s moving costs and closing costs. There has been an influx of buyers coming from the five boroughs to Long Island for more space while interest rates are low. Many are making the change for  pandemic-related reasons, whether it’s switching to remote work and no longer being tied to the city or getting used to the space of a parent’s home on the island.

Of course, Long Island house prices depend on where you’re looking. Here are median home prices for many of the towns and villages.

  • Brookhaven: $565,000
  • Islip: $507,000
  • Babylon: $659,000
  • Huntington: $850,000
  • Southampton: $2.72 million
  • Town of Hempstead: $425,000
  • Village of Garden City: $947,500
  • Town of North Hempstead: $929,000
  • Town of Oyster Bay: $1.36 million
  • Village of Massapequa: $610,000

You’ll find average home prices ranging from the $300s to more than $2 million depending on the area.

Long Island Rental Market – Average Rent on Long Island

What is the average cost of an apartment on Long Island? Again, it depends. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2021 Out of Reach report, fair market rent on Long Island is $2,035. That means a household needs to earn $81,390 per year or $39.13 per hour to afford a basic two-bedroom apartment without spending more than 30% of income on housing expenses.

By comparison, the state of New York has average rent of $1,770 that requires an hourly wage of $34.03. Long Island rent is second in the state but behind New York City by mere pennies.

Rent is generally higher in Nassau County than Suffolk County. Western Suffolk County is also more expensive for renters than eastern Suffolk County.

Long Island Average Salary & Household Income

How much do you need to make to live on Long Island? It helps to know the average salary and household income. According to Payscale, the average salary in Long Island’s Nassau County is $64,000. The median household income on Long Island is $118,500 in Nassau County and $106,225 in Suffolk County. By comparison, the national median is $65,700 and the New York median household income is $72,100.

The Economic Policy Institute recently estimated that a family of four living on Long Island would need to earn $11,629 per month ($139,545 annually) to live comfortably. This was calculated based on the following monthly budget:

  • Housing: $1,878
  • Food: $874
  • Childcare: $2,889
  • Transportation: $1,277
  • Health care: $1,214
  • Necessities: $1,110
  • Taxes: $2,387
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Income, Sales & Property Taxes on Long Island

Don’t overlook taxes when assessing the Long Island, NY cost of living. Here’s what you can expect to pay in taxes.

New York Income Tax Rate

The State of New York income tax is 4% to 8.82%. A single person making the Long Island median household income of $112,365 would pay about $6,170 per year in state income taxes.

If you live on Long Island but work in New York City, you may be subject to an additional NYC income tax of 3.078% to 3.876%.

Long Island Sales Tax

The Long Island sales tax rate is the highest in New York. The Nassau County and Suffolk County combined sales tax rate is 8.63%. This includes the New York state sales tax of 4%. Some local governments charge an additional sales tax.

Long Island Property Tax

Property taxes are a commonly overlooked factor that make Long Island so expensive. Long Island has some of the highest property taxes in the U.S. with an average Long Island property tax rate of 2.24%. By comparison, the average effective property tax rate in New York is 1.69%.

However, where you live makes a big difference. The lowest effective property tax rate in the state of New York is $3.93 per $1,000 on homes in Southampton, Suffolk County within the Sagaponack school district. This is one of New York’s wealthiest communities. Meanwhile, homeowners in the village of Lloyd Harbor in Suffolk County pay an average of $38,340 on a home of median value. Amityville, a village on Long Island, has one of the highest effective tax rates in the state at $39.43 per $1,000 in assessed value.

As a general rule, expect to pay about $11,000 per year in property taxes.

Long Island vs New York City Cost of Living

How does the Long Island vs New York City cost of living compare? The New York City cost of living index is 187 compared to a COLI of 147 on Long Island. The cost of living in New York varies significantly by borough. Manhattan has a cost of living index of 258 while the Bronx cost of living index is 151.

Housing costs make a huge difference when comparing Long Island versus New York. You’ll pay an average of $780,000 or $616 to buy a home in New York compared to $603,000 on Long Island. Average rent in NYC is $2,568 for a studio apartment (and $3,872 in Manhattan!) compared to $2,035 for a modest two-bedroom apartment on Long Island.

Long Island definitely has a high cost of living, but it’s more affordable in many ways than New York with more space, fewer people, and amazing natural beauty. If you’re set on relocating to or within Long Island, Zippboxx is ready to help once you’ve chosen a town or village to call home. Call our Long Island movers when you’re ready for a free moving estimate!

Rob Marchese
Rob Marchese is one of the founders of Zippboxx Moving and Storage. Since the start of the company it's been Rob's mission to change the way the moving industry is perceived.  The number one goal is to make the moving and storage process as stress free as possible for each and every customer. "The way we do this is by honesty, transparency, and providing a high quality of service."
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