While it certainly isn't getting cheaper to live in New York, a study by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics found that we're spending less than two other large cities. The agency found that in 2004 and 2005, people in the New York area spent slightly less than residents of Los Angeles and Chicago, news that must make our friends at LAist and Chicagoist happy. New Yorkers spent an average of about 72% of our pretax income, while in LA and Chicago, they spent over 80% of their income (the national average is 79.4%). The previous two-year study found that New York households spent more than the two other cities. It's important to keep in mind that New Yorkers also had a higher average household income for the metropolitan area at $74,851.
The study examined housing, food, transportation and other expenses, and while New Yorkers didn't necessarily spend less in '04-05, car ownership may have contributed to those in LA and Chicago to spend more during those two years. The Times points out that those in the LA area spent nearly $11,000 on transportation - and not much on mass transit - a year (1/5th of total household expenses), while those in Chicago spent $8,875 (1/6th of total expenses). Transportation expenses for New Yorkers are only $7,581 (1/7th of spending).
The Times also reports that those in Los Angeles spent about $800 a year on "personal care products and services" (40% higher than the national average) and Chicago residents average $3,000 of charitable contributions each year (double the national average). One thing New Yorkers might pay more in? Taxes. Wonderful, just wonderful.