However, its all relative...
If I were single and wanted to eat noodles and share an apartment I could easily make NYC work - but things are still a bit more expensive, even buying beer on tap ($5 for Bud-like-quality, $6 for Guinness in many places). Don't forget you need to keep up with all those ironic t-shirts and that lomo camera ain't cheap :)
However, now that I have kids and would want very simple things like a garden, a good school, in a relatively safe neighborhood then you have to be prepared to pay a huge amount in rent to be in that school district and to get that ground-sloor apartment in a nice brownstone (in Park Slope, Brooklyn that would be close to $4K a month in rent for a 2bdr - thats based on some parents I know and what they pay).
Haha, this was a typical NYC experience: comparing rents and not believing the deals other people are getting :)