What is a comfortable yet frugal New York City lifestyle? Needless to say, it’s not cheap, but some say this city can be as expensive as you want it to be. Pick up some tips on how to survive in New York with no money and how to minimize your spending.
How to Survive in New York?
There are so many great things about New York, but you can’t ignore three obvious drawbacks: surviving New York tough weather for half the year, overwhelming crowds, and ridiculous prices. How do people achieve comfortable living in such expensive cities? With more than 8 million people living in New York City, it’s safe to say a good number manage to figure it out.
If you’re curious about how to survive in New York with no money, you shouldn’t expect fine dining or the trappings of luxe living. But don’t worry: there are tips that will help you make a good start.
The key to learning how to make it in New York is finding an affordable place to live. If you’re crafty and willing to compromise, you can definitely make it work: Consider the following cost-saving hacks:
- Get your credit act together and ask if your potential roommates have good credit as well
- Consider renting a co-op or condo with adequate amenities
- Find a rental without a broker fee
- Take on a sublet
- Don’t trust listings that are too good to be true
Some prime neighborhoods for reasonable prices are Washington Heights, Inwood, and Harlem in Manhattan; Bushwick in Brooklyn; Astoria and Long Island City in Queens; and Union City and West New York in New Jersey.
One of the essentials for living in New York City is, of course, food. Luckily, New York City has many options for cheap eats, happy hours, and food deals, making it easy to eat on a budget. Your actual expenses will fluctuate but here is what you can do:
- Grab groceries at a local favorite, Trader Joes
- Buy in bulk, especially items that have a long shelf-life
- Go grocery shopping on Sundays and meal prep for the week
- Utilize happy hours
- Get the most out of Group on promotions
- Skip the overpriced coffee snacks and make everything at home
You may be tempted to take a ride on a signature yellow cab. However, this is probably the least affordable option. Instead, here are tips to save extra dollars for tourists and residents alike:
- Group sights that are close to each other to explore one neighborhood at a time;
- Buy a subway pass that gives you unlimited rides for a week or longer;
- Consider renting a car (if you’re going outside of the city);
- Take advantage of the fact that Manhattan is very walkable.
- Hop on a bike and explore the city on cycle routes around Manhattan.
You can also combine saving money on transportation and New York City attractions. For example, take Brooklyn Bridge bike tours. Sounds good? With this option, you can both travel around the city and see the sights affordably.
This category includes gas and electricity since heat and water are usually included in the price of rent. Once again, if you have a roommate or two, it will make everything much more affordable even with some A/C use in the summer. We can also recommend:
- Locking into a fixed-rate contract
- Switching to an energy-efficient thermostat, light bulbs, and appliances
- Unplugging electronics and appliances when you’re not using them
- Sealing any air leaks on the windows
- Changing or cleaning your air filter regularly
We’ve focused on the four categories that take up the most out of your budget. But there are all kinds of ways to rearrange and reallocate your spending for your specific needs and values. Hopefully, these tips will help you whether you’re living in New York or traveling. Use them as a solid starting point, and then you’ll be able to come up with some more on your own.
Do you have other ideas for saving money in NYC? Please share them below!
About the Author
The author is a freelance lifestyle and travel writer based in New York City. He launched his company – Fancy Apple to help travelers experience the best of what the city has to offer. Having made multiple trips on a tight budget in his twenties, he managed to put together a pretty long list of tips for living in NYC with free and cheap things to do.