How to Live in NYC on a Small Budget

6 March 2014 by
TImes Square

In a New York minute… ooooooooohhh

New York City is constantly ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world, but that doesn’t stop millions of people from living and dreaming of living in one of the most exciting cities in the United States. After all, New York City is the place where dreams come true, where you can never be bored, and where life happens. But if you’re living on a tight budget, NYC is a city that can quickly crush your dreams. However, it’s certainly not impossible to live in New York City on a small budget. Here are some tips on how to stretch your dollar and live in one of the greatest cities in the world.

Live in the Least Expensive Apartment You Can Feel Comfortable In

New York City is notorious for astronomical rent prices and surviving in the Big City means you cannot afford to spend half your paycheck on rent. The more desirable the location, the smaller space you’ll have to deal with. You can reduce your cost of rent by finding roommates, but remember that no one goes to New York to live in a beautiful apartment. To truly LIVE in New York City, you want to save your money to appreciate the culture, the shows, and the nightlife, so in short, if you want to live in the city on a budget, opt for a less-than-ideal apartment (don’t worry, everyone’s in the same apartment-hating boat). As they say in New York, you’re paying for your neighborhood, not the apartment.

Buy a Bike Instead of a Gym Membership

Gym memberships in New York City are expensive, but New York also has a wonderful, well-paved bike path system to keep you in shape, give you some fresh air, and allow you to enjoy the beautiful city. The city also does a fairly good job of plowing the park after snow storms so you can bike year-round (don’t worry about the cold, you’ll work up enough of a sweat to keep you warm). This same bike path is also a great place to find your love of running, which, again, is much cheaper than a NYC gym membership.

Take Advantage of the Free Events

For all of its expenses, New York City also does a great job of providing free events to the public. You may have to do a little online searching, but you can often find free events listed on city pages and tourism sites. Such as free movie viewings and ice skating in Bryant Park, Shakespeare in the Park, free music that seems to always crop up somewhere, or even just hang out near busy squares to be entertained by street performers, flash mobs, and break dancers.

Find Happy Hours Before Going Out

 Drinks and eats in New York can get expensive. You best bet is preparing as much as you can at home, but if you want a treat or fun night out with friends, do a little snooping to see which places have the best happy hours so you can cut down expenses on some of those overpriced drinks. Of course, keep in mind that other New Yorkers are doing the same thing, so if you find a good Happy Hour special, be prepared to wait in line or get there early.

Take Advantage of Metro Passes

New York has an excellent transportation system, so take advantage of it! Many people waste money on overpriced cab fare and cringe as they watch the price climb while stuck in traffic. While the metro might not be as glamorous and present its own host of headaches, it is one of the best metro systems in the country and will get you where you need to go for the fraction of the price that cabs, let alone owning and parking a car in the city, will cost you.

Take Advantage of Deals

Before shelling out money for a show, an event, or even a haircut, take a peek at coupon sites such as Groupon or Living Social to see if you can get a deal. In a city like New York, businesses are in tight competition, so you can usually always find a deal for something good in such a packed city. Bookmark anything you want to do, and before paying full price, do some solid research to see if you can find a deal.

Be Realistic

Living in New York City is not so different from living in any other city on a small budget. The same rule applies for all of them: if you have a small amount of money to spend, be realistic about how you’re going to spend it. Map out a budget for yourself. Don’t go out for coffee every day, make it at home and carry it to work in a fashionable thermos to maintain your glamorous caffeine addict appearance. Shop at discount stores, don’t eat out all the time, and pick up odd jobs on the side to cover extraneous expenses. Despite what TV and movies tell you, living a care-free shopping-crazed life in the Big City is rarely a reality for anyone. Living frugally is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, many New Yorkers pride themselves on saving money. The bottom line is to determine what are your priorities in how you live in the city. If you want a nice apartment, you’ll have to eat on the cheap. If you’re a huge foodie, you may have to skip out on some drinks in favor of the new upscale restaurant. Living on a budget is all about balance and planning, so as long as you’re realistic about your spending, you can make it happen.

Do you live in New York City? What are your tips and tricks for staying on a small budget? Share with us in the comments section below.

SSF Team

SSF Team

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