How to Live in NYC on a Budget

Whats in this story

New York City has a reputation for being an expensive place to live. Things do tend to cost more in the Big Apple—housing, food, drinks, entertainment, nightlife, and even public transportation. But with some planning, it is possible to live in New York City without spending a fortune. These are some ways to make New York work for your budget.

Give Yourself Time when Apartment Hunting


Housing in New York City is often on the pricier side, but if you dig deep enough, you can uncover some surprising deals. You’ll typically find cheaper housing in the outer boroughs and in uptown Manhattan neighborhoods, like Harlem and Washington Heights. To have the best chance of finding a good apartment at an affordable price, give yourself plenty of time when you’re apartment hunting. Start searching through listings a month or two before you’re planning on moving. This will give you time to uncover cheap places and to visit apartments that you’re interested in.

Choose the Right Subway Pass


To get from place to place in New York, you’ll mostly use the subway. Because of that, it’s important to choose the right subway pass for you.  If you’re using the subway more than thirteen times a week, consider getting a 7-day unlimited pass. Or, if you ride the subway more than forty-eight times per month, try getting a 30-day unlimited pass. If you ride the subway often, getting an unlimited pass will ultimately cost you less than a pay-per-ride card.

Stay in to Eat and Drink

Restaurants in New York are usually expensive, and even ordering delivery and takeout can add up. Save money by shopping at inexpensive grocery stores, like Fairway and Trader Joe’s, and make meals at home. You’ll be amazed at how much you save when you’re not constantly spending fifteen dollars on takeout.

Similarly, try to limit the amount of time you go out to bars each week. To save money, invite your friends over for drinks at your apartment. Or, if you’re meeting friends or colleagues at a bar, try not to buy more than a drink or two while you’re out. Even happy hours are expensive in New York, and going out often can quickly blow your budget.

Choose your Splurges Wisely

Every night of the week, there are hundreds of events happening throughout New York City. If you’re on a slim budget, it can be disheartening to have to forgo all of these fun and memorable events. But once in a while if, for example, your favorite band plays a concert or your favorite sports team comes to town, you should splurge on an event. You want to be able to enjoy all New York City has to offer even when your budget is small. Spend your money wisely, on the things that you truly want, and save the rest. When you do this, you’ll be able to successfully live in New York on a limited budget.