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An Insider’s Guide to Living in New York on a Budget

New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but it’s also one of the most exciting and vibrant. If you want to live in NYC but have a tight budget, there are a few things you can do to make it work.

Keep reading for an insider’s guide to living in New York City on a budget.

Find an Affordable Place to Live

Housing is generally the biggest monthly expense when living in New York City. The average studio apartment is about $3,430, and the mortgage of an average two-bedroom home costs about $750,000.

With housing being so expensive, it’s going to be important to find a place that fits your budget.

There are a few different ways to find affordable housing in NYC, including:

Looking for Roommates

Although homes with more bedrooms are more expensive, you can save quite a bit by splitting the rent amongst multiple people. In New York City, it is common to have three or more roommates living in a home.

Subletting an Apartment

Subletting is an arrangement where a tenant temporarily rents out their apartment to another person. The subletter pays rent to the person on the lease who is still responsible for paying the landlord.

Subletting is similar to Airbnb and is a great way to save money if you take many trips or live abroad. Not all landlords allow subletting, so review your lease before making arrangements.

Living in a Smaller Apartment or Studio

Living in a smaller apartment can help you save quite a bit each month. In NYC, you can find studio apartments as small as 350 square feet, which is incredibly tiny but one of the only options for less than $1,000.

Living in a Less Desirable Neighborhood

Although not ideal, you can live cheaper in a less desirable neighborhood. These neighborhoods may have a high crime rate or be a long commute from the popular downtown areas of New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, and Syracuse.

If you decide to live in a high crime area, you can keep yourself safe with self-defense weapons, by following a personal curfew, and never going out alone.

Cook at Home

Eating out is one of the most popular social activities in NYC. Unfortunately, big-city dining can be expensive, so It’s a good idea to cook at home as much as possible.

The grocery portion of New York’s cost of living is also pricey, but there are a few ways you can save money on groceries, such as buying in bulk, shopping at discount stores, cooking with cheaper ingredients, and using coupons.

Take Advantage of Free Activities

Many New York City residents put their social life high on their priority list. Luckily, the city has many free activities that are open to the public.

The most popular things to do include:

Visiting Free Museums

The American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of the Moving Image are examples of free museums in NYC.

Going to the Park

One of the many things NYC is famous for is Central Park. Tourists come from around the country to see the park’s Bethesda Fountain, Zoo, carousel, and various vendors.

Attending Free Concerts or Events

Summerstage, the Frick Collection Concerts, and Celebrate Brooklyn are venues in NYC that provide free concerts and events to the public.

Use Public Transportation

Because New York City is a very walkable city, only %45 of families own a car. Unfortunately, this means that when you travel somewhere that isn’t within walking distance, you will need a cab or Uber. Ride-sharing services are in high demand in New York, so the prices are typically high.

Instead of ordering an Uber, you can use the subway or bus system in NYC, which is very efficient and affordable.

Take Advantage of Discounts

There are a lot of discounts available for students, seniors, and members of certain organizations. If you use your discounts often, you can save quite a bit of money over time.

Examples of where you might be offered a discount include restaurants, movie theaters, cell phone companies, medical marijuana dispensaries, drug stores, and retail stores.

Live Frugally

Living frugally means being mindful of your spending and making choices that save you money.

For example, you can purchase fewer unnecessary fashion items, cancel unused subscriptions, buy cheaper toiletries, pack lunch for work, shop at second-hand stores, and reuse or repair everything possible.

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