How Can I Save Money Living in NYC?

How Can I Save Money Living In NYC?

There are few cities in the world more recognized and popular than New York City. NYC is often termed as “The City That Never Sleeps”. This Metropolitan city is extremely diverse and always busy, and that characteristic is what has garnered all the attention for it. 

Brooklyn and Manhattan are what most people picture when they think about New York City, as they are shown the most in movies and TV. However, both of those areas are expensive to live in, and getting by can be difficult for some. Despite that, New York City isn’t as expensive as you probably think.

Most New Yorkers are people who are always on the move, working more than one job, and just trying to make it in this competitive city. If you’re one of them, we’ll show you how to save money living in NYC.

Save Money On Housing

The reason New York City is so often considered to be expensive to live in is because of housing. Most people assume that places like Brooklyn and Manhattan have apartments with high-rent, which is true for the most part. However, living in New York and the cost of living isn’t that insane.

Saving money in NYC isn’t hard, and we’ll show by teaching you how to save money in New York when it comes to housing. Below are a few ways to save on the cost of living.

Move To An Affordable Location

Like we said, living in New York can be expensive amidst the Brooklyn and Manhattan areas. However, the best way to save money in NYC is by moving to an affordable location. Since the city is so easy to move around, New Yorkers have the advantage of using public transport to get to work quickly.

There are a few popular neighborhoods within New York City that you could move to. There is Washington Heights with all of its beautiful parks, Harlem with its large community, and much more. Even places that weren’t considered the best once have gotten much safer in 2020. Hell’s Kitchen is a prime example of such a neighborhood.

While this is one of the more obvious ways to save money in NYC, it is something to take advantage of. Even if you think that moving to a location further from your office is counter-intuitive, it might end up being a great money-saving idea.

Research Apartments Thoroughly

If you are just moving there and thinking of living in New York, then you’re likely aware of the costly rent in most areas. It’s higher than most other cities in the country, however, there’s one major culprit behind it: Broker Fees.

If you want to know how to save money in NYC, then this is the best tip we can give you, and that is to hunt for apartments on your own. Brokers will often show you various apartments, and once you finally like one, they will charge ridiculous fees. That’s what you sign up for when you deal with a Broker.

Living in New York is expensive, to begin with, and if you want to save money, paying broker fees on top of rent is not ideal. Thoroughly search for apartments on sites like Craigslist, and try to find the actual Landlord or owner yourself.

Dealing with Brokers is more of a hassle anyway, as they usually don’t have any idea what the customer wants. It is extortion in every sense of the word, so this is a major money-saving tip to follow and worth taking advantage of if you can.

Get A Roommate

If you have seen a certain popular TV show that was set in New York City (I’m talking about the show Friends, of course), then you know that roommates are extremely common in most areas of New York City.

Well, it really shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, since the cost of living is higher than other cities. Getting a roommate will help you to split rent costs and save money on that. Apart from that, you can even split the costs on furniture, appliances, subscriptions, and much more. 

However, getting a roommate isn’t as glamorous as shown on TV, most of the time. You’ll have to meet a lot of people to find the right person. Look for someone who is responsible and will respect your boundaries. That’s easier said than done, but maybe try asking a few friends or family.

At the end of the day, getting a roommate is one of the best ways to save money in NYC, so it’s worth it to take advantage of.

Sublet Your Apartment When Traveling

If you’re going out of New York City for a week or two, this is something you should absolutely take advantage of. This is one of the best tricks to learning how to live cheaply in NYC. People who are visiting there are always looking for cheap ways to stay in NYC.

Cashing in on this easier than you might think. Inform your landlord that you will be traveling outside the city for some time and that you want to sublet the apartment. If the apartment is rent-stabilized, there should be no problems.

So how can one sublet their own apartment? Well, it’s much easier these days. You can find groups online and post there. The most efficient way of doing this is none other than putting the apartment on Airbnb, and you’ll quickly get a lot of requests for sure.

Food And Groceries

Well, that’s the housing part covered. If you use some of the tips in that section, you’ll already be saving a lot of cash. However, we still have a lot of room for improvement, so get excited! Next up, we’re moving on to food and groceries.

New York City is known for its abundance and diversity in restaurants and food. The culture also happens to revolve around food and eating outside a lot. However, there are a lot of ways to save money here too.

Eat Most Of Your Meals At Home

I know this might sound boring and obvious to some, but this is advice worth heeding. Buying groceries and cooking your own food at home will always be cheaper than eating outside. People don’t realize just how much money they can save in this way.

If you enjoy cooking, this is even better. You get to enjoy a hobby you like while saving some money. Even if you’re not the greatest chef in the world, you can learn some quick and easy recipes for lunch/dinner. If you eat at least two of your meals at home, you’ll save a lot of money.

New York usually has cheap breakfast all around, and many places have lunch discounts. Dinner is comparatively most expensive, so see if you can eat the last meal of the day at home.

Pack Your Lunch

This one ties into the last one but could be a lifesaver if you think about it. Think about all those times you were walking down the street to work or back from work. You get hungry and just go to the nearest restaurant to satiate your hunger.

If you pack your lunch, you’ll end up saving a lot of money and time too. As you won’t be spending unnecessary money. If you can learn how to cook, living in New York can be much easier.

Also, always carry a reusable water bottle with you at all times. Buying bottled water is a waste of money when tap water in NYC is good enough for anyone. A lot of restaurants will even refill these bottles for free, so take advantage of that. Drinking water regularly is also more economical than buying a soda or something similar.

Shop Online

Do you always end buying groceries that you never use? Well, a good way to stop spending on useless stuff is to buy online. You’ll only buy the things you need and won’t stop the gawk at all the fancy items that look good but have no practical value at the end of the day.

This is also a help if you want to get into cooking, but don’t want to waste time with a trip to the grocery store. A lot of stores also have online discounts more regularly than the actual store location.

Lunch Discounts

As I mentioned before, lunch is much more affordable in NYC as compared to dinner. This is because most restaurants have lunch specials and discounts during the afternoon hour. If you are looking to eat out during this time, look for these deals during the afternoon.

Food Trucks Are Your Best Friend

NYC is famous for its expensive and fancy restaurants, sure. Despite that, the city also has one of the most diverse street foods in the world. You can find anything from empanadas, burritos, sandwiches, and even salads. Food trucks are all over the city, and you’d be surprised by the quality.

Of course, you’d have to hunt them down a bit, but they’re much more reasonable than an expensive restaurant.

Happy Hours

Drinking in NYC can be quite the luxury, as the prices are incredibly high compared to anywhere else. Expect to pay at least $12-$16 on a cocktail, depending on where you go. If you are the sort of person who enjoys a drink after a long day at work, be on the lookout for happy hours.

Happy hours are exactly what they sound like. Many bars and restaurants offer Happy Hours in which drinks can be bought for a heavily discounted price. This varies from bar to bar.

Use Public Transport

New York might be infamous for its high living costs, however, it makes up for that with its excellent public transit system. There are subways, buses, car services, all that can be taken from anywhere in the city.

The city is easy to navigate, although an outsider might feel a bit lost at first. However, if you can learn about the routes, public transit will seem like a breeze. Driving a car in NYC traffic is quite the frustration anyway. So save yourself the headache and the money, and go for public transport.

Want to use buses and the subway? Have a look at the Metro Card. This is a monthly card you can get for a fixed fee that lets you enjoy unlimited rides for the whole month. However, a monthly card can be about $127 a month, so be sure you use public transport a lot before investing in that.

Affordable Activities 

Just because NYC is expensive doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of cash to have fun. In fact, you could have a lot of fun without even spending a single dollar in some cases. We’ll quickly go through some of the more popular stuff.

Go For A Walk Or Run

Surprisingly, the NYC metropolis is incredibly popular among runners. There are a lot of routes to run through in many neighborhoods, with a lot of sightseeing included as a bonus. The Central Park Loop, Brooklyn Bridge, and Manhattan Bridge are extremely popular for this sole reason.

Go To A Museum 

Many museums in NYC are completely free to discover, and others mostly ask you to pay what you want. The incredibly popular MET and even the Museum Of National History are included in this. Other museums also have free days/hours, so be on the lookout for that.

Cheap Theatres

A lot of theatres and cinemas in New York often have discounts at certain hours, and this is common when a new Blockbuster is airing. Follow all of your favorite cinemas on social media, to be alerted of these great deals. If you’re a movie snob, we have an even better tip.

You’ve probably heard of the AMC cinemas around the city. You can sign for a $24 monthly membership program, which lets you watch three movies a week. That adds up to 12 movies you can watch in the cinema if you go every week. You also get free popcorn size upgrades and soda refills.

Try Kayaking

If you previously lived in a place where this wasn’t possible, or simply never gave it a shot, now is a good time as any. During the summer, you can kayak along the Hudson River, without paying a single cent. This only works during the summer holidays.

Explore The Parks

Just because the city is packed with tall buildings doesn’t mean there is no lush greenery around. NYC is home to many beautiful public parks, all of which can be explored for free. You’re already aware of Central Park. If you haven’t been there yourself, you’ve seen it in movies and TV, even video games.

Apart from that Washington Square Park, City Hall Park, Battery Park, are all extremely popular. In fact, NYC has over 1700 parks, so there’s something for everyone.


Broadway is one of the top three tourist and visitation spots of the city. Plays can be quite expensive on Broadway, so before you spend the full amount for the ticket, always look around for a discount. There are many apps made specifically for this.

If you are someone who believes in good luck, try your hand at the Broadway Lottery tickets. They are free to enter and if you win, you can get great seats for a discounted price.

Visit The Public Library

The New York Public Library is extremely popular among students and bookworms. They have millions of items and several locations around the city. They are also a great place to sit down, relax, and get some work done.

If you are the type who buys a lot of books, maybe try renting them so you can save money. Alternatively, join a book club or try to trade books with friends and people you meet there.

Other Free Attractions

In such a big city like New York, there are bound to be a tonne of attractions for all sorts of people. There are playgrounds, basketball courts, tennis courts, among other things. If you are someone who likes sightseeing, there are a lot of options for you as well.

The Brooklyn Bridge and Grand Central are both popular tourist spots, so go visit them every now and then to see if you can meet new people. You can also visit the world trade center memorial. You can also visit the World Trade Center Memorial for free, but the museum admission costs money.

The best thing you can do is to get on the Staten Island Ferry to get an up-close and personal look at the Statue Of Liberty.

New York also hosts a lot of concerts, festivals, and parades over the year. Parades are incredibly popular during Thanksgiving and other holiday occasions. They are a good way to have fun.

Other Ways To Save Considerable Cash

Well, up to this point we’ve covered all the essentials and how you can save money on them. However, there are a lot of smaller areas in life where you can save money while living in New York too. Let’s have a look at some of them and see how much of an impact they really make.

Get Rid Of Cable

Ask yourself an honest question, when is the last time you actually thanked that you used all the channels that came with your cable subscription? You’ll struggle to find a decent answer. It’s baffling as to why so many people are still paying for costly coaxial connections. 

NYC is a place that has good internet across the city, so you can easily stream all your favorite shows wherever you are. Seriously, it’s time to cut the cord and be free of this useless expense.

Share Subscriptions

Speaking of subscriptions, they can quickly start to add up in our day and age. Netflix and Spotify are the obvious ones, and they are both $10 a month on average. However, you might like other shows on HBO too, so that’s another subscription. Now add in magazines, newspapers, and the cost adds up.

If you have a roommate or neighbor that is willing to split the costs, it is seriously worth considering and will save you a lot in the wrong run. If you’re in college, ask a few friends and they’d strike a deal with you.

NYC Newsletters

The Time Out New York Newsletter, Gothamist, and Nonsense NYC are all great online newsletters if you want to stay up to date with what is going around in the city. These will also often alert you of deals, discounts, and even free events. All of this is delivered to your inbox. You might even get a few perks from some newsletters for signing up.

Don’t Skimp Out On The Essentials

I know I’ve already talked about most of the essentials. This includes housing, food, entertainment, and utilities. However, there are a few essential utility items that you should carry with you everywhere you go.

Purchase a sturdy water bottle that you won’t ever lose or break. Think of this as the last water bottle you buy, and go for a well rounded one. You don’t want to keep buying them after a couple of months. The same can be said about running shoes. New York is a place that requires a lot of walking.

Invest in a few pairs of shoes that are of high quality. Make sure you can use these every day. They should be comfortable and last a long while. Also, carry a backpack and a good pair of headphones with you. These are all items that can be expensive, so invest in them once so you don’t have to replace them every now and then.

Final Thoughts

If you follow all of these tips and tricks, you should already be saving a lot of money. See? Living in one of the nicest cities of the world doesn’t have to be as expensive as one might think. 

While NYC can be quite a costly place to live in, it’s not as bad as the media portrays it. Also, make sure to enjoy yourself and take in the city for all of its beauty. Hopefully, we’ve achieved our goal and now you know how to save money while living in NYC.

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