How To Live Frugally in NYC

frugal nyc

How To Live Frugally in NYC

New York City is where dreams are made. There’s something about this city that draws everyone to it – the bright lights, the culture…and of course, the food. There’s a little bit of something for everyone.

Many 20somethings dream of moving to NYC and experience first hand everything this city has to offer. However, they’re often rudely awakened when they realize how much it actually costs to live in NYC. I grew up in NYC but didn’t realize how expensive this city is until I moved out on my own. The cost of living in NYC is higher than the national average. You’ll be paying $15 for a drink or as much as $30 for a movie and popcorn. But that’s not to say frugal living in NYC is impossible. You can still live on a budget while enjoying all that NYC has to offer. Here are a few tips:

Live in the outer boroughs

If you plan on living in NYC, the biggest expense you’ll have is your rent. It can cost you a couple thousand dollars each month. Even though you might have dreamed of living in Manhattan, consider the other boroughs. While rent prices in Brooklyn and Queens are rising, they are still considerably cheaper than Manhattan. Look at up-and-coming neighborhoods like Bushwick or Jackson Heights. Many of these areas have a great community feel, with plenty of restaurants and shops for you to explore. They may be a little further away from public transportation but that’s a small price to pay for saving hundred of dollars each month.

If you’re single, consider living with roommates. Getting a roommate or two and splitting a multi-bedroom apartment will considerably lower your costs.

Get a monthly MetroCard

Getting around NYC can actually be really easy, as long as you don’t have a car. NYC is one place in the world where it’s actually detrimental to own a car. Traffic is unavoidable and parking is non-existent. Instead, just get a unlimited monthly metrocard. For $112, you can use it as much as you want on NYC buses and subways within 30 days.

NYC also offers CitiBike, a public bike sharing system all around the city. There are also the classic yellow taxis, which can get very expensive. If you can’t take the subway, try Uber or Lyft instead.

Shop around for groceries

Whole Foods is a wonderland for any foodie. But it’s very expensive and doesn’t help those who are into frugal living in NYC. However, you can still save on groceries, as long as you shop around. For basics, check out Trader Joe’s. Their lines look long but they move fast. For fresh fruits and vegetables, try the farmers markets or ethnic markets in the outer boroughs. There is usually a great farmer’s market at Union Square on the weekends featuring artisanal cheeses, freshly baked breads, and of course, fruits and veggies.

Drink before you go out

The nightlife in NYC is unlike any other. But if you don’t watch yourself, the cost of your drinks can quickly add up. You can still enjoy socializing with friends on a budget though. Drink before you go out and limit yourself when you get to the bar. That way you can still enjoy the night without having to empty your wallet.

Enjoy the free activities

Even though NYC gets a bad reputation for being so expensive, there are actually plenty of things you can do for free. Frugal living in NYC is possible, you just have to do your research. For example, many of NYC’s museums just request a small donation when you enter, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There are also many MeetUp groups that get together throughout the week. Before you head out, go online and do your research. You can save a lot just by spending a few minutes planning your day in NYC.

What are you favorite frugal things to do in NYC?

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Connie blogs about personal finance and her journey to financial independence as a 20-something over at Savvy With Saving. She works in the eCommerce industry and currently resides in New York City.