New York City is one of the most exciting cities in the world. There’s art, music, fashion, culture, food etc.. New York City is also one of the most expensive cities in the world. From rent and groceries to entertainment and a night out on the town, New York City seems to charge more for everything. To help keep your stay in New York City, for however long that may be, enjoyable and affordable, here is a list of 10 ways to stay on budget in New York!
1. Make a Budget!
This tip may seem silly but it is so important! Before you embark on your magical trip to the city you should decide how much money you plan on spending while you are there. It is impossible to stay on a budget in New York City if you don’t have a budget to start with! When making this budget you should be reasonable and expect to spend more money while you are in New York than you normally would. Keep in mind you will definitely want to go out on the town and do some shopping and maybe even see a show while you are in New York so be sure to put some money aside to have some fun.
2. Travel expenses
Depending on where you are coming from, it is most likely easiest to get to New York by flight, however, that is also probably the most expensive. There are a few things you can do to minimize this cost. When planning your trip to New York it is best to avoid tourist seasons (Christmas, New Years, Pride etc.) because due to supply and demand, the prices of the flights will most definitely go up. There are four airports in New York so I would recommend checking prices for all four and compare the costs. Also, if you are able to plan your trip a decent amount in advance, chances are the flights will be less. If you are the kind of person that is a super saver and is willing to do anything to save some extra bucks there are a few other options for travel. You can take a bus to New York such as a Greyhound or even drive if you have somewhere to park your car once you arrive! This is a smart move if you want to stay on a budget in New York.
3. Packing Essentials
Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, in New York City is more expensive. If you forget to pack your essentials you will most likely end up spending twice what you paid back home ! So before you zip that suitcase and set off on your journey to the big apple, double check that you have packed your bathroom essentials (toothbrush, hair products, makeup, etc.), nighttime pjs, and your favorite backpack. These items may not be all that expensive but why waste money and items you already own and items you already paid a lesser price for.
New York City easily has some of the best eats in the world! Here are a few tips to enjoy the amazing food the city has to offer while not breaking the bank. First and foremost avoid touristy areas. The food in these areas will be far over price and more times than not, below par food. Now of course you should definitely pick one night to splurge and have a fancy meal (after all this is New York City) but for your other meals you will be just as happy with some hidden gems that offer great food and great prices! Yelp and other similar websites are a great resource for great restaurants and listed prices.
One of the greatest things New York has to offer is the subway system. There are a few options for transportation around the city but the subway is by far the most reliable and easiest as well as one of the most affordable. If you are in the city for longer than a month and plan on using the metro system a lot, I HIGHLY recommend purchasing a 30-day unlimited card for $120 dollars. This option will allow you to use the subway and bus system with ease. Depending on your destination, the cheapest option by far would be to walk! Due to New York City’s grid system, the streets are easy to navigate and you will find your destination no problem. Do NOT rent a car in New York if you can avoid it. It might seem like a good idea to avoid spending money on local transportation and cabs, however, parking in New York is insanely expensive and you will find trouble parking your car.
There are a few options for housing when visiting New York. The most traditional method would be to stay in a hotel. Sometimes hotels can be quite expensive, especially in New York City, but if you decide to go with a hotel I would recommend staying somewhere that is away from tourist attractions and booking your trip not during tourist season. Other options include hostels and Airbnb’s which will most likely be more affordable. For students coming to New York City for the summer (this is what I did) I highly recommend doing some research on dorms in the city that allow interning students to “rent” them for the summer.
7. Banking tips
A very common thing in New York is for a restaurant, store, bar etc. to be cash only. No fear, you can find an ATM on nearly every corner and some places that are cash only will also have an ATM inside. However, if you belong to a bank that does not exist in New York (like Suntrust) you could end up paying almost 3 dollars every time you want to take out money just in ATM fees. If this is the case for you, there are a few things you can do to avoid these outrageous withdrawal fees. The easiest option would be to simply take out money before you travel to New York but the downside would be carrying around a large amount of cash and also not knowing how much you might need. Another option is to open up an account with a third party company and transfer money in depending on how long you will be in New York. What I ended up doing, and what I highly recommend, is to take out cash at a CVS or like-store when checking out. Doing so will avoid these fees and give you the ease of taking out a little at a time. This is definitely one of the best ways to be on a budget in New York.
8. Broadway Ticket deals
If you are anything like me you love a good Broadway show and what better place to see one than New York City. Unfortunately, Broadway tickets can be quite expensive and depending on the show, you might have to get them a decent time in advance. Luckily, I have a solution for you! There is a company called TKTS that sells discount Broadway show tickets the day of the show for half price. How it works is the TKTS will have a list of available shows online as well at each location and you line up at a TKTS stand (there are a few locations throughout New York) around 2:30 p.m. (doors open at 3:00 p.m.) and wait to buy your half price Broadway tickets for that night!
It would be silly to come to New York City and not do some shopping (even if you’re on a budget in New York)! Everywhere you look in the city there are shops after shops. Luckily for you, these shops also include thrift shops. Thrifting is very trendy right now and is a great way to find some awesome pieces while not breaking the bank. No matter where you are staying while in New York City, you can find a thrift store near you. Some of the top thrift stores in New York include L-Train Vintage and Buffalo Exchange.
10. Free entertainment
One of the many great things about New York is that there is always something to do, some of these things are even free! Things such as local art galleries, Moma, Big Apple Greeters, Central Park and many more offer free entertainment activities. A great resource to use is NYCgo.com that will have a calendar of free events throughout the city. Also, be sure to look up the things I have suggested that you are interested in because some of them have set times for free entertainment. This is one of the best things to do if you’re on a budget in New York.