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How to Enjoy Living in New York City on a Small Budget


New York City has a certain draw that persuades people all over the world to drop what they’re doing and move. The city is a buzzing epicenter for food, fashion, music and the arts, with breathtaking cityscapes and a world-renowned skyline. Many people think that there is a certain charm and mystique about this city that never sleeps, always eats, and looks good doing it.  If the big city lights have inspired you to relocate, there are a few ground rules to follow that will make your stay in NYC a bit more affordable and enjoyable.

Live in Brooklyn

The allure of living in New York City can be captured living on the other side of the East River for a tremendous discount. Finding a reasonably priced apartment in Manhattan is like looking for a contact lens in the dark. If you do manage to score a little place to call your own in the city, be prepared to pay top dollar for something that looks more like a closet rather than the fancy digs you see in movies.

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The truth is since everyone is so drawn to the city, space is incredibly limited, and as such, prices are sky high. So, you should take a look at Brooklyn instead. While some areas are a little sketchy, you can find a decent apartment in neighborhoods like Greenpoint, Park Slope and Clinton Hill. Brooklyn has it’s own version of New York charm, and it is close enough to the city that you can hop on a train or a bike and be in the center of it all in no time.

Free For All

A little secret about New York City is that there are enough free things to do here to entertain yourself for years. People-watching is a competitive sport here and the many parks, plazas and cafes make it easy to practice for the major leagues. Museums, like MOMA and MAD, have “pay what you wish” days throughout the week. This means you can get all artsy for as little as a dollar. The Bronx Zoo, a gorgeous animal wonderland, is dirt cheap on Wednesdays and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, teeming with fresh flowers and plants, is free every first Saturday of the month.

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DUMBO (a neighborhood right under the Brooklyn Bridge on the Brooklyn side) hosts “First Thursdays,” a monthly event where art studios and galleries are opened up to the public for viewing. During the summer, the summer stages in both Central Park and Brooklyn’s, Prospect Park, open up to host free concerts.  Between the free samples at the plethora of farmer’s markets around the city, free art shows, museums and concerts, a great time can be had in New York City without spending much green.

Cheap Eats

New York is all about pizza and bagels. Sure, there are world-famous restaurants with expensive food offerings, but any real New Yorker will tell you that pizza and bagels are what set New York apart from the rest of the world. The best thing is that these eats are cheap enough to get you through while you’re settling into your new life in the city. While everyone has their own opinion about where to get the best slice and holey bread delight, John’s Pizza and Murray’s Bagels in Greenwich Village both have a huge following. If you get carbo-overloaded, all five boroughs hold their own restaurant week annually where a variety of restaurants offer prix fixe multi-course menus at incredible discounts.

Living in New York will be more expensive than living wherever you have lived previously, but if you know how to cut the right corners, the city becomes yours at a fair price.

Do you or have you lived in New York? Tell us a little about your financial experiences.

Authorbio: Dominique Brown of wrote this article. Be sure to subscribe to his blog and his video blog for more financial tips!



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Hmmm. The first one yes. You can live in Brooklyn for cheaper but if you work in NY you have to pay an extra $100 plus a month to work in Manhattan. The second one is the best. I used to teach a free salsa class every Monday. Free movies at Bryant Park Tuesday etc… Let’s get to number 3. Unless you are 20 years old with an amazing 6 pack you will be fat before the summer is over eating pizza and bagels. As an alternative you can use Groupon or find discount codes for inexpensive restaurants.

    Bottom line… Nobody moves to NYC for a better savings so be prepared.

  2. I’m surprised you didn’t mention Chinatown… Lunch time specials are low and can save you a bundle.

  3. I lived in New York for a few years until a few months ago. If you don’t mind living in an outer borough then Queens is much cheaper than Brooklyn. You can live in Astoria for half the price of places in Williamsburg and be walking distance to some of the best authentic Greek food and beer gardens in the city. Also, getting a roommate makes a big difference – I was able to live in Manhattan by having roommates and the convenience was well worth it for me. Finally, try the East Village for cheap and delicious eats. There are tons of great restaurants like Cafe Mogador and Ciao for Now that offer very reasonable prices on amazing food.

    • Thanks for chiming in.. So if you had to do it all over again, would you go straight to Manhattan?

      • Definitely -that’s what I did do. But I had friends who paid literally half my rent for double the space in Queens. It just depends on priorities. I value convenience over space which is why I chose to live in Manhattan. Plus, I lived in the East Village which is my favorite place in the world so I’ll gladly sacrifice having a smaller apartment to do so.

        • I would take the convenience of Manhattan over the increase in rent as well.

  4. I’ve been reading quite a few posts about NYC. Although I have lived in NY as a child, I still haven’t experience it as a yound adult. But I will.

    • As an adult it’s a different ballgame and I definitely appreciate it. So much to do in that city!

  5. I have visited but couldn’t imagine living there. Too much hustle bustle for my liking. It is a blast to visit though the one time I went at least.

    • Definitely a lot of hustle and bustle living in the city. My only pet peeve is I like some breathing space from time to time.. the city doesn’t provide that since everyone is cramped on top of each other.

  6. I lived in New York city as a child. My wife had an apartment in NYC (East 78th, bet 1st & 2nd Ave)when she graduated school for a few months. She shared it with 3 other girls. NYC will always be home although I haven’t lived there for 40+ years!

    • Krant, you’re telling your age :-). When was the last time you visited?

  7. I have a lot of family that lives in NYC and I visit them every other year. I love the city and would move there in a heartbeat, except that I honestly couldn’t deal with the winters…brrr…..

    But if I HAD to move to NY, I’d probably choose a borough over the city itself.

    • NYC winters aren’t that bad, lol. I’m curious what do you consider bad winters? Also, what is a comfortable temperature for you?

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