How to live in Manhattan on a budget

Dec 9, 2017 · 3 min read

Why live in Brooklyn if you don’t absolutely have to?

Even though your lumberjack-esque beard, meager income, and love of craft beer screams “Brooklynite”, it’s unlikely that you actually want to live in Brooklyn.

In recent years, Brooklyn has earned itself the title of “hipster paradise”, and unless you want your meals served to you in a shoe or to eat kale by the bushel, it’s probably not the borough for you.

There’s no doubt that Manhattan is THE borough to live in, but unfortunately, living there comes at a price that not many can afford. Luckily, cutting costs and creating a strict budget are some ways to help make living in the city possible for almost anyone!

Here are some ways to make a little money go a long way in the big city:

Find an affordable place to live

Living in Manhattan isn’t cheap, and you don’t get much bang for your buck. Depending on your budget, you’ll most likely have to sacrifice some accommodations when it comes to apartments, such as personal space and safety.

A great way to cut costs is to cram multiple roommates in a studio apartment. Sounds cozy, right?

The best part is that now your bedroom will likely be in extremely close proximity to your kitchen! Midnight snacking will be never be the same once your dresser also serves as your kitchen island.

When it comes to location, avoid the pricey areas, like Tribeca and Chelsea, and opt for a more affordable neighborhood.

Unfortunately, affordable neighborhoods tend to be a little dicey. Lock your doors, lock your windows, and watch out for people walking around with ice picks at bus stops (I’ve heard some stories).

Watch what you spend on food

Eating out in the city can be expensive, so your best bet is to cook your own meals whenever possible; however, it’s still easy to overspend on groceries if you don’t stick to the essentials.

Skip the “luxury” items that rack up your bill, or try to find more cost-effective replacements for them. If you’re into kombucha, a slightly effervescent beverage made from fermented tea, make your own version at home by mixing some dirt from Central Park with club soda. It tastes just like the real thing, and for a quarter of the price!

Grabbing post-work drinks with colleagues can also be problematic, since a night out drinking in NYC is even more devastating for your wallet than a night out to dinner. Avoid the trendy spots and cool rooftops, like Le Bain and Mr. Purple, and choose cheaper spots, like Applebee’s Grill + Bar.

This quaint, neighborhood eatery is Manhattan’s best kept secret, and for a good reason. Their delicious food and great happy hour specials, like half- off appetizers, make it the perfect place to celebrate your big promotion.

Take advantage of their $1 Long Island Iced Teas, going on for the month of December, to get more trashed than Aunt Louise does at your family’s annual Christmas karaoke party.

Take advantage of free entertainment

The great thing about living in Manhattan is the access to tons of cheap and free entertainment. Most of the museums sell tickets on a “pay what you wish” basis, and some have designated days and hours when admission is completely free.

More of the music type? Head to Central Park and take a stroll down “The Mall” to see tons of amazing talent, like the guy playing the drums on plastic buckets.

If you’re lucky, you might have the opportunity to get a free mixtape from one of the city’s best emerging rappers and DJs! Scope out the scene in SoHo and keep your eyes peeled for anyone trying to hand out CDs. You might be one of the first to discover the next Chance the Rapper!

Even on a budget, Manhattan is still the best borough to live in.

(Disclaimer: if you didn’t figure it out already, this article was a joke. Don’t take anything I just said seriously. Please.)

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All words by Lauren Vehar


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