Moving to New York? Check out these tips for living in NYC on a budget.
Contrary to popular belief – not all New Yorkers have enough spare change to snag a pair of Manolos whenever they feel like it. Most of us have a strict budget and financial rules to live by in NYC, and we work really hard to stick to that budget. What’s more, living in NYC on a budget is very different from living on a budget in other cities. For instance, what you might spend for transportation in a driving city like Austin, TX is nothing like what you would spend in Gotham. (I’m happy to tell you the subway costs a lot less than driving.) If you’re a New Yorker or planning to move anytime soon, here are some tips for living in NYC on a budget.
Never buy a full-priced ticket.
New York City has amazing entertainment options. Unfortunately, our wallet contents aren’t, so ticket prices add up quickly. They don’t have to, though, if you do your research before purchasing seats. There are multiple ways to buy discounted tickets. Try the TKTS booth in Times Square or purchase a $35 Theatre Development Fund membership (if you qualify, see the website for details), or enter Broadway’s digital lotteries. All will save you tons of cash.
Attend free events.
Whether you can rely on corporate benefits, take advantage of book signings at Barnes & Noble or your local bookstore, or attend one of the city’s annual festivals and parades, you learn quickly that the cheap (and free) things to do in New York are plentiful. Do your research and you’ll soon discover the city’s bounty of free events and parties. The Easter Parade, Puerto Rican Day Parade, the July 4th fireworks, and Gay Pride are just a handful of annual happenings in New York.
Never pay an ATM fee.
Despite what others might say, you don’t need to change banks as soon as you move to NYC – you just need to have one that reimburses you for ATM fees. NYC has ATMS every few blocks, but it can be a time-consuming struggle to find one that doesn’t tack on extra charges. A much easier solution is to sign up for a debit card or bank that reimburses your fees. (Ally Bank and Charles Schwab’s High Yield Investor Checking Account are two options.) The convenience of withdrawing cash when you need it without racking up as much as $5 a pop will save you money month after month.
“Subscribe” to free publications.
Just because you’re a New Yorker doesn’t mean reading The New Yorker is in your budget (although we love the magazine). There are plenty of great NYC-focused publications that are totally free. Whether you’re old school and prefer to read your local newspaper (amNY is a personal favorite), a cultural magazine (Time Out New York )or prefer your content electronically (like this blog!), there’s so much to read that you don’t need to pay for.
Time your splurges right.
Of course, there are certain experiences and things that you do have to pay full price for. You do have to know what’s worth splurging on, though (like tickets to Hamilton, for example, if you still haven’t won that lottery), and when splurging is okay. Yes, payday is a great guideline, but even when you can spend some extra cash, always be on the lookout for city events like Restaurant Week, free entry to museums, and other seasonal promotions such as 2-for-1 Broadway Week, Cider Week, and Spa Week. You deserve to be pampered, but your wallet will thank you if you can time your splurges right.
Living in NYC on a budget has its challenges, but it is possible! Do you have any ideas to add? Tell us in the comments.
Looking for FREE things to do in NYC? Check out Tracy’s list.