Living On A Budget In New York: Reddit Edition

Brooklyn bridge, New York

So you want to live and manage your budget in New York? And financial management is getting on your nerves? Take a deep breath, look at the bright side and sing with us!

I got a pocketful of dreams and I’m from New York!
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York! New York! New York!

Alicia Keys, Empire State Of Mind

Now, if you’re singing along, you might smirk and say Alicia Keys can afford to sing this yes, but you with a pocketful of just pennies, and dreams killed by enormous amounts of rent, and expenses, it’s a meme kinda life more than a dream come true kinda life.

But don’t you worry. We feel you, and we want to tell you it’s possible to dream with a few financial management tips up your sleeve to live on a budget in New York.

So we’ve searched the internet to compile a suggestion of break up of your expenses in New York, financial management tips and possible eliminations to make your life in the big apple a bit more digestible.

Welcome to your guide to living on a budget in New York, Reddit style!

Understanding your rent budget in New York

Reddit user linsage suggests knowing what you exactly want in terms of accommodation when living on a budget in New York

You’re going to spend the most on rent and it’s not going to be frugal. You just have to be honest with yourself about what you want and you’re going to have to pay for it. The more roommates you have, the less you’ll pay. So remember that when you chart your living expenses budget in New York.

Reddit user hyperside89 says you need to accept that rent is going to be your highest expense

Rent is going to be your highest expense. Accept it, don’t fret over it. Some people will tell you to live in a place you don’t feel safe, or to cram 5 people in a two bedroom apartment to save money (slight exaggeration). Don’t do it. If your home is a place you want to be you’ll spend more time there, aka not being out spending money. I just spend the entire Sunday in my apartment cooking, reading, etc. Didn’t spend a dime. My rent is $1,100 a month (+ $40-60 on utilities) and so worth it.

Reddit user hollyholidayz suggests moving to Manhattan for living on a budget in New York

Move to Manhattan My BF and I live in the UWS and are moving next month. We have signed papers for a place in Harlem – it is up and coming and super convenient train-wise. Safe and very neighborhood-y. We will only be spending $1500 for a 1BR which is SUPER CHEAP. We will be able to afford to buy a used car soon and parking is also affordable up there. I love the neighborhood and it is totally worth looking into for living on a budget in New York.

Commuting within budget in New York

Reddit user linsage speaks the truth about commuting on a budget in New York

You’re going to spend the same amount on the subway as everyone else and there’s also nothing you can do about it.

Reddit user Artichokeowl suggests knowing for sure how often you’d use the subway

One thing that helps is thinking about how often you will really need to take the subway or bus. If you know for SURE that you’ll need to take it to and from work/school every single day, go for the monthly pass. If you think you’ll take it less often, decide how you want to do it by figuring out how much you pay per trip given how often you take the subway with the different metrocard options. This is the best way to live on a budget in New York.

Financial management tips for grocery shopping and food when living on a budget in New York

Reddit user linsage suggests Brooklyn for grocery shopping

If you go to deep Brooklyn for your groceries you’ll save soooooo much money. It’s awesome how cheap it is.

Reddit user hollyholidayz suggests Trader Joe’s

Really worth the wait because every other place seems overpriced when living on a budget in New York. Just buy a granny cart and play sudoku on your phone. For the two of us, I only spend ~$120/month there.

Reddit user hyperside89 says cooking will save you tons of money

Cook to live on a budget in New York. Cooking will save you SO MUCH MONEY. Don’t even worry about seeking out the cheapest groceries in the city. I shop at my local grocery store which has average prices and I only pay $180 a month in groceries. Don’t go crazy on caviar, etc and don’t go to Whole Foods for everything and you’ll be fine. For context, I do eat a primarily vegetarian / vegan diet heavy on veggies but not exclusively.

Reddit user hollyholidayz also suggests cooking instead of eating out or ordering in

Honestly, the food sucks for the price anyway. If my $50 meal was $20, I would buy it. But it’s actually $50 and very overpriced. I spend my money on nice food I cook at home. We eat out at quality restaurants once or twice a month. That way we sample a bunch of places and really look forward to it when living on a budget in New York.

On the same note, no take out. Resist. Save for snowy days when you are sick and there is a HIMYM marathon on.

Fitting everything else in your budget in New York

Reddit user linsage suggests their choice of money saving apps and other financial management tips

  • There are AMAZING apps for saving money on various nyc happenings and restaurants. ScoutMob and Savored are my favorites for living on a budget in New York.
  • Drink before you go out if you want to save money on going out. Don’t go to places with cover charges.
  • It’s not easy to live on a budget in New York. But if you want to live here, you’ll make it work. Who needs a retirement fund anyway?
  • Edit: also Amazon Prime for all your shopping

Reddit user hollyholidayz suggests investing in memberships

I roller skate, enjoy French films and picnics during the summer. Thus, I purchase loyalty/membership cards to the rink and film festivals. I enjoy these things and buy them at rates so I can do them often, on the cheap. It is important to do things you enjoy and spend your money right when you’re living on a budget in New York.

Positive end note from Reddit user poisonandfabric

Honest you CAN live within your budget in New York. My suggestion is to really really save as much as possible. Put away as much as you can. A job is really important to have once you get here because if you don’t you will eat into your savings damn fast. Happened to me. Had a place but couldn’t get a job for around 2-3 months. Really hard on my savings.

So it’s super possible! It can just be hard.

Quick breakdown of my expenses per month:

  • Rent: $560
  • Utilities: $75-$100
  • Phone: $100
  • Metro: $120
  • Food: $150-$200

Some months are better than others. Sometimes I get lucky and make my payments on time, other times no. So don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help if you need it.

D’you know what else Roomi does outside of helping its readers live on a budget in New York? With our ever-increasing lists of rooms and roommates across the world, we help you find your perfect match! Download the app here and hop on the easiest ride home, ever!