I was born and raised in New York City. Whether fortunately or unfortunately, the bustling city is really all I’ve ever known. Spending $15 on a movie ticket or $5 on a latte has always seemed very normal to me. Since becoming an adult and being on my own, the high cost of living in this city has definitely become very apparent to me though. Many say it’s a city where dreams are made, but living in New York can be challenging, especially as a young 20-something starting out.
I get this question a lot: how can I afford to live in New York City? From the surface, living in this city on an entry-level salary seems almost impossible. The average monthly rent in NYC is over $3000, a sum that’s more than what many young professionals make. So what gives? If you’ve always dreamed of living in New York, you definitely can but be prepared to make some sacrifices. Here are 5 tips to help you afford living in New York City:
Get a Roommate
The single most important thing you need to do if you want to afford living in New York City is finding a roommate, as it’s hard to afford your own apartment unless you’re making close to six figures a year. Splitting a multi-room apartment will make your rent much more affordable. Of course, having roommates has its downsides but you’ll have to deal with the negatives until you can save up enough for your own place. You can look for roommates online through services like Spareroom.com or Craigslist.org or ask your friends if they know anyone. Be sure to ask lots of questions to see if you guys could live with each other peacefully.
Live in the Outer Boroughs
Most people think of Manhattan when they think of New York City. It’s the most densely populated borough in New York City and arguably the most popular borough in the city. But keep in mind that there are four more that make up the general area. Living in the ‘outer’ boroughs is definitely cheaper. While it might not be the most convenient, all boroughs have access to public transportation and it should be fairly easy for you to get to your job in the city. Also, as more and more people move out into the outer boroughs, there are more things to do and restaurants popping up.
Prepare Your Own Meals
The cost of eating out in New York City may shock you. It’s not uncommon for an entree to cost $30. You’ll definitely have those nights when you need to dine out for social gatherings or work, but try to prepare your own meals as much as possible. This is especially true for lunches. Always pack your own lunch. It’s healthier and costs you half as much as buying a salad at the nearby deli. Visit the farmer’s markets that pop up at various parks on weekends or Trader Joe’s for cheap produce and meats.
Take Public Transportation
If you’re use to driving, you won’t be doing any of that in New York City. Owning a car isn’t very feasible if you’re on a budget, particularly because parking is almost non-existent and you’ll have to rent a spot in a garage. Taking public transportation is the way to go here. The subway and bus system runs 24 hours a day and is very convenient to get to almost anywhere in the city. Avoid taking taxis as much as possible. If you get stuck in traffic, you’ll see your fare rise slowly but surely.
Make Extra Income
It’s always a good idea to try to make extra income wherever you live, but having a side gig will definitely go a long way in helping you afford the city. The great thing about New York is that there are lot of opportunities to make extra income that might not be available in smaller cities. There’s always dog owners looking for walkers or sitters or restaurants looking for part-time help. Start by checking out jobs on Craigslist to get a feel for what’s out there. You’ll eventually get tons of referral business if you are at least decent.
Have you ever lived in New York City? Would you ever, considering the cost of living?