The Big Apple on a Budget

Real World


I’m quickly approaching the six-month mark of my residency in Manhattan.  Somehow, I’ve survived six months of scraping together rent, cat calls that border on sexual harassment, De Blasio’s refusal to pick up the Upper East Side’s trash, receiving someone else’s’ undies in my bi-weekly laundry batch, $3 boxes of mac and cheese, a cockroach encounter, $9 bud lights, a scolding from a Starbucks’ barista, cab drivers that insist on taking the ‘short cut’ (AKA, the longest route possible), unintentional grinding on the constantly-crowded 6 train, eliminating every color but black from my wardrobe and haggling with Time Warner Cable (their phone number should be 666-6666).

And six months in – I’m in love.

There’s something about this place that makes you forget about that rat running down the subway tracks, and plasters a permanent smile on your face.  Have you been to Central Park? It’s glorious in the Spring.  Have you tried the artichoke pizza from Artichoke Basille? It’s life changing.  Have you ventured to MoMA on a Friday night? It’s free to get a heavy helping of the arts.  As crazy as New York gets, there are so many things that make not living here nothing more than a huge mistake.

And yes, believe it or not, it is possible to love your time here whilst on a budget.  For as many outlandish VIP bottle service-only bars there are in the city, there are just as many free festivals, fleas and fairs.  But how to find them? There is a multitude of great sources for tracking down the coolest affordable events that New York has to offer.

Groupon/Gilt City

Want to see the hot new Adele Dazeem (more commonly known as Idina Menzel) Broadway production, but don’t have $200 to drop? Don’t feel defeated – that’s what sites like Gilt City and Groupon are for.  Signing up is free and gives you access to coupons for everything from theatre to dinner and shopping.  Gilt City has a much smaller daily collection than Groupon’s hoards of dinner for two coupons, but the selection is a little more high brow.


This app is great for when you can’t figure out plans. Simply log on, and browse through carefully curated suggestions organized by activity and distance.  From unique restaurants to different-borough escapes, Sosh has a multitude of suggested adventures that are far from your run-of-the-mill Sunday brunch.


Have you checked in yet? No? Well you should, because it could lead to a free shot, app or 15% off your bar tab.  While it may seem like just another social network to maintain, Foursquare is a fun way to track your social life, check out new venues for your night out and get discounts in the process.  You can even search in your area for places offers check-in deals.  Other users share photos and reviews on business pages, so it’s a great way to determine the potential of a certain location.


Time Out New York is always a safe bet for a weekly batch of cool and unique events to do in the city.  Their curated monthly lists are can’t-miss though.  From ‘101 Things to do in the City in the Spring,’ to ‘Can’t Miss Winter Holiday Markets,’ TONY’s articles provide witty observations, business hours, cost information and menu selections.  NYCgo has similar content to Time Out New York, but also hosts popular citywide events like discount dining during Restaurant Week and two-for-one show tickets during Broadway Week.

These are just a few of the many ways that you can make NYC your own, even if you can’t afford to live like Serena Van der Woodsen.  It’s possible, I promise.

For more musings on city life on an entry-level budget, check out Lindsay’s blog Window Shopping.



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