It is safe to say that every single person who doesn’t live in New York asks themselves, “How do people even afford living in nyc?”. Living in big cities can be a bit tricky and even locals end up wondering the same thing.
However, there’s always a way to get around living in the city, even with a low income.
To get a glimpse of new yorker’s lifestyle, we’ve asked Mellisa to help us out. She is 33 years old, has an annual income of 150k as a dentist and she’s currently single.
“I moved to the city from Joplin, Missouri looking for the Big Apple experience after getting into NYU” She says, “I struggled a lot during my first few years here, I worked and went to college while sharing a tiny 3 bedroom apartment with 5 other girls to make rent cheaper, I did not have a single second alone and that made me reconsider my decision to live in the city because I thought that was just how people lived in there”
What made you stay here?
“Well, I used to work as a waitress and, if I’m being honest, I hated that job, dealing with unpleasant customers is certainly not good for your mental health, but around the time I was 22, a job opportunity as a receptionist in a dental office showed up and a big salary rise came with it. This way I was able to not only be in a more quiet environment which allowed me to read and prepare for class but also get my own place, just as tiny as the other one but just for myself”
Could you go out back then? What about now?
“Well, during my first years in New York, going out meant eating a $1 pizza slice in a park and occasionally going partying when I had some money leftover. After I got that job as a receptionist, things started to change and I could afford to eat out every once in a while and go to parties with the same frequency. Of course, I didn’t go to the fanciest places but it certainly was an upgrade. Now I’m not into clubbing anymore but I can comfortably enjoy some drinks and dinner without worrying”
How much do you pay for rent?
“Nowadays, I pay $2600/mo for a one bedroom apartment in the Upper West Side, but back in the day, I payed $750/mo for that shared apartment in the East Village and $1550/mo for a tiny 215 square feet apartment located in Midtown”
Do you buy not-so-necessary things?
“Oh my God, yes, I later regret most of them cause they truly have no use but they are just so tempting” She told us “I also buy tons of clothes but that’s because I shop second-hand clothes which are not only cheaper but also eco friendly, in fact, I recently bought a beautiful hoodie for five bucks”
Every new yorker is a whole world, everyone finds a way to live in the city and get the most out of the millions of opportunities to have fun and make new friends. My personal advice is that you save money on less important things like more expensive brands (this not only includes miscellaneous but also food and clothes) so you can spend it on something you find more valuable.
Tips on saving money.
While there is no magic trick to save money, there are a few things that might help you do it.
- Use public transportation instead of driving or paying for an Uber. This will not only help your savings but also the environment
- Buy at thrift stores. This way you will be able to get eccentric items for the lowest price possible and it can not only be applied to clothes but also to furniture, who doesn’t want a bitchin looking place?
- Get a roommate. If you’re living alone and want to make rent more affordable, find someone to split it with! With the right person, you can get yourself a new friend.
- Take advantage of what the city offers. There are plenty of fun, free activities provided by the city.
- Sign up for NYC Care. This program will allow you to access free or low-cost medical attention. If you just moved to the city you can now apply as well.
- Find low-cost restaurants. Everybody loves to eat out, especially when there are so many options out there but this isn’t always cheap. However, the diversity of the city allows people with all kinds of budgets to enjoy a nice meal, just find the one that suits yours.
How can I keep track of my money?
Many people struggle to manage their own money, even the ones living on their own for a while. An excellent way of doing so is by making a pivot table with google forms where you can section your spending into different categories and upload the things you buy or pay for in each one. To save you the job of making one yourself, we’ve put together a pivot table with basic categories so you can start making your own budget. If you still want to make your own pivot table, check this out!
Living in a big city can sound terrifying, especially budget-wise but with a few tricks and some budget planning, it is not hard to make it work up to your expectations.