If you’re studying and planning to work in the music industry it’s pretty likely you’ll find yourself living in New York City at some point in your life. Moving to a new place on a budget can always be intimidating but New York represents a special challenge as one the most expensive cities in the world. So, as part of our series on resources for students and interns moving to new cities for school, internships, or post-graduation jobs, what better city to explore than NYC? (By the way, this is an ongoing thing so if there’s a city you know and would like to cover- or even a second edition of an existing one because you could write tons of these on NYC alone, let us know and find out more here)
Times Square – Photo by K Reilly
Places to Eat
New Yorkers are known for eating out so much so that Sex and the City even did an episode related to this fact where Carrie says she uses her oven for storage. That, however, is a tough way to live on a budget. The good news is there are some affordable ways to enjoy the lifestyle without the big bill. That being said groceries are still your best bet and there are many local bodegas with affordable options- some even have delis. If you need some more options check out Time Out New York’s cheap dining guide. Another helpful resource is Menupages which lets you look up menus for restaurants all over the city and check out prices in advance.
This diner is sort of a hidden gem in the Hell’s Kitchen area (though now that the Bolt and Megabuses are located nearby it isn’t quite as much). There’s another diner just down the street closer to Madison Square Garden, but this one has a significantly cheaper menu (Chicken Fingers for $8 compared to $14 down the street) and is less crowded with tourists. It’s open 24 hours and delivers nearby so it’s a great place to get some affordable staples any hour of the day.
This is one of the many more affordable options around NYU and the village and it now has several locations throughout the city. It’s basically a macaroni and cheese heaven where you can create your own or choose from their options inspired by dishes like pizza, hamburgers, and of course the traditional 4- cheese. It’s amazing and though some of the larger sizes are more expensive, the pasta is so filling you probably won’t need one anyway.
Serendipity Frozen Hot Chocolate- Photo by K Reilly
Okay, admittedly, Serendipity is not cheap. But it is a splurge that is seriously worth it. You may have seen this delicious restaurant with a quirky interior in the movie with the same name. It’s most famous for its desserts but the food is very good too and you can’t make a reservation if all you want is dessert. Be sure to try the famous frozen hot chocolate. It’s amazing.
Who doesn’t love sweets? The cupcake trend is especially big among women and it’s worth mentioning this place was featured in The Devil Wears Prada and Sex and the City, but guys will love it too. How do I know? Well, every time I have gone here and taken guys they tend to say something like “I won’t get anything but we can check it out” only to wind up leaving with something and loving it.
Chinatown and Little Italy
These neighborhoods are worth exploring anyway but they are also wonderful places to get some amazing food and there are several places that offer affordable options. Chinatown, for instance, is mostly family style and you can get a couple plates to share with friends and split the price. Little Italy is worth it for the cannoli alone.
Photo by K Reilly
Apps & Sites
Hopstop is both an app and a website that will make navigating public transportation so much easier. Just input your start and end points and it will tell you what to do.
TimeOut New York Free Lists
New York is a culturally rich city that probably has hundreds of events going on in any given day. The good news is this also means a lot of them are free and you can find some free things to do by checking out TimeOut’s daily list.
Low-cost / Free Things to Do
Yoga to the People
If you need a way to stay active on a budget, besides all that walking, Yoga to the People offers several popular donation-based classes all over the city.
New York City offers student discounts on everything from movies to museums and even Broadway shows. The Broadway discounts are especially impressive because you can get some great seats for about $30 a ticket. There are also amazing discounts for world class museums like the MoMA and Guggenheim. Take advantage of it while you can.
Bonus point for making it this far, what is the last word of this post?
Good Morning America Summer Concert- Maroon 5
There are a lot of free concerts and other cultural events around the city, especially in the summer. Major talk shows and Central Park both offer free summer concert series that include some major artists and there are plenty of other options if you prefer something less mainstream.
Housing & Travel Resources
Housing in NYC isn’t exactly cheap and it’s even more difficult if you need something short-term for an internship. Craigslist is a popular option, but if you’d feel safer finding something in a more predictable manner there are some good options including NYU Summer Housing, 92nd Street Y, Educational Housing Services, and International House. Additionally, several organizations throughout the city offer short term housing based on sex, so that may be something to explore if you’d be open to living in a building only with members of the same sex.
When it comes to travel the most important thing to do is learn the metro routes near you. You will probably wind up using the subway for almost everything (and doing a lot of walking in between so get a good pair of shoes and, for ladies, don’t try to be like Gossip Girl and wear heels everywhere- your feet won’t appreciate it). Invest in an unlimited travel card if you will be using the metro a lot (which unless you have an unlimited budget for cabs or a serious patience for traffic and a desire to drive, you will). The best way to navigate (most) of the city is by understanding the difference between streets and avenues. Avenues go north and south (or uptown and downtown respectively) and streets go east and west. This is how directions are usually given and the best way to understand where you are going. For example, there is a Magnolia Bakery at the corner of 49th and 6th and Skylight Diner is on 34th between 9th and 10th. Lastly, you need to know that Houston (the street that designates where Soho and Noho start and end- Soho is South of Houston and Noho is North of Houston) is not pronounced like a city if Texas. It’s more like How-ston and if you’re saying it right South of Houston actually kind of rhymes.