Fall in New York : September 2013 Harlem Budget

Harlem subway at 135th St on Lennox Ave
Colourful mozaic in the Harlem subway at 135th St on Lennox Ave.

For the 3rd month in a row we prove that you can stay in New York on a budget. See the links at the end of the post for our other monthly travel budgets.

On September 1st we continued our trend of living in different New York neighbourhoods by moving from our August sublet in Manhattan’s Theater District up to Harlem.

After spending hours trolling through Craigslist in mid July we had come across a spacious, beautifully appointed 2 bedroom apartment in the 130s. We signed a lease for 2 months which I was particularly happy about, as I was tired of moving all our gear every month. To make it more manageable we shifted our belongings up to Harlem over 3 subway trips!

Total Expenditure for September 2013 came to US$2972.28 for the two of us which is US$49.53 each/day.
N.B This does not include our travel insurance costs which come to $918/6 months for both of us together or about US$2.55/day each.

Accommodation $US1950
Transport $214
Activities $44
Food and Drink $615.74
Miscellaneous $148.54


Accommodation $US1950

Again we were able to come up with a very good deal by not letting our anxiety (that we will be homeless in 2 weeks if we don’t find somewhere!) cause us to sign up for the first thing we saw on Craigslist. We travelled up to Harlem to take a look at the apartment and the neighbourhood and it felt right. We established a great rapport with the owners and fortunately they chose us over a few other contenders.

A fancy street in Harlem
An expensive street in Harlem.


We paid $112 each for our 30 day subway pass. the owner of the apartment kindly let me use his bike during our stay.


Activities $44

Being up in Harlem, I spent many happy hours exploring my new neighbourhood on foot and bike.

No longer in the Theater District, we were not in as convenient location as last month to take advantage of the Broadway ticket Lotteries for $25 tickets. As a result we didn’t do to any Broadway shows in September. However “20 at 20” was on for 2 weeks so we were able to go to the wonderful ex-Broadway show “Peter and the Star Catcher” for US$20 each.

One of the things I really wanted to do in Harlem was attend a Baptist church service and I did this one Sunday. It was a very uplifting experience, albeit a little longer than I had anticipated. I hung in the whole 3 hours, unlike most tourists who took their photos and left after 30 minutes, which I thought was very rude. I made a small donation of $4 to the church collection.

Wall mural 6th Ave, Harlem
A wall mural on 6th Ave, Harlem.

Food and Drink

Food and Drink $615.74

Again we saved money by mainly eating in for our evening meals and making our own breakfasts. We did get a few take-outs and I did splash out on $29 for wine. Our food bill was down quite a bit this month compared to last month.


Miscellaneous $148.54

Our miscellaneous expenses were $15.28 for toilet paper and kitchen paper towels, $3.80 for baking paper, $6.58 for soap, $4 for deodorant, $50 for cell phone SIM card, and $68.88 for hair salon.

Our prior budgets


August 2013 – Midtown

July 2013 – Brooklyn


May/June 2013 Budget


  1. //

    Wow, I think you spent less (or just about the same) in a month in New York than me and my partner have been spending travelling around Ecuador! Impressive.

  2. //

    Your budgets are so interesting, especially watching from where prices are much cheaper. I’m impressed!

  3. //

    I am impressed!! NYC is the perfect into to big city life, and you two are proving it doesn’t have to come with a price. It’s a great city – enjoy!!

  4. //

    Thanks for sharing your NYC budget. I’ve always wanted to see the cultural side of Harlem, now I know how to do it without breaking the bank.

  5. //

    Well done, Kate! We’ve found that the lodging is definitely the big-ticket item. If we can make that work (in a place we feel comfortable and safe), everything else falls in line. Just think how cheap everywhere else will seem now. . . . ;)

  6. //

    Accommodation costs just make me want to cry the whole world over. Here in Europe we’re experiencing all of those mounting costs that we didn’t really feel during 6 months+ in Asia and it bites.

    Thankfully were just about to step into housesitting so that might work out for us pretty well, but it still doesn’t keep the tears away over all those Pounds already spent.

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