New York Budget : Our First 30 Days.

New York Skyline

We are spending this summer in New York and have just come to the end of our first month here. Now it’s time to review our expenditure. We pride ourselves on being thrifty and seeking out good deals, so it’ll be interesting to see how successful (or not!) we have been.

Total for the two of us over the 30 days was US$2763.28 which is $46.06 per person/day

Accommodation: US$1414.29
Transport: US$237
Activities: US$117.60
Food and Drink: US$905.39
Miscellaneous: US$89

Accommodation: US$23.57 per person/day
Transport: US$3.95 per person/day
Activities: US$1.96 per person/day
Food and Drink: US$15.09 per person/day
Miscellaneous: US$1.48 per person/day

New York is an expensive destination with accommodation being the biggest cost followed in no particular order by activities, local transport and food.

Times Square


We are subletting one month at a time and chose to spend our first month in Brooklyn. The main advantages of staying on the east side of the East River are:
– It is considerably cheaper than Manhattan
– You get to see more of the “real” New York and New Yorkers

We rented a lovely, roomy 1 bedroom apartment in Bed-Stuy for the same price as it would cost for a room in many a shared apartment on Manhattan.

Our street in Bed-Stuy

Many would say the disadvantage is the time it takes to commute by subway into Manhattan each day as that is where the majority of activities are. We go into Manhattan 1-2 times per day and it takes 20 mins each way to lower Manhattan and 35-40 to mid-town respectively. Kate doesn’t mind the commute as she listens to pod-casts and also uses it as thinking time :-).
Our sublet was US$1650 for 35 days with a $250 deposit, which we have since got back as we returned the apartment in clean, mint condition. I have converted the figures to a 30 day period to reflect a typical month.


Most of the activities we’ve done have been free or by donation. One of the things I’d looked forward to doing the most was biking in Central and Prospect Parks, so having the free use of a bike (included with our sublet) was awesome and saved me the cost of renting or buying. We won the online lottery to go to “Shakespeare in the Park” which is held each Summer in Central Park. I also attended free opera and orchestral concerts in NYC parks.

Sheep Meadow

We save money on Broadway Shows by entering the Broadway lotteries and buying standing room only and rush tickets. Our standing room only tickets to “Pippen” only cost us US$39 each. Kate got a rush ticket to a Broadway play with Sigourney Weaver for US$38. We haven’t won a Broadway lottery yet but we did win free lottery tickets to Shakespeare in the Park. We enjoy stand up comedy shows (most of them are free or $5). I went to a free one but did buy a beer so as not to look like a complete loser. Another one we both went to at the famous Upright Citizens’ Brigade was $5 per ticket but we were given one free ticket by someone with too many.
I went to MoMA for free on “free Friday nights”, paid a $10 donation (recommended $25!!) for the Met and a $3 for 1.25 hours at the Guggenheim (it’s recommended donation on a Saturday night from 6-8 pm but you do get limited time because they start closing down at 7:30 pm). I paid a $5 donation when I went to the World Trade Center Memorial.

Food and Beverages

Kate and I save a lot of money by not eating out at restaurants and not drinking alcohol (though I did buy 1 beer at a free stand-up comedy show and I have been very tempted to buy wine from Trader Joe’s Wine Shop which has some very cheap wine, but it’s just not in our budget). We have the odd Falafel (from Taim – excellent) and Kate’s main weakness is vegan cake from
LifeThyme. Nice vegan food is not very available in New Zealand so she splashes out on it most days here. We do most of our grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s and Target where we have found the best value for money. We cook simple meals with tasty but inexpensive ingredients, and I have oatmeal for breakfast and make my own lunches. When we can’t be bothered cooking we are very fond of Amy’s Burritos. I like my fruit and would have 1-2 servings a day.

Shopping while queuing at Trader Joe's Union Square
Shopping while queuing at Trader Joe’s Union Square

Union Square


We bought a 30 day subway pass each for US$113. We took multiple subway rides each day (especially as we were based in Brooklyn) so it was more cost effective than buying individual rides. Our initial AirTrain tickets from JFK Airport to the subway were US$5 each. He didn’t use any taxis. Kate brought her fold up bike to the US and I had free loan of a bike with the sublet.



We make do with one US SIM card which cost $50 for the month. Kate bought a book from the Strand Book Store for $10. We spent $20 on personal toiletries and $9 on toilet paper.

Check out our Budget for our first 30 Days in New York


  1. //

    Impressive! New York certainly has a reputation as an expensive city, so it looks like you did really well on this budget. I always enjoy reading such posts, and it’s nice to know the Big Apple can be done on the cheap!

  2. //

    I’m very impressed with your budget. I’d always thought New York would be much more expensive!

  3. //

    I’m very impressed to learn that you can live in NYC for less than $50/day each

  4. //

    Sounds like you’re living like a real New Yorker! Growing up in NYC my family was always looking for free activities. We packed a backpack full of sandwiches and always took public transportation.

  5. //

    I still think it’s so cool that you’re there for 2 months. :)

  6. //

    Lots of great tips here for saving money in NYC, or maybe any big U.S. city. Your totals seemed like more until I looked at the per day expenses. Wow, good job sticking to a budget!

  7. //


    Impressive budget for the most expensive city in the USA! My wife and I live in Manhattan (East Village) with our 3.5 year old twins.
    We are soon to embark on our own international adventures.
    It would be great to meet up with fellow travelers while we are in NYC. I have a lot of books I can pass off if you’d like–saving you money at the Strand:)
    I’d love to get together if you’d like!

  8. //

    Wow, that’s just the kind of budgeting that I don’t often see from people during their time in New York. In fact, it’s insightful to know that it is possible to spend a little to spend a long time in New York.

  9. //


    I have a few relatives/friends who live in New York, but I’ve never gone specifically because of the costs. Not that I can’t afford them, it’s simply that I refuse to do so, even if it would be to see the city, not when I can enjoy the same things at such a lower rate in many other cities around the world.

    That being said, great shots, and very groovy to know you were able to travel there on a travel budget of $50 a day…that’s less than some people pay to live there, for sure :)

  10. //

    you gals rock! i’m soooo jaded as i used to live in NYC and so the prices are no longer sticker shock. it’s a rare day when that happens to me now. thanks a lot NYC hahaha ;)

  11. //

    i love how you have NY, NY – so nice, they named it twice ;)

  12. //

    Hi, yes! – we’d love to meet up. Will email you. Thanks for the suggestion!

  13. //

    That is great!!! We plan on ending our 2 year RTW in NYC, we too would like to live there 2-4 months. Hopefully we can do it on that little!!

  14. //

    I’m hoping to visit NY for the first time next year so it’s good to read your budget tips!

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