Summer in New York : August 2013 Manhattan Budget

Elmo in Times Square Elmo in Times Square

30Traveler has spent most of the Summer in New York City, subletting in different neighbourhoods for a month at a time. During July we stayed in the predominantly African-American neighbourhood of Bed-Stuy which is in Brooklyn. You can check our budget for July here.

We decided we’d like to experience life in Manhattan during August, and moved to the Theatre District.

A Manhattan sublet would obviously be more expensive but could we keep the rest of our spending reigned in and not blow the budget?

The answer turned out to be “yes”. The cost of our accommodation was the only thing that rose. Our expenditure in all other categories stayed the same or decreased slightly.

The following is a breakdown of our expenditure as a couple during the 31 days of August.

Our Total cost for the month was US$3249.07 which came out to US$52.40 per person/day.

Accommodation US$2000
Transport US$214
Activities US$118
Food & Drink US$828.20
Miscellaneous US$88.87

Accommodation US$31.45 per person/day
Transport US$3.45 per person/day
Activities US$1.90
Food & Drink US$13.36 per person/day
Miscellaneous US$1.43 per person/day

Summer Streets 2013 Summer Streets 2013


By trolling through Craig’s List for many hours we found a 1 bedroom 5th floor “walk up” for $2000 for the 31 days of August. We paid a $250 deposit which we got back at the end of the sublet. It was fantastic being so close to the Broadway theatres and Central Park.


Our only transport cost was US$112 each for our monthly subway/bus pass.

Great Jazz on the Hill Great Jazz on the Hill


It took literally 3-6 minutes to walk from our apartment to the theatres to enter a show’s lottery each day. After approximately 10-15 attempts at each theatre we won lottery tickets to both “The Book of Mormon” and “Matilda”. We got front row tickets to “The Book of Mormon” for only US$32 each, and decent seats at “Matilda” for $27. Through a Broadway website we also heard that we could get free online tickets to an excellent Broadway play that was finishing it’s run and was being filmed for the Public Broadcasting Service. Hence we were very fortunate to see Nathan Lane in “The Nance” for free!

Other than that we kept a close eye on “The Skint”, a website that provides daily updates on free and cheap things to do in New York. Here are some examples of free things I did during August: went to a festival of jazz day in Central Park; participated in NYC’s annual wonderful Summer Streets events; was an audience member at the “Dr Oz Show”; went to one of NYC’s many free outdoor movies (I saw “The Hunger Games” at Chelsea Waterside Park by the Hudson River); attended the 2013 US Tennis Open Qualification Tournament held in the week before US Tennis Open. Got to see some great tennis, and the world’s top tennis players practicing before main draw.

Dr Oz Show - before the start Dr Oz Show – before the start

Food and Drink

We save a lot of money by making most of our own breakfasts and lunches, and a fair proportion of our dinners too. When we do eat out we buy take-out rather than eating in restaurants where we would have to pay tips etc. Kathryn has also taken a break from wine over the last few months too. Our month in Manhattan coincided with our discovery of the vegan food truck Cinammon Snail – their doughnuts are to die for and they got a lot of business from us. Our favourite take-out dinner is the delicious red falafel at Taim in the West Village.


This money was sent on things like toilet paper, kitchen paper towels, toothpaste, laundry detergent and dish-washing liquid etc. Our apartment did have a pay laundry down in the building’s basement but we did most of our washing by hand in the sink, and dried it on our trusty portable clothes-line over the bath.

2013 US Tennis Open Qualifying Tournament 2013 US Tennis Open Qualifying Tournament

In summary it cost us about US$486 or US$6.34 each/per day more to spend August in central Manhattan as compared to July in Brooklyn (taking into account that August was one day longer than July).

The biggest advantage for us living in Manhattan was being close to the Broadway Theatres and Central Park, and spending a lot less time on the subway (although my partner actually quite likes the long rides on the subway – she listens to pod-casts and uses it as thinking time).


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