How to Live Cheap in New York City: Some Practical Advice

Alright, I think this is one of my first articles where I give financial advice. I'm trying to go all Suze Orman on your ass; except, I look a little better with blond hair and I act more like a lesbian than she does. Anyways, after going to college in a medium-sized city and living in both Los Angeles and New York over the past year, I feel as if I have a good grasp on what it means to struggle and succeed financially in a variety of cities as a young adult.

At the end of the day, New York City isn't as expensive as you would think. Let me break it down for you.

Transportation — There are around a dozen cities in the United States where you don't actually need a car to get around the city and have a life, with New York City being the prime example. One of my biggest turn-offs about Los Angeles was that I had to take my car everywhere, with the exception of a few times when fate and destiny crossed, and the bar I wanted to go to fell near the underused subway line.

Here is what an average young adult typically spends on transportation a year if they have a car. Please note that these figures do not even take into consideration what you paid for the car or worse, if you lease.

Car insurance: $125 x 12 = $1,500
Gas: $200 x 12 = $2,400
Maintenance, tune-ups, tickets, etc.: $1,200

That's $5,100 folks — before your monthly car payment, if you have one. Of course, this total may vary for each person, but typically, this is what young adults who use their car five-to-seven days per week are paying for transportation costs.

A one month, unlimited metro pass in New York City is $1,248 a year.

Going Out — I'm from Buffalo, New York. I've went out with 25 bucks before and it lasted me close to six hours. Well, Toto, we ain't in da rust belt no mo. But, that does not mean a night in New York City is going to cost an arm and a leg.

How hard is it to use Google to type in "Happy Hour near Madison Square Garden" or something of that nature? Even better, it's a fun experience to stumble around funky (but safe) neighborhoods with friends in order to find cool and inexpensive venues to spend a few hours. The past few weeks, I've met friends at interesting and even a few upscale places with beers around $4 and mixed drinks at $5. Yeah, it's nice once in awhile to go out for a pricey dinner or have a $15 martini for the experience, but if you think that's something that should occur three-to-four times per week, you're going to be broke soon, sister.

Check out my review of Scoutmob, a smart phone application where you can save 50% on dinner, drinks, and a variety of services.

Side note: If you are a scene type of person, as in, you go to uppity bars or clubs in pursuit of spotting and hanging out with celebrities, I would actually advise against it. For the most part, the times I have crossed paths with that crowd occurs at dive bars and hole in the walls. Well, except Adam Lambert, who was at a trendy gay bar in Hollywood. But he's a douche bag, so that doesn't count, and a diva.

Other — It's New York City for fucks sake. You don't need cable. You don't need a $150 sweater; nobody pays attention to you on the street, you're in your 20's, and you can get one that looks just as good from Banana Republic for $40 on the discount rack. You can live in the Big Apple without big debt or being "cheap," and you can have an awesome fucking time doing it.

This article first appeared on Generation Why?