Let’s face it, living in the New York City metro area can seem impossibly expensive, especially for renters. To survive in this town without going broke, you need a solid combination of moxie and ingenuity, and more than a little good advice.
That's why we've assembled this handy guide for renters looking to net some meaningful savings. We promise that with a little research and a lot of hustle, you’ll be able to pare down your monthly budget while still having a life.
1. Seek Sweeter Deals
When you’re on the hunt for a new apartment, it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeve. If you can, it’s best to look for your new digs during the winter months. Most people don’t want to deal with moving in the cold or over the holidays, so prices tend to drop at the end of the year. Seeking out no-fee apartments or incentives — like a free month's rent — is another must-do. Sites like StreetEasy allow you to sort by no-fee listings, and all of Dixon Leasing's fine homes are always fee-free.
2. Find a Great Roommate
Living with someone else is one of the best ways to slash your rent while occupying a bigger space. The big question is how do you find someone who'll pay their share of the rent without stealing your peanut butter? A personal endorsement is the gold start of roommate recommendations, so start by querying your immediate network to see there's a friend-of-a-friend looking for new digs. If that leads to nothing, expand your search by checking your alumni network, your work message board or by looking at sites like Roommates.com. Once you have a candidate in mind, it’s crucial to meet them in person, probably a few times, even if they have good references or generally seem great on paper. (Be sure to follow the same type of safe meeting protocols you might for online dating). Before you sign that lease with your new bestie, make sure you see proof of employment, too. Even if someone is super nice and cool, you don’t want to have to bail them out on rent.
3. Consider Alternate Neighborhoods
Another strategy for saving money in and around The Big Apple is to look for a better value neighborhood. If you love the Village's eclectic food and bar scene, for instance, you could give Harlem a try. With great bars and restaurants representing nearly every cuisine in the world, Harlem is a cheaper alternative for foodies on a budget. Are you an admirer of the lovely views from Brooklyn Heights? Consider Weehawken or Hoboken, New Jersey, and be treated to the western skyline of Manhattan. If you’re into the hustle and bustle of Midtown, you might want to check out Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in Brooklyn. Adjacent to the Barclays Center, BAM and Fulton Street's great retail corridor, you’ll be right in the thick of the best culture, shopping and entertainment in the city’s hottest borough. These high-low neighborhood swaps are practically endless in a city as diverse as New York, so don't get tied to a neighborhood you can't afford when there's a just-as-great and much cheaper alternative nearby
4. Design on a Dime
If you’ve got a sharp eye and a willingness to wander, there’s no reason to splurge on pricey new furniture and home decor. New York has a long list of labyrinthine thrift stores and flea markets — like the Brooklyn Flea and the LIC Flea — in which to discover the perfect new addition. For even deeper discounts, grab a ZipCar and hit up some garage sales in suburban New Jersey, upstate or in the far outer boroughs. Don't forget to check out old school online resources like Craigslist or The Freecycle Network, as well as new school online marketplaces like LetGo, to n peruse appealing, local used goods.
5. Cut That Cord
If you're in the millennial age group, you're probably an experienced member of the cord-cutting movement that eschews expensive cable bills for select group of streaming services. By selecting just the networks that appeal to you — like HBO GO, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and so on — through a device like Chromecast or Roku, you can save a bundle (pun intended) on cable charges. If local channels and live sports programming is keeping you tied to cable, look into an HD antenna instead.
With a few relatively painless trims here and there, you can make it in this pricey town — without eating Top Ramen for every meal!