Have you ever dreamed of setting foot to the Big Apple yet worried about the expenses? The higher cost of living in the metropolis is expected. However, everything is possible with subtle opportunities here and there. I spent two months during the summer in New York City (and the weekend visiting other cities in the East Coast) with average spending of $800 per month.
Accommodation is probably one of the major expenses in traveling, especially in the urban area where space is scarce and pricey. Fortunately, I found out the Workaway platform where traveler can volunteer for assigned job in exchange for free housing. This service is available in most cities and countries. All you need is just to spend some time to search for the right project that matches your interest, capability, and need. My dream came true when I got matched with a host in Brooklyn. The main duties were housekeeping (which took less than 3 hours per day) and community building through event that fostered bonding among the house residents. Once I completed my daily task on my own time, I was free to roam around the city. It costs $50 to sign up the membership but I get to stay in NYC for two months completely FREE. You don’t need much mental analysis to know its worthiness.
Another great thing about my workaway’s place was that it included basic food like rice, milk, cereals, etc. Since it had a full kitchen, I bought groceries and cooked and my own meals most of the time. I allowed myself some good food once a while, especially after a long day of exploration in the city with an exhausted body (in the weekend usually). All together I spent an average of $270 for food per month.
One can access NYC with a monthly metro pass which works for both subway and bus. The monthly pass costs $127 and gives you unlimited ride in the city. Each trip with the subway or bus costs $2.75. If you will spend 46 or more trips in a month, the monthly pass is definitely a wise choice. There are daily and weekly passes as well for those with shorter stay.
Sightseeing at low cost
The city itself offers a wide range of attractions, be it high-end mall that satisfies the shopaholic in you, museum or site that fuels the historical knowledge, or a sensational evening with the musical show. Instead of paying the full original price for the admission ticket, one can opt for the New York Explorer Pass that gives discount to most of the sight-seeing spots. Certain museums offer pay-as-you-wish or free admission during specified day and time. Check this page out. These were the spots of my choices and their related fees:
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum- $1 (pay-as-you-wish on every Sat 5-8pm)
MET- $12 (student price)
Museum of American Natural History- $27 (student price with full access to special exhibition and show)
Museum of Jewish Heritage- $10 (student price)
The Jewish Museum- $0 (free on every Sat)
The New York Historical Society- $2 (pay-as-you-wish every Fri 6-8pm)
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island & Top of the Rock- $56 (using New York Explorer Pass)
Places for free
Besides those ticketed entrance, there are plenty of free places worth visiting.
Places for walk and recreation- Flushing Meadows Corona Park at Queen, Central Park, Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge
Places for architects and monuments- Mid-Manhattan Library, Grand Central, Atlas Statue, St.Patrick’s Cathedral, Flatiron Building, Dumbo
Places to shop- Time Square, The Strand bookstore, Chelsea Market, Chinatown
While there are many more to-dos in NYC, those were places I went which fulfilled the learner spirit in me. My list is definitely not exhaustive, but it gave me a good grip of New York’s past and present.
I hope you will enjoy NYC!