Realistic Budget for a 22 yr. College Graduate in New York

New York is expensive. It sucks but hey, someone’s got to pay for all these amenities. Statue of Liberty? Yes. Bars, clubs, and tons of amazing people? Sure. History, culture, and entertainment? Definitely. It’s no joke living here when you look at the cost of living. But realize that New York is probably the most diverse city in America. I’ve met people from every continent in the world, with the exception of Antartica, and that’s what makes this city so amazing. For college graduates who are just moving to the city, here’s what you can expect to pay for living in the Big Apple.

Rent – On the low end around $800/month/room. High end around $1500/month/room. These are realistic budgets for someone who has an average salary, so if you’re a making loads, then living in NYC won’t be a problem. Also, a rent of $800-1000 is very unlikely in Manhattan. If you see some on Craigslist, that’s probably a scam or someone trying to spam you. Occasionally you will see some cheap rooms in Manhattan, but they will most likely be in pretty run down areas like Chinatown, Washington Heights, or Harlem. At $1200, your room will be a slight step up, but it’s nothing crazy. Expect a room of about 13′ x 9′. Smaller rooms will probably be more common for a lower price range.

Food – Food in New York is crazy expensive. This includes not just Manhattan, but all the boroughs – Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx etc. You will not be able to escape the high food prices of New York, beware. For instance, in Austin, TX you can get a burrito and drink at Chipotle for around $7.50. In New York, the same meal will cost in excess of $10. Expect to spend around $350 – $600/month on food. $350 if you don’t eat very often and you eat in cheaper restaurants and go to groceries for food. $600 if you eat out in a fast casual type of restaurant each day and occasionally in a sit down restaurant. I personally spend around $400-450 each month because I go out and have dinners every weekend.

Transportation – The cost of a monthly metro card is $104. Cabs can cost anywhere from $5 – $20. I try to take the subway as much as I can but when it’s 3 am and your feet are killing you from partying all night, it’s very tempting to get a cab. Most party places are below the Midtown area. Lower East Side, East Village, and Meatpacking District are great places to go out. If you live near any of these places, you’re golden man.

Entertainment – The only kind of entertainment for me is going out to party, drinking in bars, and having dinner in a good restaurant. I haven’t really gone to any major museums, or seen movies, or gone to any touristy attractions. Nevertheless, if you’re interested in just having a good time partying, then I can help you out. For starters, you’re going to want to pre-game at some bars. Again, depending on the area, prices are going to vary, but I normally go to lower key bars in good areas like NYU. A local beer would cost around $5-$6 while imported beers are around $7. Mixed drinks would probably be around $9. If you’re on a tight budget, head out to your local liquor store and buy a 1 liter bottle of Jim Beam (for example) for around $12. Pre-game at your apt. with friends then head out to the club/bar. Happy hours are great, but they’re called happy hour for a reason, demand is low, and therefore prices are low. Club entrance can set you back anywhere from $10-$40. Pacha will charge you $30-$40. Lavo is another great place that’s expensive to get in. Rarely do I spend money just to get inside a club. It’s pretentious and it’s just a waste of money.

In Summary

At the bare minimum, you should expect to have $2000/month for all your necessities. Although I can do it with $1800/month. Living in NYC isn’t too bad. It’s just a matter of being creative and finding ways to get what you want. There’s 8.5 million people living here. Yes there are a lot of homeless people but if you’ve got your head straight, there shouldn’t be any reason why you can’t afford to have $2000/month, especially if you’re a college graduate.


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