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A step-by-step guide on how to save money in NYC as a digital nomad.

New York City is probably one of the most iconic cities in the world. It’s been shown in so many movies that it seems so familiar even if you’ve never visited.

If you’re one of the millions who come to visit or brave enough to think about living here, then the city may give you a shock.

Having lived here for over 26 years, I can personally say that New York City is not forgiving. It will make you work harder than you’ve ever worked before, but you will never feel as though you’ve done enough.

On the other hand, living here can feel like a drug. That’s why so many people keep coming back!

Career opportunities, entertainment, unique people, and of course the best food you will ever taste that will spoil you from anywhere else. However, it comes with a price.

A hefty price tag that will make you work 2-3 times more than you’ve ever worked before and scramble to find affordable places to live.

In the last decade alone, I’ve seen neighborhoods that were pretty much abandoned become one of the most sought after and expensive neighborhoods in the city.

For example, Dumbo in Brooklyn used to be filled with abandoned warehouses. The first time I stepped foot in this neighborhood, I was afraid I was going to get mugged.

Today, Dumbo is one of the most visited spots and it is definitely NOT one of the cheapest places to live in NYC. 

If you’re lucky you can get a room for $1,200 dollars a month with 3-4 roommates. Shocked? Well, that’s New York living for you, especially in one of the most sought after neighborhoods in the City.

So, when I decided to leave my 9-5 to continue to work from home in NYC, I knew that I had to prepare for this new transition. 

The greatest advantage I have is knowing the cheapest neighborhoods to live in, where to shop for cheap eats and most importantly how to survive in this incredible, yet expensive city from years of practice. 

Still got your mindset on living in New York City? No worries I’ll be sharing tips and tricks that only a local can tell you. I’m confident you’ll be able to survive and thrive as you work from home in NYC.

Are you still preparing to start your digital nomad journey? Make sure to read our complete beginners guide to becoming a digital nomad. 

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how to save money in nyc

Where to find affordable apartments

If you’ve lived here or even thought about living in New York City you’ll come to realize how expensive it is to live in this vibrant place.

Living here you’ll either break the bank from rent, live in an unsavory neighborhood or be with 2-4 roommates just to barely pay the rent. 

Here are a few different ways to find accommodations in New York, depending on your budget, I am confident you will be able to find what you are looking for.

Craigslist

Craigslist has been my go-to when finding an apartment in New York. I’ve had three apartments and all of them I’ve found on this site.

Visiting this website may give you a bit of a time warp since it looks straight out of the ’90s but who’s complaining when you are getting that affordable apartment.

Pro Tip: Don’t miss out on a good apartment just because the posting doesn’t have images. All three of the apartments I’ve lived in did not have any images and I hit the jackpot since a lot of people will just scroll through due to the lack of photos.

Airbnb

If you are looking for a shorter stay, then Airbnb is the place for you. I’m sure you’ve used Airbnb for a few of your travels, but did you know you can rent an apartment for 30 days or more?

Tip: Make sure to message the owner of the apartment and strike a bargain. If you are looking to stay for 30 or more days, they will be willing to offer you a better discount than what they post on the site.

Gypsy housing

I have not personally used Gypsy housing on Facebook, but a lot of my friends who are digital nomads and many who work from home in NYC have used it successfully. Most of the people listing their place here need someone to sublet their apartment or rooms for a few months.

It is the ideal group to find an apartment or room for sublets.

Now that you have the sites to find the apartments, let’s talk about affordable and cheapest place to live in NYC.

To help you find that apartment unicorn, here are a few neighborhoods that will not completely break the bank. 

how to save money in nyc

Affordable Neighborhoods

Bronx, NY- Kingsbridge

OK, don’t jump to conclusions! There are safe areas in the Bronx. I’ve lived in Kingsbidge and have worked in this borough for over 7 years, so I won’t lead you astray and recommend an area that’s dangerous. 

Kingsbridge is close to the popular neighborhood Riverdale but costs a lot less! For example, the apartment that I had in this area was $1400 for a 650 square ft. one-bedroom apartment. For New York City, this is a steal!

It was not a luxury apartment, but if you are looking for bigger space, less rent cost and a 30-40 minute train ride from the heart of the city then this up and coming neighborhood will be right for you. 

Queens, NY – Astoria 

I grew up in Astoria and I’ve seen how this quiet neighborhood has turned into a popular place for a lot of young professionals.

There are amazing eateries and some of the best Greek food you will ever have and it is only a 15-20 minute ride from Manhattan, aka the “city”.

Even though Astoria is no longer one of the most affordable places to live in New York, you can still find hidden gems. If you don’t mind living with a room mate, you may find great rooms to rent here. 

Example: I rented a room for $800 a month which included all utilities but it also included two roommates. Lucky for me they were extremely quiet and I didn’t even know they were home.

Queens, NY -Flushing 

If you don’t mind living a little further from Manhattan and love Asian food then Flushing is the place for you. 

When I want great Asian food, I don’t go to Chinatown in Manhattan. I go to Flushing, Queens. Why you ask? Well, Chinatown is crowded and the prices have skyrocketed because of tourism.

Visit flushing and you’ll find authentic food that is half the price from China Town in Manhattan.

The rent here will be less since it takes an hour to get to Manhattan when you take public transportation. But if you are able to work from home in NYC and don’t need to go to head to Manhattan very often, then you should definitely check out this vibrant neighborhood! i

Brooklyn- Bed-Stay, Sunset Park

I’ve never lived in Brooklyn, but the lower you go in the borough, the cheaper it get’s. I would suggest looking to neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy, Sunset Park or Bay Ridge for a more affordable option than Williamsburg or Dumbo. 

how to save money in nyc

Cheap eats

Finding cheap places to eat is thankfully not as difficult as finding cheap places to live in NYC. 

If you are strapped for cash or a budget-minded person here are tips on
how to save money in nyc.

Go to Whole Foods… kidding. Don’t go there, you’ll end up spending your rent money. 

Eat-in 

Instead of Whole Foods, find your local neighborhood grocery store. One of the biggest reason I’ve been able to afford to live in New York is by eating in a lot and relying on my slow cooker to cook yummy meals! 

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely try to enjoy all the food that New York City has to offer, but you can’t do that every night, am I right? And since you’re a slow traveler, you do not have to feel like you are missing out and will have the luxury to spread out the amount of time you are going to restaurants so you do not over spend.

Food trucks

New York City food trucks have some of the best cuisines, some may even rival the 5star restaurants but at half the cost.

There are hundreds of them out there like King of Falafel in Astoria, Cookhaus Ice cream sandwiches and a ton more!

There’s always a new food truck coming up, so you’ll never run out new places to eat. 

Lunch specials

The best time to eat at a good restaurant is during lunch time. If you find the right one, they will have lunch specials. Meaning you will most likely get an appetizer, main course and maybe even dessert for half the price of what they would normally cost! 

Not every restaurant will have this deal, so it’s always good to do some research online before you go. This is how I’ve been able to afford to eat in expensive restaurants without having to pay for the full price. 

$1 pizza slices

New York is not only known for being the big apple but also for having the best pizzas in the world. 

Personally, I do not have a very discriminate palette and enjoy a good $1 pizza slice. You do not have to look hard to find these pizza shops in New York City. They are in every neighborhood and you can enjoy a slice or two without breaking the bank while you work from home in NYC. 

how to save money in nyc

Best working spaces for remote workers in NYC

Being able to have remote jobs in NYC is a blessing and curse. Yes, you have the freedom to work in your own timeline and where you want, but it can also be very lonely. 

You’ll find yourself being cooped up at home and not seeing the sun for a day or more. Socializing can also become harder, even in New York! 

That’s why it is important to push yourself to go outside and work in different spaces and also meet others who know the digital nomad lifestyle.

Cafes

One way that I’ve been able to feel like I am part of the outside world is by working in cafes. For some people having the noise can be distracting, but it actually gives me the opposite effect. I feel more energized by the activity around me when I am in a public space. I feed off of other peoples energy and start to become more productive. 

If you have the same working style, try going to a local cafe and see if this works for you as well. It also does not cost a lot of money to have a working space in a cafe since the payment is only a cup or two of coffee.

Co-working spaces

If you need a dedicated work space and want to be with other digital nomads, then having a co-working space may be the right choice for you.

It will cost a lot more than a cup of coffee but depending on which co-working space you decide on, they have a lot of amenities like meeting rooms, after-hour events, and so much more. 

One of the co-working spaces that I really enjoy is The Wing. It is a dedicated co-working space for women only.

There is also Spacious, a co-working space that allows you access to every location, so you do not need to be confined to one location!

There are a lot of co-working space options for anyone who plan to have any remote jobs in NYC.

Libraries

If a co-working space is too expensive and the cafe is too noisy, try a local New York City public library. You can have the peace and quiet that you need without having to be on your own.

Having online jobs from NYC can be great, and there are so much to do in the city that you will never run out of activities to explore. 

What’s the final consensus?

Pros

  • Living as a digital nomad in New York can be extremely fun! You have a ton of places to see and do, sometimes even too much! 
  • There will be a lot of people to connect with who are doing interesting work just like you and will be willing to do fun activities.
  • Living in a busy city like New York, you will never have any issues with your internet.
  • It is easy to get around in the city because of the NYC transportation. 
  • There will be a lot of networking opportunities.
  • There are a lot of opportunities to find remote jobs in NYC.
  • Learning how to save money in NYC is not as hard as long as you are willing to make some compromise.

Cons 

  • Living in New York comes with a price. A big one. It is an extremely expensive city to live in. Be prepared to live in a small apartment or with several roommates.
  • It can be hard to save your money when most of your income will go to your living expenses. 
  • You will have to hustle more in order to continue to live in this city which means more work hours. 
  • It can be extremely stressful to live in New York due to the amount of work you have to do in order to pay for the cost of living.
  • If you want to keep your cost down, you will have to make sacrifices- which means you can not always go out to eat or travel. 

Still interested in having remote jobs in NYC? Go for it! Try it out for a couple of months, maybe even a year and see if it’s the lifestyle that suits you.

If you have any more questions feel free to connect with me anytime or if you are a New York City digital nomad who has more info, make sure to share! We would love to hear from you!


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