Budgeting in the Big Apple

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New York, New York- so good it was named twice. It may be a coincidence, but many things in New York are twice as expensive as anywhere else. It’s no secret that it isn’t the top destination for an affordable city break, but it’s one that everyone should do at least once. There are ways to get around the expense of New York if you know how. Holiday Numbers has gathered the best insider information from locals and seasoned tourists about how to do New York on a budget.



Hotel prices are sky high in Manhattan, particularly around the Times Square area (you should avoid this area if you want value for money). In 2015, there are now more ways than ever to find accommodation no matter where you go in the world. For example, comparison sites are rife, so you no longer need to do a lengthy search to find a hotel- try Trivago for cheap New York hotels. If you’re not too bothered about staying somewhere nice and you just want somewhere to rest your head at the end of the day, hostels can be a great option. If you’re keen on seeing New York from a local’s perspective, why not try Air BnB or Couch Surfing? Here, you can stay in someone’s apartment, with the latter being solely on the premise that you’ll return the favour if your host is ever in your part of the world.



Yes, travelling in a New York Taxi is something you should probably do in one at least once during your trip, but there are far more affordable ways to travel around the city. Purchasing a subway pass will grant you unlimited travel on the city’s underground network. For incredible views of the skyline, use the Staten Island Ferry which is remarkably free of charge! Of course, the best way to see New York is on foot, in order to fully absorb yourself in the atmosphere.

 Eating & Drinking


New York is home to some amazing restaurants, but off the beaten track you’ll find some enticing cheap eats. Rather than going for a fancy meal, why not try a diner? You’ll feel like a true American as you chow down on a cheeseburger in a plastic red booth. At lunch times, try and stand up for your lunch- visit a deli or a food stand, for delicious, filling and affordable food. Bonus tip: it costs a fortune to go up the Empire State Building, so why not visit a rooftop bar for your evening drinks and take advantage of their views as you enjoy a Cosmopolitan in true Sex and the City style?

Another tip for you is to eat where the students eat. Students are incredibly adept at finding a good deal, so wherever they’re eating is sure to be great value for money.

Things To Do

There’s so many things to do in New York that I think I’ll break this one down into categories.


ny outdoors

It may be an urban jungle, but there are lots of parks in New York. Number one, Central Park, is home to a zoo and an array of open air concerts in the summer, an ice rink in the winter and a beautiful boating lake. Another location is Battery Park at the Southern tip of Manhattan, which has just built a brand new aquatic themed carousel. If a beach is more your bag, visit Coney Island to see three miles of beach as well as an entertainment-filled boardwalk. All of the parks are free to enter, which make them an affordable excursion for your trip to NYC.


brooklyn bridge

If you’re an active person, New York is a great place to be. Rent a bike and take advantage of the great cycle paths across the city, go swimming in an open air pool in the summer or join a free walking tour. Free Tours by Foot offers pay-what-you-wish walking tours, so whether you wish to take in the hipster scene of Brooklyn or spook yourself silly with a night time ghost tour, there will be something to suit you- simply pay what you think the tour was worth at the end! New York free walking tours are definitely a great way to see the city. Another walking destination is the Brooklyn Bridge, with a platform elevated above the traffic, and fun activities at both ends. Just make sure not to cross into the cycle path, or you may meet some angry cyclists.

Weather in New York is interchangeable, the winters are incredibly cold yet pretty and the summers are blistering hot. Make sure to dress for the weather!



There are plenty of attractions in New York, from the Statue of Liberty to the countless museums- if you want to see them all, it’s going to cost you. One way to save is to buy a City Pass in advance. You may balk at the cost of the pass, but you’ll balk more at the individual entrance fee to the attractions it grants you access to. The pass gives you access to the Empire State Building, American Museum of Natural History, Top of the Rock or Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Statue of Liberty or Circle Line sightseeing cruise and the 9/11 Memorial or Intrepid Air/Space/Sea museum.

However, if you only want to go to some of these attractions, there’s some insider information you should know. For in
stance, the 25$ entrance fee to the Met is actually voluntary, so you can pay as little as you like if you don’t mind a few horrified glances from the door staff. Most museums also have a certain day of the week where it’s free to get in, for instance the 9/11 Memorial is free on Tuesdays, with tickets being distributed on a first come, first served basis on Monday night.

Lastly, if you’re a student you could get up to 50% off on entrance fees by flashing your student card.



Ah, the lights and glamour of Broadway can be so inviting. They can also burn a deep hole in your pocket, especially for the new or most popular shows. However, there are plenty of websites out there offering discounts, just make sure that they are a reputable ticket seller. You can also try your luck at the Box Office last minute before a show, when standing or obstructed view seats may go on sale at a more reasonable price.

Some of America’s most iconic TV shows are filmed in New York, such as the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon or Saturday Night Live. Best of all, it’s free to go and watch them be filmed! You have to enter into a ticket lottery by calling a phone number, so it’s probably best to use a payphone or your hotel phone to avoid sky high call charges.



If you’re anything like me, no trip to NYC would be complete without browsing the hallowed halls of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. However, did you know that they actually offer a visitors discount when you shop there? Simply download an e-voucher from their website and you can feel slightly less guilty about taking advantage of the exchange rate and put the money you save towards your excess baggage fees on the flight home!

Shopping in New York can be an amazing experience!



You’ll be able to stick to a budget you set before your trip if you prepare. Research coupons and voucher deals online before you travel, look for money off restaurants and attractions. See a world outside of the tourist attractions by subscribing to the Skint, a daily email that will arrive in your inbox filled with free or cheap things to see and do whilst in New York.

Remember, New York is not the place to go if you’re expecting an affordable holiday, but it’s a once in a lifetime holiday that is worth splashing out on. Follow our tips and you’ll save yourself some money! Enjoy!