New York City on a Budget: 5 Essential Tips

Each year, New York City pulls in more than 60 million visitors from outside of the metro area and the United States, making it one of the most visited cities in the world. It’s almost its own country with its sheer size and massive population, and there’s plenty to offer those millions who visit. One of the main reasons that people have held off on going to the Big Apple, though, is the cost.

New York can be one of the most expensive cities around if you don’t know what to expect. Thankfully, we’ve got some great tips on visiting America’s largest city. Here are five essentials you need to know when going to New York City on a budget.

Go LaGuardia (Sometimes)

If you’re visiting from another city in the United States, you’re almost always going to want to fly into LaGuardia Airport. It’s a much cheaper option for domestic flights, but JFK might be your only option if you’re international.

Also, when looking at flights, make sure that your one into LaGuardia is significantly cheaper if you want to save. That’s because JFK is easier to get to via public transportation, which may offset your savings if flying into LaGuardia.

Ride the Rails

Here in the United States, let’s just say that the public transportation infrastructure is lacking in most major cities. It’s hard to get around in any way but a car, but that’s not the case for New York City more than any other in America. Beginning operation in 1904, the New York City Subway has more than 6 million riders every day, and it’s because you can go wherever you need in the NYC metro without a car or extensive walking.

The best part about using the subway lines in New York City is the price. In most cases, you’ll pay under $3 for a single ride and you no longer need to carry cash with you to pay. If you plan on staying a little longer, you can get a MetroCard which can be refilled to give you more rides without having to pull out your phone. Nowhere else besides Chicago offers a US subway system this extensive.

Avoid The Swanky Areas

As we’ve noted, getting around New York City is cheap and convenient, so you can stay in any borough and only pay $2.75 to get to another. Many people who visit from outside of the city make a beeline for Manhattan because that’s where all of the more upscale hotels are. However, all of the boroughs have their charm for a much lower cost.

If you want to save yourself hundreds (if not more) over the course of your stay in NYC and don’t mind a 20-minute trip to Manhattan, you can stay in Queens where they offer plenty of affordable (but good) hotels. Plus, if you stay in Queens, you’re going to be much closer to popular visitor spots like Flushing Meadows and Citi Field.

Look For The Free Hotspots

It seems that these days in New York City, it costs at least a $1 fee just to stand on the sidewalk. However, there are still plenty of great free visitor attractions to be found. Of course, Central Park is the one that always draws the attention of tourists, and it certainly lives up to the hype. Any time of year is a great one to visit, but make sure to avoid the extra costs like carriage rides.

The other big free destination that people often relate to New York City is Times Square. While it’s mainly just a lot of advertisements in one intersection, it’s still a hotspot just to say you’ve seen it in person. Taking a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, going to one of the many free museums, or popping into Grand Central Station are all other great options that won’t cost you a dime. 

Ask Locals For Food Recommendations

There are a lot of people who live in New York City that don’t have a lot of money to their name, and one of the biggest reasons is that they’re saving money on food. New York has featured a lot of prominent restaurants on television and film which have brought in tourists, but it’s better to ask the locals where to eat.

You’re going to get some great recommendations, and probably some memorable stories about that restaurant. Once you’ve walked around the city for a while, you’ll start to get a feel for which restaurants are more beloved by locals and more affordable compared to the overpriced ones that are just tourist traps.

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