How Much Does NYC Cost? 

went to NYC on a budget – but not a tight one. Everyone had told me the city was very expensive – and while I am sure that is the case for housing, I did not find this to necessarily be true. The subway is one of the cheapest i have encountered for people staying at least 7 days (7 day unlimited passes cost around $33). I would say eating out in general costs more than the average city, with the average meal seemingly coming to $15-20 at the average restaurant. To counter this, the convenience stores were some of the cheapest I’ve seen in the US – with Fiji water coming in at the same price as any other water brand! And if you are staying in a hotel, you will have blown my budget by several hundred dollars. Luckily, hostels appear to finally be catching on in, at least, the larger cities in the US. So, with that said, how much does NYC Cost?

Housing

$210 6 nights at the International Student Center Hostel ($35 a night)

  • I don’t really know how one could beat this deal in NYC. The prices do go up to around $45 during the summer months but even then, you would be hard pressed to find something cheaper.

Total: $210

Transport

Flight: $227

Train: $56 (from upstate to NYC)

Taxis: $45

Airport Bus: $15

Weekly Metro Pass: $33

  • The metro pass is the best deal, if you think you will use the subway at least 12 times, you will save money. The taxis are definitely more costly than the average place I have been in – but I recommend using the taxis over Uber as I think it supports more jobs. Airport bus is confusing, but I was leaving from Newark (which I can’t say I totally recommend, if you can take the subway to JFK or Laguardia you’ll save this)

Total: $376

Food

Sant Ambroeus (3 times): $33

Gennaro Italian: $32

High Tea: $120 (I overpaid for water by about $12 here >.<)

Convenience Store Water/Juice/Snacks: $30

Ladurée: $20

Kuro-Obi: $15

MET Opera Food: $22

  • I don’t really eat a lot. The average person would probably need to spend more than I did, as I normally take home leftovers and eat them for dinner. Sant Ambroeus, though expensive, was absolutely one of my best NYC discoveries. Yum.

Total: $262

 

Activities 

MET Student Ticket: $13

Morgan Library Student Ticket: $13

Greenwich Literary Tour: $27

MET Opera: $40

Movie (Shazam): $20

  • I don’t know why it suddenly struck me that I wanted to see a movie in NYC. It was not any different than anywhere else, and it was definitely more expensive than I would normally pay (I typically catch a matinée for $5-7 in the cities I live in). Everything else was well worth it.

Total: $113

Shopping

Soho’s Mariebelle Chocolate: $45

MET Giftshop: $42

The Strand Bookstore: $18

  • I have worked to focus my shopping habits on things that are small or edible, and aside from the book, I managed that. The book in question is not available on Ereader so it felt justified.

Total: $105

Grand Total

$1066

My original budget was $1000, and I came in a little bit over. I made a few mistakes. Originally, I forgot to budget for convenience store food/snacks and that cost me $30. I also accidentally paid $12 for a bottle of water at a fancy hotel (which I then also paid tip on, adding up to $14). I also bought a pair of earrings at the MET that was definitely not in my original budget (I also bought postcards, but those didn’t cost much). All-in-all I’m happy with my budgeting for the trip.

As a backpacker: High tea was obviously my big splurge of my trip. I have to say I personally think it was worth it, as a tea lover and as just a really really nice treat for myself 🙂 For the budget backpacker this is obviously not a recommendation. If I were on a super budget I would have cut out High Tea, all but $20 of the shopping category (I would still have bought chocolate gifts and postcards), the movie, and food at the opera (which was, of course, highly overpriced). I also would have skipped the first taxi from the train to the hostel (for convenience). Most travelers will not also be coming from upstate (where I was visiting family) so the train trip would not be necessary. This would have brought the grand total down to $738.

I wouldn’t have changed anything else because, for me, the rest was all integral to exploring and getting to know the city.

In conclusion – it’s certainly not a backpacker friendly city. You would be hard pressed to make it on anything less than $45 a day. You wouldn’t be able to really do anything on that budget, either. For anyone headed to NYC, I would say a tight budget would be $60 a day in off season, not including a flight there. For this budget, you can see a couple museums and eat out 1-2 times.

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