7 Ways It’s Cheaper To Live In NYC Than Other Places In The US

On my last visit home down south, I couldn’t help but marvel at how much less expensive life is outside of NYC.  For starters, when you spend $10 at a wine store in Virginia you’re actually getting what equates to a GOOD bottle of wine.  A trip to the grocery store can actually stock you up for under $30.  And don’t even get me started on the cost of housing.


There are a few (yes, JUST a few) areas where you can get things cheaper in the great Big Apple.  Not saying these make up for our insane rents, but here’s to looking at the glass half full, right?


1. Mani + Pedis

I get an amazing mani + pedi in the East Village for $20.  And when I say amazing, I mean the ladies are genuinely nice, do a solid paint job, give a mean foot massage, AND use hot stones.  Bam!  There’s places at this price point scattered throughout the city…whereas last time I got dolled up in Virginia, the pedi alone cost $35…at what would be a “normal” salon, no frills.

2. Transportation

My family members routinely pay for their car/insurance/gas every month, and it comes out quite higher than my $112 a month Metrocard.  Plus, walking everywhere is such an easy option when the weather isn’t terrible, which is free.

3. Entertainment

Not to say that other cities don’t have their fair share of free cultural stuff, but you’d be hard pressed to find a city that offers as much great quality stuff as NYC does for absolutely free.  You can essentially visit a museum every single day of the week by planning ahead and visiting during their free/pay-what-you-wish hours.  And then there’s the free movies, concerts, theater, festivals…as I always argue, it’s possible to be completely entertained in this city, every month of the year, without spending a cent.  (It’s just that food and housing that you need to be concerned about!;-)

4. Working Out

So this one can swing both ways…I have friends who think nothing of a $200 per month gym membership, and hey, no judgements!  But if spending that kind of dough for fresh towels and pretty clientele isn’t on your priority list, there’s tons of free and super cheap options.  NYC Parks and Rec offers Shape Up NYC fitness classes for free year round, offering everything from yoga, pilates, zumba and aerobics.  There’s tons of free and cheap yoga studios and classes in the city (a great round-up cab be found here.  Yoga To The People hot yoga is my personal fave, at only $5 a class.)  And, as mentioned above, one of the greatest perks about living in NYC is the ability to walk everywhere, which is some of the best exercise there is.

5. Massages

If you don’t mind basic (and I mean BASIC) digs, there’s a plethora of cheap massage parlors in this city (and not all of them are in Chinatown, promise!)  An AMAZING hour massage for $45?  Yes, please!  The closest you’ll come to this outside the city in other US towns is scoring a Groupon somewhere, and I promise you they will pale in comparison to Manhattan’s massagers!;-)

6. Pizza

Hmm, well, this may be about even with a lot of other towns, but if you’re in need of a quick bite, nothing beats NYC’s dollar slices!  Best spent dollar ever, in my opinion!

7. Art + Wine

If you’re into art and schmoozing with others who are into art, there’s pretty much opening receptions at galleries every single night of the week.  And what can be found at gallery openings, my friends?  Free wine.  I love this site, which keeps an up to date schedule of NYC receptions.

I guess this does feel like a pretty short (but sweet!) list.  But when paired with all the other priceless things about living in this city, I’d say it’s not so bad at all!

So, what did I miss??  Anything else that you can find cheaper in NYC than other parts of the US?  Share below!


By: Jessica Tiare Bowen//Photo Credit: 1



  • oh i love this list!

    as I’ve only ever visited NYC as a tourist I’ve never yet to experience a mani/pedi on my trip..although after all the walking it will be on my list for next time!

    i defiantly agree with the food thing! many people think its expensive but i say do what the locals do! especially if you are a tourist! i loved grabbing a slice of pizza it was one of my most favourite meals!

    • Used York City says:

      Our pizza IS pretty delicious, have to agree with you on that!;-)

      And great tip…ask locals about spots they frequent and you’re guaranteed to save a few bucks!

  • Mike says:

    I would be all about the pizza sans the red sauce (I’m allergic). And what is included for your Metrocard – explain to an outsider. That sounds like an amazing deal. Because ins, wear & tear, tires, washing and gas divides out to a lot each month. Oh #8 – NYC has the best doggie friend in the world, Jessica :)

    • Used York City says:

      So the Metrocard will get you on ANY subway or bus in Manhattan and the outer boroughs! So for someone who commutes to and from work (and let’s say out and about a few times on the weekends), it’s actually a STEAL as compared with a single swipe for 2.50! Everything is very well connected, so there’s really no need for a cab ever, unless the weather is just totally awful and walking a few blocks is out of the question;-)

      And #8 = awww!!!!:-)

  • Heather says:

    Thanks for reminding me of everything I miss about NYC! 😉 Other than forking over 60% of my income to rent, I didn’t think NYC was that expensive. Eating out was often cheaper than going to the grocery store, especially for pizza and all the fabulous Asian and Indian take-out places. I still dream about the spectacular mango chicken from my favorite Indonesian restaurant on the UWS!

    • Used York City says:

      Hehe;-) And totes agree on eating out being cheaper than cooking…well, obviously the quickie joints, but still, really great value and delicious food!

  • Catherine says:

    What a great list! Normally just hear about how expensive NYC is, but great to hear some aspects are much more affordable. Love that there’s enough cultural events to keep you occupied without spending a penny too!

    • Used York City says:

      Thanks Catherine! I thought it was important to give the city credit where credit was due on this topic;-)

  • Freya says:

    Next time I visit New York, I will go to that nail salon as well :-) In general besides the prices for hotel rooms & apartments, I fully agree it’s not that bad at all … it’s even great.

    • Used York City says:

      Exactly! A lot of things you just have to a.) know where to look and b.) be willing to put in a little more time and effort and you can snag deals. Example: grocery shopping in much of Manhattan is insanely expensive, but if you’re willing to trek to parts of the outer boroughs, you can get them for a fraction of the cost!

  • Great point about how not having a car saves you a ton. I find that eating lunch in Chinatown there can be dirt-cheap, nutritious and delicious. Also, a one time investment of a bicycle or inline skates allows for potentially great workouts in Central Park. In addition, for the visitor, walking from neighborhood to neighborhood is both free and fascinating. :-)

  • Rashmi says:

    Very informative!

  • Lydia says:

    Yes, I’m forever thinking about how pricey NYC is, but when I go back to London, the transportation costs there seem so ridiculous! The subway is about half the cost of the tube, and on-street parking there is so, so pricey.

    And don’t forget about unlimited mimosas at brunch!

    We’re always complaining about costs here, so I love this positive look at it!

    • Used York City says:

      Unlimited mimosas! How can I forget?!;-)

      And so true with the comparison to London…we went 2 summers ago and were stunned…it made NYC actually seem all around affordable on every level;-)

  • Sarah says:

    Plus we get no taxes on clothing/shoes under $100! I don’t know of anywhere else that applies, except Oregon.

  • Sarah says:

    I’d love to visit the nail salon. Which one is it?

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