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





UsedYorkCity Inspiration #9



^^Finally got around to trying the gourmet donuts from Doughnut Plant, and loved their wall decor!^^

1. The NYC Marathon was this past weekend.  If you didn’t get around to running it (haha), you can see the entire course condensed here in 4 minutes.  (via New York Daily News)

2. Coney Island exhibit to be held across the pond in London this winter. (via the Coney Island Blog)

3. Warm up with the best oatmeal bowls in the city. (via CBS New York)

4. One of my favorite lifestyle bloggers just came out with a new store filled with the prettiest things, and I’m TOTALLY subscribing to the Happy Mail.  Snail mail is just the best:-) (via A Beautiful Mess)

5. Along with hosting Thanksgiving this year, I’m also trying out our first annual Friendsgiving.  This article about a group of friends that did the same in Brooklyn last year provided lots of inspiration. (via Business Insider)

What’s been inspiring you this week? Share below!






Adagio Is NYC’s Cup Of Tea


While it may be all about the iced coffee and fresh juices in the summer months, October to March (ok, sometimes May!) in NYC is all about the bevvys that keep us warm on the inside and out..and nothing says cozy quite like a cup of hot tea!  There’s no limit on the tea houses you can frequent throughout the city, but some days you just want to brew your own from the comfort (and warmth!) of your own kitchen, am I right?

I was delighted to learn about Adagio Teas–a family owned company that works directly with farmers and is dedicated to incredible quality and incredible customer service, delivering door to door service.  When I say incredible, I mean emailing the company, telling them what flavors my taste buds prefer, getting an immediate response with recommendations and descriptions, and upon placing an order receiving my shipment within 2 days.  AND a follow-up email to make sure everything was to my liking!  Seriously, these guys have the kind of customer service that creates loyalty for life.


Besides their delicious teas (summer rose and vanilla rooibos being my favorites thus far), I just love their genius invention the integnuiTEA.  Perfect for busy New Yorkers who don’t have the patience to stuff dried leaves into tea baggies or balls, this all-in one teapot empties your brew right into a mug when it’s placed on top of the rim.  Less mess?  I’m so for it!

Here’s a little preview of how it works:

And at only 10 cents per cup, this sure beats any of the tea house prices you’ll find around New York!  Or if you are curious about what flavors you’d enjoy, you can order samples for $2, which makes enough for 10 cups of tea!

Quick recap of why Adagio simply rocks for busy New Yorkers:

1. They deliver!

2. Minimal mess and dishes!

3. Budget friendly AND incredible quality!


What flavor is your cup of tea?  Share below!


By: Jessica Tiare Bowen




5 Things To Do In Coney Island During The Off-Season


Ahh, Coney Island, NYC’s crowned jewel of beaches!  Have to admit: when I moved to NYC 9 years ago, one of the first solo exploration outings I did was to hop on the F train and ride it to the very last stop (mind you, I lived in Jamaica, Queens at the time, so I was essentially riding the train its entire length…enough time to finish a short novel;-)  Needless to say, I’ll never forget disembarking the train in the July heat…the smell of hotdogs wafting along the salty sea air, the Cyclone rumbling along its rickety track, and the beach dotted with so many towels, you had to squint real hard just to see the sand!  Really something special.


However, if cozying up to a complete stranger on the shore isn’t your jam, I have a beautiful alternative for you: Coney Island in the off-season.  Not only is it barren of locals and tourists trying to soak up some sun, but the isolated theme park paired with the crashing gray waves gives a sort of urban beauty you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else.  Here’s 5 things you can enjoy in this hood during the off-season:

1. Take a Tour

Coney Island Tours have a special touch because the tour guides are born and bred Brooklynites, who are crazy passionate about their neighborhood, and can give you the inside scoop on anything and everything.  I had a guided tour led by owner Michael Quinn, and seriously left armed with so much fun knowledge about Coney Island’s history (but the fun stuff, like gangsters and the evolution of Nathan’s Hot Dog!)  Tours are year round, by appointment.

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2. Eat a Famous Hot Dog

Okay, okay, I understand that you can get a Nathan’s elsewhere in the world, but this, my friends, is the original, founded in 1916!  And originals always taste best, right?  Open year round (and inside seating!), you’ll get to enjoy the experience, sans a long wait and fight for seating you’d encounter during the summer months.


3. Stroll the Boardwalk

Urban hikes have long been a NYC fave, but the boardwalk is certainly a way to mix up your walking regime from other city faves such as the Highline or Central Park.  The historic 90-year-old Riegelmann Boardwalk, stretching 2.7 miles, is open year round, and despite being the off-season you’ll surely run into a plethora of walkers, runners, bicyclists, parents with strollers, neighborhood folks out and about, and of course tourists from around the world.  Insider’s Tip: as you head towards Brighton Beach you’ll get to take in some of the Russian vibe the hood is so known for.


4. Visit the NY Aquarium

There’s something so relaxing about watching fish swim round and round in brightly lit tanks, making the aquarium the perfect way to while away an afternoon.  The daily penguin feeding has been a long time favorite of mine.  Insider’s Tip: If you visit on a Friday afternoon after 3pm, it’s pay-what-you-wish admission.


5. Watch (or join!) the Polar Bear Club

One of the crazier things you’ll stumble upon in Coney Island during the off-season is the swimmers of the local Polar Bear Club.  These guys and gals take a dip in the icy Atlantic ocean every Sunday at 1pm, November through April, and outsiders can join for “guest swims”.  They also organize the legendary New Year’s Day plunge (which anyone can join, no membership required!), and the proceeds go to charity.


Have you been to Coney Island? What stood out most in your mind?  Share below!


By: Jessica Tiare Bowen

This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox.




New Yorker Moments



{collecting leaves in central park for craft projects}

Happy Halloween, NYC (and beyond!)  I was sifting through photos last night and realized the last time I dressed up for the holiday was 2009…!  Needless to say, I’m not a huge Halloween celebrator myself (gotta save my festive energy for the trifecta of faves…Thanksgiving/Christmas/Valentines!), so today my folks are coming into town to visit and we’ll be headed downtown to appreciate other peoples’ costume efforts, and then to take in an Off-Broadway show.  And of course popping by somewhere delicious for dessert…I mean, it is the national sugar holiday, after all:-)

How will you spend your holiday?  Share below!


{maple capp that’s as delicious as it is pretty}


{central park in the fall}


{the sweetest baby shower dessert bar at the brooklyn winery}


{fuzzy picture, but one of my favorite times during the week is volunteering for the pajama project}