Manhattan is not a cheap place to visit—or to live. I should know. I lived there for nearly two years. However, believe it or not, whether you are just visiting or plan to call it home, there are ways to be frugal in the most densely populated borough of the Big Apple. Here are four:
Eat at a diner
Sure, Manhattan is known for having world-class, five-star restaurants with world-class, five-star prices. If you are a foodie, it will be worth your while to budget a nice dinner or two into the equation. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune every time you dine out. Diners abound in Manhattan, and while some of the more famous ones—such as Ellen’s Stardust Diner, where the wait staff doubles as entertainers belting out Broadway tunes—are pricey, most of the ones you find on the corner are pretty darn reasonable. One of my faves is Madison Restaurant (yes, I know it says “restaurant;” it’s a diner) on the corner of 53rd Street and First Avenue in Midtown East where most meals come with both soup and salad, a couple of sides and generous enough portions to keep you (or Fido) well fed for a couple of more meals.
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Shop at Trader Joe’s
Trader Joe’s is a nationwide grocery store chain that is known for keeping its prices low, no matter where in the country they are located. A bag of lettuce that cost $1.99 in Sacramento, Calif. is still $1.99 in Manhattan. You’ll find most everyday items at Trader Joe’s: raisin bran, mac and cheese, yogurt, but most items are packaged under the Trader Joe’s label—this helps keep costs down. So if you are looking for Kellogg’s or Kraft, you’ll need to look elsewhere. There are three Trader Joe’s to choose from in Manhattan—Chelsea, Union Square and the Upper West Side—but be forewarned, the stores’ competitive prices make them popular, so bring a big dose of patience with you when you shop.
Ride the subway
The NYC subway system can be daunting to the uninitiated. Throngs of people are hustling and bustling about from one train to the next. It can seem like a chore just to stay upright in the station let alone figure out which train to catch! But at $2.75 per ride, the subway can be your money-saving friend. And, truly, it is not that hard to navigate, especially if you download one of a zillion apps (Embark NYC Subway is a good one—and it’s free) that provide everything from routes and maps to real-time service advisories.
There is no better way to see a city than to walk its streets, and Manhattan is a very walker-friendly place. The borough of Manhattan covers roughly 23 miles (not including rivers). No, you might not want to walk everywhere, but if your feet and gams are healthy, pound the pavement. Not only will walking save you money and get you exercise, you’ll get to see a lot more than you would on a subway and it’s a lot cheaper than a cab. And I know from personal experience, in some cases it’s just plain faster!
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