New York is legendary for high prices, but it’s not an unlivable city. There are thousands of students who manage to get by every day on limited funds. Here are some suggestions for living in the city that may make your experience a bit easier, more fun— and cheaper.
Getting Around NYC
One of the best things about New York is that it’s got the oldest and most elaborate subway system in the country. Get yourself a subway map and use it! You can also find subway and bus maps online at the MTA website. If you know where you want to go, but don’t know how to get there, you can visit hopstop.com-- just type in an address and a map of the location pops up with nearby subway lines highlighted.
When riding the train, take the time to make sure you are getting on the right train in the right direction. That said, at some point during your stay, you will inevitably end up on the wrong train. Don’t feel bad, it happens to everyone. Look for signs in the station and listen for announcements about track changes due to construction. Some trains don’t run at all (or run on a different track) late nights or on the weekends, so be sure to read the signs carefully.
Manhattan, for the most part, is a nice, neat grid. The avenues run north/south. Most of the avenues (11 of them) are numbered, beginning in the east and getting higher as they go west. Streets run east/west and the numbers get higher as they go north. In order to figure out where to go using a map, you’ll need to know which way is north. If the street numbers are getting higher, you’re heading north. Also, on one-way, even-numbered streets, the traffic runs east and on odd-numbered streets, traffic runs west.
You can also bike in New York City, either for recreation or to get to work. There are several greenways in the city, including the West Side Greenway, which runs along the west side of Manhattan along the Hudson. You can also bike in Central and Prospect Parks.
Eating and Entertainment
There’s no shortage of great food in the city, and you’ll want to try it all, so learn how to do it cheap. Pick up a guide to cheap eating – a number exist, or visiting websites like ny.com, citysearch.com and timeout.com that feature reviews of the cities most inexpensive spots. You can also pick up a copy of The Cheap Bastard’s Guide to New York City for other ways to save some dough. Make a point of finding the $1 tacos and $2 falafels in your neighborhood. And you can always save a ton of money by bringing your lunch to work!
For entertainment needs, Time Out New York, the Village Voice, and L Magazine are great resources for weekly information on music, film, theatre and museum events. Time Out will cost you about $3 at newsstands, while the Village Voice and L Magazine are available on the street for free! Free! Free!
In New York City you can practically see the whole world: from Russian Brighton Beach to Greek Astoria and from Italian Bensonhurst to Manhattan’s Chinatown. Plan daytrips to visit (and eat in) the neighborhoods of New York.
TKTS is a discount ticket service for Broadway shows operated by the Theatre Development Fund. There are two booths, one located in the heart of Times Square, the other at Bowling Green Plaza in downtown. Both sell day-of-performance tickets for Broadway and off-Broadway plays at 25%-50% off the usual price (plus a service fee).
Parks! Parks! Parks! Spending the day in one of New York’s many parks can be relaxing or energizing, and always free! In fact, there’s often free wireless in the park. The Murphy Institute is a mere block away from Bryant Park. For those living in Brooklyn, Prospect Park is the Central Park of Brooklyn.
If you’re interested in visiting one of New York’s dozens of museums, don’t be discouraged by the entrance fee. Most museums have a student price, and in the case where a contribution is requested, student donations can be small. Also, many museums have a free day!
Last But Not Least
TALK TO FELLOW STUDENTS! There are other students in the Union Semester program who are either New York natives, or have been attending school in the city for a number of years already. In fact, they are probably your greatest (and friendliest) resources. You can start right now! To contact Union Semester alumni and participants, visit Union Semester on Facebook.