I will discuss a few categories of common expenses when it comes to city living and how I deal with them:
What I was doing - At first, I was doing the standard: go to the Laundromat and do it all myself. A standard wash cost $2.25 (pretty cheap for NYC) and a dry was $.25 for 8 minutes (usually $1 total). Laundry detergent and a dryer sheets also cost money :). That sounds relatively affordable BUT it was not worth it. WHY? because going to the laundromat takes TIME and a good chunk of it! The laundromat is 2 blocks away from my apartment, and I don't want to spend the time going back and forth or just chilling at the 'mat for two hours. Doing laundry takes about 2 hours because of the waiting, changing the laundry over, and FOLDING. ughh. Not worth it.
What I do Now - 3 words: wash and fold. It changed my life. I drop off my laundry at the laundromat, and they take care of it! My clothes smell amazing and they are folded much better than I know how. It takes like two minutes out of my day because I just drop my clothes off on the way to the subway and when I come back they're done! It only costs $0.80 per pound and everything is included (washing, drying, detergent, folding). Bam! A weeks worth of laundry costs around $6 to $8 dollars. Now I can enjoy my Saturdays a little more and not have to hang out in a laundromat!
What Some People Do and I Don't Understand: I don't understand why people who live in NYC pay per ride. $2.50 each way / $5.00 for a round trip. It's so limiting and annoying because you have to fill up and keep track of your rides. I feel like I swipe my metro card hundreds of time in a month, so I'm not sure what I would do without the monthly $112 unlimited card. The MTA also offers a 7 day metro card option for $30. If you are visiting NYC for more than 3 days, than the 7 day unlimited is for YOU. The card pays for itself after 6 round trips, and if you are a tourist in the city I certainly hope you would take more than 6 round trips.... there is so much to see and do!
The subway is the best way to maneuver the city. There are other ways like a bus, taxi, ferry, or even a carriage. These can be addressed at a later time.
Get a Smart Phone! I wouldn't be able to survive in the city without my iPhone. The camera, the map apps (I get lost a lot), Yelp!, the alarm clock, music, text messaging, it's all there on one lovely device. Before I moved to the city I had a standard T-mobile phone, and it did me no good. Having a smart phone will help you make the most of the city. I promise! Plus, I can take fun pictures like the one above :)
In order to eat healthy and not live off Ramen noodles I make sure to save leftovers and freeze food when necessary. I get $190 (excluding eating out) to spend on food per month, so that's actually a good chunk of money, but it can still go fast. One rule I follow is that I don't go out to eat by myself. I think going out to eat is meant to be a shared experience, so whether I go to Chipotle for a burrito or Max Brenner for a nice dinner, I always do it with people. Otherwise, I always eat my own food and I bring a lunch to school. There's lots of yummy food to enjoy in NYC, I just want to enjoy it with people!
There are many ways to get by in the city. What would you add? Do you have tips for living in your city?