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How to create a realistic monthly budget as a New Yorker

December 16, 2022 | By Roomrs


If you’ve been living under a rock, let me remind you that New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world. With that being said, it is important as a New Yorker, that you take time to create a monthly budget. A budget allows for you to evaluate your monthly income, and set money aside towards your expenses. This way, you don’t start panicking when rent is due, and bills start coming in.

But you might be wondering, what exactly do I need to budget for? Well, let’s get into it.


Rent is by far the biggest expense that New Yorkers budget for. Of course, the amount of money you decide to put aside for rent will depend on your income. But if you happen to fall into a lower income category, it is still possible to lease a reasonably priced apartment.


Area is a huge factor when it comes to apartment prices. Neighborhoods such as Williamsburg, Tribeca, Soho, Upper West Side and Dumbo boast higher average rental prices. However, If you’re set on living in a particular area, there are ways around finding cheaper rental spaces. You may have to compromise on some aspects of the apartment- such as smaller living room, kitchen, and less closet space; but there may still be apartments available in your price range. Moving in with roommates is also a great way to keep overall costs down. Despite this, if you decide to move into one of these neighborhoods, you will likely be forking over a much larger portion of your income towards rent.


If you’d like to keep rental costs at $1000 or less, you may want to look into neighborhoods like Harlem, Washington heights, and certain parts of Brooklyn or Queens. These are great areas to live that have a lot of culture, amazing restaurants with delicious food, trendy and lively bars and clubs, and are usually a short train ride away from mid and lower Manhattan.


If you’re new to the city, another option is to sublet an apartment. This way, you don’t have to commit to signing a lease, and can later decide what neighborhood you want to settle into more permanently.


When it comes to utilities, every apartment is different. If you’re lucky enough, you may be able to find an apartment with utilities included. But in most NYC rentals, gas and heat are generally part of the overall price. This leaves electric. If you don’t have central air, expect your electric bill to range between $50-100. With roommates in the mix, you could be paying as little as $20 a month for utilities. For those with central cooling and heating systems, electric bills are higher.


Wifi and internet access is another thing you have to account for. In the digital age, we all need access to a speedy internet connection. If you opt for a basic package, the cost is about $30-50 a month per household.




If you resists the urge to order delivery every night, you can budget around $300-400 for food. This however, is dependent on a lot of things. If you frequently visit stores like Whole Foods and purchase fresh, organic, produce; naturally your grocery bills will be higher. Im sure it’s possible to spend significantly less if you stick to the basics, but this is how much the average New Yorker spends on food per month.


An unlimited metro card for the month has a price tag of $127 a month. If you’re a person who uses ride services such as Uber and Lyft more frequently, prepare to set aside much more towards transportation costs.


If you happen to have a washer and dryer in unit, congratulations, you’ve hit the NYC jackpot. The rest of us, unfortunately have to budget around $15 a month for laundry. This does not include dry cleaning or wash and fold. If you don’t like to wait around for your clothes to be ready, you may want to set aside about $60 a month for laundry.


Unbelievably, New Yorkers can spend on average, over $1000 a month on entertainment. That’s more than some people spend on rent. But in the city that never sleeps, there’s always something to do, and as a result, always something to spend your money on.


In an effort to keep expenses down to a more reasonable number, budget around $200-300 a month towards entertainment. This way you can still enjoy happy hour with your co-workers, dinner with friends, and all the exciting and wonderful things this city has to offer without feeling like you’re missing out.

Household items

Prepare to set aside around $50-100 a month on household items. This includes things like cleaning supplies, toilet paper, personal care items such as deodorant, razors, shampoo, conditioner, skincare, makeup etc. You can also order items in bulk to save money.



Phone Bill

Phone bills can range anywhere from $70 to over $150. If you’re tying to keep your phone bill low, maybe don’t upgrade every time a new version of the iPhone comes out, and opt for a family plan if you can.

Miscellaneous items

Sometimes we spend money on things that aren’t absolute necessities, and thats ok. Budget around $200 a month to pay for things like a gym membership, clothes, electronics, subscription services, gifts etc.


Last, but definitely not least, make sure you put aside money to add to your savings account. For many people, saving money is hard, but you’ll thank yourself for adapting the habit in the long run. A savings budget looks different for everyone, but try to add at least $100-200 to your savings account each month.

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