The Lower East Side
The Lower East Side is the cheapest neighborhood in New York City south of Central Park. The median rent for a one-bedroom here is $2,450 a month. This part of the city is culturally diverse and rife with nightlife opportunities. Most of the buildings are older, but some are being upgraded. Light sleepers beware: The Lower East Side is just as loud at night as it is during the day.
The Upper East Side
The Upper East Side is more off the beaten path of the typical New York crowds. There are many beautiful historic buildings here, but not as many options for shopping, dining, and entertainment. A one-bedroom is only $2,730 a month. For those who value security and being able to see a tree once in a while, the Upper East Side is the safest and greenest area you'll find at this price.
East Village serves as a college town for NYU students, providing a range of nightlife and creative opportunities. The walls are painted with murals instead of graffiti, and there's more than one bar on every block. While it's not an ideal place to settle down and raise a family, an enterprising young adult would be happy to call the East Village home.
Another university town, this time close to Columbia, Harlem has a lot of young people and a culturally rich heritage. Around 350,000 people live in Harlem, making it one of the most densely packed parts of New York City. Part of Harlem's appeal is its rich musical heritage and the famous Apollo Theater. The average rent in Harlem is cheaper than any other part of Manhattan at about $2,050 a month. The eastern part of Harlem is the cheapest at just $1,950 a month. Over the years, East Harlem has maintained a median rental cost that's about 30 percent lower than the rest of Manhattan on average.
Just across the East River from Manhattan, Brooklyn has much cheaper neighborhoods by comparison, while still being within commuting distance to the big city. Enjoy a median rent of $1,895 in Red Hook or $1,800 in Crown Heights. The cheapest area of Brooklyn is Ocean Hill, with a median rent of $1,380 a month.
This section will tell you how to save money in Manhattan no matter which neighborhood you choose. Use Public Transport or Walk Use real public transport like subways or busses. If you use them every day, buy a monthly pass. Avoid cabs as much as possible. Walking is always the cheapest option.
Take Your Lunch to Work
Even if the groceries are expensive, a packed lunch will always be cheaper than eating out. Budgeting and scheduling your grocery purchases saves you a bundle, and you'll always have something you like to eat at home.
Choose Free Entertainment
Attending concerts and events in NYC is often expensive, but there are cheap or free alternatives. You're no tourist, but you probably haven't seen all the sights New York has to offer. For instance, check out some of these free events that happen in the fall.
Always Comparison Shop
Doing your research pays off in the Big Apple. Before you buy anything big in a store, check prices on comparable items online or in other stores. Even small savings can add up over the course of a year of shopping. Many online retailers offer free shipping deals and discounts on occasion, so keep an eye out for those.
Depending on where you spend most of your time, any one of these New York City neighborhoods might be convenient for you. Explore the area before settling in to get a feel for it. If you mesh with that part of the city, start looking for budget apartments. A thorough check of each apartment will tell you if living conditions are suitable. It might take a bit of work to find it, but your ideal apartment is out there just waiting for you.