NYC for a month on a shoestring!
August 31, 2006 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Living in NYC for $20/day for 3-4 weeks: is it possible? How?

A friend of mine is moving to New York City on Sept 4th to start a new job. My friend's money situation is such that she needs to find lodging at about 20$ per day for 3-4 weeks. She's considering a hostel or someone's couch or whatever you fine Metafilterians can suggest near the Metro N Harlem (Grand Central, Harlem, or Woodlawn).
posted by kaytwo to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite, craigslistnyc.
posted by The White Hat at 12:05 PM on August 31, 2006

yeah, couchsurfing and ramen
posted by matteo at 12:12 PM on August 31, 2006

Last I checked the hostel on 103 & Amsterdam was $25 per night.
posted by mattbucher at 12:14 PM on August 31, 2006

There is no place worth staying she will be able to afford. She needs to find someone's couch, and she needs to find it right quick.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:22 PM on August 31, 2006 [1 favorite]

Buy a bottle of vitamins as well--you'll likely be undernourished and stressed. Here's a pdf on gleaning fruit in the city
posted by craniac at 12:30 PM on August 31, 2006 [1 favorite]

I stayed at a hostel in williamsburg a few years ago for $11 a night. Not sure whether rates have gone up, but it doesn't matter because that's not where you're looking.

Still though, it seems possible to find a place. Although the couch is a much better plan, because unforseen expenses arise, and as people grow stressed and depressed money spends more easily whether it can be spared or not.

The $500 or so that she is going to spend on this over 3-4 weeks could all be spent at once on a sublet if you can find something on craigslist. Subletter may be willing to cut a deal if your friend has the cash immediately handy.

Be careful. People take advantage of desperate folks and can scam you.

As for emergency rations, at Punjabi on Houston and Ludlow, you can get a big bowl of Indian food for $2 anytime. The Hare Krishnas give out free meals at their gatherings. Bananas can be obtained for under fifty cents at almost any fruit stand. A $5 sack of rice can stretch pretty far if there is somewhere to cook it (condiments can be gotten for free from take-out restaurants). Etc. Etc.
posted by hermitosis at 12:38 PM on August 31, 2006

Yeah, try to sublet a room in a multi-bedroom apartment. Should be doable depending on area.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:13 PM on August 31, 2006

A nice $140/wk short-term private room is absolutely doable in the neighborhood around the Harlem Metro North stop you mention (I've done it twice for $100/wk). Craigslist is all she'll need. I've used both of the "$100/wk" room rental agencies that regularly post in Craigslist Rooms For Rent (several of these places are posting daily and bickering with each other, making fake posts against each other, etc. ... yes, it smells shady, but they will do the trick in terms of connecting her with cheap good rooms).

How it works: she shows up with $300 cash at the agency, she gives $100 as the fee to the agency; she walks around seeing available rooms (furnished private rooms in 2BR or 3BR apts, mostly in Harlem & upper Manhattan) til she finds one she likes; then she gives $200 to her new roommate for first week + deposit and she can move right in.

Then she can leave her room anytime with one week's notice (though she may like the room enough to just stay there for a while -- I stayed four months in my last one on 135th St.) She can look at as many rooms as she wants. My first time, it took me four room visits to find one I liked; my second time, I happened to like the first one they sent me to. I'm about to do this again when I return to the city next month, so clearly I think it's a great solution.

If she tries for a while and doesn't like any of the rooms, the agency is legally required to give her back $65 of her fee (I think they're allowed to keep $35 for their overhead).

Actually, if she tells them she can afford $140/wk (in which case they will ask a $140 fee), they will send her to their nicest rooms, since the range is generally $80/wk to $150/wk.

Hope this helps! Tell her welcome to NY from me!
posted by allterrainbrain at 3:35 PM on August 31, 2006

To clarify, the posts I called fake are the repetitive posts saying bad things about these agencies (with subject lines such as "SCAM!" or "WATCH OUT"). What I meant is that I don't think those 'warnings' are being posted by actual Cragislist users. I think they're being posted by various agencies themselves, to defame their rival agencies (particularly since there are sometimes grammar and spelling quirks that appear both in the agency posts and in the "SCAM!" posts against other agencies :)).

Like I said, if that's true, it's very shady behavior, but I've been treated well in human terms at these places and they're the only way I've discovered (in my 6+ nyc years) of finding such broad choice of such cheap private rooms.

My favorite agency was called Noma Realty and had a good site at (seems to be inactive now and not easily googleable, sadly). I think your friend would be fine at any licensed agency, if she wants to try one (they will report in their Craigslist post whether they're licensed).
posted by allterrainbrain at 5:38 PM on August 31, 2006

I know I may sound like Johnny One-Note, as it's a theme running through many of my answers, but keeping in mind New York City's very widespread bedbug explosion, and the tendency of bedbugs to be in cheap hostels and apartment buildings, I don't think it's unwise for you to warn your friend to be especially careful of bedbug infestations during this time. Wikipedia's bedbug article and the Bedbug Blog would be good resources for her. Believe you me, better a period of unnecessary paranoia than having to deal with a full-fledged infestation.
posted by WCityMike at 7:25 PM on August 31, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks everyone so much for your answers. She's heading out tomorrow and hopefully thanks to you guys everything will work out as smoothly as can be expected in this situation!
posted by kaytwo at 11:47 AM on September 2, 2006

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