Saving on Accommodation in the Big Apple: Options and Prices in 2023

5:10 pm  |  29.12.2023

Imagine this scenario: you’ve just landed in New York City with only a few hundred dollars in your pocket, and you’re faced with the daunting task of finding accommodation and surviving in this sprawling metropolis. However, at first glance, the odds seem stacked against you – no Social Security Number (SSN), limited finances, a modest credit history, and a lack of documents instilling confidence.

Renting Challenges in the Big Apple


Securing housing for a newcomer in New York City poses its unique set of obstacles. Landlords, primarily English speakers, conduct thorough screenings, demanding a W2 income statement reflecting an annual income of at least $70,000 for renting decent housing. This stringent requirement stems from the challenges property owners faced in 2020 when tenants, hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, struggled to make rental payments, causing a significant slowdown in the city’s pace of life.

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Present-day New York stands as the world’s most expensive city, where securing a place to live involves paying several months in advance, covering a realtor’s fees, and maintaining a substantial balance in your bank account. Frequently, landlords insist on tenants having an amount equivalent to at least six months’ rent in their accounts.

A notable feature of rental agreements in New York is the commitment to the agreed-upon term. If you sign a one-year lease, you are obligated to rent for the entire year. Opting to vacate before the lease expires is not an option; it could negatively impact your credit score, and the landlord retains the right to take legal action.

Temporary Shelter: Living in a Rented Vehicle

While residing in a rented car may not be the most favorable choice, having a driver’s license, even a Russian one, and a foreign passport opens the possibility of temporary accommodation in a vehicle. Renting a used Toyota can cost as low as $100 per day. Rather than viewing it as $3,000 per month, consider it as a means to establish a temporary base to address housing and employment concerns.

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Guidelines for Living in a Vehicle

Major corporations rigorously scrutinize your documents, demanding numerous papers that you might lack. However, smaller companies and private vehicle owners may offer their vehicles for a couple of days, providing shelter from the cold, ensuring safety on the streets, and facilitating mobility to safer areas.

Choosing a Sleeping Spot for Your Vehicle

If you decide to spend the night in a car, steer clear of ghettos, desolate areas, and city streets. Park away from dumpsters to avoid issues with rats that may damage your car’s wiring. Additionally, be mindful of the street cleaning schedule to avoid early morning disturbances.

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Hostels in Non-Touristy Areas: Budget-Friendly Housing

New York boasts numerous hostels with prices starting from $120 per night on travel platforms. However, for budget-conscious individuals, options as low as $40 per night can be found in areas such as Queens, Harlem, and the Bronx. While these areas are known for slightly higher crime rates, Mayor Eric Adams has increased police patrols in these neighborhoods.

Tips for Choosing a Hostel

When selecting a hostel, consider not only the establishment itself but also the surrounding area. Utilize the free Citizen app to assess safety, avoiding areas with shootings or police activities. Strive to avoid conflicts with aggressive passersby to preempt potential issues.

Weekly Rate Hostels: Cost-Effective Long-Term Stays


Weekly-rate hostels are situated in quieter Brooklyn neighborhoods, offering a laid-back atmosphere where residents are accustomed to diversity and don’t pay attention to nationality. These areas have developed infrastructures, with Downtown Brooklyn rivaling Manhattan in terms of comfort.

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Weekly-rate hostels provide a more stable living environment, as residents often stay for several weeks, fostering community connections. Many opt for such hostels to save money for eventual independent accommodation. Rates start at $200 per week, with rooms accommodating a maximum of four people.

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Tips for Selection and Initiation

Keep an eye out for hostels that pique your interest. Typically, these establishments have low turnover, but you can inquire about upcoming vacancies. If you like a hostel but are still on the move, inquire about the possibility of making a pre-booking.

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