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Intern Isa: How to Enjoy NYC on an Intern Budget

When I first found out that I was going to be interning in New York City, I couldn’t help but think about how in the world I would be able to afford living there. Almost two months after living here, I think I’ve successfully figured it out. Here are some of my best tips to enjoy NYC, even on an intern budget.


Before you arrive, plan out how much money you want to spend a week in accordance to your paycheck. By doing this, you will know how much money you can allot for extra activities and not feel stressed about the amount of money you can spend. What I always do is split my paycheck in half: one half goes into my checking account to spend, and the other half goes into my savings account to save. This allows you to budget and have a little room to splurge!

Stay with a family member or friend

Unfortunately, I didn’t have this option because I don’t have family anywhere near New York, but you might. Living in the city could be pretty expensive, so the hour commute from staying with a family or friend for little to no rent expenses is worth it. Another way to find affordable housing is by checking out temporary housing options near local universities, Airbnb or even on NYC housing Facebook groups. The hunt can be annoying, but the options are endless, and you’ll find something eventually.

Meal Prep

Preparing your meals not only saves you time, but it also saves you money. I personally spend about $100 on groceries every two weeks. Yes, just $100 on breakfast, lunch and dinner for half a month. If you didn’t meal prep you’d be spending almost $30 for your three meals in just one day. Trader Joe’s is the perfect grocery store for healthy and affordable options, so don’t get tricked by expensive neighborhood bodegas. Having a full meal prepared for me when I come home everyday is so worth mass cooking on Sundays, too! P.S. cut back on caffeine — that daily latte adds up.


No matter where you’re from, walking everywhere may not be something you’re used to. Don’t let how far your destination is scare you away from walking or using public transportation. Taking an Uber is almost always more time consuming than anything anyways. By walking, you’ll run into things you’ve never seen before and learn your way around faster. If that’s not an option, or you’re interning during the winter, the subway only costs $2.75 each time, no matter where you’re going. Resist the temptation to Uber or taxi!

Find free things to do

If you’ve ever been to the city, you know there’s always something going on, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend tons of money on activities. Find free or discounted events and tickets by scrolling through nearby Facebook events and Groupon! If you plan in advance, you can do things such as a two hour bike rental for $8, discounted tickets to the Empire State Building and more.

As you can see, just showing up in New York City for months of interning isn’t an option — but if you plan things out you will save yourself time, money and a headache!

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