Enjoying the awesome view from tudor city, a great spot at the east end of 42nd street, in midtown east manhattan. photo: lucas compan
I was born in Italy probably dreaming about getting to know New York City. Well, at least since I was a little girl. The person who has ignited this passion was my father. When I was about nine years old, my dad used to tutoring me with my homework. My Geography lessons were my favorite. I still remember the moment when I first saw the United Nations building in my book. That was the image that has sparked my curiosity to travel to New York. I remember I said my dad back in the days: "One day, I will travel to this city. It might be a beautiful and unique place in the world."
the united nations building, where this wonderful journey has started – when i was still a little girl photo: lucas compan
I have to confess that, in the beginning, I thought it would be an impossible dream. It took me many years to make that happen. But I did it. My first experience in New York was in September 2016. The very first time I've seen the Empire State Building from taxi cab – taking me to my hotel in midtown Manhattan from JFK Airport – was quite an unforgettable emotion. I was speechless and crying with joy and gratitude for being able to enjoy that so much expected moment. In this story, I am going to share my little secrets to make it happen. I mean, having a dream is the first step, but making it a goal is much more critical.
this is my fourth trip to new york, in june 2018. in this picture, I was admiring Manhattan skyline – and the empire state building, my favorite one – from hoboken, new jersey, at the west side of new york city, by the hudson river | photo: lucas compan
A Dream and a goal
SAving only €3 every single day, i was able to travel to new york city. you can do it, too
I do believe that dreaming is the most essential part of reality. Without dreams, our soul dies. But just dreaming isn't enough. You have to turn your dream into a goal. The first step to travel abroad is planning your financial expenses: plane tickets, passport, place to stay on the destination, daily expenditures as lunch, dinner, a beer, some gifts, go shopping, buying tickets to landmarks, shows, and museums – things like that.
My best friend to make it happen? My piggy bank. Yes! My piggy bank. Do the math: if you save only €3 per day (like I did), you will put together €90 per month, which makes €1,080 in one year. This amount will help you to pay about 80% of your expenses to stay for one week in New York City. That is a great help, right? I mean, what can you do with €3 per day? Put it in your piggy bank. Every single day. This is your first step to make your dream reality.
The secrets for saving money in NYC
Agostina cois, la piccola new yorker
If you think that's good enough, I will give you something even better. The first three times in New York, I stayed in hotel rooms in midtown Manhattan. For the first time in New York that was a good option. But the more I got to know New York, the more I was always searching for better opportunities. I mean, spending less and getting to know more about the city that never sleeps.
In that sense, June 2018 was a particularly special month for me. It was my fourth trip to New York City, and I wanted to experience it as a local New Yorker. On top of it, I added an extra layer of adventure: I rented an apartment in Astoria, in the borough of Queens, as opposed to staying in the touristic area of midtown Manhattan in a hotel – which, like I said before, I've done during my three first trips to New York – in September 2016, March 2017, and December 2017.
In the end, I realized it was a great decision I have made. It's an entirely different and much more fun experience. And most important, way cheaper. Getting to know another city in another country, as a local, is a much richer adventure than just enjoying it as a tourist. There's no comparison, indeed. So this time, I wanted to know how it feels to live like a New Yorker in a different borough other than Manhattan. I rented an entire apartment, I cooked my own food, I've been to many more places than before and, best of all, I spent 50% of what I've paid before staying in hotels and eating every single day breakfast, lunch, and dinner out. My piggy bank and I were pleased this time. With just €3 per day, I was able to spend one week in New York, living like a local New Yorker. It was a lot of fun.
the fantastic view from my street in astoria. photo: lucas compan
Astoria-Ditmars, in Queens, New York: vibrant area during the day with hundreds of options of entertainment and shopping, including Astoria Park – which offers great scenic views of Manhattan skyline.
astoria-ditmars, in queens, new york: Vibrant area during the day with hundreds of options of entertainment and shopping, including astoria park – which offers great scenic views of manhattan skyline.
Renting an apartment was a very good experience. I was able to save a lot of money, have much more fun, and experience New York as a local resident.
renting an apartment was a very good experience. i was able to save a lot of money and have much more fun.
Ditmars Boulevard: 24/7 restaurants from four corners of the world, bars, coffee shops, and much more. At the same time, it's a very quiet, family-oriented, local community.
astoria-ditmars boulevard: 24/7 restaurants from four corners of the world, bars, coffee shops, and much more. at the same time, it's a very quiet, family-oriented, local community.
Astoria is like an urban United Nations. in this house, there's a sign in three different languages. a very friendly and kind environment where around 800 different languages are spoken.
When it's summertime, families and couples enjoy dinner out in their front yards.
astoria is a very safe and beautiful neighborhood: no wall around the houses and cute gardens beautifying the environment.
when it's summertime, Families and couples enjoy dinner out in their front yards.
How about watching a movie on an outdoor screen with a scenic view - and then an ice cream?
How about watching a movie on an outdoor screen with a scenic view?
ice cream trucks play a song in their speakers that remind small cities. kids go crazy.
New urban adventures
When we talk about New York, the majority of people from other countries – and even other cities in the United States – think about Manhattan. But New York is much more than just Manhattan, which is a beautiful island. There are five different (so-called) boroughs in New York: Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island. By the way, the only real land in New York is The Bronx. Manhattan is an island, as well as Staten Island. And Queens and Brooklyn are part of a vast island called Long Island. Check out the map below.
All five boroughs of New York City: Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island
All five boroughs of New York City: Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island
Meaning, New York is an endless ocean of possibilities to get to know culture, art, food, iconic landmarks, history, and so much more. Now, I would like to talk a little bit about the place I stayed this June 2018 in Queens.
Astoria-Ditmars feels like an oasis 15 minutes from Manhattan. Local people joke that they live in heaven, fifteen minutes away from hell. They are right. You have all benefits of living in New York, except the loud noise of Manhattan. Of course, you can always hear the sound of an NYPD of FDNY car's siren, but you listen to the birds singing 90% of the time.
It was a great experience because besides staying in New York as a local resident, I was able to save money, eat better, and learn so many new things. My apartment was a one-bedroom studio with full kitchen. Meaning, I was able to cook quick options, eating healthier food, save money, and have fun to buy groceries and going to the self check-out to pay for my stuff.
In one week, I spent 50% of the amount I would be paying in a hotel room. I also saved money buying and cooking my own food, spending in seven days what I would typically spend in three days in New York to eat out. Of course, it's always good to have many options in restaurants from Greece, Italy, Brazil, India, Mexico, Egypt, Lebanon, Peru, Argentina, and all countries, just steps away from my apartment. But if you enjoy cooking like I do, well, this is an excellent option for you. Truth be told, New Yorkers don't really like to cook at home. But I do. Although my friends call me Piccola New Yorker, I am La Piccola Italiana – then, I love good homemade food.
Besides that, I was able to find much cheaper options for transportation from and to the JFK airport, paying only 30% of the amount I've spent in my first time – of course, enjoying the same safety and comfort. The options are endless. It's just a matter of knowing where to dig it.
I rented an apartment in astoria-ditmars, in queens, new york. If i want to go to Manhattan, i take the n or w trains. It's a fifteen-minute subway ride to the city.
homemade "macedonia" with ice cream and upstate new york's apple cider: having lunch and dessert at home is always a great experience for those who love good comfort food.
homemade tiramisu: a blend of authentic italian ingredients and a new yorker special touch.
in Astoria park, you also can keep up with your good shape exercising at the running track
Trust me, before my first time in New York, I thought it would be a distant dream. But the truth is that the most significant obstacles in our lives are the barriers our mind creates. This is so true. Never doubt that. If you think you need some tips and help with planning your next trip to New York City, I would love to share some insights and make it possible for you, too. The first step is clicking on the button below. Let's make it happen together. If you instead like to direct contact, you can always send me an email to email@example.com.