6 Challenges of Living in One of the Most Expensive Cities

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn about ways to save money while living in New York City.
  • Learn about options to save money on housing costs.
  • Explore transportation costs and options.


Few cities are more expensive than New York City. While some areas of the city are notably more expensive (Manhattan and part of Brooklyn), the rent is too damn high everywhere! Whether you live with family, friends, or by yourself, you likely face significant housing costs. The average rent in Queens—LaGuardia’s home borough—is over $2,700. Some areas of Queens are more expensive than others, with rents rising sharply in Astoria and Forest Park, while average rents have declined in Jamaica. According to Cea Weaver, an organizer with the statewide Housing Justice for All Coalition who fights for greater tenant protections, “… the rents are really high, and I am like, okay, great. Like what’s new? Rent is high in New York and politicians are doing absolutely nothing about it” (Bocanegra, 2023).  Given this unfortunate reality, this section focuses on how to control other costs in your life. The following list identifies which expenses offer you the opportunity to save money, including some with support from LaGuardia.

  • Transportation
  • Food
    • LaGuardia CARES maintains a food pantry and can assist students in need of public benefits.
  • Entertainment and activities
    • CUNY Arts provides CUNY students with free and discounted access to NYC’s amazing cultural institutions.
    • Explore the city
      • There is so much to experience in New York City, and much of it is free! Find a quiet spot in a city park, explore the amazing diversity of the neighborhoods, visit one of our many water fronts.

Transportation Costs

Calculate your transportation costs for one month and ask yourself a few questions.

  • How often do I need to commute to school or work?
  • How far is my average commute?
  • What is the most cost-effective mode of transportation? Here are some options:
    • Public transportation (subways and buses)
    • Walking
    • Citi Bike or your own bike
    • Taxi or other car service
    • Drive your own car

Use the following table to calculate and compare your transportation options over the course of one month:

Mode of Transportation Cost
Subway, unlimited rides for one month. Check the MTA website for fare options.
Subway, pay as you go, based on how many times you commute to and from LaGuardia. A subway fare costs $2.90.
Walking: do you live close enough to LaGuardia to walk? How long will it take you to walk?
Taxi or car service (Uber, Lyft, etc.): find out the average price of a ride from where you live to LaGuardia.
Drive your own car: factor in cost of gas, car payment, insurance, parking, and other related expenses.
Citi Bike single ride.
Citi Bike monthly, unlimited rides.
Purchase and ride your own bike, scooter, or other 2-wheeled mode of transport.


Write a brief reflection on which transportation option is the best for you. In addition to cost, explain the other factors you considered. For example, do you care more about time or convenience? It may be free to walk, but it will take you one hour. Then again, walking an hour can be your exercise for the day. Maybe the subway is the cheapest option, but it requires taking a bus and a train, which can take a long time.

Key Takeaways:

  • We have more control over some expenses, such as transportation, compared with others.
  • Consider all of the factors that contribute to your transportation costs, financial as well as mental and physical health.

Please Provide Feedback

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Bocanegra, M. (2023, February 9). Rent in NYC is really high. Gothamist. https://gothamist.com/news/rent-in-nyc-is-really-high