BREAKING NEWS: It’s freaking expensive to live in Manhattan.

And I don’t mean “live large,” I mean merely exist. First off, the cost of rent for your crappy, 7×7 Stuytown apartment is going to suck away half your monthly paycheck. Provided you also like to eat and shower and do other essential stuff that necessitates consumerism, there goes another quarter of your earnings, just on bare living essentials.

Are you in/have you ever attended college? Whelp, you can kiss any hopes of saving the remainder of your paycheck goodbye, cause it looks like the only thing you’ll be stacking up is debt!

You’re not paying all that money to live here just to go home after work and sit in the box you call a home, right? You want to go out and enjoy living in the best city in the world. But logically, doing stuff costs dollarz, which we already worked out that you have none of. Behold, the Manhattan Paradox, so perplexing even Schrödinger and his cat would be speechless (ya know, provided the cat is alive.)

Unfortunately, as the figurative “they” says, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

… or is there?

As “they” would then go on to contradict themselves, “The best things in life are free.” Sure, that refers to petty things like love, family, happiness, etc. But what about fun things, like sightseeing? Or food? Or MORE food?

Even the finer things in life can be enjoyed by us uncontrolled-rent paying peasants… FO’ FREE.


How many times have you experienced this scenario: You just got done with a grueling work week. It’s the end of the month, and your paycheck has pulled a Houdini and magically disappeared, leaving you with approximately $81.73 in your bank account. Do you accept defeat and spend another day roaming around whichever park is closest to your apartment (probs the Stuytown oval)?

Nope, those days are in the past. How about starting your day with a nice workout?

“But gyms are expensi–” Hey, Taylor, Ima let you finish, but this free boxing class is the freest boxing class of ALL TIME. Or, if that’s not your style, maybe a ladies self-defense course would be worth checking out, for nights when you’re walking home from LES through alphabet city (to get to Stuytown). If you’d prefer to keep calm and get your fitness on, try some zen yoga in Central Park, a relaxing walk on the famous Chelsea Highline, or a self-reflective jog along the beautiful East River Running Path, conveniently located adjacent to Stuytown *wink* (sorry, cessation of beating a dead horse starts approximately now).

*cue Rocky theme song* (photo source)

Now, how about making an attempt to actually get to know the city you pay an arm and leg to live in? Take the road less travelled by, all the way up to Harlem, for a historical walking tour where you’ll get to see the places where Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali, and where Fidel Castro slept after being kicked out of a midtown hotel for having chickens in his room (couldn’t make that up if I tried). If you’re really not an uptown girl, then forget all your cares and go to CHINAAATOOWN, everything’s waiting for you. Feast on a variety of delicious Asian treats, like roast pork buns, spicy spring rolls, and hand pulled noodles. Bring along $5 — that will probably get you a five course meal in Chinatown.

Before you head off towards either direction, make a pit stop in Grand Central Station to check out the famous Whispering Gallery, an unmarked archway, which possesses mystifying acoustics (i.e. MAGIC): when two people stand at diagonal arches and whisper, they can hear each other’s voices “telegraphed” from across the way. Set up your office here and you won’t even have to pay for phone service anymore!

“I think we should break up.”
“WHAT? I can’t hear you…” 

Not much of a history buff? How about some NYC historical sights with a twist: haunted. One of the creepiest places in town is the Staten Island Boat Graveyard. Located in Rossville, Staten Island, this swampy patch of the Arthur Kill Road waterway is the final resting place for dozens of rusting, decomposing and abandoned boats of all sizes. SpoooOoOoky.


Is that naut(ical) good enough for you? Head over to the west side for a free ghost tour of Greenwich Village and Chelsea. If you thought the subway or homeless people were the scariest part of Manhattan, think again. This paranormal activity will take you through some of New York City’s most haunted places, from the hidden tomb of 20,000 yellow fever victims, to Mark Twain’s “House of Horror.” Yikes, Scooby! Ruh-roah, Raggy!

After hours, head on down to the Lower East Side, where a slew of wonderfully divey, packed bars will be blaring all different types of music: from house, to pop, to rock, to r&b, to throwbacks. Find your scene and dance till your heart’s content (as long as your heart’s content doesn’t exceed 4 am, when they usually kick you out). Come “preimbibed” if you’re not trying to pay $20 for a drink. The crowd, music, and atmosphere may be free, but libations will cost you a pretty penny.

And this barely even puts a dent into the list of amazing things New York City can offer you at no additional charge to the first born child you promised your landlord to cover your security deposit (SPOILER ALERT: you’re not getting it back). So the next time “they” try to assert that “there’s no such free thing as a free lunch,” tell them to suck it. Or… ya know… bring ‘em along on your next free activity instead.


P.S. If these aren’t good enough to suit your fancy taste, play the Vimbly Game (hint: also FO FREE) to receive a list of activity suggestions catered to your personal taste!