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Living in New York City as a college student can be both exciting and overwhelming. The city offers endless opportunities and experiences, but navigating its vast landscape requires some guidance. Here are some essential tips for college students living in New York you can use to make the most out of your college experience in the big Apple, covering housing, transportation, and much more.

Housing: Finding the Right Neighborhood

Manhattan, the center of the Apple

If you decide to not living in a dorm, choosing the right neighborhood is crucial for a comfortable and convenient college life. According to Zumper, here are some of the best neighborhoods for students:

  • East Village – Known for its vibrant nightlife, cultural attractions, and proximity to NYU.
  • Williamsburg, Brooklyn – Popular for its artsy vibe, music venues, and coffee shops.
  • Lower East Side – Offers a lively atmosphere with many bars, restaurants, and galleries.
  • Greenwich Village – Famous for its bohemian past, this neighborhood is close to several colleges and universities.

These neighborhoods provide a mix of convenience, affordability, and an exciting lifestyle suitable for college students.

If you are enrolled to NYU in addition to East Village, Greenwich Village and LES you may also consider Union Square, a bustling area with a major subway hub, greenmarket, and plenty of shops and eateries, close to athenaeum.

If chose to study at Columbia University, some great neighborhoods to consider would be:

  • Morningside Heights – This is where Columbia University is located. It’s very student-friendly with a mix of cafes, bookstores, and student housing.
  • Harlem – Just north of Columbia, Harlem offers rich culture, history, and a variety of dining and entertainment options. It’s becoming increasingly popular with students.
  • Upper West Side – A bit more upscale, this neighborhood offers a quieter, residential feel with plenty of green spaces, like Central Park and Riverside Park. It’s a short subway ride from Columbia.

There are multiple reasons to choose to live in Manhattan, check our full list of pros and cons.

Brooklyn, the artistic vibe

Brooklyn can be a great option for students. It offers a variety of vibrant neighborhoods, diverse cultural experiences, and often more affordable housing options compared to Manhattan. Here are a few Brooklyn neighborhoods that are particularly student-friendly:

  • Williamsburg – Known for its artsy vibe, music venues, trendy cafes, and nightlife. It’s a popular spot for young people and has good transportation links to Manhattan.
  • Bushwick – Offers a thriving art scene, unique coffee shops, and a strong community of young professionals and students. It’s slightly more affordable than Williamsburg.
  • Park Slope – A family-friendly neighborhood with tree-lined streets, great parks, and a variety of shops and restaurants. It’s quieter but still offers plenty of activities.
  • Greenpoint – Offers a mix of trendy spots and a strong Polish heritage. It’s slightly more affordable than Williamsburg and has a growing number of young residents.

Brooklyn’s neighborhoods provide a good mix of affordability, community, and access to Manhattan, making it a viable option for students.

Transportation: Navigating the City

Understanding the subway system is essential for getting around New York efficiently. Here are some tips:

  • Subway Tips: Always carry a MetroCard, use apps like Citymapper or Google Maps for real-time updates, and avoid empty subway cars for safety reasons.
  • Bike and Scooter Rentals: Consider bike-sharing programs like Citi Bike for short commutes.
  • Student Discounts: Take advantage of student discounts on public transportation whenever possible.

Finances: Managing Your Budget

  • Budgeting Tips: Create a budget to manage your expenses. Use apps like NerdWallet or You Need a Budget ( YNAB) to track your spending.
  • Part-time Jobs: Look for part-time jobs that fit your schedule, such as internships, on-campus positions, or freelance work.
  • Scholarships and Grants: Explore resources for finding additional financial aid to ease the burden of tuition and living expenses.

Social Life: Engaging with the City

  • Events and Activities: Take advantage of free or low-cost events, concerts, and activities around the city. Websites like Time Out New York, or SecretNYC are great for finding things to do. You can also use app like EventBrite or MeetUp to check local activities based on your interests and location.
  • Clubs and Organizations: Join clubs or student organizations to meet new people and engage in campus life.

Safety: Staying Safe in the City

Remember always that New York is a big city and keeping high the awareness of your surroundings, especially at night, it is wise and helps you to stay protected. Avoid empty subway cars and use well-lit, busy streets, and don’t forget to keep important emergency contacts and services saved on your phone for quick access.