Thursday, October 26, 2017

2017 New York City Accounts

Washington Square (Click to view full sized)
For the past couple of days I have been working on my New York City accounts and I can now report that my total trip expenses amount to $11,003.26. I was in the city for 87 days.

There is one important caveat to this figure, however. Due to the constant fluctuation in the exchange rates, this is not a completely true and accurate record of my expenses. The issue is that I went to New York City with around USD$3630 in cash, which I got on June 12, at whatever the exchange rate was on that day. Whenever I spent some of that cash during the following three months, I converted the figure into Australian dollars based on the exchange rate for that day before logging the expense.

Depending on whether the rate was heading up or down at the precise moment in time that I made the query, I might have been paying more than my original exchange rate or less. The only way to get completely accurate figures would have been to make my calculations using the same exchange rate I got in early June. Of course, I was not about to lose any sleep over this during my trip, and I am certainly not going to do so now. I’m happy to accept that my final expense numbers are very close to the mark, and even happier to put this baby to rest.

As readers will note, my expenses for this trip began in February, three months before my departure date. This was for a gig at City Winery with Dweezil Zappa, the son of the late, great Frank Zappa. I made this booking before I had even booked my flights! Speaking of which, I touched down at JFK international airport on June 16, and departed again from there on September 10 for a total of 87 days in the city.

For the record $11,000+ averages down to a daily spend at a fraction under $126.50 per day ($126.47 to be precise). This includes airfares, transport (taxis, ferries and trains), accommodation, food, entertainment, museum memberships, and other sundry expenses. Below you can see a breakdown by month of all the major categories I was accounting for.

Click image to view at full size
A few extra comments about these expenses may be in order. For instance, my food costs were spread over three categories, the main two being Eats and Groceries, with Rec (Recreation), also accounting for some additional expenditure. Eats, were light meals and snacks I bought when out and about in the city. These were mostly of the ‘coffee to go’ variety, which often included a sandwich of some type. Groceries were mostly supermarket purchases used when I ate at the apartment. All my breakfast meals and numerous lunch and evening meals are accounted for under this heading. 

Finally, any meal or drink purchased at a major event (such as gigs at City Winery, Highline Ballroom and such like), were included in my Recreation column. The main purpose of this column was to record expenses associated with fun! These included my MoMA and Metropolitan Museum memberships and visits to other museums, cinema outings, pre-booked gigs, and numerous other activities. Now that I think of it, book purchases ended up in this column as well.

Eleven thousand dollars may seem like (and is) a lot of money, but spread across three months it constitutes a real bargain when one takes into account the high cost of living in New York City.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have a contact living and working in New York who is very accommodating and was able to offer me the use of his Washington Heights apartment for just AUD$2400.00. This breaks down to $27.48 per day for each of the eighty-seven days I spent in the city. Heck, you can't even find a flop house in the city at that price anymore. So if you are reading this Chris, Thank You for giving me a chance to really immerse myself into the life and rhythm of this truly great city. 


  1. Really solid Jim. Spending a bit North of a bill daily in NYC is no small feat.

    1. Thanks, Ryan. Yes, when you're traveling on a limited budget, it helps to plan well ahead and to make the most of the free and cheap events that can be found pretty much everywhere, not just in New York City, although visitors to that city a definitely spoiled for choice when it comes to free events throughout the year.


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