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Where to Stay in New York on a Budget

Updated: February 20, 2024

You might think that it's impossible to find cheap accommodation in New York City. We are here to tell you it's not!

As a walking tour company offering pay-what-you-wish walking tours of New York City, we know how to find ways to save money in the Big Apple.

Here we share some ways to find affordable accommodations in NYC. We even have some suggestions on how to stay for free!

In addition to our experience, we looked at ideas from members of our popular New York City Travel Tips Facebook group.

This group of over 225k members consists of locals (like our tour guides), regular visitors, and newbies to NYC.

You don't need to join the group to read the posts, comments, and recommendations.

So check out the group after you've read this post for loads more tips about visiting NYC!

Want to save MORE money? Explore NYC on our pay-what-you-wish walking tours!

Ways to Find Cheap NYC Accommodations

If you know how to look, you can find great New York budget accommodation options! Read on!

1. Take advantage of hotel search tools

TripAdvisor,, and allow users to use filters to narrow down their price and location preferences, in addition to reading reviews of each lodging facility.

2. Look at websites offering deals

Groupon and Living Social. Both offer significant deals on New York City hotels, as well as trip packages.

3. Ask members of our Facebook group

Join our NYC Travel Tips and Hacks and find out from savvy budget travelers how they found great deals.

New York Travel Tips and Hacks

At the bottom of this post, we share some ideas from a few members of our group.

4. Go in the offseason

Nearly all types of accommodation are cheaper in the off-season simply because the demand for rooms is much less.

Read about the cheapest times to visit NYC.

5. Opt for a hostel

Although many people think of hostels as dormitories, most are very clean and offer the option of a private or single-sex room.

Guests who stay in a hostel in NYC spend an average of $32 per night, while guests who stay in a hotel spend an average of $290!

This is a list of some of our favorite hostels in New York City.

6. Check out Eurocheapo

Think as the Europeans do! Budget accommodations have been a staple across cities in Europe for decades.

Eurocheapo is a site that helps travelers find cheap hotels mainly in Europe, but they also cover New York City and San Francisco!

Eurocheapo sends their editors unannounced to hotels to thoroughly inspect the rooms and pass their recommendations on to the customers.

7. Savings through association memberships

If you are a member of an association such as AARP or AAA, you may find some type of discount or free add-ons like free parking, upgrades, or free breakfast.

Some unions, like the UAW and UFT, will also get you savings on accommodations.

Be sure to check with your union before booking.

8. Stay in a bed and breakfast 

Bed and is a site that allows users to browse for affordable B&Bs that are located near many of New York City’s great attractions.

9. Do a temporary rental with the property owner

Sites such as Airbnb and VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) offer renters many options that can be directly discussed with the owner of the room or apartment.

Accommodations in New York City run from about $60 a night to $200.

Note that according to NYC law, individuals renting space via Airbnb must be living in the residence as well.

So if you are fine having a housemate, this is a great option to stay low-cost right in the heart of the city.

10. Consider housesitting

Many single or family home/apartment owners are looking for house sitters to take care of homes and pets. 

Trusted Housesitters (US) is a site that connects people who are looking either for or to house-sit.

They also offer our guests 10% off an annual membership when they use FREETOURS10 at checkout.

11. Join a hotel loyalty program

Many hotel chains offer money-saving opportunities to members of their loyalty program.

12. Reduced prices with special status

Some hotels offer lower rates to educators, military personnel, students, return guests, and those with another unique status.

Ask! You never know if you are eligible.

13. Consider buying a trip package

When you buy airfare, accommodation, and activities as a trip package, you will save money on each component, meaning lower hotel costs.

You may find even greater savings if you book your trip package through your credit card's travel department, such as American Express.

14. Work for it

Though usually targeted toward budget travelers who are willing to work on a farm or do construction in exchange for free food and accommodation, Workaway also operates in NYC.

Guests are usually asked to feed pets or do dishes (as farming is not an option!) in exchange for a couple of nights' stay in New York City!

15. Consider Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a travel collective where people who are interested in a cultural exchange accept travelers into their homes (you can also do the same if you like).

Our blog author Courtney has been a member of Couchsurfing since 2007 and has hosted over 100 guests in her apartment in NYC. She's had only positive experiences!

If you do look into Couchsurfing, please read all the safety information on staying with hosts.

It's easy to join. You create a detailed profile and then you can contact potential hosts to see if they can offer you a place to stay.

And an added perk is that hosts can offer guests an insider's perspective on life in the Big Apple.

Both hosts and guests can leave reviews so that other travelers can choose where to stay.

This is an excellent budget-minded way to travel, especially for those traveling to New York City alone!

Tips From Locals and Travelers

If you're looking for advice from locals or people who have stayed in New York City, our New York Travel Tips Facebook group members love to offer suggestions.

Below are some of their thoughts on how to find inexpensive accommodations. 

When you are done looking at these, you can search for more suggestions by looking at comments on our Facebook group. Maybe you want to ask a question yourself!

Michael’s idea is quite smart. To find out about hotels outside of Manhattan see our post Where to Stay in NYC which is organized by neighborhood.

Choose your dates wisely. Our post Cheapest times to visit NYC can help you decide when to visit.

Wonderful ideas from Tracy!

If you are willing to gamble a bit, Mirella who traveled to NYC from the UK, has a great way to save money!

Once you find your special place, it’s time to see the Big Apple with Free Tours by Foot!

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About The Author

Courtney Shapiro

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.
Updated: February 20th, 2024
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