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Stipends in NYC? How small is too small?


lotf629
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This question is for those of you who have lived in NYC or for those of you who are also pondering a school in the area.

Let's say, no summer money, just a stipend for nine months. How little is too little? Can you make it happen on $19,000? $21,000? Assume that your family can give you exactly no help, ever. What if you had a kid? Thoughts?

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This depends very much on where and how you're willing to live, to be honest. I can give you *very general* estimates - keep in mind that these are based on my experiences, though, and that I'm generalizing. You can live in outer boroughs for a lot less than you can live in Manhattan, for example, with the exception of some neighborhoods in Brooklyn (Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights being those neighborhoods). If you can share an apartment and live in an "up-and-coming neighborhood" (Washington Heights, for example), you can probably get a room for $1,000/month or even a bit less if you really search, otherwise it's a lot more than that. A reasonable price for a 1-bedroom in Manhattan in nicer neighborhoods is at least around $2,000+/month, and usually more in the $2,500/month range.

So that said, how big of a place do you want and where do you want to live? I have a baby and three cats and no chance whatsoever of affording more than a 1-bedroom apartment. If we choose to stay here when I become a grad student, we'll have to move to Queens or Brooklyn to be able to afford a 2-bedroom apartment. Can you get on-campus housing? The on-campus housing at Columbia is a fantastic deal to live in the area, but it can be hard to get. I know that NYU's housing is also nice and has great locations, but I have no idea how hard that is to get.

Also keep in mind that the general cost of living in NYC is very high. For example, I pay $5+ for a box of cereal, and I shop at the cheap grocery store. But then there's not needing a car, so that cuts a huge amount of expenses (at least it did for me when I moved to NYC), and I ended up with lower monthly overall expenses than I had in previous cities where I'd lived.

If you have more specific questions feel free to PM or email me. I've lived in NYC for awhile now, and though I definitely don't know all the neighborhoods I can give you general ideas of each area, if that's helpful. Good luck! :)

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I don't know much about this, but here's an anecdote that might help: a couple of friends of mine live in Washington Heights in a safe, convenient neighborhood, share a one-bedroom apartment (they've divided their large living room to make part of it a second bedroom), and estimate their actual cost of living at around $1500/month. They don't go out a lot, but otherwise they don't try particularly hard to be frugal. (Also, their groceries cost the same as mine, perhaps because of the neighborhood they live in.) That adds up to $18,000 a year.

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I'm a little more optimistic about the cost of living in the city. I've been here for 6 years, and I live in a studio on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (I've been in this apt for a couple of years) in a safe neighborhood right near the subway for just over $1k. This is an unusually good deal, sure, but I found it on Craigslist so it can be done. Friends of mine have shares in the "good" parts of Brooklyn for $700-$900. It can definitely be done. Another friend lives in a beautiful one bedroom with a modern kitchen and walk-in closet in Carroll Gardens (a lovely, safe, convenient part of Brooklyn) that she found through a broker recently for $1400. (Not that you could necessarily afford that, but just to give an idea.)

Apartment prices have definitely gotten cheaper over the past 6 months.

I can't really say about living on a certain amount with a child, since I don't have one, but I think if you budget carefully, and aren't making large payments on other debts, etc. a single person can definitely live in NYC on that amount.

Good luck!

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Can you work in the summers? Do you have marketable skills that allow you to be paid a lot for minimal time (e.g. tutoring for science/math/standardized tests)?

$19k/year comes out to $1583/month; taxes will take at least 20%, so you're down to $1267/month post-tax; with at least $800/mo in rent expenses, you now have $467 for monthly living expenses. A person can definitely swing that, but it's not easy (just over $100/week for everything from food to cell service to new underwear). I don't know how much babies cost to take care of, but I'd personally be pretty nervous about it.

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Wow, so much for all the helpful and specific responses.

A follow-up: if a program doesn't give you summer money (as my NYC program did not), what are you supposed to do in the summers? I know that if a program *does* give you summer money, you're expected not to work full-time but to research, read, etc. What are the expectations of you at a no-summer-money program: is it just "See you in August?" or are you expected to get grants, etc., to do quality summer work? Thoughts?

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Depends on the field, I think, but grants and internships are pretty common, although I know a few people who have just gotten jobs. If you can bring in income in addition to the stipend over the summer, it'll go a lot farther for those 9 months!

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My understanding of summer time is this:

you are supposed to be researching and writing. You don't have class, but possibly you are the TA for a summer course, or if your field requires overseas research this is the time to do it. Second year your summer is for preparing for qualifying exams.

Oh, and for living in NY cheaply I recommend: Jacks 99cent store.

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If you are attending Columbia, count on their subsidized housing. For $700~$850, you will have a pretty decent Columbia owned apartment near campus, with cheap utilities (heat, internet, cable etc.). Last time I checked, they owned 168 (!!!) apartment building (yes, buildings, not units) that are available for rent to faculty, grad students, staff members. My adviser has 4 kids, and rents a 3 bedroom apartment overlooking Morningside park for $1800/month, which is 25% of the usual rent for that size and location ...

On the other hand, NYU stipend is very miserable and you can't survive without a second income. So do your math ...

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How miserable is miserable for the NYU stipend? If I end up going there, I'm thinking of an apt share in Brooklyn. Hopefully not in a sketchy neighborhood, but I don't need to be in Park Slope. :-) Could I swing a shared apt in Brooklyn and a fairly quiet lifestyle (not a lot of going out, etc.) on a stipend from NYU Steinhardt? (BTW - PhD in Ed.) Any advice from those who live there? I'm just trying to figure out if this is do-able.

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Anecdotal, but:

My good friend just moved w/2 roommates into a $1500 3 bedroom (so about $500 each) in Lefferts Gardens, right across the street from the east side of Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Less than a block away from the Q. Not much going on in the neighborhood but it seems safe enough. The apartment is very small, but just rehabbed, clean, new oven, new fridge, and otherwise really nice. I was surprised/impressed with that find.

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Yes, you can definitely make it work. Just be smart about your money. Create a budget. There is a lot of cheap fun stuff to do and really cheap amazing food. Your rent will be your biggest expense so keep that in mind. I live in Brooklyn and not only is my place bigger and nicer than any place I ever had Manhattan, everything in Brooklyn is cheaper and I actually know my neighbors. I live in Prospect Lefferts Gardens (I LOVE it here) and I belong to the Park Slope Food Co-op and I save SO much money on food. Grocery stores in Manhattan cost three times as much as the Coop. If you ride the subway daily always buy a monthly Metrocard and if you're into cycling that is even better and cheaper! Just be smart about locking up your bike.

If you have any specific questions feel free to direct message me.

Also, there is SO much free stuff that happens over the summer in the city!

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