Travel

WHAT IT REALLY COSTS TO LIVE IN NEW YORK CITY

The Steele Maiden: How Much it Really Costs to Live in New York City

When I asked what you all wanted to hear more of about New York your answer was a resounding ‘your everyday life!‘. And so I figured to begin, I’d go ahead and address the (expensive) elephant in the room. How much does it really cost to live in New York City?

I can’t tell you how many times Adam and I have been in a social setting outside of NYC and had someone has hinted, with wide eyes, at how much it must cost us to live in this city. Or even flat out asked us how much we pay for rent (side note: unless I’m offering up that info or in turn you’d like to tell me how much your mortgage costs.. this question can be skipped) But nevertheless, I get it – this city is one of the most expensive places to live in the entire country (San Francisco actually takes top prize) so it stands to reason that people are curious about just how much we pay and more-so why anyone would want to pay for it?!?

I have two things to say about that. One – it’s expensive to live here so you better damn well love it. If you’re paying an arm and a leg in rent and spending all your time complaining about it.. then leave. There’s some kid in small town Illinois who would kill to take your spot. I dreamed of living here since I was a pre-teen and almost 9 years after first moving here I still think the sun rises and sets with this city. It’s what routinely softens the blow of the expense of it all. And secondly – if you really want it, be willing to make sacrifices. There were times when I was 22 and broke, living in a studio apartment, working two jobs, eating cheese quesadillas for dinner and selling clothes at Buffalo Exchange just to make my rent each month. It never made me want to leave, it just made me want to work harder. Back to point number one. Get it?

The Steele Maiden: How Much it Really Costs to Live in New York City

So here it is – a realistic look at what New York City costs me. To note: this is specific to me – you can live for a lot less (and I have) and you can obviously live a lot more extravagantly (looking at you Beyoncé). But I think for an average person in their 20s/30s without kids, this is a fairly good average.

Rent: Ouch. Here’s the big one. I live in a one-bedroom, walk-up (meaning no elevator.. or dishwasher.. or laundry…) building in the East Village. Average rent for an older apartment like ours downtown will set you back anywhere from $2,250-$2,750 a month. Because I’ve got a roommate that I share that one bedroom with, I luck out a bit as opposed to having to cough up the money for a bedroom all to myself. And if you head uptown or to Brooklyn you can easily get yourself some better amenities or more space for that same money. Or of course you can jump up to the $2,800-$3,300 range and secure a balcony or a walk in closet. I love our current neighborhood and the fact that we are within walking distance to most of downtown Manhattan and my office – but as we look for new apartments I’ll be sharing what we find and where we end up!

The Steele Maiden: How Much it Really Costs to Live in New York City

Transportation: Here’s the great thing – you can ride anywhere you want in this city for $2.75 on the subway or bus (a monthly pass for unlimited rides is $121). You can catch a a crosstown cab for around $15 with tip or buddy up and take an Uber Pool double the distance for just $5.

Because of that East Village apartment, I am lucky enough to walk to work so I personally spend about $30 a month on transportation (a handful of subway rides and maybe a cab or two) which is a considerable savings if you compare what a monthly car payment, insurance and gas cost you out in the suburbs. Adam actually does drive to work in New Jersey so he’s got $5 a day in tolls and gas, but his car is paid off and we park for free on the street.

Food & Drink: Admittedly, a big portion of my money after rent and regular monthly bills seems to go towards food and drink. The great thing about this city though is that you can eat and drink on a dime and still get something great. Or you can reallyyyy #treatyoself and splurge.

An average cocktail is $14 (more if you’re paying for a rooftop view or a hotspot ambience) but you can also find $5 beer and $1 oysters at a great happy hour like the one at Mermaid Inn. Same goes for food – an average dinner for 2 at say, a delicious Italian spot in our neighborhood will run you about $75 before tip (appetizer, two glasses of wine and two entrees), but the $17 large pizza we get in our neighborhood is damn good too. Top dollar steaks or hole in the wall ramen that will knock your socks off. You choose here.

I’ve found grocery store costs to be slightly higher but if you make use of Trader Joes, local farmer’s market and small grocers I’d say these costs can end up being comparable to elsewhere in the country. Except for cereal which is inexplicably almost $7 a box in Manhattan. Why, New York, why?

The Extras: You can easily get a huge armload full of beautiful fresh flowers at any corner bodega for less than $20. But in a good neighborhood a soy chai latte will set you back $6 from Starbucks. Views from the Top of the Rock cost $34 but entry to the Met Museum is technically a donation (so if you can only pay $1 they’ll still let you in). Tickets to see a late night show like Jimmy Fallon are completely free as long as you can grab a spot when the seat lottery opens up and there are major deals on same day tickets for Broadway shows if you wait in line in Time Square. This city has a million things to offer. It’s all about finding which of it falls within your budget – and then getting creative for the rest.

The Steele Maiden: How Much it Really Costs to Live in New York City

 

 

 

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A TRAVEL GUIDE TO LONDON, ENGLAND

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London

London! Where do I start? I suppose at the beginning – or in this case, a decade ago when I studied abroad there and fell in love with this place. I’ve been dying to go back ever since and getting to experience this time with Adam in tow was even better than I had imagined. I love London for a million reasons, but mainly because of the amazing mix of history alongside the modern pulse of a major international city. While I could spend years in London and still not see everything, I’ve done my best to showcase a highlight reel here in the case that you’re planning on hopping the pond yourself. And if you are.. can I come with?

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London

TOURIST SPOTS WORTH VISITING:

As someone who lives in a place where I avoid ‘tourist traps’ like the plague – London’s tourist destinations are full of such incredible history that dismissing them all together would be a mistake. You’re going to want to see Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben (although as of November 2017 was nearly completely covered in scaffolding thanks to ongoing restoration). Picadilly Circus (London’s version of Times Square) is worth walking through – if only on your way to Oxford Street shopping (locals call this ‘high street shopping’) and Trafalgar Square deserves a stop. All of this allows you to get a real sense for the heart of the city.

And if you’re a New Yorker looking for a Central Park equivalent, you’ll find it in Hyde Park. One of my favorite spots in all of London, Hype Park is an expansive bit of calm amidst an otherwise bustling city. Be sure to walk through Kensington Gardens and visit the Princess Diana Memorial and Peter Pan statue.

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to LondonThe Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London

HOW TO GET AROUND:

I usually prefer to see cities by foot, but due to the sheer scale of London, you’ll want other options. The Metro (or Tube as the Brits call it) is incredibly easy to navigate and about a million times cleaner and more organized than the NY Subway. Likewise, buses are great for flexibility and there’s the added bonus of getting to jump on a red double-decker.

And lastly, the most fun way to see the town is – hands down – by water. On our last night there, we took a boat tour of the Thames and were rewarded with a pretty incredible sunset. While you may not get quite as lucky, you’ll still get a great view of both side of the river and in half an hour will have taken in most of London’s skyline.

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to LondonThe Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London

Now for the good part – the food and drink. Once you’ve exhausted yourself from walking all over town, you’ll want to pop in somewhere for an afternoon cuppa (tea that is) or pint at the pub. Below a few of my favorites from the trip:

Biscuiteers: The cutest little Notting Hill cookie and tea shop.

Cafe Murano: I tend to think New York has some pretty great Italian, but this place gave it a run for it’s money. A small spot with beautiful interiors (and an awesome wine and craft beer list), we nearly went back for a second time in a single trip.

Churchhill Arms: A classic pub in the front, a crazy greenhouse of a Thai restaurant in the back. And the outside reads like a botanical garden gone wildly British.

Granger & Co: Our best breakfast of the trip by far. Fresh ingredients, delicious takes on the classics and located in the cutest area of Notting Hill. Get the Ricotta hotcakes and never look back.

Jazz Cafe: An otherwise simple bar up front, that opens into an awesome and intimate concert venue. We saw a jazz tribute to Van Morrison and it was one of our best nights in London.

Sketch London: Sure, it’s become Instagram fodder, but honestly it lived up to the hype. A serious feast for the eyes, ever detail of this incredible space has been considered. The main dining room is a lavish dream straight out of 1920s Paris. The bar where we got drinks was like an actual enchanted forest.

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London

And – because it wouldn’t be The Steele Maiden without a pause for cute stoops – I thought I’d share some of my favorite places for Instagram-worthy doors.

Notting Hill: Anywhere and everywhere – from the pastel lined streets to the tucked away alleys (like St. Lukes Mews shown below).

Kensington: For grand white architecture and beautiful tiled stoops

Marylebone High Street: This gem of a little street is actually where my University was located when I studied abroad – lined lots of photo-worthy storefronts.

Queen Anne’s Gate: A tucked away street along the path from Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, well worth the detail.

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London

THINGS TO DO:

You’d be hard pressed to be bored in London. And depending on your interest there’s really something for everyone. Here, a few of my personal favorites.

Daunt Books: My favorite bookshop in all of London. They organize the sections by location in the world – so aside from guidebooks to London, you would also find the work of Dickens and Austen in the ‘England’ section.

Portobello Road: You don’t have to be a fan of the movie Notting Hill to enjoy Portobello Road – this outdoor market includes amazing vintage clothing and antiques stalls on the weekends meaning you’ll likely want to carve out a few hours for wandering.

British Library: Housing everything from the Magna Carta to original works by Shakespeare to Beatles lyrics scribbled on napkins to Harry Potter tributes – if you’re a library lover this one is kind of a holy grail.

Victoria & Albert Museum: London’s museums are largely free (amazing, I know) and while I love the Tate Modern or the Natural History – the V&A is far and away my favorite. With the best historical clothing display I’ve seen anywhere in the world but lots of other rotating exhibits ranging from industrial design to classic art – even Adam liked this one.

London Eye: If you get a clear day in town, the London Eye is essentially a huge ferris wheel and offers a unique perspective to the city below.

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London

Until next time London!

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London

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BEST OF: WINTER DATE IDEAS IN NYC

Winter Date Ideas in NYC - What to Wear and Where to Go

I get it. It’s cold outside and your Netflix subscription feels like a safe bet. I’m guilty of it too. But don’t let Winter be an excuse to forgo date night. New York (and honestly every place if you get creative) has a million awesome options worth leaving your couch for. Here – my top 15 Winter Date Ideas in NYC plus an outfit idea that is date-friendly but also warm (shivering is not sexy).

Winter Date Ideas in NYC - What to Wear and Where to Go

  1. Museum Hopping – There’s no shortage of options here but our favorites are the Met for room to roam and the MoMa or Whitney for modern art. Perfect for a freezing cold afternoon.
  2. A Night at the Theater – Going to the ballet is one of my all-time favorite special date nights. Use it as an excuse to get dressed up and head to Lincoln Center.
  3. Go Sledding – Wait for the first big snow and head to Central Park. Even if you don’t actually go sledding, snow ball fights and a long walk through a freshly blanketed park is a pretty memorable day date.
  4. Hot Chocolate Crawl – Skip the bar and hop along a map of the city’s best hot chocolate spots instead. Max Brenner in Union Square, Serendipity on the Upper East Side and City Bakery in Flatiron are all great.
  5. Arcade Challenge – Stock up on quarters and hit up a classic arcade. Go head to head in Pacman, Pinball and the rest while you drink cheap beer. Barcade in the East Village and Two-Bits Arcade in Lower East Side are my favorites.
  6. Grand Central Glamour – Turn back time by taking a trip to Grand Central. Take in the beauty of this classic New York architecture and then grab oysters at the Grand Central Oyster Bar.
  7. Star Gaze – Twice a month (weather permitting) Columbia University opens their observatory for star-gazing. Is there anything more romantic?
  8. Skyline Gaze – If you’d rather stare at the skyline then the stars, then you need to head to the roof. While most aren’t quite as good in the Winter, 230 Fifth has plenty of heaters, cozy blankets and unbeatable views of the Empire State Building. It can get crowded/touristy on weekends and is on the pricey side – but for the views and a drink or two it’s a pretty awesome weeknight date.
  9. Comfort Food – Winter is perfect for getting your comfort food on. We love S’mac, Ivan Ramen, Meatball Shop, or Spaghetti Incident for a hearty meal that’s an alternative to take-out when it’s cold.
  10. Indoor Blooms – While the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is tough to beat in Spring, there are plenty of greenhouses that are worth visiting in Winter too.
  11. Ice-Skating – There are several outdoor rinks in the city but my absolute favorite is Wollman Rink in Central Park. Pro tip – wait for an evening with light snow. Most people don’t think to go but the rink stays open and skating hand in hand while snow falls against the backdrop of the city skyline is pure New York magic.
  12. Catch a Movie – First of all, get MoviePass. It’s only $9.95 for unlimited movies and nearly every theater we go to is included. Including places like NiteHawk in Brooklyn where you can get dinner and drinks while you watch the movie or the Angelika and Film Forum in the city that play awesome independent films.
  13. Find a Fireplace – There are quite a few cozy bars downtown that have a roaring fireplace. Order a hot toddy and snag a seat by the flames. Bowery Hotel in the East Village is a good standby.
  14. Have a Staycation – You all know, I’m all about a hotel staycation in your own city. If it’s not in the budget, you should at least head to a hotel lobby for a drink (case in point: Bowery Hotel in the previous suggestion). They’ve always got great decor and even for a couple of hours, you can feel like you got away. I love Gramercy Park Hotel, Soho Grand and the Standard.
  15. Live Music – There’s honestly amazing live music everywhere in this city, but two of Adam and I’s favorites are Jazz Standard in Gramercy for incredible classic jazz or Arlene’s Grocery for dive bar bands.

Winter Date Ideas in NYC - What to Wear and Where to Go

And if your next question is great – but what on earth do I wear that works for cold-weather but also looks cute.. I got you. I love these velvet jeggings as an alternative to jeans (that are super warm!), sleek booties that can withstand a bit of slush and aren’t as treacherous as heels on snowy streets, and a big faux fur coat that feels less boring than your everyday parka.

WINTER DATE NIGHT LOOK:

Winter Date Ideas in NYC - What to Wear and Where to Go Winter Date Ideas in NYC - What to Wear and Where to Go

 

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HIS AND HERS HOLIDAY STYLE: FOR A SPECIAL OCCASION AT OMNI BERKSHIRE PLACE HOTEL

The Steele Maiden: His and Hers Special Occasion Holiday Style - Red Wrap dress and navy blue suit

For the past three years, Adam and I have gotten into the habit of taking holiday pictures (in 2015 we searched for Christmas trees and in 2016 we took a ride in a very special ’54 Chevy) – but this year we thought it might be fun to get all dressed up. So we put on our finest – outfits that would be perfect for any holiday special occasion like a night at the theater, New Year’s Eve party or formal wedding – and headed straight for the rooftop of the Omni Berkshire Place hotel.

SHOP THE STORY

This past Summer we had the most amazing staycation at the hotel and ever since then have thought of the Omni Berkshire so fondly. But with the place all dressed up for the holidays? We were floored. So we danced on the rooftop balcony overlooking St. Patrick’s Cathedral, surrounded by skyscrapers. We drank champagne and ran around a fancy suite with our own personal Christmas tree. And we laughed about how two kids from the country ever ended up here, with this crazy life. It was pure holiday magic.

And – because we always want to inspire you all to have stylish adventures of your own – I’m giving one lucky reader the chance to win a one-night stay at the Omni Berkshire (enter via my Instagram – giveaway launching at 9AM today 11/28). Whether you’re a New Yorker looking for a chic staycation or an out of towner dreaming of your own getaway in the big apple, this is your place. Good luck!

 

The Steele Maiden: His and Hers Special Occasion Holiday Style - Red Wrap dress and navy blue suit

Adam wore a classic slim fit navy blue suit and I wore this (under $100!) slinky red satin wrap dress and fun starry night statement earrings. Also – can we take a moment to talk about these shoes? They’re Tamara Mellon (one of the founders of Jimmy Choo who started her own line) and are in the running for the most amazing heels I think I’ve ever worn. If you’re looking for a luxurious splurge for the holidays – I can’t recommend them enough.

On Jess: Express Satin Wrap Dress | J.Crew Star Statement Earrings | Gigi New York Clutch c/o | Tamara Mellon Pistol 105 Pumps c/o 

On Adam: Topman Navy Suit | Ben Sherman Oxfords

The Steele Maiden: Omni Berkshire Place Hotel - NYC at the Holidays The Steele Maiden: His and Hers Special Occasion Holiday Style - Red Wrap dress and navy blue suit The Steele Maiden: His and Hers Special Occasion Holiday Style - Red Wrap dress and navy blue suit The Steele Maiden: Special Occasion Holiday Style - Red Wrap dress and Tamara Mellon Pistol Pumps The Steele Maiden: His and Hers Special Occasion Holiday Style - Red Wrap dress and navy blue suit The Steele Maiden: His and Hers Special Occasion Holiday Style - Red Wrap dress and navy blue suit The Steele Maiden: His and Hers Special Occasion Holiday Style - Red Wrap dress and navy blue suit

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VISITING THE COSTWOLDS: ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE INSPIRED STYLE

The Steele Maiden: Cotswolds, England - English Countryside Inspired Style for Fall

Yesterday I styled these velvet jeggings in a way that was simple yet chic for the office or casual holiday parties – but because honestly I just can’t get enough of them and wore them multiple times on our recent travels, I’m back with a more weekend ready alternative.

SHOP THE STORY

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Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.