10 things you never have to pay for in New York City

Free books abound — if you trust your neighbors' selection. Via Flickr user Squid Ink.

Free books abound — if you trust your neighbors’ selection. Via Flickr user Squid Ink.

New York City is expensive … if you actually try to pay for everything you need. The city is a giving tree that will help support your basic needs, if you know where to look, and save you the hassle of paying for stuff that is freely available everywhere: Moving boxes, magazines, condoms and more. Here are 10 things you never have to pay for in the city; add your own picks to the comments.

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1. Moving boxes

Moving boxes don’t cost a ton — they run $1.26 a pop at Home Depot — but that’s a totally unnecessary cost. Every single grocery store in the city is lousy with boxes: boxes of all shapes and sizes, sturdy boxes, small boxes, boxes that will fit all your cardigans and jorts, boxes coming out of the back room, lying flat in the warehouse, boxes always getting in the way. Go into any grocery store and find someone in the back and ask for their boxes. They’ll probably be happy you’re taking them off their hands.

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2. Water 

Bottled water is the greatest trick the soda companies ever played on us: one executive famously once was quoted saying something along the lines of “we won’t be happy until we’re bottling people’s water and selling it back to them.” Buying it treats tap water as a nuisance and not as the goddamn marvel of modern engineering it actually is. New York City tap water is some of the best in the country, with a fresh crisp taste distilled from our lush upstate mountain springs and aquifers. Get yourself a good sturdy, reusable water bottle and fill it up every chance you get.

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3. Tupperware

The best thing about Seamless is that it’s a magic button you press that summons hangover cures to your front door. The second best thing is that almost every order comes with perfectly reusable Tupperware containers. This might seem like a waste if you just throw them away; instead, keep them and you’ll soon have a cabinet full of mismatched containers.

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Via Flickr user fabulous0ne.

Via Flickr user fabulous0ne.

4. Condoms

They’re free EVERYWHERE! The NYC Condoms ain’t the fanciest wrapper for your zapper, but they’re perfectly usable, and since they’re free, you can use some to make balloons too, giving you another thing you don’t have to pay for. Find some here.

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No more sitting around the Barnes and Noble forever. Via Flickr Lloyd Fuller.

No more sitting around the Barnes and Noble forever. Via Flickr Lloyd Fuller.

5. Magazine subscriptions

Magazines are good! You should read them. But you don’t ever have to pay for them: The Brooklyn Public Library offers free digital subscriptions to a huge selection of magazines, from the New Yorker, The Atlantic and Vanity Fair to Adbusters, The National Review and Sports Illustrated.

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Photo via Shape Up NYC on Facebook.

Photo via Shape Up NYC on Facebook.

6. Workout classes

ClassPass can run you $75 a month: skip it and instead take advantage of the city’s free ShapeUp NYC program. It’s like ClassPass for the masses!

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Via Facebook.

Via Facebook.

7. Bike Helmets

If you don’t care much about style, you can get a free bike helmet (and fitting!) from the city. Find the next free helmet giveaway here.

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8. Dog crap bags

Produce bags at grocery stores make perfect bags for picking up after you pooch. Grab a bunch next time you’re there. Yeah, this is now what they’re meant for but here’s a way to justify it: You don’t really need them for your produce. Wrapping plastic around an apple doesn’t make it any cleaner. Just wash your produce when you get home.

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Memberships, entrance stickers, and assorted museumarathon detritus (picture by Alix Piorun)

Memberships, entrance stickers, and assorted museumarathon detritus (picture by Alix Piorun)

9. Museum memberships 

Get yourself an NYCID and you get free memberships at 40 major cultural institutions across the city, from BAM to the Staten Island Historical Society. You’ve got to activate them all within the first year, but that’s a great excuse to go on a cultural binge museum crawl. 

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https://twitter.com/ibzo/status/739617827217375232

10. Cable 

Maybe you’re a hipster trash stereotype who doesn’t “believe” in television, maybe you just can’t afford it, or maybe Time Warner killed your father. But everyone’s got their shows they watch — and pretty much every show you care about (the kind that you need to see RIGHT AWAY or risk the friendship-ending terror of spoilers — will likely be shown at a bar not too far from you: Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Girls, The Oscars, and on and on. Sadly, no one has answered our pleas to screen The Flash live though.

What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

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