New York City: Fantastic for kids, but just not cheap

My 10 and 12-year-olds loved the boat ride to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Some of the exhibits on Eliis Island were still damaged from Hurricane Sandy.

My 10 and 12-year-olds loved the boat ride to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Some of the exhibits on Eliis Island were closed due to damage from Hurricane Sandy.

The kids with the father looking at the 9/11 Memorial. The 6-year-old understood this wasn't a time to play or be loud. The 10-year-old and 12-year-old appreciated the importance of the memorial but I don't think it was too sad for them.

The kids with their father looking at the 9/11 Memorial. The 6-year-old understood this wasn't a time to play or be loud. The 10-year-old and 12-year-old appreciated the importance of the memorial but I don't think it was too sad for them.

By Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

New York City is a fabulous playground for families with endless opportunities to expose kids to music, art, drama, culture and food. However, those experiences don’t come cheaply.

I would love to tell you that New York City can be done on any budget, but it’s simply not true. There are ways to cut corners and to get more bang for your buck but you need to prepared that you’re going to feel like you are bleeding money during your trip.

The kids and I flew to New York City during Christmas break to look for a new house for our impending move and to spend the holidays with my husband, who has been working out of the city for the last few months. We spent 12 days with him in a two-bedroom apartment provided by his company in midtown Manhattan. Michael and I lived in Manhattan for two years before we had kids so we feel very comfortable in the city.

Despite using Skymiles for two of our four seats, despite having the apartment paid for and eating most of our meals in the apartment, our trip for a family of five still cost around $3000. A friend from Arizona just booked a trip for her family of five for the beginning of the summer and for hotel and airfare alone she’s already at $5000.

But don’t despair. I have lots of tips for how to save in the city and also how to have the best possible trip with kids.

Here is the breakdown on our expenses with tips to follow.

Plane — $933.60 for tickets plus 80,000 Skymiles

Groceries and four meals eating out — $1095 (I also was feeding a brother in law,  and we had a family of four over to the apartment one night for dinner.)

Subway, cabs, car service — $479.57 (this included a $65 train ride to New Jersey to look for houses.)

Entertainment $662

Approximate total: $3170.17 I am sure there were subways, food and other incidentals that I missed but this gives you an idea.)

Airfare and getting into the city.

Plane — $933.60 for tickets plus 80,000 Skymiles

Our flights were more expensive coming from Arizona than it will be from Atlanta. Obviously folks should shop around and use miles if you have them. For me I would consider driving from Georgia. It would be much cheaper than flying and after surveying multiple Icon lots around the city it looks like you could park for about $40 a day with a coupon. So $280 vs. $1000 or more to fly plus you save on the transportation to and from the airport.

We used a car service from the airport to the city for $170. I asked my husband to set this up because I was worried about waiting in a long cab line with three kids after a five-hours flight.  The cab line can be an hour or more depending on your arrival time.) I was also concerned about getting a large enough cab for four with luggage. However, I regret this decision now because we drove back to the airport just fine in an SUV cab for $65. (Cabs are a flat-fee from JFK for $52 plus tolls.) However, if you have five or more in your family I don’t think one cab would work. It would have to be a mini-van and those are few and far between. I have had good experiences with Super Shuttle in the past and for the five of us, it would have been $115 for a van or $70 for a SUV.  I would use this option if the five of us traveled.

Subway, cabs, car service $179.57 (I have removed the $65 train to New Jersey and the $170 car service and $65 cab to the airport from this total.)

We tried to walk whenever possible even though it was freezing cold and we still spent hundreds of dollars on subways and cabs. At $2.50 a person per each leg of your trip even the subway is expensive for a family of five.  Sometimes a cab can be more cost effective. For example for a short ride at night a cab ride would be cheaper for a family of four, who can all fit in one cab.

You have two options on subway passes: You can buy a card and fill it up. (It’s $1 for a card so don’t buy one for everyone.) There is usually a line to fill a card. You want to balance the surcharge, the lines to fill up the card with the possibility of you losing your card. We had two cards that we kept filling up. However be aware for whatever reason five people can’t go through consecutively on one card. We kept getting locked out on the last person and had to switch to a second card.

The second subway card option is an unlimited pass. My brother-in-law got the $30 unlimited card. Meaning for $30 he could use the subway as much as he wanted for seven days. But you cannot pass that card to another rider to use behind you. You have to examine how many rides you think you will use to decide if unlimited will be less than filling up the card as you need it.

Kids under 44 inches get to ride for free. For easy reference, 44 inches means eye-to-eye with the turnstile.

(You can use this site to figure your cab fair beforehand and of course it has an app for your phone.)

Also my husband uses this subway app all the time to figure out his best path.

The kids helped me carry home groceries after church. The grocery store in the west 60s was less expensive than the store by the apartment in Times Square.

The kids helped me carry home groceries after church. The grocery store in the west 60s was less expensive than the store by the apartment in Times Square.

Groceries and four meals eating out — $1095 (I fed my brother-in-law and we had a family of 4 over for dinner on this as well.)

We only ate dinner out four times — twice without the kids and twice with the kids. We bought groceries and ate in the apartment or packed sandwiches or snacks in a backpack for most of our meals. Eating out in the city, unless you go with hotdogs or a pizza slice for every meal, is crazy expensive. For example, we wanted to stay all day at the American Museum of Natural History and I didn’t think I could bring in food so we bought lunch at the museum. It was $90 for a modest lunch and drinks for five.  If I did it again, I would bring in snacks and maybe even flatbread rolled sandwiches and eat in the designated areas.

* Try to find a hotel with refrigerators and/or a free breakfast. If they don’t have refrigerators, I would buy a cooler and keep it filled with ice and kid-friendly essentials. You can save so much money serving cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, sandwiches fruit and cheese in your room. Plus it’s healthier. We love the flatbread because it rolls and stores so nicely in a backpack.

* Rent an apartment if you can instead of using a hotel so you will have a kitchen and can cook most of your meals. See my suggestions below for short-term apartment rentals such as Airbnb.com.

*Bodegas are more expensive than grocery stores or chain stores like Duane Reade. The grocery stores near Times Square (or anything near Times Square) are going to be more expensive that uptown or downtown. Don’t be afraid to fill out a discount card for the grocery store if they have one. I did and saved money while we were visiting.

Tips for short-term apartment rental services

My cousin used Airbnb.com to literally travel the world. She stayed in apartments in continents around the world and was very happy with the results. My husband is currently using Airbnb.com to stay in New York City in between traveling and until we get there.  Here are is tips for using a service like Airbnb.com

*Read the reviews carefully. He likes to see multiple reviews –  at least five- from different people who have stayed at other Airbnb apartments as well.

*Don’t take anyone that has zero references.

*If photo is beautiful, but no reviews and $50 a month, it’s  hoax.

*Use Google Maps to research the neighborhoods.

*If something looks sketchy like no photo of the bathroom, then don’t take it.

*Most people are pretty honest because they don’t want bad reviews so they often acknowledge their shortcomings – like the bathroom is very small.

*Only communicate through Airbnb.com. The owners can text or email through system. If something goes wrong, every message is captured by Airbnb.

Leave time to just sit and enjoy Central Park. This was one of two warms days we had when we visited. The kids loved being in the park. Lilina, however, threw up in the park. She had picked up a stomach virus along the way.

Leave time to just sit and enjoy Central Park. This was one of two warm days we had when we visited. The kids loved being in the park. Lilina, however, threw up in the park. She had picked up a stomach virus along the way.

Entertainment $662

One of the recommendations I feel the most strongly about is getting the CityPass. The CityPass gives you access to six of the most popular tourist sites around the city at a reduced rate (about 40 percent off) and saves you time in line.  The CityPass can vary in price city to city and at different times of the year but we paid $100 per adult, $75 per kid.   $425 for CityPass for five.  (Currently the prices are $109 for adults and $82 for kids.) On the CityPass we visited: The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, The Modern Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The American Museum of Natural History, and The Empire State Building. Michael and his brother used our adult passes to visit the Guggenheim after the kids and I flew out.  Not only do you bypass ticket lines, you often get upgraded audio tours. Also you can go back twice to the Empire State Building – once in the day and once at night if you choose. We went at night for a shorter line and it was magnificent. (See more on navigating the museums below under museum section.)

It is recommended to leave about two hours to visit one island and five to visit both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. You will bypass the ticket line with your CityPass but then you have to wait in the security line. It is full-on airport security before you board the boat. I took my 10 and 12-year-old on the boats and left the 6-year-old at home. We were running short on time and felt like we saw the good views of the statue from the boat so we only got off on Ellis Island. I don’t think the 6-year-old would have been patient enough for this.

Highly recommended – My 10-year-old loved seeing Wall Street and all of the history in lower Manhattan. You can see the place that George Washington took his first oath of office and Alexander Hamilton’s tomb in the Trinity Church. These are great quick stops to hit before or after the Statue of Liberty or the 9/11 Memorial. The subway system down there gets a little wonky. I had to ask a hotdog vendor for help.

9/11 Memorial and Museum —It is recommended to book your time and tickets ahead of time for the Memorial. They charge a modest fee to reserve the time of $2 a ticket.  There is a long line to get in and your bags are searched and you will go through metal detectors.  My 6-year-old did fine at the memorial and had some understanding of what happened. I think it’s fine to take small kids if they can be relatively calm and quiet. I think visitors would get upset if kids were running around or screaming. It is a somber place.  The Museum is opening this spring.

Broadway tickets$225 –Broadway tickets are crazy expensive. I didn’t want to stand in the half-price TKTS line in the freezing December weather so I used Groupon instead and had fantastic seats for $75 a person.  I would use the half-price ticket booth for our future visits. You have to be flexible and be ready to switch shows if they don’t have what you want. You also can’t pick seats. It’s whatever is spit out of the machine. But you can use their website to plan contingencies. Also my friend says the South Street Seaport booth has half-price tickets for matinees and if often less crowded than the Times Square site so may be worth the effort to go there. Also I only took the big kids to the show.

Getting around the city

* Prepare your kids to walk. Our kids really did a great job walking. Get comfortable shoes – athletic shoes. Make sure they are warm enough or cool enough so no complaints. There’s so much to see they usually don’t realize how far they have walked. Just for reference, vertically on the island, 20 blocks equals a mile and horizontally three avenues equals a mile. (That’s at least what I have always been told.)

* Don’t be afraid of the subways. They are half of the experience of New York. Study the maps ahead of time. Use the apps. You can do this. The most important things to look for are on the signs overhead: Are you heading uptown or downtown? Are you getting on an Express – meaning it will skip lots of stops? Do want to get on an express? If it’s the weekend, is your train actually running? Often it says on the signs above the tracks or you can always ask someone.

* Don’t be afraid to ask police, subway attendants, maintenance staff, other people on the trains or hot dog vendors for directions. They are so helpful. They know the city is hard to navigate, and I always find New Yorkers to be helpful. (Use some social sense: if the person looks angry and mean, ask the lady with the shopping bag. Duh!)

* Embark is a great subway app that tells you exactly the right trains to take to your destination. It even tells you where to switch. Get a paper map too from the subway attendant. Sometimes you lose cell power or connectivity and won’t have access to your app. Also most trains have a map posted on the wall.

*Avoid Time Square in cabs unless you are trying to go there. It will take forever to get through. You cabbie should generally go to the left or right of Times Square. If they are not you need to ask them why. I had a cabbie fight with me about it one night.  He was heading uptown and I was questioning why he was staying on 8th and not heading over to 10th. He said he would if I wanted him to but he didn’t think it was necessary at that time of night. I decided to watch knowing I could tell him to cut over later if I felt like I needed him too.  Don’t be afraid to ask.

The kids loved the dinosaur bones at the American Natural History Museum but it definitley had the worst crowds. It was very difficult to walk through exhibits.

The kids loved the dinosaur bones at the American Natural History Museum but it definitley had the worst crowds. It was very difficult to walk through exhibits.

Visiting sites and enjoying the city

* Look for off times to visit sites. The CityPass website has advice about less crowded times to visit sites.

* Pace yourself: Only attempt one big site a day or if you must do two put a lunch break or play break at Central Park in between. Try to group sites by geography. For example, we hit the 9-11 site, Wall Street, the Trinity Church and lunch in China Town all together. Those are all little things. I wouldn’t pair two giant museums together. It’s too much for the kids.

* They really discourage you from bringing in bags to the museums and in fact some say online they won’t let you. It’s not true because so many people have kids and would go crazy on them but you don’t want to carry a bunch around. There are water fountains everywhere. Don’t bring water. I would bring snacks though – fruit or granola. The snack shops are too crowded and too expensive!! (PS the water is fine in NYC! You do not need to buy bottled water.)

* Talk to the cab drivers, the people on the subway, the waiters, the doorman, people in your elevator or lobby. You will learn so much just talking to the people who live in New York. Our driver coming from the airport was from Lebanon. We discussed the civil war in Syria and how the refugees from the war are affecting Lebanon. We talked about the violence in Lebanon in the 1980s, immigration, religion, and his standard of living in Queens. My kids learned so much in just one car ride. We had an Iranian driver later during our trip. He was also fascinating. (He was critical of my Lebanese driver so you have to be careful.) Driving back to the airport, our driver was from Haiti. Again, we learned so much about Haiti and the resurgence of the Queens borough just talking to him. You have to wade in gently and be respectful, but I find people love to talk about their home country and educate you with their perspective.

Walsh was thrilled when he recognized the artist Marcel Duchamp from his art studies at school. I had never heard of the guy.

Walsh was thrilled when he recognized the artist Marcel Duchamp from his art studies at school. I had never heard of the guy.

Museums

*Study the maps ahead of time. Read itineraries suggested by the museums. Know where your must-see items are so you don’t miss them.

* The Met has free coat check and is very efficient. The MOMA and the American Museum of Natural History coat check were a nightmare. The lines would take you forever!

*If you are on West side and need to get to the Met, take the subway up to the Natural History museum and just walk across the park. It’s a lovely walk and once you leave the park, you just take a left, walk a few blocks and there’s the Met. Easy Peasy!

* The MOMA is much smaller than the Met and surprisingly much snootier. There is a younger, hipster crowd there judging families. We did the MOMA in two hours and saw all the big stuff. Start at the top and work you way down. It’s fascinating what the kids are into: Lilina couldn’t get enough of films showing mechanization in black and white. I had to drag her out of the room.

*The American Museum of Natural History is where all the kids are, and it is so crowded many days that it’s almost not navigable. If you need a stroller I wouldn’t take that child. The exhibits in the middle tend to me more crowded than the ones that are on the outskirts. The City Pass includes the planetarium show. They just assigned us a time, which worked out fine. One worker advised us to sit on the back seats for the most comfortable view.

I think the problem with the Natural History museum is that because so many cities have such great zoos and aquariums now some of the exhibits about the animals just seem like yeah, we’ve seen a live squid or a live whale. It’s not that exciting. I do think their dinosaurs and anthropology exhibits about different cultures still really hold up well.

The Roman and Egyptian exhibits thrilled my 10-year-old who had been studying those cultures at school. He wants to go back this summer wtihout the girls so he can really read everything and not be rushed. I would adore a day with him at the museum.

The Roman and Egyptian exhibits captivated my 10-year-old who had been studying those cultures at school. He wants to go back this summer wtihout the girls so he can really read everything and not be rushed. I would adore a day with him at the museum.

* The Metropolitan Museum of Art was by far our best museum experience of the trip. It is a behemoth of a building and is so spread out that is seems less crowded. It felt much more relaxed there and calm within the exhibits. It is so large that you need to plan your attack. We knew we had to see the Greek and Roman artifacts and the Egyptian exhibit. I can guarantee you that your kids will LOVE these exhibits. We also made sure to hit the modern art. (I am planning to take Walsh back this summer for a day alone there. He wanted to really study and read everything and the girls were too impatient to let him.) If you only do one museum, do the Met. You get the best of all worlds there.

* The Guggenheim – I am not a huge fan of this museum. I was pickpocketed 20 years ago on the subway going to the museum, which I think has colored my view. I would leave it until the end and hit it fast if you have the CityPass. I would consider doing the GE tour instead, which is an option on the CityPass.

Resources locals use

* Embark NYC – I mentioned this Subway app above but it bears repeating. It is extremely helpful.

* Seemless – an App to order food. Put your credit card stuff in and it saves your orders.

*Time Out NY website is a great resource for figuring out restaurants and things to do. We used it when we lived there and used it for our visit. It is extremely helpful.

* Zagat New York City –The website didn’t exist when we lived there 20 years ago, but we consulted the paper guide before we went out. It will not lead you a stray choosing a restaurant.

(I included a breakdown of my daily expenditures mainly so you can see the subway/cab totals. It really added up quickly with five people at $2.50 a leg, and we truly tried to walk a lot. It could have been much more expensive.)

New York
City Passes

425

911 museum

12

Broadway $225

20-Dec

grocery

190.08

21-Dec

dinner Roed

147.02

21-Dec

diner

49.95

22-Dec

grocery

13.38

22-Dec

grocery

65.77

23-Dec

grocery

125.31

24-Dec

grocery

96.22

27-Dec

history museum

84.65

28-Dec

food

34.15

29-Dec

lalo

45.56

30-Dec

ventanas

125.42

26-Dec

coffee

15.75

27-Dec

grocery

67.65

31-Dec

airport

34.45

1095.36

Suway

22-Dec

MTA

20

22-Dec

taxi

23.62

23-Dec

taxi

25.35

23-Dec

subway

40

27-Dec

subway

30

31-Dec

subway

20

26-Dec

subway

20

178.97

36 comments Add your comment

Wow

March 17th, 2014
5:39 am

Nice relocation trip.

Have large companies stopped paying for your expenses (minus entertainment) when relocating? We have moved 3 times and always got at least one house hunting / family trip to our future home city included. I can see nowadays not buying your house if it does not sell, but trips like this were always part of an executive relocation package.

Mother of 2

March 17th, 2014
7:01 am

Great blog. I used to live and work in the city when subways cost $1.00 each trip. Your advice is spot on. We’ve taken our kids into the city many times and it is a very expensive trip, but well worth it.

Once you get there permanently, there are other broadway and off broadway opportunities to save money. If anyone is involved in the arts, you can subscribe to another ticket outlet – I can’t remember the name of it, but your kids’ schools can help you with this. You won’t get new shows. I used to get tickets for $20.00 apiece and I got to sit next to my friends. I’m sure the cost has increased dramatically!

Me

March 17th, 2014
7:15 am

This is a great write-up, Theresa, and you accomplished 12 days in NYC in a manner far more frugal than I. It seems you utilized great cost saving ideas which allowed you to show your kids experiences they will remember forever. We no longer have kids at home but a number of your readers should be able to take your ideas and make a trip to NYC a reality.

Macy

March 17th, 2014
7:17 am

Your fried is already at $5,000 for a Vacation?? I have never in my life spent that much money on vacation. My husband would kill me. We went on a 10 day cruise to Alaska for half that! Unbelievable. In these economic times, how can one afford $5,000 for a vacation. That is just insane!!

HB

March 17th, 2014
7:17 am

Don’t forget the bus as an option for getting there. Much cheaper than driving, takes around the same amount of time, and most drop off at Times Sq, I think, so no major transportation costs once you arrive. Megabus is really cheap if you book early. Amtrak to Penn Station is good too, but often to the NE corridor, it’s about as expensive as flying.

WitchyWoman

March 17th, 2014
7:21 am

@WOW I was thinking the same thing. We’ve moved twice with large companies and they have always paid for at least one house hunting trip. It included the flight, a hotel (if needed) and car rental( if needed). Then again, maybe the company is going to reimburse parts of their trip.

@Theresa – This looked really interesting. It looks like you guys had fun. Like Walsh, my daughter would want to read EVERYTHING. Thanks for the info on the museums. I hate being excited to go somewhere and finding out that you can’t enjoy it because everyone else has decided that they want to be there at the same time.It can’t be helped, but it still sucks. I do think it is great if patrons can find out ahead of time when the best time to go….like Disney.

motherjanegoose

March 17th, 2014
7:32 am

I have been to NYC 3 times and am not very knowledgable about it. It was interesting to read your perspective.

You did a thorough job of sharing your ideas. I am surprised that you did not mention Tripadvisor. I use it all the time for hotels and restaurants. Truth…there is no sense in staying in a hotel that does not include breakfast with the rate, as so many do. We stay at the Embassy Suites and they have a free extended breakfast and free snacks at night too. This way, you can eat a nice lunch out ( cheaper than dinner) and that is your only meal out. You can then easily get by with less than $100 per day for food for a family of four.

We also got our Broadway tickets on Groupon. I too would like to try the half price tickets kiosk.

Cabs… this may be obvious to some but many do not know: you stand on the side of the street in the direction you want to go. If the cab is on your side, you hop in and the driver has to go one mile north to turn one mile south, you are paying for 2 extra miles and time. Cross the street to hail a cab in the direction you are headed.

Funny thing is that I never take the Marta here but always take the Subway in Boston, NYC or DC.

TWG…it is almost 900 miles from Atlanta, so I am thinking to round it up to 2000 r/t? Would you make it without a hotel and meals one way…I would not want to drive 900 miles straight. Throw in 2 nights hotels ( $200.00) and meals ( $200.00) Gas would be about $300.00. Am I right with $700.00 to drive from Atlanta and then if you have to park your car at a hotel for 7 days, that would be at least $20 per night. DB and I spent the night in Chicago and that was $32 to park the car for 24 hours. Seven days of parking would be $140.00. Looking at $850.00 to drive from Atlanta.
Currently the airfare is under $300.00 for a r/t ticket the end of April. There are three airport options: JFK ( I have not been to) EWR or LGA and I have been to both of these. $1200.00 for a family of four and you would save 2 days of driving at least .

BOTTOM LINE….get a credit card that offers points for hotel or airfare. Charge everything on that card and pay it off each month. Do some research. Clark Howard recommends some. You should be able to get your hotel or airfare for free if you accure points and use them.

A

March 17th, 2014
7:32 am

Good post, and I would add for accommodations try Priceline or Hotwire. We went to NYC 3 years ago for Spring Break and paid $125/night for the Holiday Inn in lower Manhattan. Nice 3 star hotel next to Chinatown and a stone’s throw from Little Italy. We had several subway lines within a block of the hotel and had no trouble getting around.

motherjanegoose

March 17th, 2014
7:35 am

ooops…accrue…sorry

motherjanegoose

March 17th, 2014
7:44 am

RE: Priceline… I have never used it. I have listened to horror stories at the front desk and read tidits about it in the book HEADS IN BEDS ( my sister bought it for me as she thought I would enjoy it… I did, it was very frank with language I am not typically used to. Written from a hotelier’s perspective).

You get a room at a discounted price…you may not like the room. If all they have left is a smoking room or a room on the floor that houses 28 middle schoolers on a band trip….you are stuck with it.
You may also get the room that faces the flagpole and on a windy night it is gonging as the flag is whipping around in the wind ( yes I have heard it).

You can gamble that you will get a nice room and may very well get one but I am not a gambler.
The front desk will NOT reimburse you, if you are unhappy. They do not have your $$$ yet. They will eventually get it from Priceline. they cannot give it back to you. This also applies to airfare, You may have a ticket and a seat but you will get bumped first if something happens. I have seen it.

My sister swears by Priceline and gets mad at me when I tell her I would not use it. Of course, I am a business traveler and do not have a lot of time to deal with unfortunate situations nor lost sleep nor missed flights. If you travel for leisure and have time for this, then that is good. If you have 3 kids in tow, maybe not. Just saying,

A

March 17th, 2014
8:45 am

@MJG, we’ve used both Priceline and Hotwire many, many times over the past 5+ years and have never gotten the kind of room you are describing. What they don’t tell you is the name of the hotel until you’ve paid for it, but you get all the other info such as star level, location within your destination. Most of the time I have a good idea of which specific hotel it is by lining up the information they give with actual hotels located in that area at that level. And once you do get your room confirmed, all you have to do is call the hotel directly to make sure it’s non-smoking. We’ve also been able to specify 1 bed or 2, etc. and upon check-in I’ve never had a problem requesting a room on a higher floor or away from the elevator if those types of rooms are available.

Who knows. I might get burned by a hotel auction site in the future, but so far Priceline and Hotwire have both been good experiences. I wouldn’t try a no-name company or even Airbnb (too many bad stories out there), but these 2 companies seem to be just fine.

A

March 17th, 2014
8:46 am

BTW, I would never use an auction site for business travel. Thankfully, whenever I’ve had to travel on business, the company always shells out for nice 4-star and above type hotels. Priceline and Hotwire are just for leisure travel.

motherjanegoose

March 17th, 2014
8:56 am

@ A…this is what my sister tells me all the time too. She has never been burned, so she cannot understand my point. I spend about 60-70 nights a year in hotels for travel and have witnessed lots of dismal incidents while waiting for a front desk clerk.

To me, this is kind of like someone who says:

I always check my luggage and have never had it lost.
I drive through Atlanta all the time and have never had a wreck.
My dog is out in our yard without a leash and it is never a problem.

Once you have had any of the above happen, it changes your perspective. We have had all three.
YES lots of people are lucky but some are not. I have chatted about this with the front desk and they can tell of many times customers got irate when they booked a Sheraton and ended up being shuttled to Super 8. I was once in New Orleans and booked at a Radisson. They were overbooked and offered Rodeway Inn. After quite a fight with the front desk, I called corporate and was sent up to the Penthouse Suite, as it was the only room open. I was a member of the Radisson Club and they took care of me. Priceline does not do this and your hotel will not either, if you got a bargain rate. Again, I have not had the experience but I have asked several front desk agents and they have horror stories to tell.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 17th, 2014
9:08 am

Couple of thoughts — Corporate relo ain’t what it used to be. We used to get a free premove trip to house hunt. It didn’t happen and won’t be happening. We can write off the flight (and hotel if we had it but didn’t have it. They did at least pay for corporate housing for two months and flights home since we are separated.) I am flying back in early May to house hunt and we can write off that flight but I’m planning to stay with my old boss who very kindly is happy to have me stay with her family.

As far as driving v flying: We had some craptacular flight experiences this time which i will be writing about next. I’m calling the airline this week to interview them about their policies regarding families sitting together and premium seating. I would drive any day over flying. MJG I think a family could easily drive from Ga to NY in two days so I will grant you one night of hotel and even with the parking you’re still going to be under air fare. (Not for one person but for a family of 3 or more you will be.)

I was reminded this morning that Lilina was really mad that she didn’t get to go to the Statue of Liberty. She was sick that day but I had pretty much decided before that not to take her because of the time required. She was really sad to miss the statue, and I will probably end up taking just her this summer to the statue. (I wouldn’t take her to Ellis Island but I did want the big to see it. It was very age-appropriate for them.)

cobbmom

March 17th, 2014
9:47 am

We spent a week in NYC this past summer. My kids favorite museum was the Natural History, they had a ball looking for all the exhibits that are in the Night at the Museum movie. I prefer the Met, but I’m an adult looking at classic art. We also visited the Met later in our visit when they were already tired. The Guggenheim is a waste of time, except for the exterior architecture. There was a special light exhibit when we were there, less than a dozen paintings were in the entire museum and NO sculptures. Most of the art that I had seen there as a college student is now located in MOMA. We discovered early that it was cheaper to take a taxi in midtown than the subway, in addition the kids were able to see the street scene instead of tiled walls going by.

I noticed that you didn’t take them to the United Nations. The tour there was the favorite of my children. They enjoyed that all the guides are from different countries and they wear their country of origin clothing and it is noted on their nametag.

We couldn’t miss seeing Spiderman in the theater. It was expensive for mezzanine tickets. I was told before hand to get mezzanine due to the aerial work. Spiderman would “land” in front of us when he finished the aerial work. We also got to meet several cast members after the play, including Reeve Carney who played Spiderman. He was very pleasant and kind with the children.

Ellis Island was still closed due to the hurricane but we we had a lovely tour of the Statue of Liberty.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 17th, 2014
10:00 am

United Nation was partially closed due to total renovation — I love the UN!! and they will be going this summer after we move. You couldn’t see the big meeting room where they discuss everything — just some set up museum — so I didn’t think worth the time on that trip — I kind of want a job at the UN. I love going there.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 17th, 2014
10:00 am

I think Walsh would have loved Spiderman!!

motherjanegoose

March 17th, 2014
10:05 am

TWG…I was thinking one night of hotel on the way out and one night of hotel on the way home: TWO NIGHTS. I am not a fan of driving 900 miles ( one way) without a stop but some might be.

I loved Ellis Island and it it one of my favorites in NYC.

TWG…did you book your seats together and did they separate you? That is odd.Did you pay extra for the premium seating and not get it? Odd too! I book in exit row, whenever I can, Gives more room.

I do know that planes are more crowded now and there is not much wiggle room to get passengers together. We had a flight issue in OKC. I had booked myself and my husband to get to a meeting in Amarillo, Delta does not fly into that airport, so I got us both a ticket to OKC ( 3 1/2 hours away) and he would be driving since I had worked all day in WV and was pooped. He rarely comes with my but this was a time I needed help. We got in at 11:00 p.m. and I had to be on site at 7:00 a.m. Anyway, the flight was cancelled on the way back and they had a BIG mess with those who had to connect in ATL. I sat and waited, since I was just GOING TO ATLANTA. They upgraded me to 1st class ( as I am Medallion) but my husband had to stay in coach. A lady next to me was in the same situation and her husband was in coach..we laughed.

xxxx

March 17th, 2014
10:36 am

2000 words to tell us NYC is expensive. Got it.

janice

March 17th, 2014
11:25 am

as they say….been there, done that, have the t-shirt.

cost of living is very expensive in nyc. that’s why a lot of people live in surburbs and commute in. but salaries also match the cost of living as well.

if you put your kids in private school, get ready for sticker shock.

Wow

March 17th, 2014
11:43 am

I forwarded this to my husband because we are looking to relocate with the same company within the next year. Luckily his company has maintained their relocation benefits for internal employees, but no one gets their house bought if it does not sell. Whew!

My husband does not work for a high profile deep pocket company, but even he was shocked that they are offering your family such a bare bones package for an internal corporate move to a very high COL locale. Not trying to stir the pot, but being that they promoted him and did not have the high expense of an executive new hire – their relo “benefit” is mind boggling. If there is any open door for negotiations take them to task. Just think of the out of pocket expense moving from GA to AZ, this move is even more pricey but with less of the benefit? Writing relocation off taxes is helpful, but it certainly doesn’t match money in hand today to pay those current bills.

Appreciate your candor and getting me to be proactive this morning with my husband about our plans. Maybe this whole relo thing can be a blog series you can tackle to help other families relocating post recession and housing bust. Could be an eye opener on how long it takes someone to recoup from such a life changing event. Comparing and contrasting your start to finish experiences could help families more than you realize. I sincerely hope this move is all that each of your family members wish for.

Thanks!

Techmom

March 17th, 2014
11:47 am

I guess this is why I’ve never had a strong desire to visit NYC. I would like to some day but I would think of it as more of a “tiip” rather than a “vacation”… it does not sound relaxing at all and I hate having to worry about how much money we’re spending. This is probably why we go to all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean!

My parents live in Maryland, just north of DC and my mom and I talked about taking the train from DC to NYC and just going for 2-3 days. That’s probably more up my ally.

MJG- we’ve used Priceline a lot and are always either super pleased or relieved we didn’t spend more. You can choose to bid on 4 or 5 star hotels only and usually end up with a great hotel for less than $100 per night. It gets a bit dicey when you’re in an area that only has 2 or 3 star hotels.

HB

March 17th, 2014
12:02 pm

Techmom, I’ve taken the train for short trips to NYC from DC and New England (almost the same length trip, just opposite directions), and it’s a great way to visit. Flying is a pain due to the hassle and expense of getting to and from the airports — if you are traveling from within 5 hours or so, train won’t take any longer once you add in early arrival for airport security and getting into Manhattan from the airport. Once we did Priceline and got a great deal on two nights in a nice hotel by the UN. There are good, inexpensive buses from DC too.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 17th, 2014
12:03 pm

MJG – my bad — forgot the trip home — still cheaper — $280 parking but $300 for two hotel nights — still less than flying for a large family

More on the seating after the interview —

Wow — we did get moving money just no premove trip — this has changed too though — every move before this you were given a moving company and you never saw the bill but now you are given a sum and you make it work. Definitely affected by the bad economy.

Buying out a house – haha — we paid two mortgages for a year and lost $100,000 when we moved here from Atlanta —

missnadine

March 17th, 2014
12:26 pm

This is the most interesting and helpful post I’ve ever seen on this blog – very good information for anyone. My one thing would be: why didn’t YOU get into any of the pictures? Wouldn’t you have liked to have a family shot with all of of you? I think that would have been a great memory.

missnadine

March 17th, 2014
12:33 pm

Theresa, you should start your own writing business – like a consulting/freelance business. You could deduct a ton of expenses on an ongoing basis. I can’t imagine having a house on the market for one year. I would have reduced it a lot just to get rid of it. I did that when I moved in the last year. It was worth it to me.

WitchyWoman

March 17th, 2014
12:36 pm

@ Theresa…I feel you on the two mortgages. When we moved from TX to GA, we had to pay 2 mortgages for 6 months due to the economy. The company did buy the house, but we barely broke even. Jump forward 2 years later when we had to move from GA to south FL, we didn’t buy another house until the one in Marietta sold. We were lucky because it sold in less than 2 weeks. It actually took us longer to buy a new house in FL because people (from up north) were buying them like crazy…for CASH or sight unseen. The company paid for my husbands condo for 6 months. We got movers both times so..yaay cause I HATE to move and they made it sooo easy.

xyz

March 17th, 2014
12:36 pm

“cost of living is very expensive in nyc. that’s why a lot of people live in surburbs and commute in. but salaries also match the cost of living as well.”

salaries used to match cost of living but with this economy i have my doubts. the rich are carrying on and that is it. if a company wants you to move on a shoestring with you taking on the costs then they are not paying you the big bucks for the new job either. cheap

Techmom

March 17th, 2014
12:42 pm

@HB – thanks for the info.

If you are flexible in time of travel to NYC – what’s the best time to go in terms of crowds? I’m sure it’s crowded ALL THE TIME but certainly there are worse times than others (like during the holidays when TWG went).

@TWG – how is the housing market in AZ? Things are starting to improve in Atlanta. I’m actually shocked at all the new housing going up in the burbs. I guess banks are feeling optimistic enough to start lending again. We’re hoping things improve enough to be able to put both of our houses on the market next spring (we’ve been renting our old house for almost 6 years now).

HB

March 17th, 2014
1:10 pm

I’m no sure about best times, probably similar best times to other tourist spots — September after Labor Day is slow pretty much everywhere, and the weather should be decent. I’ve been in late October-early November and that was good. We were able to pick up tickets at the Times Sq TKTS booth without much of a wait an hour or so before the show — other times we went to the downtown one, which generally isn’t as crowded. That one opens earlier too (late a.m.) and offers Sat matinee tickets on Fri, so it’s easier to plan around the show. Jan-Feb probably are not too crowded and may have good deals, but the weather could be terrible. I hear Thanksgiving – Christmas is pretty crazy crowded, but still worth it to see the city all done up for the holidays. The most crowded time I’ve been was early August — lines for the boats to Liberty and Ellis Islands were pretty bad, TKTS booth at TS was impossible (downtown was still fine), but overall, we didn’t have any major headaches.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 17th, 2014
3:20 pm

Techmom — Their schools don’t get out until mid to late June so I would think the attractions wouldn’t be as crazy in late May, early June. I always think that fall break or four-day weekend the schools give in Oct is a great time to travel. If not worrying about a school schedule I agree with HB that anytime after Labor Day and before major holidays would be good there.

Housing marking has really picked up here because it hit it’s low before Atlanta did. We should break even and maybe make a little but I don’t think we will recover what we lost on the other end. The house goes up Thursday. I have one room left to organize — my office area. I am dreading it. Tired of cleaning.
We’ve put in new pool deck, new carpet, touch up pain, cleaned top to bottom, new motors in the water features, new timers in the lights outside front and back, cleaned the tile in the pool, cut back all the trees — they should be just be able to move in and do nothing. I am hoping it will go in 30 days. Say prayers for us!!! And then we can pin down the other end.

motherjanegoose

March 17th, 2014
3:59 pm

@ Techmom…I visit smaller towns all over the place and thus do not typically stay in areas with 4-5 star hotels. If I do want to stay in that type of hotel, I use my points and snag a room for free. I have horror stories of staying in hotels and having to call the front desk and also corporate. Ultimately, corporate will typically take care of you. Sometimes they have to strong arm the front desk and once in a while they even comp the room if there is nothing else that can be done. Based on what I have heard, discount sites do not. Again, I have had no personal experience. Maybe when I retire, I will take a shot at it.

@ TWG…do you plan to stay in the NYC area? We lost $$$ on our first home in Texas ( 1980’s) . We broke even on our second home in Gwinnett and now are almost paid off on this house. I am not sure we could handle losing money or breaking even on every move but we have at least 10 years on you.

ssidawg

March 17th, 2014
7:49 pm

Great information. I’ve only been to NYC once, back in 2002. I fell in love with the bagels and iced coffee, and I don’t even like coffee! I want to go back with my husband and son and will definitely refer back to this blog when we make the trip. Even the comments are nice today!

HB

March 17th, 2014
9:26 pm

You may be right, Theresa, but I’d be hesitant to try spring/early summer if I wanted to aim for smaller crowds just based on what we see here in DC. Local school schedules don’t impact our crowds nearly as much as the tourist influx. It picks up in late March, and even after cherry blossoms, we stay awfully crowded until a week or two after July 4. I wouldn’t be surprised if NYC had similar crowd patterns of tour groups and families coming in.

Kat

March 19th, 2014
2:35 pm

Very interesting information. Since you are definitely moving to the city, I wouldn’t have put out all the money to go and see quite so much on a house-hunting trip. I would have held some back. Do museums still have “free” days? Take the girls on those days with Walsh, and then take him back on another day. It seems you got a lot in, but not sure if that was necessary unless you were trying to “sell” the kids on the idea of NYC, even though you were going to live there regardless of what they thought. Good luck!

Helene

March 23rd, 2014
7:09 pm

It looks like you had a nice trip to NYC, how do you feel about moving there permanently? I’ve only visited it a few times and it really isn’t the cheap, true. I always try to get the cheapest flights (skyscanner is good for that) as well as the cheapest hotel (I usually use http://new-york.hotelscheap.org/) but I always end up over my planned budget. Maybe it’s just me or maybe it’s New York City.