NOLA Tradeoffs: What You Pay For in New Orleans

I love New Orleans, y’all. But anyone who lives here knows we make daily trade-offs for the privilege of living in the “Northernmost Caribbean city”.

Sure, it’s hot half the year. You can hear live music anywhere. And there are more parties than days on the calendar.

But we also have some of the worst streets in the country, some seriously-behind-the-times politicians…and probably the jerk who invented the Jungle Juice daiquiri.

Here’s a list of things you can expect to save money on while living in New Orleans–and what you’ll spend that money on instead.

Got something to add? Throw it in the comments or holler at me on Twitter @theenglishmaven.

WHAT YOU DON’T PAY FOR

Drinks. Like the endless rain during one of our seasonal monsoons, drinks are plentiful and cheap all over New Orleans (unless, God help you, you are going to a cocktail bar).

WHAT YOU PAY FOR INSTEAD

New tires every year instead of every two years because of our sinking swamp-streets, since New Orleans’ attention-deficit city government ignores potholes that routinely eat entire SUVs in favor of randomly ripping up streets throughout the city. Constant steering alignments to keep your car from drifting into oncoming traffic while you put on some tunes.

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WHAT YOU DON’T (HAVE TO) PAY FOR (BUT YOU CAN)

Good food. Get in my face, $9 giant sandwich from Milk Bar! Come home with me, garlic knots from Pizza Domenica happy hour! Become one with my stomach, spring rolls from Magasin!

WHAT YOU PAY FOR INSTEAD

Education. Product of the New Orleans Public School system right here! I went to what was (then, and somewhat debatably) considered the best public high school in the state of Louisiana. Since Katrina, the charter school system has taken over most public schools in New Orleans, with mixed results and not a whole lot of unified oversight.

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Mmm. Wait, HOW much?

WHAT YOU DON’T PAY FOR

Entertainment–especially live music. Drink in hand, you can wander happily down Frenchmen Street, popping in and out of clubs that don’t charge covers. In a single night, you’ll hear everything from brass bands and jazz combos to funk, bluegrass, and the occasional gutter punk howling to handmade accompaniment.

WHAT YOU PAY FOR INSTEAD

Good coffee. Yes sir, Mr. Barista, I will re-mortgage my house for this $5.65 latte. (Granted, I’m thinking this may simply be the cost of good coffee, but damn it, I needed an item here).

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WHAT YOU DON’T PAY FOR

Gas. Whoohoo! Welcome to the Gulf South. We routinely have some of the cheapest gas in the U.S.

WHAT YOU PAY FOR INSTEAD

Housing. Y’all, at this rate, native New Orleanians are going to be totally replaced by New Yorkers looking for fun places they can gentrify Airbnb by, like, next summer.

WHAT YOU DON’T PAY FOR

Public transit. New Orleans has one of the least expensive public transit systems in the U.S.–despite it being among the most expensive to operate.

WHAT YOU PAY FOR INSTEAD

Um, well, you still can’t get anywhere by bus or streetcar (unless you’re Odysseus and you’re not planning to return home for, say, 20 years).

 

Despite it all, NOLA remains one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Just don’t forget to open an extra savings account for car repairs.

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