People are never able to understand how Ricky & I can afford to live in Manhattan, but in all honesty, anyone can make it work. We definitely lucked out with our apartment, that I won't deny. My parents were convinced I was going to live in Manhattan and drove me up & down the streets on the days during our apartment search and made me get out of the car every time there was a "For Rent" sign. I'd have to go into the apartment building, see if it was affordable, and put my application in if it was. Finally, I got a phone call and I had gotten one of the surprisingly affordable studios in Manhattan that I had applied for.
Ricky & I are minimalists so a studio for the two of us is perfect. I wouldn't recommend that you share a studio apartment with a friend; friends need their own space. But, you should be able to share a studio with the person you're dating (hopefully at least!) Anyway, we split rent & utilities which are a huge burden for a lot of people. If you have a roommate and y'all aren't splitting rent & utilities, you have got to sit down and have a chat. Everyone living in a space has to contribute, or it will cause a lot of animosities and be a financial burden on the person who is making the payments.
We also keep a running budget - each of us have our own (Example below). We fill in our salary & figure out how much gets taken out in taxes. Then we estimate what our fixed expenses will be (things we know we pay each month like rent, electrical, internet, phone bills, groceries, etc.) and set aside some "Misc." money for items that may come up throughout the month that we don't expect. Through this, we figure out how much money we have remaining for our Savings *Recommend setting aside 15% of your take home pay every pay period. This doesn't include your company 401k/retirement plan BTW* -Ricky. We update this budget each month. As you keep updating this, you realize what miscellaneous items you're spending money on that you really don't need. One thing that totally drives me crazy is when women get their nails done every week and then come to me complaining that they have no money or questioning how I can travel as much as I do. Well, guess what ladies, save that $30-$35 a week and you'll have an extra $120-$140 that goes into your Travel Fund! Those are the things you'll find though, if you spend $5 on a bottle of nail polish every once and a while and do your own nails each week, and you'll be able to travel with the extra $$.
Our Savings Accounts are a whole other story that you'll get another week. But for now, get started on those budgets!