I'm a single, college-educated, mid-twenties male who will very likely be relocating from the West Coast to the Tri-State area in a few months for a full-time desk job in Rutherford, New Jersey. I'd love to know your recommendations for affordable rooms, apartments, studios, etc. in safe and convenient neighborhoods.
I grew up in and lived in South Brooklyn for many years, so I'm familiar with the NYC area, but I've never lived in NJ nor ever considered living there in the past.]
Some details (I apologize for how disorganized this will probably be):
1. My annual salary will be roughly $50,000, and I will have full benefits (health + dental insurance, 401k, etc.). I will be expected to stay a minimum of 5 years at the job. The hours will likely be 8-5 or 9-6, probable occasional overtime.
2. I currently owe $80,000 in student loan debt (mostly private loans - which are ineligible for deferment). I have only ever been able to afford minimum payments on each loan (both while employed and unemployed) since finishing my undergrad four years ago. One of the biggest reasons I'm taking the job is to allow me to pay off my loans once and for all, which I’d like to be aggressive about doing while working. [BTW, any advice on doing this with the details I've provided would be greatly appreciated!]
3. The 30% rule for rent indicates with my given salary I should pay no more than $1250/month. Do I have any real options there for living in Manhattan that are convenient getting to NJ from? I’m pretty minimalist and frugal, and I’ve lived in a basement closet in NYC in the past, with literally just enough space for a twin-sized bed and a dresser, but naturally I would prefer NOT to repeat the experience of living in a box if I can help it. I can probably stretch my budget a little bit, but my priority right now is paying off my loans ASAP.
4. I will not have a car. I’m not even considering owning a car while I’m in the NYC/NJ area.
5. I may
be able to room with a friend of mine in a 2BR apartment in the Nolita area for ~$1000/month, which is a steal by NYC standards. We get along just swell, and his apartment is central to lots of places I'd want to go to regularly. The estimated one-way commute to/from the office is 1 hour and 10 minutes (according to Google Maps), and would involve at least one transfer. Is the long commute worth living in Manhattan for?
*Unfortunately, there's no guarantee he'll be able to stay in his apartment by the time I move (I will be the first to know, though). I personally think this would be the best option for me if it did pan out, but am I being wildly overoptimistic about commuting from Manhattan to NJ and back on a daily basis? How hellish would it be?
It probably goes without saying I’m biased towards living in NYC. One of the biggest appeals for me about accepting the job (an opportunity I know I’m incredibly fortunate to have) is being close enough to NYC to enjoy the lifestyle, culture, and energy of the city. I’m fairly extroverted and spontaneous, have many friends who still live in NYC, and have many different hobbies that I’d like to keep up (on an ancillary note, I should mention that despite growing up in NYC, I’m more of a West Coast kind of person).
I may be over-romanticizing these aspects of NYC, but I worry that living in New Jersey would deprive me of a lot of the organic experiences and interactions that come from being in the city
. Obviously, I could take the bus to/from Manhattan after work, but it seems like it would be such a chore to do so on a regular basis. I’m mostly deathly worried about ending up in a situation where I’d spend all of my weekdays living on repeat: working and then going home to be a shut-in in New Jersey, where I know nary a soul. I'm young and exuberant; I want to go out and do things!
Anyway, all that said:
1. Where would you ultimately recommend living for my job: Manhattan or New Jersey? What neighborhoods should I look at in each? What other parts of town should I consider looking at (i.e. Is it feasible commuting from parts of Brooklyn or Queens all the way to New Jersey? How are areas like Weehawken, NJ in terms of expenses, safety, convenience, etc.? What areas of Manhattan should I look at for apartments that I can get to NJ from without destroying my wallet?)
2. Complicating matters is the fact that I’m not anywhere near the area (I’m 3,000 miles away) to look at potential apartments. What can I do while I’m away to scope out apartments or sublets? What sites / resources should I consult to help me plan moving?
3. Everywhere else that I’ve moved around the country, I used Craigslist, which I’ve had a very surprising amount of success with (in Seattle, I was able to find a room in a house, look at it, AND sign the lease for it when I flew up to visit for one week. Then, when I actually moved in, it took me no longer than a week to fully furnish my room, thanks again to Craigslist!). I’m doubtful I can replicate that kind of success looking for places in NYC (and yeah, I know there aren’t quite houses in the area like there are on the West Coast). I was thinking of crashing at a friend’s or relative’s place in the NYC area about a month in advance of starting my job, and pounding pavement like mad to inspect prospective places. Is that even enough time? Do I need a broker? What documentation will I need? What are NYC leases like?
Work-life balance is really important to me, so I want to put myself in the best position to succeed in both professional and personal domains. I’m looking forward to the work and making a decent living for myself, but I’d also like to keep an active social and creative life, which is why I’m turning to you guys for help figuring out where to compromise.
advice would be wonderful. This is another big move (and a longer-term commitment) for me and I want to be prepared.
Bonus points if anyone who has lived in NYC and worked in NJ could share some of their experiences doing so. It’d be tremendously helpful for me to have a sense of what I’ll be getting into.