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I want to move to NYC.
May 4, 2014 1:58 PM   Subscribe

I would like to move to NYC but have no idea how to actually go about doing so. My main priority is meeting people and making new friends, but I'm also (of course) concerned about finding work and living in an area I like and can afford.

I'm 24 years old and would like to move once I graduate. My major was geography but I'm not interested in a job in that field; in fact, I'd prefer to work a job or two somewhere like a record store, coffee shop, or art gallery. I'd like an area with lots of people in their mid- to late-twenties, and I also love art, music, and film.

After some initial research, I have a few questions:

1. I've heard it's common for landlords to require an annual salary 40x your monthly rent. How commonplace is this practice?

2. I'm currently looking into Sunnyside, Astoria, and Williamsburg. Any advice relating to any of those neighborhoods would be much appreciated!

3. It sound to me like the best way to go about this is to save up, fly to NYC, rent a room for a month, and use that month to find an apartment and a job. Is this the best option?

4. I'm expecting that my apartment options will be mainly limited by my budget (the lower the better - $1000/mo or less would be ideal, but am I being naive? What should I worry about most, after safety - noise, location, neighbors?

Thanks as always, MeFi.
posted by reductiondesign to Work & Money (33 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
1. 100% super common. It might be possible to avoid this, but unlikely. That said, if you plan to work in a record store or coffee shop, you're getting roommates, so no need to worry about landlords and credit checks and guarantors and the like. You're going to go on Craigslist, find a share you can afford, and fork over $800/month to whichever roommate is actually on the lease once a month.

2. Williamsburg? Nope. Seriously, you are vastly overestimating the ability to live comfortably on a mcjob in New York City. Sunnyside or Astoria could work (again, with roommates), also potentially Bushwick, Bed Stuy, or Crown Heights in Brooklyn. And you'll be struggling to make ends meet there, too. I have friends with professional grownup careers, who are married/living with a partner (thus much stronger combined housing purchasing power than a single person), who struggle to afford apartments in pretty borderline/un-hip neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens. You need to either plan to work in finance or develop a much more realistic picture of what your living situation is going to look like.

3. Yeah, that's about right.

4. At that budget, I would say your priorities are:

- Roommates you can put up with

- The End.

Anywhere in NYC is going to be noisy. If you don't like noise, stay in Arizona.

Most areas of NYC where you'll find apartment shares with likeminded folks are going to be adequately safe. Basically just stay out of East New York, Brownsville, and certain parts of the Bronx.

Re location, this is going to depend on work, and the reality is that if you're serious about this whole "oh i dunno like work in a coffee shop or whatevs" lifestyle, location is a variable you're going to give up control over.

You will probably never even meet your neighbors, unless we're referring to roommates. The greatest difference to your quality of life in NYC for under $1000/month is to find a way to live with people you can put up with.
posted by Sara C. at 2:12 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]


How much savings do you have? Be prepared to provide paystubs and first and last months rent along with a security deposit. Personally, I would try to line up a job before moving here, though I don't know how realistic that is for a coffee shop or record store. Aside from the geography degree, what's your work experience like?

A $1,000 a month will get you a room in Williamsburg or Sunnyside, not an entire apartment. Personally, I don't love either neighborhood. Williamsburg is...well...Williamsburg and Sunnyside is cute and very safe but definitely more geared toward families than 20 somethings. Remember, NYC has an excellent public transit system (unless you live off the R or the G but I digress...) and you can always hop on a subway or a bus to get to where you need to go. I think your primary focus should be making sure you've budgeted enough in case you can't find a paying job in four weeks time.
posted by tabula rasa at 2:13 PM on May 4


". My main priority is meeting people and making new friends,"

If that's the case you shouldn't move to NYC. I love New York. Have lived here virtually my entire life. But it is notorious for being one of the hardest places to make friends. You'll meet tons of people, but friends will likely be hard to come by. It's true everywhere that it becomes more difficult to make friends after college, but it's even truer in large cities- especially one of the largest on the planet.

I think you're just in love with the idea of living in NY which is often sold on tv shows like Sex & the City... fabulous friends, great clubs and arts scenes etc... but the reality is that being able to do these things in NYC requires a good chunk of money. Hell, just living a boring life where you stay in every night in NYC will cost you a fortune compared to anywhere else.

I'm not saying don't move here. Just re-evaluate why it is you want to move here. I make friends SO much easier when I travel outside of the city. If that was my main goal I wouldn't make NYC my first stop.
posted by manderin at 2:16 PM on May 4 [12 favorites]


Go on Padmapper and start looking for apartments within your criteria, to get a feel for what's out there. (But realize that if something seems like an amazing deal relative to most of what you're seeing, it might be a scam, or you might be overlooking some huge problem, e.g. there's no kitchen.) I assume you're willing to live with roommates, in which case, yes, you can find something for less than $1,000 in one of your preferred neighborhoods.

In addition to asking how common it is for landlords to require you to earn the rent-times-40 per year, you should also ask yourself: would you want to pay more than 30% of your income in rent? (Remember, that's pre-tax income, and taxes in NYC are very high.) For instance, as you know, places that do apply the 40x rule would require you to earn $40,000 a year for a $1,000-a-month apartment. So you'd be paying $12,000 a year, leaving you with $28,000 a year for everything else, including groceries, clothing, transportation, moving costs, having a social life (if you know what I mean), taxes, an emergency fund, etc. If that's the situation, would you really think: "No, I want to pay significantly more than $1,000 a month — and have significantly less than $28,000 a year for everything else?"
posted by John Cohen at 2:25 PM on May 4


I think you might be happier in a smaller, less expensive city like Philly.

That said, the advice you're getting in this thread is pretty right on. I'd look in Clinton Hill for an apartment and then start your job search by going into every single coffee shop, bar, restaurant and store in the area that you can reach on foot and ask if they're hiring. Not having to pay subway fare stakes a bit of the strain off your your finances that much easier and living near where you work makes it easier to socialize spontaneously.

(If you're coming from Arizona, you may not be used to the amount of walking that's common/expected here. By stuff you can "reach on foot" I'm talking about walking distances of ten to thirty minutes, minimum.)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 2:25 PM on May 4


NYC is very expensive in some regards (rent) and very cheap in others (lots of free stuff to do, cheap eats, no car needed). But without a good paying job that rent is really, really, really going to eat into your income.

I personally would spend a year saving a good chunk of money so you have a cushion; researching jobs and companies you might like to work at and doing some interviews;or consider a short term internship and sublet to see if you really like NYC and not just the idea of NYC.

As for making friends; I would suggest, again, saving some money and signing up for some classes at any number of places (Art Institute, School of Visual Arts, NYU Continuing Ed, Hunter, etc), where you'll meet people with similar interests and start to build community. Friends can also be made through volunteering and there's plenty of that to do.
posted by brookeb at 2:27 PM on May 4


I also have to say that I think $1000/month for rent on a record store clerk's pay in NYC is delusional, unless you were thinking that you'd spend 75%+ percent of your income on rent, mom & dad will continue to pay your cell phone bill, and you'll just eat ramen, walk/bike everywhere, and only do social things that are free.

In a job like that, you're looking at $10/hour, 30 hours a week or less, taking home under $300 a week. You'll net less than $1200/month in total income. $1000 for rent leaves you with $200 a month for everything else. Which is... not realistic.
posted by Sara C. at 2:30 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]


I feel like it would be irresponsible not to point out the following: there is a core group of graduates from the last X years who feel like they've invested their entire educations in law and finance in a way that means they must be in the city to have any access to professional jobs in their fields at all. A very healthy percentage of those people are currently pulling pints and lattes and those jobs can be very difficult to come by.

I think you're just in love with the idea of living in NY which is often sold on tv shows like Sex & the City... fabulous friends, great clubs and arts scenes etc... but the reality is that being able to do these things in NYC requires a good chunk of money.

Agreeing that this may be a possibility. Can you elaborate on why you want to move to NYC? We may be able to suggest alternative cities that meet more of your goals if you can elaborate on the appeal.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:32 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]


You could take a look at bankrate's cost of living comparison calculator. I just plugged in "Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale AZ Metro - Phoenix AZ" vs. "New York-Jersey City-White Plains NY-NJ Metro Div. - New York (Brooklyn) NY" and it showed that virtually everything is more expensive in NYC. (Just ignore home & mortgage costs)
posted by travelwithcats at 2:41 PM on May 4


I think the answers are a little bit harsh, though not by much. Rent $800 is fair, subway $112, phone $40, groceries + cheap restaurants $300, utilities $40...this is per month, assuming share.

I would pay down all your credit card debt, save up about $1500/mo times 6 or even 8 mos.
posted by 8603 at 2:44 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


To quickly answer a few questions:

Aside from the geography degree, what's your work experience like?

Right now I work part-time doing web development and design; Drupal and PHP for the most part. I also do video editing.

Can you elaborate on why you want to move to NYC?

I'm set on NYC for mainly two reasons. First, I have a very good friend who lives there (Washington Heights), and second, I'm very much a city person and for me, the more people, places, and things, the better. I've been to the city several times and enjoy being there more each time.

Working hourly obviously isn't my ideal plan, but it's something that wouldn't be a dealbreaker. I'd be perfectly happy scraping by a next-to-nothing salary as long as it's enough to survive and I have people I know at work and around me.

Maybe what I should be asking is how do I best go about finding roommates I'll get along with.
posted by reductiondesign at 2:44 PM on May 4


Friend of mine got work with Lionbridge. I would get similar online work *before* arriving and then take myself to the Workforce1 (I think you need proof of nyc address) for a retail job another 20h/wk. Then you have breathing room to find something more congenial.

It's not as bad as people are suggesting. But you have to really love hustling, really love saving money...
posted by 8603 at 2:48 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


I can't speak to your first question, so here's the rest:

2. I'm currently looking into Sunnyside, Astoria, and Williamsburg. Any advice relating to any of those neighborhoods would be much appreciated!

Forget Williamsburg. Seriously, you will not be able to afford it if you're looking at a barista/pizza delivery type of job. Sunnyside and Astoria MIGHT be do-able. Sunnyside is kind of like a cross between "Archie Bunker" and "Friends" in terms of the feel of the neighborhood.

3. It sound to me like the best way to go about this is to save up, fly to NYC, rent a room for a month, and use that month to find an apartment and a job. Is this the best option?

Save up more like two or three months, and prepare to do a roomshare. One of my for-a-while roommates was a guy who did that, and he saved FOUR months' worth of rent up and got a job in a bookstore - WHILE he was looking for a real job as an editorial assistant. Which he then got, but then -- as he suspected - he wouldn't have been able to afford to stay in Clinton Hill with me, so he and a friend moved to Bushwick as roommates. (Bushwick is a neighborhood you MAY want to consider - it's not gonna look pretty, but it's where the people who have been priced out of Williamsburg are going, and it is kind of on the cusp of being The New Hotness.) But again, even there he was only able to afford it by living with a roommate and getting a job that was BETTER than just being a barista.

4. I'm expecting that my apartment options will be mainly limited by my budget (the lower the better - $1000/mo or less would be ideal, but am I being naive?

If you expect to live on your own for $1000 a month or less, yes. You maybe could do that in, like, Staten Island.

What should I worry about most, after safety - noise, location, neighbors?

Decent roommates.

And a comment after the followup - if you're doing part-time design work, is there any reason you're not moving to New York to do THAT? That's going to get you a bit of a better apartment.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:52 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]


Several years ago I asked a similar question about Portland and got a ton of "you are stupid and living in a dream world" responses. I found a job and moved to Portland a month later. It was very tough financially and emotionally but if I could do it over again I would every time. So, you can do this but you are going to have to adjust your expectations.

I would try to find work using your computer skills as well. You can look here or here. You may not want to do that sort of work for the rest of your life, but you probably don't want to be pulling shots for the rest of your life either. That is the sort of compromise on your dream you may have to make to live in one of the most expensive cities in the country.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:54 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]


the lower the better - $1000/mo or less would be ideal, but am I being naive?

I'm sorry, everyone, in case I was unclear, this is referring to rent (with roommates), not my expected or ideal total income.
posted by reductiondesign at 2:57 PM on May 4


Yeah, I was just coming back in to say - PLEASE don't take any of this naysaying as advice to avoid coming to New York at all. (well, except for the person who suggested you move to Philadelphia.)

New York is a great place, and if you want to live here you should go for it. (It's taken me 25 years to get to the point where I'm starting to think of maybe moving out - but only if I can commute in by train whenever i want.) It's more like - yeah, we're all behind you going to go fight the dragon, but just get a better shield first rather than that papier-mache one is all....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:57 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


Yes, I agree these answers are mostly too harsh. I think it's totally doable and NYC is amazing and you should move there. That said, I live in a pretty hip area of Brooklyn (but not as hip as Williamsburg) and we pay $1,500 per month for a small studio, which is rent controlled. I believe a market-price studio runs around $2,000. So I do think you should probably cross Williamsburg off your list. I have no opinion of Sunnyside, but I have a friend who lives in Astoria and it's a nice place. Not sure how much rent is there but you could probably find a room with roommates for under $1,000.

My apartment is noisy and I have had to get used to that at night. I would say look off a main street so there won't be too many cars going by at night, and buy a fan or some earplugs if you are a light sleeper (I am.) I don't live in a crazy party area of the city at all but the city is noisy.

I have found it very, very easy to make friends in NYC and I have a great social life here, much better than when I lived in my home city (Seattle), even though I had high school friends there. People are very open to newcomers, very friendly, and it's a very social place. There will always be people out doing things. I have volunteered and taken classes since moving here, which I am sure has helped, and my boyfriend has a lot of friends among his coworkers which I have made friends with. Still, I find it to be a very socially open place.

Looking for an apartment does suck, and it is expensive. You will most likely have to pay a broker's fee for absolutely no reason, they just have the keys and open the door and then charge you $2,000 for the privilege. You might be able to get around that by subletting, which is probably a good idea in the beginning. You also will have to put down a deposit and last months' rent.

It is expensive for rent, but I really think it's an amazing place to live and so many young people move there that it is obviously doable. As people have mentioned, transportation is cheap and food can also be pretty cheap. Feel free to message me if you have any more questions!
posted by queens86 at 2:58 PM on May 4


I'm sorry, everyone, in case I was unclear, this is referring to rent (with roommates), not my expected or ideal total income.

Oh, wait, that's different - do you mean you pay $1000 and the roommate pays $1000 so your total rent on the place is $2000? THAT is a much more dealable price. However, you're still most likely not going to make that on just a McJob kind of thing. I'm paying about that and I am just barely able to do that on a secretarial salary.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:59 PM on May 4


I have a very good friend who lives there (Washington Heights)

Congratulations, you just found out what part of the city you'll be living in!

Seriously, seriously consider moving to Upper Manhattan or Harlem. NYC is a big place, and friends who end up living on opposite ends of the city tend to fall out of touch. If the lure of a pre-existing social circle is what's attracting you to New York, plan to live somewhere near your NYC friends.

FWIW I don't think you shouldn't do this, I just think you have an extremely rosy picture of it that is not really related to the facts of what NYC is actually like for real people who aren't characters on sitcoms.

That said, I moved to NYC with similarly rose-tinted ideas (OMG I seriously thought I was going to move to the West Village in 2000, also working a mcjob, lololololololololololololol). Just be prepared for the reality not to match what you saw on HBO, and you'll be OK.

Also, please anticipate getting a real career of some kind. If you want a more laidback, aimless "just be a barista for a few years while I find myself" type of lifestyle, you may want to look at Portland, Austin, New Orleans, or Philadelphia. Nobody in NYC who isn't on a trust fund can afford to "find themselves".
posted by Sara C. at 3:07 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]


This changes things. Start applying to temp agencies now with your friends address. You should be able to land a temp job that will cover your rent with those skills (supplement with Elance or whatever else part time freelancer gigs there are.) definitely Washington Heights to live. Why wouldn't you want to be slightly near your friend? And yeah, Craigslist some roommates. I've had decent luck meeting people to sublet from on there. Worst case scenario: AirBNB a long term stay.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:12 PM on May 4


I don't think this is wise but since others have covered that, I'll share my story in the hope that it may be helpful.

From the first time I visited my current city as a chubby 6th grader, I wanted to live here. I thought it was beautiful. A visit as a chubby high school student and a stint doing an alternative spring break in college didn't change that so I applied for and got into an internship program here the summer before my senior year of college. After that, I started planning how I was going to move here.

I got a paid internship and moved back here with a friend I met as a summer intern. We got a shitty basement apartment that we shared. After the internship ended, my then-boyfriend moved her and we moved together into a group house. I applied for every job that sounded vaguely interesting and got a gig for about six months. After that, I worked at a bookstore before I got another paid internship. I did the paid internship three days a week so I still had a toe-hold in my field and worked at the bookstore the rest of the time. I eventually got an entry level job, a slightly higher level job where I worked for five years and my current gig, where I've worked for three and a half years.

I am lucky in several ways. I'm healthy, I don't have student loans, I have had a savings account since I was 15. I also have no shame about doing what I need to do to get by. I'm 31 years old and I've worked more than 20 jobs in my life. I worked at three jobs in college.

I think moving with a friend was super helpful. I was also involved in politics so I had a few groups to hang out with when I moved here before I made good friends. And I've always volunteered - it makes me feel like this is my home, not just the place where I live. It's been 11 years since my first internship here. This is my home.

I'd encourage you to make baby steps towards something that looks like a career. Eating ramen and sleeping on an air mattress is fine when you're 24. It gets old fast. At the same time, don't compare yourself to other people. I'm at a point where friends who never left home are having their second kids. They already bought houses. But our lives are different and that's okay.

Life after college is hard for a lot of people so don't be surprised if it's hard for you. People who talk about it being the best years of your life but it doesn't always feel that way when in the middle of it. Good luck.
posted by kat518 at 3:46 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]


Just adding small things that I have not seen people mention yet.

1. I've heard it's common for landlords to require an annual salary 40x your monthly rent. How commonplace is this practice?

If you are going to rent as an individual, then landlords do usually ask for this.However,I have seen people get around this by 1) having someone cosign for them or 2) paying a few months rent in advance. Not sure if you would want those options or not.

If you are going to share a place, however, this may not be as challenging (ie, perhaps the apartment mate already paid this or is on the lease).

2. I'm currently looking into Sunnyside, Astoria, and Williamsburg. Any advice relating to any of those neighborhoods would be much appreciated!...4. I'm expecting that my apartment options will be mainly limited by my budget (the lower the better - $1000/mo or less would be ideal, but am I being naive? What should I worry about most, after safety - noise, location, neighbors?

A couple web sites to give you a ball park idea. I just ran your desired neighbhorhoods on streeteasy (this is where I found my current place to rent, too), using the parameters you mentioned ($2000 for a 2 bedroom, assuming you find another person to rent with you) and there are places listed in all those neighborhoods. However, Astoria has tons of places, and Williamsburg only had a few - so my guess is that those could go quickly. If the link breaks, it is streeteasy, and drop in your parameters to do a search again.

Other things to think about when renting: Transportation. See how close you are to subways and is there an express subway nearby, too. You may want to put in a neighborhood and your friend's address to see how long it would take you to commute there, for example. Google maps is great for subway locations and estimated time to get to places.

Not sure if this will help you, but I asked a question a few years ago about neighborhoods in NYC and I found some of the answers helpful (one describes Astoria).

When you find a place that you want to rent, you may want to confirm that there are no recent problems with critters just for your sanity.

3. It sound to me like the best way to go about this is to save up, fly to NYC, rent a room for a month, and use that month to find an apartment and a job. Is this the best option?

Someone already addresses this idea (use your friend's address) - but you may also consider getting a google voice number and use a NYC area code. This way you can apply for jobs and if you get a few interviews arranged, then fly out and stay at your friend's place.

If I had your skill set (design/video editing), I would market myself to companies, large and small. There are a billion companies in NYC and lists are easy to find. You would not need to limit yourself to NYC, either, and my guess would be that you could pull in more than you would get with retail jobs, but YMMV.

Also, if this helps OP since you are getting push back on meeting people and getting lectures on TV shows, I am going to nth queens86. I have also found it much easier to meet people and make friends here, much more than other places. In fact, I had similar reasons for moving to NYC (wanted a city and had visited a few times). But everyone's mileage may vary, and my guess is if one isn't happy, they will move or make changes.

Give it a go/I am sure you will enjoy it or at least try.
posted by Wolfster at 3:55 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


// Drupal and PHP for the most part//

That can get you a six figure job in NYC - although if you are junior and still learning $50K is more reasonable. Either way, that makes your NYC dream a hell of a lot more feasible. As Sara C said above, NYC is no place to be aimless.
posted by COD at 4:21 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]


I'll throw in another potential option for work, if you can settle on a career, at least for the short term.

(Although it may be a bit late for this summer...) Apply for professional internships on top of hustling for an evening/weekend hourly gig. If you land one at a big ad agency, digital firm, finance firm, startup, WHATEVER -- you'll be making peanuts but at least you'll have the opportunity to meet people with a career that you can potentially get down with. Use your techy credentials. This strategy has worked for a number of people I know, and might provide a good shot at being able to eventually afford living in a nice place.

Also, yeah, definitely open up your possible living spot to upper Manhattan, further south or east Brooklyn (Bed Stuy, Bushwick, Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, etc. etc.).
posted by thirdletter at 4:30 PM on May 4


So, I have lived in Sunnyside with my husband and dog for the last four years, and we love, love, love it here. It is a quiet, sweet little neighborhood with fabulous midtown commutes, and of all the places I have lived in the decade I have been here (LES, West Village, Morningside Heights), it is my favorite. But I don't think it's what you're looking for. There's more of a nightlife than people credit, perhaps, but it's no Astoria, much less is it Williamsburg.

I think Queens is a great value, but if young people and excitement are what you're after, you're more likely to find it in Astoria. Astoria is probably also better for roommates--- Sunnyside's housing stock tends to one bedrooms and studios. Best of luck and welcome!
posted by MeadowlarkMaude at 4:42 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


I moved to NYC several years ago without a job. I had an exit strategy which involved a rental arrangement which allowed me to leave after the first month if I didn't have a job by then. Have a strategy, know what your point of exit is (two months without a job? horrible living conditions? can't afford rent?)

It took me about a year to adjust to the city. I did meet people. I have wonderful friends here and I've had a lot of fun, and it's been good for me in many ways.

Your priority should be:
* rent you can afford
* safety
* ease of transport to the city (where the jobs are, and depending on your neighborhood, where your future friends are)

You'll adjust to the noise, more than you realize. Fans and earplugs will help you sleep.

Good luck!
posted by bunderful at 4:53 PM on May 4


Don't forget about New Jersey. If you live near the PATH, it can be much faster to get to Manhattan from Jersey than from some of the really distant Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods.
posted by pravit at 4:55 PM on May 4


I'd be perfectly happy scraping by a next-to-nothing salary as long as it's enough to survive and I have people I know at work and around me.

The thing is that even with a very good salary you will be scraping by with just enough to survive.

Anyway, my experience is that "the kids" these days are moving to Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Astoria, Queens. But as Sara C. said, you're best off moving close to your friends.

I would definitely discourage you from trying to scrape by with mcjobs and instead try to use the time to develop a career. I mean, there are tradeoffs-- yes, cheap cities like Baltimore and Pittsburgh are great places to scrape by with low rent while working menial jobs and thriving. On the other hand, anyone who has decent opportunities leaves those cities, so they're not exactly vibrant centers of ambitious youth. But you move to NYC where "everyone" wants to go, and the clock is ticking on "develop a career to make enough money to stay in the city" to ensure you don't get chewed up and spit out.

If you live near the PATH, it can be much faster to get to Manhattan from Jersey than from some of the really distant Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods.

Except on the weekends or late at night. That said, a cheap sublet in Jersey City for a month while you get your bearings and try to find a job isn't an especially bad idea.
posted by deanc at 5:01 PM on May 4


Lots of harsh but true comments in this thread. Will give you some hard numbers. I rent a 2BR in Williamsburg for $4,750 per month. It's expensive.
posted by dfriedman at 5:05 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]


NYC is a wonderful place to live! However, NYC is also an incredibly brutal place to live at times, which is why you're getting a lot of push back about moving here. A lot of people move here with stars in their eyes, but the reality of living here is very different from what it looks like on TV or in movies or even when you visit. The city will happily drain you financially and emotionally if you let it, so moving here is a matter of preparing yourself for the reality of daily life here rather than what you want it to be.

You've gotten some good advice about job hunting, so I would just add that if you do move here without a job you should have enough money saved up to live off of for at least 3-4 months.

You can't really afford to be too choosy when apartment hunting unless your friend can connect you with someone who's looking for a roommate. You will be vying with dozens upon dozens of people for spots in apartments when you search through craigslist. I would recommend that you find a short term sublet when you first get here so that you can get settled in and get a feel for what neighborhoods you would want to settle down in. Keep in mind that people tend to be very resistant about commuting long distances to hang out, especially between boroughs, so if you move to Sunnyside or Williamsburg you may not actually see a lot of your friend in Washington Heights.
posted by fox problems at 5:15 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


Ok, so what everyone else said is pretty much spot on. But here's the thing about NYC -- you can make it work if you want to make it work. There are lawyers and bankers who are lonely alcoholics hemorrhaging money and counting the days til they can move away and there are happy, fulfilled people who bounce from low paid gig to low paid gig and couldn't dream of leaving the city.

This guy's whole series is pretty great, but this image is particularly on point for this question.

I say go for it. You can always leave if you hate it and tell your kids about that "crazy summer you lived in Manhattan."

Look for an apartment share near your friend's place. That neighborhood is safe, convenient, and relatively affordable. Find a job before you move. Any job. Linkedin, Simplyhired, and Idealist are good resources for a job search. Make use of your university's career services office. Good luck!
posted by melissasaurus at 7:22 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


I agree that you need to save up for at least 3 or 4 months and have some kind of work lined up (the easiest way to do this might be to find a telecommuting-friendly version of what you're already doing). Also I agree about the neighborhoods recommended and ruled out upthread.

Otherwise, I'm baffled by all the discouragement. If you're willing to work hard, walk a lot, eat on the cheap, and find ways to cope with loneliness for a time (no, you will not automatically be best buds with people just because you work together or live together, but yes, you can meet people), you will have a shot at finding out whether the city is a place you'd rather visit or call home. There's no shame in leaving, especially if you've got a well-planned exit strategy as suggested, but there's also no reason to believe that you can't do this while so many other people do.

My first apartment in Astoria was a teensy studio, with a roommate, and a half-mile walk from the nearest train station. I did temp work, I nannied, I burned through what little savings I had, but I'm still in NYC thirteen years later, and I can't imagine leaving. I've known people that moved here and left in less than a year. That they didn't love it doesn't mean they regret it.

noise, location, neighbors?

You'll get used to the noise. Location has been pretty well covered. My neighbors are dear friends and really look out for one another. This didn't happen overnight (don't go inviting strangers into your apartment), but quick chats here and there certainly can turn into friendships over time. Keep conversations in neutral territory and you might be invited to something (also on neutral ground) where you can get to know the person better. If you're personable, able to take a hint, and understand that other NYers are busy, I don't see why this would be more difficult here than in other cities. Good luck!
posted by whoiam at 8:51 PM on May 4


I live in Sunnyside. 1,000 with roommates is entirely doable. It's also a lovely little neighborhood in which the idea of making friends who live near you is fairly realistic (which is rare for the rest of NYC, IMHO). As a datapoint: My wife and I rent have lived in a rent stabilized 1 bed in Sunnyside for about 5 years (rent stabilization means that the landlord can only raise the rent something like 3% yearly). We pay 1,600.
As to finding pals, many of your friends in this city will likely come from the community that surrounds What You Do (performing in some capacity, going to shows, bar trivia, whatever).
I love New York. It's not for everyone. The first year here is often pretty hard on people. There's a steep learning curve. But it can be a very rewarding place to live, and if you have other questions about Sunnyside, or anything else, feel free to PM...
posted by qnarf at 6:16 AM on May 5


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