How to start off in life without begging
March 11, 2009 7:40 PM   Subscribe

How does one who is just starting out in the world pay for starting out?

I am currently a senior in college who is looking for a job. While I have yet to find one, I am still nonetheless concerned about where I will be living. Namely, I'm concerned as to how I'll be able to pay for everything.

I go to school near Boston, and I'm looking for jobs there and in NYC because I would like to stay in the Northeast and I don't know how to drive. I'm from NJ originally. I am well aware that the places I would like to live in are not cheap, but even if they were, I don't think I'd be able to pay for the first month's rent and security deposit that you usually need to move into someplace. I can't cover it myself, and, unlike some of my classmates, my parents can't help me out--they are not too well-off either, and I'll be lucky if they will be able to come up for my graduation. None of the jobs that I have been applying for thus far pay for relocation.

I know I shouldn't be thinking about this now, considering I don't even have a job yet, and I plan to move back home if I am unemployed by graduation, but this has been eating at me for a while. I tend to get worried about the little things sometimes, and listening to more and more of my classmates talk about their jobs and where they will be living does not help.

I've done some research on this problem online, and it sounds like my only real option is to take out an unsecured loan and use that to pay for everything. But I've done some research on that too, and I'm not sure if anyone will lend to me, especially now--last time I checked a few months ago, my score was in the lower 600s, but that was because of my student loans. I haven't had any credit cards or anything.

What I am asking AskMe for: what should I do? Has anyone been in the same situation? Will a bank lend to me? Am I stressing out over nothing? How do I stop being a big ball of nerves? Anything you can tell me will be much appreciated.
posted by bookwibble to Work & Money (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Get a job (even if it's retail or fast food) and save up. Not everyone gets a job in their field right after college, so be prepared for this.
posted by at 7:45 PM on March 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

A bank will not give you a loan to pay your rent. You'll have to scrape up the cash somehow; living at home and working part-time and odd jobs to save up the cash to move into the big city could be a very good plan. It's not too early to be thinking about this, so you're moving in the right direction.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:56 PM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you get an good job in your field(ie not fast-food), with proof of employment a bank is significantly more likely to give you a loan, for obvious reasons.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:58 PM on March 11, 2009

People from these areas live with their parents much longer than in the rest of the country for good reason, the economics of starting out on your own here are daunting even in good times. This isn't always an option, but is is not an option to dismiss as wimpy or whatever if it is available. The other option is lots of room mates and crappy college like housing. Don't go getting yourself into debt over this stuff. Save that for buying a house, car etc.
posted by caddis at 7:58 PM on March 11, 2009

You need to build up a nest egg! When I moved to New York, I lived with a kind relative in the Jersey 'burbs for about five months. I got a temp job and commuted to Manhattan about 1.5 hrs from Jersey until I saved up enough money to move into a really cheap apartment share in upper Manhattan once I got my "real" job.

So, to summarize: free rent first, then temp job, then "real" job, then move out.
posted by footnote at 8:01 PM on March 11, 2009

I know I shouldn't be thinking about this now, considering I don't even have a job yet

No, it's definitely what you should be thinking about now. I live in Boston, I'm around your age, and I have many friends that don't have jobs right now.

My advice is to work twice as hard as you are right now to find a job. Be creative, seek out interviewing advice and how to craft a cover letter and resume. Go to your schools resource for job placement.

It's also possible to to work and go to school at the same time.. I know because I do it. If your worried about not having enough money for June... well it's March. I think you can safely make a few thousand dollars to put towards your new apartment in three months. You can also live fairly cheaply if you start looking now. There are $500 a month apartments that don't suck around here as long as you know where to look or start early enough.

There is no reason you have to move back home if you start aggressively positioning to find housing and a job right now, without the need for loans. Message me if you want.
posted by pwally at 8:12 PM on March 11, 2009

You definitely need to get a job, no matter how lowly you think it is, and save up. I would suggest you look into house-sharing where you just rent a room, often with several others in a similar situation. I have a good friend who rents a room for $450 a month with everything included. He has to share all common areas and the bathroom, but places like that don't generally ask for 1st, last and security (at least not in my area). The downside is that you don't get to pick your roommate, and you have very little of your own space, but it beats moving back home and it instills a sense of independence.

Check out craigslist.
posted by Lullen at 8:15 PM on March 11, 2009

Not that there's a lot of time left, but if you can get any sort of job while you're living expenses are still covered, that would be a start. Even if it's flipping burgers or painting or mowing laws or whatever, a few hundred bucks might mean the difference between being able to make first month's rent or not.

I don't think there's any real secret or trick; you have to be extremely, almost ridiculously frugal. You'll need to find the cheapest room-in-somebody's-house that you can find, and try to get along until you can cash that first paycheck. (You can make a mean noodle dish out of a brick of ramen, peanut butter, and some cayenne pepper, fyi.) Sometimes, and maybe it's less so today than in the past, you might get a landlord — an individual, certainly not a management company — to defer part of the deposit if you can show them proof of employment. That might be worth a try in a pinch.

In all honesty, if you have no savings, no hope of making enough for a deposit/first-month on a place to live between now and graduation, and your credit score is sub-optimal, I would seriously consider whether it wouldn't be prudent to move back in with the parents for a few months, even if you get a job offer more quickly. At least that way you can make some money, maybe pass your expenses through on a credit card and start building your score, and get a solid start. Given the current state of the economy and job market I don't think that there is any shame in doing that — and I'd be inclined to smack anyone who suggested otherwise to you. I understand that's probably not what you want, but just putting it out there as an option.

Thinking about this brings me back to my first post-college flophouse room; it was about 80 square feet, had one electrical outlet, and was infested with centipedes. I'd probably have a lot more pleasant memories of that time if it hadn't been for the centipedes. Ugh.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:34 PM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you move to a new place to take a job, you can stay at the Y or something until you've saved up enough for first and last.

Once you do get a job and a place... don't furnish your place on credit. Stay at the Y an extra month or two if you need to in order to save up money for a decent bed and basic kitchen supplies and some thrift shop furniture. And get a roommate if you can't afford your own place (can't afford = running into debt OR living hand to mouth, with no room in your budget for any savings).
posted by orange swan at 9:09 PM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

It really depends on what field (what is your major and what do you ultimately want to do; what are you skillsetS) you are in.

Were you involved in workstudy or co-op jobs during your undergrad career? Those are places where you'd contact before graduating to secure your first job upon graduating.

Otherwise... if you have identified a location where work that you're qualified for is abundant (or you are competetive for), then yes, get the 'getting by' jobs in that area while you search.

Having parents with whom you have a good relationship with is a "good thing" right out of college. Fuck - I need to go thank my parents again, soon.

It's a big country (assuming that you're in the USA) - start job-searching now cross-country. Once you've built up some experience/credentials, then you can start trying to find jobs in a city that you'd like to live in. So what if you're in a backwater or a ghetto or a desert for a few years. You're still young.
posted by porpoise at 10:38 PM on March 11, 2009

Move in with your parents if you have to. I, stupidly, didn't, and scraped by miserably on minimum wage in a flat I couldn't really afford, racking up overdrafts. There is no shame in moving home for a short while, as long as you're actively out there looking for work, contribute something to your folks and apply your arse off for graduate jobs. It's a tough market, good luck.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:41 AM on March 12, 2009

Don't think of it as "fail" to move back to the 'rents, think of it as a savvy money-saving strategy.

That said, with a college degree and a clean criminal background, you wouldn't have much trouble getting a job teaching English abroad if you're so inclined.
posted by bardic at 5:10 AM on March 12, 2009

Another idea. See if there's any summer job opportunities on the campus that are somewhat related to what you want to do. You could work that and a second job, save up some money, and half way through the summer try to get more interviews and take the bus to NYC (I took Peter Pan bus from my school, but not sure exactly where you are)

I personally worked temp at home for two months, saved up a little money, was fortunate to get a few hundred in graduation gift money. Then took off one month to visit my sisters, lived with a combination of friends/semi-distance relatives in NYC for three-four weeks, then finally found a job and used my savings for my first month's apartment security/rent.
posted by ejaned8 at 12:36 PM on March 12, 2009

As stated before, this culture does not reward its members with subsistence if they cannot find jobs and make money. Actually, that's not entirely true: if you're willing to live in homeless shelters and beg on the streets you can probably survive, though it would be a fairly miserable life. No, you need a J-O-B. Any job. Doesn't matter what. Either that, or you move back in with the 'rents, and kiss whatever social life you had goodbye. Then you'll spend months getting nagged by your parents to… wait for it… get a job!

it sounds like my only real option is to take out an unsecured loan and use that to pay for everything. But I've done some research on that too, and I'm not sure if anyone will lend to me

Are you for real?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:53 PM on March 12, 2009

I've read all of these, and after some thinking and some talking with my career counselor, I've decided to limit my job search to positions in NYC and hopefully land something (or not), but live with my mother and commute either way. It sounds like a great plan, and I feel like a load has been lifted off my chest. My only concern now is how to break this to her, though. If you have any tips, feel free to comment.

I will say, however, that it sounds like some of you (especially Civil_Disobedience) misunderstood my question. To clarify: I was talking about paying for a place to live after I've gotten and started a job, but while waiting for that first paycheck. I realize I have to work, and I'm making steps towards that--I don't wish to be "rewarded with subsistence" for doing nothing. If you meant "get a job" while still in school, then I misunderstood, and I apologize. But I already work one work-study job which doesn't pay that much (and I have to use much of it for various end-of-the-year expenses), and that, combined with my studies and extracurriculars which enhance my resume, does not allow much time for a second job. Also, I live outside of Boston rather than in it, so it is a bit difficult.

Lastly, in reference to orange swan's comment: I don't think Ys do that anymore--at least not in the U.S.

Thanks so much!
posted by bookwibble at 5:51 PM on March 12, 2009

I guess I had cool parents (my mom at least). Because she pretty much let me cavort with girl-friends as desired, as long as I kept it quiet and out of sight. Maybe that makes me biased towards the "living a home is not big deal after college" side of things.
posted by bardic at 12:46 AM on March 13, 2009

Hey bookwibble,

Well, I can only tell you about my immediate experience. I'd advise you not to take on debt to finance a move to the big city, as that's what I did and it took me about four years to get out from under it. Ladling on more debt (on top of student loans) to establish yourself is a recipe for stress and unhappiness.

When broaching the subject with your parents, I'd put it this way:
"Mom, I'm going to be looking for a job in NYC. At the moment, I can't afford to get my own place, but I'm going to work towards that as quickly as I can while looking for a 'real job'. Can you cut me a good deal on rent and/or paying for my food so I can save quickly and get out of your hair?"

So, while you're doing the big jobhunt, take a couple of jobs (maybe a day job in an office followed by working in a restaurant or bar). You will be exhausted, but if you cut your expenses to the bone, make a good working budget and stick to it, you'll be able to save the deposit and first two or three months worth of rent pretty quickly, probably within 6 months.

At that stage, you can do a couple of things. You can keep jobhunting from afar, or, with, say, 6 months of expenses (bare-bone) in hand, you can move to NYC and go full-time in the jobhunt (maybe taking some evening bar work to keep a small flow of money coming in).

Put it all in a spreadsheet, it will seem a lot less daunting when you've done the estimates of living costs and know how long and how much you'll need to save. I've got a 'Move Estimator' spreadsheet that I use when saving for things like this, MeFiMail me if you want a copy.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:58 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

« Older I feel like I've been hit by a Mac truck.   |   How to make money off eHow? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.