East-coast aimless seeking target
January 2, 2007 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Post-B.A., quarter-life crisis time! Move to DC? NYC? Somewhere else entirely?

I graduate in May with a B.A. in Theatre (focus in directing/tech). I'm not sure if that's what I want to do with the rest of my life. I also have a background in newspaper writing/web stuff/litigation support. When I graduate, I plan on selling my car and pretty much everything else I own, which should net me about $10k. I currently live in Baltimore.

'Wants' for a new city are:
-reasonably close to Baltimore so that I can visit family regularly.
-good public transportation.
-decent job market.
-if not walkable, definitely needs to be bikable.
-interesting music options, preferably of the indie-rock variety.
-lots of stuff to do that is free/cheap.
-I might decide to go back to school at some point in the near future...anyone have opinions on academic options? I've thought about everything from getting my MFA to law school to library school to teaching.

I feel like I've narrowed this down to NYC and DC. I know people in both cities and have lived in Brooklyn for about six months in the past before I ran out of money and went back to school in Baltimore. I loved NYC, but remembered always feeling poor (well, because I was) and things always feeling really taxing. Is $10k enough to last me for a while until I find a job? Honestly, is this even a relavent point? Rents in DC don't seem to be much cheaper.

So, what are the pros/cons of living in each city? Is there another city that I'm just totally missing? Help!
posted by youcancallmeal to Grab Bag (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I, of course would vote NYC, since it's my favorite place in the world, but it has some downsides, especially since there's an awful lot of theatre majors in New York.
posted by jonmc at 12:59 PM on January 2, 2007

DC rent isnt that much cheaper, but the quality of housing can be better. But its a lot easier to find a semidecent place in NYC close to the subway than in DC. (though DC's and the inner suburban bus systems can be great)

If you live in Baltimore, why DC? Hell, it's cheap to rent and the MARC ride aint that bad if you're living close to one of the stations (my friend does it)

Had you thought bout Philly?
posted by jare2003 at 1:07 PM on January 2, 2007

Response by poster: I want to leave Baltimore because most of my friends are currently in DC and I find myself driving down there 2-3 nights a week, which I'm tired of. That's changing though...people are moving/etc. Regardless, I really don't like Baltimore.

Philly, I don't know much about/know anyone in. Is it worth considering? Why?
posted by youcancallmeal at 1:10 PM on January 2, 2007

DC has a great theatre scene, everything is walkable, bikable or metro-able (though when biking, you'd be taking your life in your hands)
posted by chickaboo at 1:16 PM on January 2, 2007


DC is the new Boston.

Also, the museums are free, but in NYC you pay.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 1:18 PM on January 2, 2007

Hey! That's my line!

I've asked similar questions before: http://ask.metafilter.com/mefi/54182 (Just today!)


http://ask.metafilter.com/mefi/39061 (This one is almost EXACTLY your question)

Feel free to IM/E-mail me! For what it's worth, I've spent substantial amounts of time in a lot of major American cities and they all bow before mighty New York City. But that depends on what kind of person you are.
posted by GilloD at 1:25 PM on January 2, 2007

The MARC option sucks. My roommate tried for a year and couldn't keep up the commute. I vote D.C. too. Much more bikeable, has its own hidden D.C.-ness outside of the politics.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:26 PM on January 2, 2007

Philly is worth considering cause its cheap and has a decent arts scene and the like that hasnt been erased by skyhigh rents.

I would vote for DC too,but I live here. I will say that this city is expensive, but there's probably more free stuff going on than anywhere else i've been (except NYC or Chicago,but those are several times as large)
posted by jare2003 at 1:33 PM on January 2, 2007

I'm at a disadvantage here, in that I've never lived in DC. New York and Philly are both very good places.
New York is New York. It is the walkable city in this country. It sounds like you know the drill at least a bit. Do not move to New York thinking you're going to hold out on your savings until you find a great job—there's a reason it seems like everyone's always hustling in NYC. Have a place to stay lined up, have a job lined up (or plan to temp). You'll be alright; whaddya, think you're the first person who ever moved to New York City?
Philly's smaller (hell, pretty much everything's smaller than New York—think on that for a sec; does it draw you to New York or repel you?), and less likely to eat you alive for fun. Historically speaking, Philly's wildly underrated, so there's plenty of that kind of culture. The art museum's expensive, though. There's a pretty decent music scene (I hear second-hand from my younger, indie-rockier friends). There are quite a few colleges and universities in the area, too, so there are loads of young people around for dating, friend-making, etc. In short, yes, Philly's worth considering.
posted by willpie at 1:43 PM on January 2, 2007

Best answer: My wife and I are happy and settled in Boston, but a tiny part of us will always be sad we never lived in New York. As great as any number of American cities are, I think there are very few (San Francisco maybe?) people say that about.

You're young and untethered - it has to be New York. If you hate it, or it ends up kicking your ass, it's easy enough to end up back in DC, or (shudder) Philly. It's generally much harder, once you put some roots down, get some seniority on a job, etc., to get to NYC.

(I feel like a stage dad, pushing my kid into the sports I was never good enough at ;-)
posted by jalexei at 1:51 PM on January 2, 2007

"I loved NYC, but remembered always feeling poor..."

It's all relative. If you hang out with investment bankers (which NYC is *full* of), yes, you're going to feel poor. But there are plenty of neighborhoods where you can get away from that whole vibe, with decent apartments (with roommates) for reasonale prices, more relaxed atmospheres, etc. The good thing about NYC is that you can surround yourself with literally absolutely any kind of people you want, so don't let the rat race NYC stereotype keep you away.
posted by rachelv at 1:59 PM on January 2, 2007

1. Close to Baltimore? Yes. Not always worthwhile, convenient, or cheap to get there without a car, but definitely possible, and the closest.
2. Good Public Transport? Yes. Metro is definitely decent; no, say it with me, nothing's like the NYC subway, but if you're willing to sacrifice the coverage for the relative cleanliness and reliability, I'd say yes. It's about as frustrating as any city system I've seen, but rarely completely lets me down.
3. Decent Job Market: Depends on what you're looking for, but yes. Government, NPOs, the arts. But I'd start looking now. As in right now.
4. Walkable/Bikeable: Neighborhood-wise, yes; you can walk from Dupont to Adams Morgan to Columbia Heights and back again, and when the DC hills get you (they suck in certain parts of the city, hardcore.) the busses will come around eventually to take you there. DC has the strange sensation of feeling very empty and very small at the same time. It is completely different from NYC in that regard; don't expect to find everything you want to do at once in the same place.
5. Indie Music Rock Scene: Yes and yes, though you're mostly talking limiting yourself to checking the 9:30 Club, Black Cat, and DC9 sites regularly; larger bands will play the DAR or the Merriweather. I am your average music hipster nerd, and all of my favorite bands swing through at least every so often.
6: Free/Cheap: Free museums, free exhibits, monuments, tours; cheap is as cheap does, but unless you're wandering over to Georgetown or Friendship Heights and look for cheap (though even there there are still holes in the wall) I've never felt gouged by the city, until it came to registering my car. Ouch!
7: Degree: Got my MFA at American; partner is attending GULC. We've got your arts, we've got your law, we've got your education majors. It's why I came, and one of the reasons I'm staying.

I chose DC because I grew up very close to NYC and always found it too overwhelming. Everyone will tell you that you should live there at least once in your life; for me, hopping on a Washington Flyer every now and then for forty bucks swings me up and back to the Apple for a weekend, and then I'm back here. I have a great community of friends, have found numerous jobs, and everyone's pretty chill here--since I have nothing to do with politicos or the Hill.

I like it. Maybe you will too.
posted by atayah at 2:13 PM on January 2, 2007

I am talking about DC above, of course. Got ahead of myself.
posted by atayah at 2:16 PM on January 2, 2007

I grew up in NY and have lived in DC. NY is a little more expensive, but in terms of a unique experience that you'll probably be glad you had, I think you'll get more bang for your buck there. Yes, your housing will SUCK - make no mistake about it, you'll have to be willing to live in a hole (or with roommates, or both) for a while. But you'll be in NY, and there's nothing like it. My experience with DC was that you get a lot of the negatives of a city (crime, dirt, cramped apartments, roaches) without as many of the positives as you'd get in NY. And nowadays, I think you'll feel poor in DC, too.

On the other hand, DC does have a more manageable lifestyle, mostly in terms of pace, public transportation, and (slightly) housing, so if those things are really important to you, DC might be a better choice. NY is really taxing. I eventually fled for Chicago, which I would wholeheartedly recommend if you didn't want to be near Baltimore. But well, it's NY, and it might be worth it, especially if you're not looking to stay for life.
posted by walla at 4:38 PM on January 2, 2007

New York is a unique experience. I came here almost 25 years ago and I've never regretted it. Even though the one-two punch of Giuliani/Bloomberg has done terrible damage to the character and nightlife of the city, there's still a lot left in the next five to ten years while they work on getting rid of the final traces.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:11 PM on January 2, 2007

I've lived in NYC for close to a year and a half so I feel comfortable answering some of these questions.

Public transportation: The subway system has worked well for me/runs at all hours.

Walking: I walk everywhere and find it pretty easy to do so.

Biking: There are some enjoyable bike trails (e.g. on the West side of Manhattan, a trail runs from Battery park to the northern tip of Manhattan), and it is pretty easy to get into New Jersey or distant areas in Queens/Brooklyn via bike (although there are some streets I would never take without complete body armor)

Free/cheap - LOTS of things to do although this depends on your interests. Many museums have free nights/or a sort of 'pay how much you want' night - on Fridays. Other museums offer a membership for the year - seems expensive initially (e.g 75/yr) - but then it is free to go at any time/all year long. In the summer there are many free music festivals and activities ranging from international music at Lincoln center to Shakespeare in the Park. If you are willing to try continuously - you can see many mainstream plays cheaply - standing room - or go to off broadway plays for less. If you are willing to give up a little time (such as waiting for a few hours), you can see movies for free before they come out, etc.

I will admit that even though I have found many free and cheap things to do and earn more than I ever have before - I feel like I never have enough money as there are so many things to do (and yes you have to pay for some of them)

Despite that, I won't give up living here - love it and I'm glad I decided to live here.
posted by Wolfster at 7:17 PM on January 2, 2007

The subway is nicer in DC--although it doesn't run all night.
posted by brujita at 11:35 PM on January 2, 2007

I would recommend New York, or even across the river in Blowhoken or Jersey City. Sure, you might get tagged as part of the bridge and tunnel crowd, but there is SO. much more in New York than in DC, and at the absolute worst (NJ side) it's a PATH ride away. And that's really not bad.
Oh, and the trains don't stop at midnight.
posted by nj_subgenius at 7:42 PM on January 4, 2007

Best answer: I'm a seven-year New Yorker and my first reaction is that DC is not remotely comparable to NYC in terms of theater tech opportunities. NYC has a substantially higher cost of living but a MASSIVELY higher range of chances to make money in all kinds of pick-up opportunities as a tech. (not as a director, but you knew that). NYC is also subsantially safer, both by the numbers and in my one-person opinion.
posted by allterrainbrain at 3:33 AM on January 5, 2007

For initial nyc housing, try any of the "private rooms for 125/wk" rental agencies that advertise daily in the NYC Craigslist rooms for rent section. I've tried three of them; each was fine and each let me keep looking at rooms til I found one I really liked. You'll get a room in West Harlem or Washington Heights that will be a fine base for seeking other housing or just staying long-term.
posted by allterrainbrain at 3:37 AM on January 5, 2007

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