So you grew up in a small backwoods town and just graduated art school and now want to fulfill your lifelong dream of moving to New York, but you don’t have any job prospects? Get ready to hustle.
Moving is stressful, there’s no way around it. You have to go through everything you own— from the love letters your high school girlfriend returned to you when she broke your heart— to clothes you thought would eventually look good on you, but never did. Above all, it’s expensive. According to the American Psychological Association the number one cause of stress in the United States is money, or lack of it. If you’re planning to move to the most expensive city in the country, be prepared to get seriously stressed out.
There are ways to live in New York on a budget, but one expense you can’t easily get around is housing. The average cost to rent a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan is $3,500, with the other boroughs not far behind. Taking into account of broker fees (if you used one), first and last month’s rent, plus a security deposit, the initial price of an apartment can be upwards of $12,000, with the first year costing nearly $50,000. Though if you’re moving to New York without a job, you need not get too concerned; there’s no way you’re getting on a lease without one heck of a co-signer. While this seems so illogically high that it doesn’t make any sense that people live here, this situation, though “average” is actually very much an outlier. Most people that live in New York City have at least one roommate, and two or more isn’t uncommon. With rent split several ways in areas like Bushwhick, Flatbush, and Sunset Park in Brooklyn, or Astoria in Queens, it’s reasonable to pay $700-$1000 for a room.
1. Visit Before You Commit.
First things first. If you’re really serious about making a successful move to New York, visit beforehand. Don’t take anyone’s word for it, or invest in the romanticized idea that television shows, movies, and books make it out to be, actually spend some time here and decide if it’s right for you. There are tons of hostels and cheap accommodations to be found, even free sites for the more adventurous like CouchSurfing.Org. Visiting before committing to a move gives you the opportunity to make friends and meet people, and explore areas you might consider moving to, which will all come in handy later when you come back or need a place to crash for a week or two.
2. Save Some Money.
After you’ve done that, go back home and save as much money as you can. A good place to start is $3,000, but more is better. Be prepared to not have a job for a few weeks or even a few months, while incurring all the high costs of city life.
3. Find A Place To Crash.
If you’re lucky enough to have a friend or two living here, you’ve got a leg up. The classic problem one faces is being able to physically look at apartments or meet potential roommates while not living in the city. Having a couch to crash on for a week while you scour Craigslist, Listings Project, or Airbnb for a sublet is beyond helpful. If you find one week stretching out to two or longer, offering to help split the rent with your friend usually makes them more willing to put up with you longer.
4. Pack Lightly.
Despite how sure you are that everything is going to work out, bring as little stuff as you can to get by comfortably. The first few months might have you bouncing around quite a bit, and until you find a long term apartment, it’s not worth it. If you do have to bring your car and everything you own with you, storage units aren’t horribly expensive and are much more secure than your SUV. Street parking in Brooklyn and Queens isn’t always a breeze, but depending on the area, you may only have to move your car once a week.
5. Take The First Job You Can Get.
Once you’ve locked down your living situation, it’s time to worry about getting a job. The best and fastest way to find work in New York is to apply for positions that you know you can get, rather than dream jobs. If you have a degree in fine art, apply for sales positions at an art store before you apply for that art handler position at the Whitney Museum. If you waited tables for a few years, but are really hoping to finally start using you business degree, apply for the server position first. As soon as you have a job, any job, you can start looking for something better, without bleeding as much money.
Make your mark in New York and you are a made man. — Mark Twain