Here's an email I got from a reader and have taken way too long to answer, mainly because my answer was "I don't know!!!" Readers, give me your ideas!
I just discovered your blog and I’ve been slowly working my way through all your archives. I really appreciate your honesty! I’m a 22 year old recent college graduate, currently working at my first “real” job in alumni relations at my alma mater. I grew up here, went to school here, and now I’m starting my adult life here. The thing is, I’ve always wanted to live somewhere else, especially NYC. I visited when my best friend lived in New Jersey but other than that, I haven’t spent much time there. Maybe it’s naïve to want to move to a city I barely know, especially one like New York. Then again, maybe it’s just adventurous. Anyway, my question is: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to move to New York , but doesn’t really know the city or anyone there? I’d most likely be in another entry level position, not making much money, so I’d need to find affordable housing and roommates. I don’t even know how to go about that! On top of that, I’d imagine conducting a job search from across the country is going to be really difficult. This is more of a life question than a personal finance question, but if you have any advice, I’d really appreciate it! Thanks for your time, and for the time you spend writing a blog that is so interesting to read.
Of course, to me there are no "life questions" that aren't also "personal finance questions!" Before I came to NYC I was very intimidated by the scale of the place, and the dirt and the crime (though a lot of that was already getting much better by the time I moved here). I might never have moved here if I hadn't done it for a relationship, and I already had other friends here too, and family, and a place to live. I was very lucky. And money was also a factor in that-- I knew what my rent would be, and knew the job I found would cover it. I'd already been out of college and working for a few years, so the job was above entry level-- of course this was still publishing, and my salary was only $25,000, but I also got a big bonus on top of that, which made it easier to save.
If I'd had other reasons to move to NYC without the kind of support network I had, I think I would have been much more daunted by the financial aspects of living in the city, and I probably would never have done it. But people do it all the time, and most of them somehow make it work.
About 10 years ago, I had an assistant who came to NYC from a very small town in the mid-west. She'd never lived anywhere outside her home state. When she arrived here, knowing no one, she rented the cheapest studio apartment she could find, in a remote part of Brooklyn. Money was tight, but she was making ends meet. But she was miserable, and very quickly decided she wanted to go back home. But since good assistants are hard to find, a few of us in the office wanted to talk her into staying.
My main piece of advice to her was to find roommates and live in a more central neighborhood where there were more young people. The neighborhood she'd been in was total culture shock, and bore no resemblance at all to the romanticized New York you see in movies. To me, if she was going to make it here, she needed support from her peers, and she needed to feel like she was experiencing some of the fun of NYC. People in the office gave her tours of different neighborhoods and contacted friends at various other publishing houses to try to find her a roommate. It worked and she ended up living in Prospect Heights in a building full of people her own age who'd have parties on the roof every summer weekend. She made friends, did well at work, got promoted, and today, she lives in a penthouse in Trump Tower.
Ok, that last bit about Trump Tower isn't true. You know what she really did? She ended up moving back to the mid-west after a few years. She'd made her life in NYC a success, but she'd had enough: she really wanted to live in the suburbs and have kids. But she'd had her adventure and I think she found it worthwhile.
But I digress... does anyone else have any advice for Rachelle on how to move to NYC?