Teleport me back to 2015, I just graduated Indiana University and I was ready to take on the world. Only problem? I didn’t start my job at Macy’s in New York City until October 1st and it was May 1st. So I took that summer, traveled and really dedicated myself to getting our blog and Instagram off its feet. Looking back that may have been the best decision I ever made in life. Fast forward to now May 22nd, 2019 and I am working full time for myself and comfortably living in NYC. Have there been highs and lows associated? Yes. Is it one of the toughest cities to live and start your career in? Yes. Is in the best city in the world? YES. So tonight on the blog I am breaking down all of your questions about moving to the city and how to get started here! I am going to break this down in a Q&A format in the case not all questions apply to you.
How do you find an apartment? I am going to start with this one because it may be the most complicated. I wrote a blog post previously about this and you can find it HERE for more information past what I compile in this segment. Each apartment I have found in New York City has either been through the website Streeteasy or the app Zumper. In my opinion they are both way less sketch than Craigslist as well as way more throughly vetted. The first two apartments I lived in, in Brooklyn, were both no fee apartments (which means no broker fee’s, etc) found through Streeteasy, which were both amazing! However we found each of them like 2-3 weeks prior to our move in date!! When reading this as someone not from the city, it most likely sounds INSANE. However it is just the lay of the real estate land in NYC. Even if you try to start searching for apartments 2 months out, chances are you aren’t going to find anything for your move in date. So either you will have to pay an additional month or you will have to just wait. As someone who has anxiety I get that this sucks and if you realllly do want to have an apartment solidified in advance the only part of NYC I know that rents 2 months in advance are the luxury buildings in Long Island City. My advice however is to just wait it out and start looking about 3-4 weeks prior to your move in!
In terms of the apartment I live in now, I unfortunately did have to pay a broker fee and quite the large one (15% of the year rental amount!!!). There are ways with the apps (Streeteasy and Zumper) to get around them so to the people that tell you, you HAVE TO have a broker to find an NYC apartment.. they don’t know anything. The reason why we went with a broker was because we were working on a lower one bedroom budget and did not want to settle for a studio apartment. We were also on a severe time crunch (you can read more about that in the blog post linked above) so know that there are broker fee’s out there and if you want to go that route that is completely fine just try to get that fee to 5-10%. If you want to avoid it then make sure you are looking at only NO FEE apartments which are indicated on Streeteasy and Zumper. 🙂
How do you learn how to use the subway? Great question! This is something I don’t even think about anymore since it is such second nature! However when I interned here in 2013 I learned via an actual paper subway map that my dad had given me. I would look on the map to where I needed to go and you could find which line to take, etc. I think the NYC subway system looks more intimidating that what it actually is!!
What I would recommend now is simply using Google Maps and clicking the TRANSIT option. It will tell you which subway line (color) and letter to take. It also will tell you if you need to make a transfer and how far the walk is from the station to your destination. A big tip is that within the ACTUAL SUBWAY there will be two options for each line DOWNTOWN or UPTOWN. A lot of people mistake DOWNTOWN for heading towards the busiest part of the city which is most commonly Times Square. However unless you are north of Times Square this is NOT TRUE. The UPTOWN side of the trains will take you North and the DOWNTOWN side of the trains will take you South. All of this will be indicated on Google Maps but wanted to point out this common mistake! You will get the hang of the subway you just have to use it. As easy as cab’s are to hail in NYC, do not rely on them because you are scared of the subway the only way to understand it better is to use it and make mistakes.
Further once you start to get the hang of Google Maps I would highly suggest to then start putting your phone down and try to really understand the city and the streets. This will help when taking cabs in the city and understanding if they are taking you on the correct route or not. It also just helps with your overall understanding of the many neighborhoods in NYC!
Advice for getting a job in New York City when you aren’t currently living there? I landed my job at Macy’s after interning for them between my Junior and Senior years of college. I was one of the lucky ones that had her job after college planned out even before starting her Senior year. However I know that that is hardly the case anymore and the only advice I can give is to use your resources. I got both my NYC internships in college by asking my college professors for contacts of graduates that lived and worked already in the city, then would reach out from there. I also attended job fairs and handed my resume to all of the recruiters from New York City in hopes for an interview. If these things are not available to you, I highly encourage Linkedin! You can search and find the contacts for HR rep’s in any city that you wish and reach out from there.
My boyfriend Kyle graduated college without a job and had his sights set on moving to NYC. After having his resume tossed aside for mentioning his current address in Virginia he eventually “fibbed” and put his best friend’s New York address on his resume. This resulted in getting a ton more job interviews where he would travel up by train to attend. Kyle eventually moved into the address mentioned above and accepted a job within about 2 weeks of moving there.
How do you balance the cost of living in NYC and having fun? This is honestly the toughest part of calling this city home… it is EXPENSIVE. I remember getting my first paycheck (with taxes taken out) and thinking oh my gosh how am I going to pay rent! Trust me it all works out and you’ll learn so do not panic. I will say that for the first apartment you live in here, do not sign a lease out of your price range and BE SMART. I had friends signing leases paying over $1,600 a month only on the basis of not knowing there were cheaper options. Or thinking that they needed to live in the nicest area of Soho because every other neighborhood was *~dangerous*~ . Live in Brooklyn, live in Queen’s, live somewhere cheap. You will not be making 6 figures (at least not in fashion lol) out of the gate so be young and SAVE MONEY by living somewhere that won’t break your bank.
My next piece of advice is having a second income on the side. The blog saved my life when I was on an assistant paycheck. I was able to use that second income from this website as spending/travel money! It was easier than using the money I was making from my full time job which I was putting aside for my savings, retirement, groceries and rent. I know having a blog is not for everyone so a few things my friends do on the side are babysitting after work ($20/hr in NYC), dog sitting ($50/a day – you can use the apps Rover or Wag), selling used clothing items or jewelry on Poshmark/Ebay (I made $3,000 last year off Poshmark!), starting an Etsy business, photography (bloggers are paying photogs up to $250 an hour in NYC!!), yoga/fitness instructor – the list goes on!!
Lastly on this topic is to not-not go out or go to dinner because you are worried about money. You just have to be smart about it! Some of my friends back in the day would only come for the drinks portion of dinner or the dessert portion to save money. You can also pack your lunch and/or coffee’s for a week then use that money saved for a nice dinner out in the city! You definitely have to take the time to explore this beautiful city you get to call home!!
How do you recommend making friends in NYC? This is another great question and I will say that I didn’t move here knowing a ton of people! A few of the easiest ways to make friends are through your job! Co-workers are the best first friends in the city because everyone is going through the same thing and can all relate. I would also recommend tapping into your networks. I had one family member in the city (Kelly – OF COURSE!!) and she had a lot of friends from college that lived here so I was able to meet and make friends via her network. Trust me – when I first moved to NYC I did not ever say *no* to a night out or get together where I could potentially meet more people.
I also tried to attend events that would have like minded people at them. At first that was a lot of fashion related events I would hear about through my job or Instagram. I was able to connect with photographers and other girls working in fashion, like Lex of LexiconOfStyle, who ended up becoming one of my best friends! This was also the case with sports. There is a bar for everything in New York City lol! I would go to the Indiana University bar to watch games and would run into people from classes that I didn’t even know lived in NYC. Same with my hometown Cincinnati Bengal bar! You can easily find these associated bars by a simple google search. 🙂
Finally, so many people are in the same boat as you. No one has one million friends, even if they act like they do. Never beat yourself up over the friend thing and feel free to always put yourself out there no matter how scared!!
When did you feel like you started to get the hang of things in New York City? To give an honest answer to this question I felt like things really clicked after 2 years. Which is not to scare anyone! The first year living here I was right out of college 22 years old and just in such a different mindset than I am now. I of course understood the subway and getting around but really feeling like I got the hang of NYC came when I moved into my second apartment with just Kelly in Bushwick. Prior to that I was living with 3 other roommates (4 total) and it was always a little hectic I guess? I didn’t get much alone time and when we moved to Bushwick I felt I was able to really concentrate on ME and who I wanted to be within this major city. I also was really able to get a grasp on my friend group and the people in my life in NYC! Now almost FOUR years later (come September) I feel completely at home here. I like living in Manhattan, I do miss Brooklyn but I feel a part of the city rather than from the outside looking in which is a great feeling.
**Last note: this wasn’t a question but something I felt like mentioning. There are CRAYYY people in New York, on the subways, on the streets, everywhere lol. If you are visiting for the first time or discover this after moving never let it totally freak you out. Simply put your headphones in and get on with your day. A crazy person once yelled at me on a crowded subway train and I cried. Which looking back maybe you aren’t a New Yorker until you have cried on the subway but I wish I wouldn’t have let it get to me because chances are he was definitely on something. However the girl next to me did give me a tissue for my tears, which made me cry more but was just so sweet!
IF YOU HAVE ANY FURTHER QUESTIONS PLEASE DM US ON INSTAGRAM!! 🙂