Back when I first moved to New York City, I was right out of college and had absolutely no clue how things worked. Mix the newfound freedom of adult life, with moving to one of the biggest cities in the country and I knew that I was in for a crazy experience.
I can't say that I played the move smartly-- I had a lot stacked against me right from the start. I didn't have a job lined up, I had virtually no savings account and I didn't know anyone in New York. Despite being surrounded by people every minute of my day, I often felt like a city of one. But sometimes it's a matter of taking a chance and that's exactly what gave me my first start in the city.
Within a week of moving there, I got a few resumes printed at a local shipping store for as cheap as I could because money was tight. Then I spent the day passing them out to all of the dining and retail stores along the street I lived on. I happened to get a call back to interview with Kate Spade NY and ended up as a sales associate for their Upper West Side store. I later went to work at their Flagship Location on Madison Avenue which was an incredibly cool experience to have within my first few months in New York.
Another matter of chance was a few months later when I reached out to my favorite lifestyle host at Refinery29 looking for any opportunity. She liked my spirit and tasked me with scripting an episode of the popular Youtube series "Try Living with Lucie" which I quickly and carefully did. The script led to an interview at a fancy Corporate office in downtown Manhattan, which turned into a 6 month internship on the video team at Refinery29. These circumstances of chance were things that so many have dreamed of doing and it was only a little hard work, determination and chance that led to me actually achieving them.
My big advice for anyone who's taking the plunge and moving to the city would be to plan things out a little more than I did. Don't get me wrong, it ended up working out for me-- but that doesn't mean that it wasn't challenging most of the time.
Try to find a job ahead of time
Whether a corporate job or a dining/retail position, I highly encourage you to look before you move. You can get lucky like I did, but with the state of the world right now, finding a job may be more challenging than you'd think. Having something lined up (even something as a financial filler while you look for something better) will ease a lot of pressure when it come to paying bills. The city isn't cheap!
Create a budget and actually STICK TO IT.
Hear me when I say, that it's ok not to do EVERYTHING. I had to come to terms with the fact that I couldn't afford to do most things that I wanted to do with the income that I had at the time. I also had to be "that friend" that had to say no to many social outings because they didn't fit into the budget that I'd set for myself. Real friends won't give you a hard time for how you prioritize your finances-- just remember that. You can find all kinds of fun and affordable things to do if you know where to look, like-- Uncover More. I also highly recommend EveryDollar-- a free budgeting app, to help you establish what bills you need to pay and how much money you'll have for activities.
Figure out which grocery stores in your area are affordable long term, and which to avoid.
Once you find a reasonable one, sign up for a loyalty card. I got most of my groceries at Gristedes and Trader Joes. When compared to the alternatives like Whole Foods, Food Emporium and Fairway, those are definitely some of the better options. Also COOK! Don't get sucked into the trap of ordering out a lot. It's fun in the beginning, but it catches up to you fast.
Use apps like Roomi and Spare Room to find affordable shared apartments in any part of the city.
I chose to stay in Manhattan because it felt the busiest and safest to me, but I had friends living all over the different boroughs who absolutely loved their neighborhoods. I used Roomi and Spare Room to interview with different roommates and to look at photos of available apartments ahead of time to sort my options based on budget and neighborhood.
Depending on what time of year you move, make sure you bring weather appropriate clothes and comfortable commuter shoes.
I'll start off by saying that if you wear your nice work shoes on the subway, they will get ruined QUICKLY. You'll likely be doing a lot of walking outside in all sorts of weather and people aren't shy about stepping on your feet! Get a comfortable pair of sneakers and either carry your shoes in your bag and change them in the lobby, or keep a cute pair under your desk.
Also make sure you have a warm winter coat, gloves, scarves and a hat. Winters in New York are brutal and I learned the hard way my first winter that my coat wasn't nearly warm enough for those temperatures.
If you commute for work-- get an unlimited subway card!
Because many offices are remote right now due to the pandemic, this may not apply until later. But if you have a daily commute, it's almost always worth it to get the unlimited card instead of trying to guestimate dollar amounts based on swipes per week. I got the monthly unlimited and it saved me A LOT of headache with having to remember to refill each week. If you do get the monthly though-- MAKE SURE YOU REGISTER IT ONLINE. I can't say this enough. I lost my card once and unless it's registered, you wont be getting a free replacement. This could mean upwards of $140 down the tube! You'll only make that mistake once-- trust me.
No matter how you prepare for a city move, make sure you go into it open-minded! I went up there with no plan and I couldn't have ever guessed how my experience would've turned out. New York City wasn't for me in the end, but I wouldn't have changed a thing-- I know I'll have those memories for life.