Well, folks, I have officially survived my first year of living in New York City. I remember the conversation I had with my parents like it was yesterday. Early last summer, I declared that I was moving to the city, with or without a job, from my significantly smaller college town of Madison, Wisconsin. Was it the riskiest and ballsiest thing I’ve ever done? You betcha. Do I regret it? Not for a split second.
Over the course of the year, I have acquired a fair bit of knowledge about what it takes to flourish and thrive in New York. Like everything else in life, it comes with some challenges, but in the relentless pursuit of dreams, you knock those obstacles out of the way and make those challenges your bitch. For those of you planning to relocate to New York in the future (or simply want to follow along because you’re a consistent reader and care about what I have to say for some reason), I’ve rounded up my top five tips on how to conquer your first year in the Big Apple.
The Job Search
I figured I’d get this one out of the way first, since it’s everyone’s least favorite topic. It took me three months to get a job once I moved to NYC. Luckily, I had enough savings to pay my first three months of rent and manage to miraculously (and carefully, might I add), live off the rest. Being out-of-state, the application process was way more difficult because most companies prefer candidates nearby; hence, my decision to move despite my unemployment.
Another thing to consider is leveraging all of your resources. From Indeed and LinkedIn, to having multiple recruiters, it is important to maximize your pool of options when seeking employment. In the meantime, look for temp roles or get a part-time gig while you go on interviews, just to save yourself a little stress (and make some extra cash).
Meeting New People
Behind snagging a job, I’d say this is the second-hardest part about moving to New York. Some of us are fortunate to have a few friends or family members already living in the city when we arrive. For others, building connections from scratch is a necessity and added stressor. Not sure where to begin? Find a community of people who share similar hobbies or passions as you. If your school has an alumni chapter in the city, attend an event once in awhile. If your family or friends have friends in the city, have them introduce you! Remember, you have choices, lots of choices.
The true mark of adulthood is being able to say, with certainty and an unfortunate sigh, “I can’t go to brunch this weekend,” because your checking account is telling you “HELL NO, GF.” I live in Manhattan, so a sizable portion of my money goes straight to rent. Most months, I tend to have just enough leftover to pay for my essentials (e.g. groceries, electric bill, etc.) and spend a little on myself. Sometimes, however, I have to make sacrifices because of specific costs that take precedence, such as a co-pay for a doctor’s appointment. To make matters easier, estimate how much you’ll put toward different sectors of your life and write it down. Writing things down always helps me hold myself accountable for my actions.
Also, if you are able to set aside a small amount of money per month in a savings account, do it. I put 10-15% of my pay in savings almost every month, and it gives me great relief knowing I have a safety net in case of an emergency, or if I want to travel.
The Dating Game
I hate to break it to you, but your ideal “meet-cute-in-a-bar” scenario is hard to come by these days, especially in NYC. Although you might be hesitant, at least open up yourself to the idea of hopping on the dating app train. I met Jacob on Tinder just weeks after moving to the city. While dating can be intimidating at first, going into it with the intent of having fun and meeting new people will put your mind at ease.
Exploring and Taking it Easy
I know, if I say one more thing about exploring your city on this blog, you’re going to burst at the seams. TOO BAD. I can’t stress enough how much meaningful soul-searching I’ve done wandering the various neighborhoods of NYC. It’s a luxury not afforded to most, so you should definitely spend your free time trying new things. Also, not every activity in New York has to cost you an arm and a leg!
At the same time, you don’t need to spend every waking moment being busy and on overdrive. I normally take at least one night/day on the weekends to unwind and chill in bed. Just because life moves fast here, doesn’t mean you always have to.
Have questions about moving to the city that weren’t answered in this post? Feel free to reach out to me in the comments below, or shoot me an email! Happy to assist in any way I can. 🙂
Photography: Jacob Goldberg