|Excited to move to NYC after college? Landing a job might be harder than you think.|
Every year, thousands of new, twenty-something transplants migrate to New York City for work, school, or just the experience of living in a new environment. In 2011, I was one of them. It’s almost comical to consider what my mindset was like back then, compared to how it is now, and I’m reminded of my adorable naivety whenever I come across another NYC rookie.
I wasn’t necessarily the epitome of Charlotte York from Sex and the City in terms of seeing the world through rose-colored glasses (I’m quite happy with my healthy level of cynicism), but these past four years in Manhattan haven’t been quite as “easy” as I thought they’d be. To my fellow young people who are considering a move to NYC, here’s a more down-to-earth version of what to expect.
|Know what to expect from New York before you arrive.|
“My college degree and awesome resume will help land me a job in no time.”
Aww, how cute. I remember thinking this was true as well. Unfortunately, a fancy degree from an accredited university and a beefed-up resume aren’t always enough to find a job. With so many college graduates looking for work nowadays, job hunting is more of a crapshoot, and many well-qualified individuals go overlooked. Be flexible about where you’re willing to work – and if you’re able to, get a little creative.
“I can afford an apartment for $1500/month, so finding one shouldn’t be a problem.”
This was a rude awakening for me. Being able to “afford” an apartment doesn’t mean anything here, and the checklist necessary to be approved for the most basic studio can include everything short of your first-born child. Not only do renters generally have to earn 40 times the monthly rent annually, but a certain credit score, references, and even a minimum savings account balance might be required. Guarantors are often accepted, but if they live outside of NYC, then they usually need to make 80-100 times the monthly rent.
|These gorgeous cast-iron buildings in SoHo are probably not in your $1,500 per month rent budget.|
“I can’t wait to have weekly lunch dates with my friends.”
I thought this was a fun idea – but after several years in the city, I’ve only done lunch with the girls a handful of times. Eating at restaurants on a regular basis is pricey (especially for those of us who are less than financially secure), and I’d rather spend my money on a Saturday night out than a $25 burger.
“I’m going to find the love of my life.”
This was never one of my expectations (or a priority, for that matter), but some people move here thinking that their next “great relationship” is just around the corner. Yes, the New York dating pool is filled with diverse people and there’s something for everyone. But with variety comes the need to sift through a lot of toads in order to find a prince. So instead of focusing on finding a new boyfriend or girlfriend, take a lighthearted approach to the city’s dating world to avoid getting too discouraged. And be patient.
“I’m an artist, so NYC is the perfect place to make my career happen.”
I moved here for the potential music career opportunities and networking benefits. While I don’t regret my choice, I’ve learned that the art and entertainment industry is even more saturated than I thought. There’s no shame in being a starving artist, but keep in mind that overnight success is far from what anyone should expect. A great rule of thumb is that it takes at least 1000 hours of focused work before anything significant will happen.
|New York has a long line of artists waiting for their big break.|
“VIP tables and amazing nightlife, here I come!”
I’ll admit that my friends and I have had some lucky breaks in terms of making friends with bouncers, club promoters, and random connections who have been able to hook us up with free VIP service here and there. In general, however, paying for bottle service, even at a mid-range venue, can cost at least $200 for the night.
It’s understandable that newcomers want to wile out when they first arrive, and New York’s nightlife is definitely something to experience. But pace the partying, or else the first of the month will always result in tears and panic attacks. Ex: “Rent is due, but I spent all my money on Jell-O shots from a bartender named Cinnamon.” I used to think that going to clubs downtown and wearing stilettos was the “cool thing” to do – but now, I’ve realized that I prefer flat boots and cheap well drinks at Irish pubs. Party nights in NYC don’t have to be glamorous to be fun.
|Pace the partying. Carousing all night in stilettos gets old, and rent day rolls around in no time.|
Photos in the post were taken by James Maher.