CAN I AFFORD TO MOVE TO NYC?

Happy New year, Y'ALL! If this post caught your eye, you're probably at the same place i was just a year ago.

I can remember New Years Day of last year thinking to myself, "I am so ready for my big move to New York City!"  However, like with any move, it's expensive it's stressful and there's a lot to consider. Moving out of state only that heightens the level of complexity ten fold. I don't say this to steer you away from the idea by any means. Instead, I want to prepare you for all that you have thought of and maybe even a few things you hadn't.  

First off, let me give yall a quick summary as to how I stumbled my way into this glorious city that I now call home. I made the decision to move to NYC back in May of 2015. I was visiting a best friend from college and on a rainy night, on our way to a bar, we were sitting in a taxi and as we passed by the Empire State Building, I looked up and was suddenly overwhelmed with this feeling of certainty. At the time I was living in Minneapolis and felt a certain change was necessary and in that moment in the back of that cab, I suddenly knew that NYC was my next Stop. 

Having corporate retail experience, I immediately started searching open positions at reputable companies. I took some informational phone calls and FaceTime interviews just to get a lay of the land. Which brings me to my first piece of advice: 

DO YOUR INDUSTRY RELATED RESEARCH! 

This step will be key to understanding salary caps, relocation bonus/expenses, annual bonuses, etc.

1. Salary research:

You want to speak very candidly with your recruiter but also use websites like Glassdoor and I'm a HUGE advocate for LinkedIn Premium

2. Relocation bonuses:

If relocation assistance is a deal breaker for you (like it was for me) you need to be 100% open with your recruiter about it. Don't sit there and act like "Oh yeah, I can probably make it work." The worse you could do is get to a point where you're so excited for a role then realize, this move will bankrupt me completely. 

If relocation is something that a company doesn't provide and you feel comfortable doing so yourself, here are some of the costs to keep in mind.

  •  Sale your furniture. It's more than likely too big for the small ass apart you're about to inhabit and this alone will reduce moving expenses.
  •  Prior to moving, plan for at least 2 trips to NYC. One trip will be to neighborhood scope and the other will be the week or two prior to actually moving where you find your apartment. For both trips, find a friend or a friend of a friend to crash with to reduce lodging costs. Estimated cost: Two round trip flights + $40-$50 per Uber ride to/from Airport. Or if you're daring enough to hop on the Subway or Train this could be $10 (From JFK or LGA)-$25 (From Newark). There's also a bus that you could take as well. In the case that you decide to use public transportation, Google Maps is BAE! 
  • Hire trusted movers. Also, be aware that it might take you up to three weeks to receive your items. So when you do finally move, you'll want to pack the suitcases you'll be living out of accordingly. Estimated cost: $3000 for a 700 sq ft 1 bedroom apartment. 

Once I was officially hired by my employer it was go time! I had about 3 weeks between when I accepted my offer and my first day of work and I had to find a place to live and get all of my belongings moved, which brings me to my second piece of advice:

HOW TO MOVE WISELY

1. Neighborhood research: 

I actually received, "Newcomer's Handbook For Moving to and Living in New York City," as a gift when I was first looking at relocating to NYC from Minneapolis. It literally lays out every neighborhoods history, boundaries, convenient transportation, heck even zip codes. So I'd highly recommend taking a stab at that AND bringing it with you. Keep in mind, you're not going to walk away from this first visit knowing everything there is to know about every single neighborhood. However, it'll give you a good gauge of the neighborhood vibes that you think you'd mesh well with. One thing that I would highly caution, is feeling like you have to live near where you'll work. That's so false. However, when you are on this trip, ask yourself the following: 

  1. Where's the closest grocery/convenient store?
  2. Is it near a gym that I like? 
  3. Is it on the East side but I'll work on the West side? 
    • while this shouldn't be a deal breaker per se, it is something to consider as getting East to West does tend to require 5-10 min of walking at some point during the trip and at times may not include any public transportation. 

That's just a few things to keep in mind! If there's one thing that you take away from this though is don't by any, ANY means feel that you need or should live in Midtown. Some people may love it, but it's my personal hell being around all of those damn tourists. People who have never really lived in NYC tend to thing that it's all congestion, all the time. When that's mainly Midtown. You can go one or two stops North or South and feel like you've suddenly stumbled upon a quiet, tree lined, neighborhood!

2. The Apartment Find

So here's a myth buster for y'all right here: You DO NOT need a broker in order to find a great apartment. Yes, I've heard it's helpful. However, they lie to you, of course and at the end of the day, they're sales people that have their own bills to pay. With that in mind, I decided to go the Craiglist route and looked for people subletting rooms. Something that I've learned after moving here is there's also a Facebook page called "Gypsy Housing NYC" where people are constantly posting the need for sublets.

Pros to subletting: 1) You're moving into someone else's space which, typically means less furniture to buy  2) Utilities are already under someone else's name in the apt so you're just using Venmo to pay them 3) Depending on the situation, you might only have to pay 1st months rent, maybe even 1st and 2nd but more often then not you won't have to pay for a background check, or other lease signing expenses.

Cons to Subletting: 1) Now I can't speak for all buildings, but I know that my building doesn't allow it. So even though I was subletting from a girl who moved out of state, management couldn't find out. Obviously I'm not saying everyone should go out and do illegal shit, BUT it's done every single day in NYC so there's that. 2) If you're moving to the city alone, the people who are currently in the apartment are likely to have a bond or have very busy lives already, so you can't assume that you'll suddenly have friends. 3) This might not bother some people, it didn't really bother me but remember you're living in NYC. That could mean your new apartment isn't going to be the cleanest. However, it's nothing a quick sweep or vacuum won't fix.

Using a Broker: All that being said, if you do decide to go the broker route know that you'll have to pay a brokerage fee, usually around 15% on the total ANNUAL lease amount (Example, the monthly rent on my apartment is 4300 x 12 months = $7, 740 broker's fee. This would then be split among all roommates). While this is a very rough estimate, you get the gist. It's pretty expensive. If you do decide to go this route though, you can still use Craigslist and also RentHop, which is another site one of my current roommates' has used in the past. 

I know I've laid quite a bit on you but I have one last thing that I'd like to cover with yall, as I think there's a HUGE misconception of how much it really costs to live in New York City. Below, I'll do my very best to break that down for you:  

OVERALL COST OF LIVING

1. Rent

I you think you'll be paying more than $2000 for an apartment in NYC, you are severely mistaken. At the time I started planning my move to the city, I owned my own 1 bd/1 bath, 700 sq ft condo. Here's a quick breakdown of what went into my rent expenses:

  • Mortgage: $1,095/month
  • HOA Fees: $425/month (cable, heated parking space, w/d included)
  •  Utilities: $25 for internet and $30-$50 for heat/electric.
  • Renters Insurance: $19/month
  • Total Rent Expenses: $1594/month

As I mentioned above, I found my current apartment, which I've now been in for about eight months, via Craigslist. It's a converted 3 bd/2.5 bath duplex with a HUGE private backyard space. I share it with 2 other ladies but here's a breakdown of my portion of the rent expenses. 

  • Rent: $1475/month 
  • Cable/Internet: $40/month
  • Utilities: $30-60/month (dependent on weather)
  • Renters Insurance: $11/month
  • Total Rent Expenses: $1586 (this is assuming $60 for utilities)

No, your eyes do not deceive you, I am paying basically the same amount as I did in middle of America. Now, I'm not blind to the fact that I went from living alone in a 1 bedroom to now sharing a space with two other girls. However, for me I don't care about the price per sq. ft. breakdown to be honest. At the end of the day all I care about is what's coming out of my bank account each month. As you can see, if you DO YOUR RESEARCH, it is certainly possible to find a place that fits within your budget.

2. Transportation

The day I sold Candy, my 2008 Candy Red, Ford Edge, was the day that my moving to NYC felt real. I started to feel the sadness of the change loom over me a bit but I knew that this move was for all of the right reasons. Plus I legitimately have THE worse road rage, so I think public transportation suits me best. 

Anyway, when I finally moved to the city it took me about two days to step foot in a subway station. I actually had to have a friend show me how to go about buying a metro pass. It felt like I was a child again. I knew it was going to be the most economical approach. Plus, most companies offer what's called "commuter benefits" which allows you to put pre-tax money on a debit card for you to use to purchase your monthly subway, bus, etc. pass. It's pretty amazing and the pass is about $125/month for unlimited access to the subway. 

3. The Extras

So far, between the rent and the transportation costs, you're looking at about $2000/month of fixed expenses. Keep in mind, this is from the perspective of a single, 26 year old female. That being said, what I find makes living in NYC so expensive, is living in NYC. I'm talking the eating out, the going out and the hanging out. I typically spend at least $50 on a casual meal; around $50-$70 on a night out, you learn to pregame pretty hard though so this expense varies, however keep in mind you're probably taking a car instead of the subway. Then if you're checking out sites, seeing movies, etc. that comes with a double digit expense as well. Just like any city though, these things can be scaled appropriately over time. 

The morale of my story is this, when it comes to keeping a roof over your head and the lights on, all of that stuff is completely doable here in the BIG APPLE. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that you'll be rolling in the dough or makin' it rain. What you will be doing however, is experiencing a city, so rich in culture and adventure that you'll be asking yourself why in the world it took you so long to make the move in the first place. 

-XX

SJG