How I Moved to New York City without Going Broke

 moving to new york

I moved to New York one year after graduating from college to leave the past behind. In college, I majored in communication and film studies. I had goals since senior year of high school to move to New York. Granted, I had always dreamed about living in the city and decided it was now or never. I wanted change in my life, and so I moved.  Organizing the move wasn’t easy. I needed an apartment and a job in one of the most expensive places to live in the world. Fortunately, I had help along the way, and was able to make the move without going broke.

I met great friends in college from all over the country whom I knew would stay in my life. These friends were not from the west coast like I was, and shortly after graduation, they left the state. I contacted these friends on the east coast and they helped me make the move. I primarily needed to secure housing before moving. Luckily, I knew the struggle for housing since my college days. I had managed to survive in college on a budget, so I had some money saved up. For my first two in the city, I lived with some friends, which allowed me to check listings in person, rather than over email. I also didn’t fall into the trap of paying a broker’s fee.

In the end, I found my apartment by checking Craigslist ad listings. Prior to going to see the apartments, I researched the neighborhoods. A lot of the listings claimed the apartments were in a neighborhood other than the one being advertised. I knew I could not afford certain neighborhoods and skipped those listings. I went to see a few apartments and reminded myself that my first place would be temporary. I never told the person showing me the apartment I was new to the city. I did not want to fall for a Craigslist scam or be given an outsider price. I was just a recent college grad and could not afford to live in a fancy apartment. My goal was to make it and be successful in New York, but still live a modest life. I did not want roommates, so I thought I could just rent out a tiny apartment. I budgeted my housing costs by keeping the cost of the apartment under 30% of my total income. At this price, I had to settle for a small studio that was close to the job I had landed, and had to live with a roommate afterall. It was tight, but I managed.

I found there were tons of jobs available, but also lots of competition. I landed a full-time job through my college alumni’s network. I was hired to be the executive assistant at a PR firm. This was an industry in which I was not knowledgeable, but it was an entry-level job. I wrote a new resume for the job I was applying for. The pay was decent and I could pay rent and my bills. During the actual move, I made the move across the country by contracting a moving vehicle. I loaded most of my furniture that I already owned. I hired movers who helped me take my furniture to my place. The movers were contracted from a local moving company. I also decided not to keep my car, and switched to public transportation instead. I quickly bought a metro card to take the subway train.

Groceries were expensive at first, because I made the mistake of purchasing them in the city. Eventually I learned to purchase them from small grocery stores for much less. I purchased things I could carry with me on the subway. I did not have to stick to Ramen by planning out all my meals ahead of time. I purchased poultry, rice, and vegetables. I rarely ate out, because the street food was pricey. I found places where I could purchase a meal for under $7. Restaurants with sit-down service were usually expensive, but smaller restaurants were not. I tracked my spending and set a budget. All of these sacrifices made a huge difference in keeping my finances on track.

The minute I moved to New York, I was never bored. The city was completely new to me and there was always a new place to go see. I spent little on entertainment, by taking advantage of all the free events. I went to sightsee places that did not require a fee. I would explore the city and take photos. I made friends in every neighborhood to be able to go visit them. I joined my friends at their apartments and we’d split the costs for entertainment at home.

Moving to New York City isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes sacrifice and determination. But for those willing to plan ahead and spend wisely, moving to New York is within their reach. 

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