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.