Dear Thinking About Moving To New York,
If you’ve reached the realization that New York is where you need to be, I first want to congratulate you. Then maybe hug you if I know you well enough. Moving to New York is a big freakin’ deal and it’s a deal I think everyone should make at least once in their life. It’s something that will take you, like I, many months to realize what you just did after you make the move. But it’s going to be one of the greatest things you’ll ever do.
When I was growing up, I always dreamt of living in a brownstone and having the luxury of everything I needed within a walk down the street. This was mostly a nod to watching Friends and Gossip Girl for unhealthy amounts of time. I wanted to be a “city girl”, not a suburban soccer mom when I grew up. And while many things are strikingly similar to what you see in the movies and TV shows, not all things are as glamorous as they seem. The lifestyle of Hannah on Girls or Julie in Julie and Julia is the probably the most similar. Gossip Girl (and even sometimes Friends) … just no. And Sex and the City, I mean yeah thanks to Tinder, but with a lot less brunches.
For one — your apartment is going to be about the size of your room in your parents’ house in suburbia. Yeah, the entire apartment. And you’re probably going to be paying more than your parents’ mortgage each month. To put it in simple terms, my first “bedroom” here was 81 by 85 inches. To save you the Google, that’s 6.75 feet by 7 feet. It fit my whole full-size bed and even a lamp! And I paid the same each month as my parents pay for an ENTIRE house. It’s super fun to think about, though.
Speaking of apartments, you will likely find your first ~*NYC*~ roommates on Craigslist because you will have no friends. Or if you do have friends, they will already have a signed lease that they can’t break or you can’t afford. But Craigslist people are super fun! They do really weird things that teach you about human life and make you a survivor, which will come in handy down the road. So not Gossip Girl.
And once you find a place and roommates you like, try your best to just settle in. Because moving apartments without a car or parents to help you is like having no friends to sit with at lunch on the first day of school (a b-i-t-c-h).
Besides the living situation comes the actual living. You gotta be assertive. This will come with time and soon enough you will be barking orders at people and getting mad when things aren’t the way you paid for them. Remember — money is your best friend and you never want to let go of it just for nothing. But also — if you want to get anywhere (as in down the street or down to the subway) you need to walk fast and act like you know where you’re going. Be polite, but also be direct and don’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk for anything. Even the “nice Midwest girl” that I am will lay you flat into the pavement.
Now the only reason I would forgive you for stopping on the sidewalk is if you spot a celeb and want to quickly snap a pic and keep going, which will happen a lot. Most veteran New Yorkers don’t even realize a famous person is on the same street as them, but I think it’s going to take me a few years for the excitement to wear off. It’s always unexpected and totally awesome. Just don’t approach them if they’re busy (or at all). New York is crawling with celebrities because they’re supposedly just normal people, too. If you ever see Taylor Swift, call me.
If you lose your job in the first couple months of living here, don’t worry too much. I mean you can take a few nights to go rip roaring through the city like it’s the worst mistake you’ve made, but another job will be there for you. And in the meantime, you can nanny a kid for like $20 an hour. That’s more than most college degree required jobs pay. Most of all, just remember that it’s going to be OK. And don’t just pack up and leave. (Again, moving sucks).
When you’re looking for a place to live, keep in mind that most of Manhattan (at least from South Central Park down) is safe. There’s not really a “bad” neighborhood or somewhere you shouldn’t go. There are so many people and officers that feeling unsafe is very uncommon. I definitely have been threatened or felt uneasy in Chicago 10x more than New York. God Bless you, Chi-town.
Moving to a big city takes a lot to get used to. You’ll feel really weird living in a place that is normally a vacation spot or something totally wondrous to most people.
But the greatest thing about New York is it’s unstoppable. The energy combined with the hustle and the never-ending surprises creates an atmosphere that makes you want to wake up everyday and continue to learn. It’s really hard at first, but you’ll find ways to overcome what’s making it the hardest for you. You’ll make friends. You’ll establish your new life. And you most certainly will learn a lot about yourself.
It’s the most charming place, and is an instant music video whenever you’re feeling somber on the train listening to Bon Iver. Not only does it look really cool on Instagram, at the end of the day, it is really cool.
And it might even make you buy one of those “I ❤ New York” shirts.
In which case, just don’t.