Young Professional's Guide to Moving to New York City
During the final year of my long pharmacy training journey, it was time to figure out where to actually work. I was reckoning with the fact that the world was my oyster for the first time. For most of my life I thought that I would follow some man I was in a relationship and my job would fit into it somehow. But when the time came, it was a co-decision based on MY tangible job prospects. What?!
I never thought New York City was even in the realm of possibilities. There is a lot of binary in how people end up here is portrayed in entertainment. You either grew up here already, or you came here with $20 in your pocket and started hustling while living in a rat-infested studio until right place, right time came knocking. Maybe you even tried it and ended up having to leave because the City was hard on you and practically it wasn't going to work out.
It was rare for me to find an example where you're able to move here like any other place. I guess it's not juicy enough for books and movies. But the reality is, yes there are very NYC-specific t's to cross and i's to dot to move here, but it is also very possible.
As a young professional with a ton of student loan debt and no savings, we relied on my partner for a lot of the upfront costs. I've also heard of others who borrowed from family during this transition time. Not everyone has these privileges, so please consider this. With any move, you are required some security deposits and initial month's rents. In NYC, if you're using a broker, that adds potentially thousands of dollars more.
Today I'll be sharing some of the nitty gritty of how to move here based on my experience and the insane research I did to try to make it smooth. We still met bumps in the road too, so please learn from our mistakes!
Any other tips you have? Share them in the comments below!
land the job.
Too obvious? Well, finding a job here wasn't as easy coming from the pharmacy field so I share this with the possibility that it may apply for you. A lot of the pharmacy jobs in the state of New York is a matter of already being here. I was told it's a lot easier to get hired if you're already in the state and licensed because there's a lot less patience to wait for you to take your exams, move here, etc.
- Flex your network. I didn't have this as much, except the fact that my current boss went to the same pharmacy school as me. I knew no one who worked in NYC, but the fact that we had that common bond in our training, she had a window into my capabilities so she took a chance on me.
- Cold emails. I was looking into an urban environment to move to, not just NYC. I did cold emails to directors and managers in hospitals in Chicago and Boston too. I got some responses and set up phone calls for potential job opportunities. Most of them had jobs "in the pipeline" or "being reviewed by human resources" but not actually available for application. But at the very least created that communication bridge where they continued reaching out to me for updates on those positions. The timing didn't work out for me, but these became essential backup plans.
- Job forums. Websites like Indeed, LinkedIn, Monster, etc. are there for a reason. USE THEM. Send in your application and see what happens. One tip coming from the administration world, you can consider reaching out to the hiring manager directly if you can figure out who it is. When you send applications it likely first gets filtered through a human resources department and the hiring manager may not even know about your application. If you reach out, then the hiring manager may be able to find your application themselves.
find your hood.
There are so many neighborhoods within the 5 boroughs of New York City. We decided early on that we wanted to be in Manhattan at least for the first year to get to know the City and that's where my job was. We decided to live anywhere along a direct line to my workplace because I valued direct lines that take longer over relying on a train transfer. We also wanted to have a separate bedroom knowing that my partner and I can have different sleep schedules and that many people would likely want to visit (this ended up being VERY true). And finally, we decided on the budget based on calculating how much you are going to make, subtract other bills and savings, and decide what you're willing to commit to with what's left over.
For little details, I used StreetEasy to go "shopping" and figure out a lot of specific characteristics we wanted in an apartment. Here's are some descriptions directly from emails to our broker:
"Good price, good proximity to C line and 2 line to Trader Joe's and Central Park, nice kitchen, sunlight, small balcony. Different area from the rest, and open to looking around this area."
"Great location! Ceiling fans/lights, open kitchen/living room, bedroom can fit additional furniture"
"Ceiling fan, open floor plan"
"Upgraded kitchen, hardwood floors, great sunlight"
"Perfect location (proximity to Trader Joe's, Central Park, and metro lines to work)"
the boring essentials.
- Get your paperwork together. Streeteasy has a really great guide that shows what paperwork to bring. If you work with TripleMint, they also have a checklist of things to bring. We prepared things like letters of recommendation from our landlord at the time, tax returns, bank statements, and a letter from my employer on official letterhead stating my salary to ensure I made enough (40x the monthly rent) to qualify for the rent price.
- Prepare your finances. Finances are a big one, because you have to shell out quite a bit of money. Make sure you tell your bank that you plan to make large deposits in NYC and find out what your daily withdrawal limit is (and potentially increase it if possible). Find out from your broker if you'll be able to use a personal check vs. needing to get cashier's checks. We made the mistake of not bringing a cashier's check or finding out the daily bank withdrawal limit. That caused a lot of stress that could have been prevented, so learn from our mistakes!
To broker or not? Landing your dream apartment is a different experience in NYC compared to anyone else. We decided to use a broker because we were on a time crunch for our search time and didn't have the contacts within the city to set up appointments with locations. Once you decide to go with a broker, the timing is also important I tried reach out to brokers to start relationships as soon as I accepted my job and they essentially said it was too early. You can't really know what will truly be available except within a month of you moving. For those planners out there, that could be really stressful for you, but that's where the broker comes in.
The broker we used was TripleMint and it was the best decision we made. After reaching out to multiple brokers, the experience with TripleMint from start to finish was the best one we came across.
The apartment tour. When the day comes to see apartments it's quite a whirlwind. You'll see lots of places in a short amount of time so be prepared with walking shoes and potentially a metro card to get from place to place. Your broker will have different places booked to see ideally all in a row. You and your broker will meet with the broker for the place you are seeing (it sounds confusing but it's not in person) and they'll try to do their pitch for you. They may even try to ask if you want to see some of their other places that aren't on the market yet, or give some sort of "exclusive" access. Don't feel pressured to say yes if it's not in your budget. We said yes to some, and no to others based on our own personal criteria. PRO TIP: TAKE PICTURES.
Before you leave. TAKE MEASUREMENTS. It's no lie that the NYC apartments are a lot smaller than you may have experienced previously. You don't want to have to bring unnecessary items up multiple floors that won't even fit. Measure the rooms so you know what size AC unit to get if your place doesn't come with one. Measure counter surface area and cabinet spaces to know if your kitchen appliances will even fit.
do the thing.
Moving trucks. If you get a place like ours, it's multiple flights up with no elevator. Granted, there are plenty of places with elevators. But still, the biggest tip I have here is to get rid of as much as you can. Now that you know the space you're going to be moving into (because you took measurements!), TRY to get rid of too much. Channel your inner Marie Kondo, thank the objects that once gave you happiness but now are collecting dust, then say goodbye. We took at least a dozen trips to the local thrift store to donate. We used Facebook groups to sell to local university students. We threw away what wasn't able to be sold or donated. And you know what? We don't remember anything we got rid of.
AC units. If you move into a space without central air conditioning and it won't have a window unit already there, BRING ONE WITH YOU. You will want to have AC for your first night if you are moving in the warmer seasons. And make sure you research what size to get based on the room measurements you took previously.
Getting the keys. Depending on whether you are going to an independently owned walk-up or a building with a door man, there are different methods to getting keys to your apartment. For my walk-up, my key was stored in a lockbox within a random store in my neighborhood so I had to make sure I made it to New York with the moving truck in time before the store closed. It actually came pretty close because of underestimated traffic so luckily we had family in town who could get the key for us. Phew! Make sure you have a plan B.
Bribe friends. We didn't hire movers but we did know some friends and family in the area that were willing to help. It was amazing (although next move we likely will hire movers), but I wasn't the one carrying a queen-sized mattress up 4 flights of stairs. The great thing about moving to NYC is that everyone who currently lives there knows the struggle, and will be there to support you. Thank them and pay it forward for the next batch of people coming to down!
Everything else. Don't forget the other responsible things to do, because you're an adult.
save hard, play hard.
You just spent a LOT of money to lease an apartment and to make the actual move. Let it be known that there are LOTS of ways to spend even more money now. But when you wiped out your bank account with apartment deposits, how can you enjoy your new hometown?
Borrow now, pay later… If you're like me and had over a month lapse before my first paycheck, the money was tight. I took out a credit card that had no interest accrue for the first 12 months. I'm not saying everyone should do this but it was an idea posed by some of my mentors and it got me through the time period with no income because I knew I would be able to pay it off (this is key when making this decision).
Ways to save. Can't take out a credit card, or really don't want to? No worries! There are also lots of FREE things to do! One of my favorite recommendations when moving here was signing up for The Skint. It's a daily newsletter that shows the free and discounted things to do in the City that day, and during the upcoming days. Other ways to save include:
Parks. There are free things to do in all of the different parks. Last year I saw comedy shows in Washington Square Park, orchestra concerts in Central Park, Broadway in Bryant Park, and so much more.
Museums. There are certain days where museums will have free entry (in addition to the museums that are "pay what you want".
Drinks. Happy hours are the only time I go out for those now.
Meals. And as much as I can, I go to Trader Joe's for and cook meals at home. The more you save, the more you can spend doing the things you really want to #treatyoself with.
As you can see, there's no shortage of tricks to make this play more affordable or offset the expenses that you have. It takes a lot of trial and error, and while the net is a higher cost of living, what you get out of it in my opinion is so much more than your bank account could ever understand.