Student Tips For Moving To NYC For The First Time

The inside of a small apartment bedroom, furnished with photographes, shelves, chairs and a bed, in New York City
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Reflecting on the first year (ok, years, if I’m being honest), it’s amazing that I was able to stick it out, considering how little I knew of the city before I moved here and all the huge mistakes I made as a first timer. (Case in point: I totally thought it would be no big deal to live on the last stop on the F train in Queens, from there having to take the bus and then walk a mile to get to my apartment, making the door to door commute to work 2 hours each way. Yes, rookie mistake!) Having said all that, I’ve definitely gleaned some tips and tricks over the years which I happily share with any small town girl/boy hoping to make it in the big city. Here they are:

Bring Only The Bare Necessities 

Seriously, bare, BARE necessities. It’s no secret that NYC dwellings are tiny, and especially if you plan to shack up with roommates, your space decreases even more. Rather than dealing with the stress and expense of shipping your college furniture and all the contents of your walk in closet to the Big Apple, pack the following: a suitcase of clothes/shoes for both work and play (less is actually more here cause trying to do laundry in NYC is its own kind of headache which we will save for a different post!), your laptop, your cellphone, a travel mug, and a coffee pot. Trust me on those last two.

Find A Roommate And A Commute That Make Sense

Moving to the city for the first time is expensive, and unless you landed a job in investment banking, I would absolutely recommend starting out your time in New York with a roommate (or 3!) The typical amount of cash that’s required to land an apartment rental is one month’s security deposit and first and last month’s rent. So let’s just say the apartment is $3,000–that makes a whopping $9,000 you’d have to fork over before even starting your job. If you have a roommate, this price drastically reduces itself, as does the monthly rent and expenses.

Also, you will clearly get more bang for your buck the further out you go, but also consider which will make you happier in the long run: more space or a shorter commute. Probably the BEST advice I can offer is to absolutely refuse to live anywhere that is longer than a 5 minute walk to the nearest subway.

Oh, and p.s., whether you decide to get a roomie or not, unless you want to hand over 15% to a broker, I recommend doing the leg work for the apartment search on your own.

A train with an american flag inside a subway station in New York City.

Get Very Familiar With Public Transportation And Use It

I was so broke that first year living in New York that once summer hit I would ride the subway with my unlimited monthly pass just to enjoy the benefits of the air conditioning (which my apartment didn’t have.) The upside of this is that I quickly learned my way around the city via the subway, and there was no borough that went unexplored. Whether you use the subway, buses, CitiBikes or your own two feet, I HIGHLY suggest you stay away from cabs and car services if you’re trying to save money. Nothing will break the bank quicker than getting used to taking Uber.

Eat Cheap

This is a little easier said than done unless you live in an outer borough or in Upper Manhattan, which all have easy access to affordable grocery stores. But even if there’s not one right down the block from you, planning ahead and taking public transportation to the nearest C-Town, Food Bazaar, or Trader Joes will save you big bucks. Meal plan ahead and buy only what you will eat for the week, planning to bring your lunch, snacks, and yes, even coffee with you when you leave for work/classes for the day. Otherwise, a trip to the local salad bar will set you back $10, a coffee run $3, and an afternoon juice $7. Multiply that five times a week for a month and you’ve just eaten $400 worth of food that you could spent locally at a farmers market.

Individuals looking at art lining the walls inside of a museum

Stay Entertained For Free

As expensive as New York certainly can be, there’s also so much entertainment in this city for absolutely FREE. From free days at museums to outdoor summer film festivals to free workout classes to book clubs at your local library branch, there’s truly something for everyone in this great city of ours. And before you go out and blow big bucks on it all, do a little research and I bet you can find a free or cheap alternative.

All in all, you will be sacrificing massive amounts of space and sometimes sanity to live in NYC, so just make sure that if you’re making that sacrifice, you are indeed reaping all the benefits of living here. Here’s to the next 11 years!

Any tips that helped you move to and stay in NYC? Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook and let us know!

Posted in Apartment Living NYC, manhattan living, Upper West Side |