How-To: Move to New York

November 29, 2010 § 13 Comments

Disclaimer: Nothing is ever guaranteed.

Recently, a friend of mine bought her one way ticket from RDU to JFK. She has been planning to move to NYC for years, so naturally she is super excited! But, of course moving here is a big change, so she is still a little nervous. to ease her nerves, she decided to ask me what exactly so expect upon the big move. She is in the same boat I was a few months ago, no job or apartment waiting for her when she gets here, just a plane ticket and some baggage.

After I wrote her with my advice, I thought it may be useful to other people as well. After all, I have done pretty well with my move. So, let us start with the beginning.

The most important thing when considering moving to the big city is whether you are a good fit. Evaluate why you really want to move here. Make sure to visit with people who live in the city so you can get a good idea of how life works as a New Yorker. Read Penelope Trunk’s blog post about the types of people who really belong in the city. Recognize that the city is straight bi-polar: she will give you the most amazingly mind-blowing days of your life, but the next day could have you facing a zombie apocalypse (this could get literal if you believe FourSquare). Once you decide that New York is a place that you want to live and that you’ll be happy here, you just have to do it.

Go ahead, but your ticket. Choose a day and just go for it. Once you’ve made the purchase you have no excuses. No more “I’m saving up money” or “I don’t have a job”. (Granted, both of these things would be extremely helpful). From here I can give you the email I sent my friend:

“How it’s going to work: you’re going to come to NYC but you’re not going to legit MOVE here.  Really, you are coming up for 2-3 months to figure out if you can stay. You will bring only what you can carry.

You’re going to have to stay on someone’s couch for a few days to a few weeks. Try and spread this out as much as possible and be respectful of your friend’s space. Remember that New York apartments are unreasonably small and expensive.

You will find a sublet (on Craigslist most likely). There is a large chance that they will want to meet you before you move in, so you cannot do this step remotely (but you can do some ‘pre-shopping’). The sublet will also most likely want some financial information to prove that you’re not a bum. Apartments in NYC move REALLY fast, so just be aware of that when you’re looking around. I found my sublet on Craigslist 20 minutes after they posted it and moved in 2 weeks later. My roommates and I found our apartment before it even went on the market, before our realtor had even seen it!

How much money you’re going to bring depends on you, but if you have the cash it would be good to have $2000 for every month that you are not going to have any income. After two months, if you do not have income and don’t have the job you want, you’re going to have to do the Starbucks, waitressing or bartending thing.

When you are definitely staying and ready to sign a lease: You will need a roommate (unless you are straight rolling in it) and you can find one on Craigslist, or through other people. This step literally cannot be done without regular income. Most apartments in Manhattan require prospective tenants to prove that they make 40x whatever the monthly rent is. I think it’s a little more lax in Brooklyn. Either way, you must have good credit and a legit job. Finding an apt here is HARD, so give yourself 3-4 weeks to find a place. We lucked out and found one in a week that hadn’t gone on the market yet. Just like with a job, tell EVERYONE you are looking for a place/roommate. Your best bet is to find someone who already has a place and is looking for a roommate, but be careful because they could also be crazy.”

With that said, I am no expert, I am just relating my experiences. And remember that this is your adventure! No one can tell you how to live your life, you really need to do this on your own. Have no fear and really embrace the city. It’s all about rolling with the punches and viewing everyday as a Grand Adventure!

Welcome to New York!


§ 13 Responses to How-To: Move to New York

  • Hey lady – I’d like to add that I think one of the reasons you were so successful is that you were open to new experiences and meeting new people. You made an effort to establish yourself here – not just with a job and apartment, but with friends and real roots. One of the biggest obstacles to overcome (after income & place to live) is creating a local network – and really, being able to create a local network makes it easier/possible to find income & a place.

    • Rianna says:

      I’m so glad you said that! When I was writing this I was debating about going into more detail on how to actually MAKE IT in New York, but decided to stick more to the point of how to just get here. I’m considering writing something about the importance of roots and a network. I may need some input, would you like to give me some of your insight?

  • Marguerite says:

    Lovin this post girlfriend!! Cant waittt! 😉

  • Joe says:

    I love this post!!! i read it twice, those tips are awesome!!!


  • Karina B says:

    Great post, and so timely as I prepare for my own move to New York/Brooklyn to follow my at times unfocused ambitions.. I’ve made the visit to scope things out, know it’s where I want to be, know it’s going to be hard but feel like I’ve spent my life preparing for a challenge like this (and moving to big cities to get myself adjusted, Seattle being the most recent). The practical stuff you went over is basic, but often skimmed over in other posts on the topic. Thanks for your thoughtful outline – and congrats on figuring things out!

    • Rianna says:

      How many cities have you lived in? If you’ve made the move before, I think you’ll be fine heading up here! I’m so glad you found it helpful, covering the basics was exactly what I wanted to do.

      Like I said over twitter, if you need anything at all let me know! Advice or a person to talk to, whatever.

  • Joe says:

    However; to find an apt. In Brooklyn area, something close to the Williamsburg bridge, does it matter if its close to the L train?

    What is the cost for a 1 bedroom unit in that area?

    • Rianna says:

      As long as you are close to some train, you’ll be fine!

      The cost of an apartment is highly variable, for a 1 bedroom you’re not going to find anything under $1000/month. That’s definitely something you’re going to have to research.

      Thanks for reading! I’m glad it’s been helpful!

  • Joe says:


    I really appricate your positive and great response.

    You’re the best!!!
    Thanks a lot, going to hunt – I have a friend doing rentals in the Brook-shwick (lol) area. Will see what he says, but that’s for sure NY!!!

    Rianna when is next coming up?
    Can’t wait

  • Joe says:

    I’ve found an apt. On Driggs S1 (1 Bedroom though) asking price is 1600 + utilities

    Is this the running prices?

    Just wondering – any help?

    • Rianna says:

      Joe, sorry it took me so long to get back to you! My friend who lived around there tells me that for a 1 bedroom that’s a pretty normal price. Sounds like a good place!

  • Joe says:

    Thanks for your response. I was waiting! and finally it came.

    Yep, it is a good place, lets hope it should work out and sign contract soon.


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