NYC: Tips Before You Move Here

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To broker, or not to broker: While it’s true that there are ways to relocate to and around New York City without the help of a broker, utilizing one makes the process incredibly easy. Having moved here with nothing more to my name than a couple thousand dollars and a suitcase, I wasn’t looking to waste too much time finding a place to live. Not to mention, my first gig here was waitressing, and there’s little time in between serving a New York City lunch rush to speak and negotiate with property managers. So for me, having someone essentially manage the move and conduct the search while I had to work definitely helped me sleep better at night. But, if you have more time and patience than I did, give StreetEasy a try.

Give everything a test run: Before signing ANY paperwork, test faucets, toilets, the stove, oven, air conditioning (if included) and smoke alarm. You may or may not be surprised that not everyone is trustworthy, and often times people sign for apartments before realizing that the gas line isn’t connected, the faucets don’t work, etc. Be careful!

Which neighborhood to choose: I chose the Upper East side strictly for affordability, a term I’ve come to understand is pretty relative considering location. It’s unlikely to find a 2-bedroom in this city, regardless of size, to be under $2,500. The first few years you’re here, you’ll want to save as much as you can on rent. But, once you become a bit more established and find yourself working farther away from where you live, you’ll likely consider biting the bullet for the sake of convenience and make a move. Things to consider: where you work, where you play, and where you like to hang out on Sundays. Sometimes it’s worth it to spend less on cabs and transportation after a night out or a day at work, and more on a place to live.

How to cut costs: It’s a matter of picking your battles when it comes to what’s most important to you in a living situation, and coming to terms with the fact that you can’t get everything you want here and still collect paychecks worth more than your monthly rent. For example, you might value a place with a lot of natural light and smaller rooms that’s farther from work over a place with dim, yellow lighting and huge rooms located a little closer to work. Location aside, you can typically get more of what you’re looking for aesthetically by searching in a neighboring burrough. It could be a longer commute, but again, it’s all about choosing your battles wisely.

How much did you save before moving here? Everyone’s situation is a little different. While I worked all throughout college to save a little money, I was also fortunate enough to have help from my grandmother, who left all of her grandchildren with a little something when she passed away. I think she would have been happy to see that I used it to chase my dreams.

Decorating on a budget: Take your time, but prioritize the important things. I had an air mattress and a blanket when we signed for the apartment, so the first thing I knew to get was a bed and a dresser. From then on, I bought things little by little. My room didn’t feel like a room for at least three months, but it came together eventually with the help of Ikea, flash sales, a lot of patience, and a steadily increasing bank account. Once you come to terms with the fact that you’re not above a good sale or flea market, decorating becomes much easier. Your room should be your haven at the end of a hard day. You deserve a relaxing, home-y feeling space that is yours. Little by little, work toward that goal.

If you have any tips you think I’ve left out, feel free to share in the comments. The more the merrier!

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