I get asked questions all the time about living in NYC and thought that I should open up the conversation with a little Q&A. I want to preface this with saying that living in New York is such a different experience for everyone. There have been some who have hated it and felt as though this city wasn’t the place for them. There have been those who have lived here for years and can’t see themselves living anywhere else. I think I fall somewhere in-between leaning more towards the latter – although I don’t think that I will want to live here forever.
What I struggle with the most is knowing how much money I am paying to live here, but at the same time I know that I won’t have this lifestyle anywhere else. There’s definitely good and bad to creating a home here in the big apple. I asked on my stories what questions you had about living in NYC. A lot of them were similar and I also answered some within my answers to other questions since a lot of them pertained to one another. Hope this gives a little more insight to city living!
HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR APARTMENT?
Initially, I had begun my search on sites like StreetEasy and Naked Apartments. I did this for several months without much luck. Most of the places that worked within my budget were very small and on the Upper East Side. I was hoping for something further downtown on the west side. I ended up having a conversation about my search with one of my best friends and she mentioned that her and her fiancé were moving out of her apartment by the end of the year into a bigger place. She owns this unit – it’s inside a co-op building – and she mentioned that she was hoping to rent it out because she didn’t want to sell it yet.
Jokingly I had said, “I should rent your apartment from you, but I probably can’t afford it.” After several serious discussions, it turned out that I would in fact be able to afford the apartment. The only thing I had to do was apply directly to the board and wait to see if I got approved. It was a nerve-wracking experience for me, but mostly because it was a waiting game. Being friends was definitely a plus, but this did not guarantee that the board would approve me. There were also some initial stipulations that would only enable me to live here for two years (thankfully, that rule was lifted!)
I really believe that getting this apartment was all about timing. If my friend had moved out any sooner, I don’t think that I would have been ready financially. The fact that she owns this place and I have loved it from the moment she moved in has been super surreal for me. I remember saying that this would be the perfect first apartment for me never knowing that one day I would in fact live here. She had also renovated the place when she moved here back in 2015, so I honestly got very lucky in that regard too.
HOW MUCH IS RENT?
Rent is going to vary based on different factors like the neighborhood, size of apartment, building amenities (if any), when you sign your lease (winter months are typically lower), etc. Obviously if you are living alone without a roommate or significant other like I am then the financial burden falls completely on your shoulders. I can tell you from searching for apartments that most places I found started around $2500 and up for a studio or a small one bedroom although I found some that were in the $1800-2K range. The max that I could afford was $2200 including utilities. If I had been a complete stranger to my friend then she would have probably up-charged me, but thankfully I was able to live here within my budget. My rent includes her mortgage, the building maintenance fees, heat and hot water.
I know this amount sounds crazy to pay so much for a studio apartment when people have houses and pay less on their mortgages. It’s still an insane concept to me and I have had moments where I’ve had to ask myself why I am renting and not owning something. To live in NYC you are basically paying for the lifestyle and having so much at your doorstep and fingertips. I worked so hard to be here and I’m super thankful to have been able to resign my lease for another year, but I really have no idea what the next few years will bring me and if I’ll still be living here or somewhere else. Only time will tell.HOW DID YOU KNOW WHICH NEIGHBORHOOD TO LIVE IN?
As I mentioned above I had been searching for a place on the UES because I found more affordable apartments in that area. I say affordable loosely because it’s still expensive, but I definitely found some places that were less than $2K. It seems that the further up you go in Manhattan, the lower rent tends to be – although again this definitely depends on a number of different factors.
I had already been familiar to the Hell’s Kitchen area since my friend lived here for a few years. I also used to visit another friend who lived in this neighborhood for 10 years. I loved that this area is super easy to access the trains and basically have everything I need right on 9th Ave. Another huge thing for me was knowing how easy it was to drive here from Jersey. My mom never thought that she would be OK with driving in and out of NYC to visit me, but after seeing that it’s a pretty straight drive from the tunnel or bridge, she’s much more confident in driving here. There are some downfalls to living in this area too, but for the most part I’m really happy with it.
I’d suggest to determine your budget first and research different neighborhoods. Look into safety of course and see what’s easily accessible to you in the area (food stores, pharmacy, closest train, etc.) You can then start figuring out based on your personal needs which area is going to be the best for you.
HOW EXPENSIVE IS IT TO LIVE IN NYC?
It’s no surprise that living in NYC is expensive AF. Not only do you have your rent, utilities and other bills to pay, but you also have to factor in all of your other living expenses like food and transportation – then of course you want to have some sort of social life as well. In a city like New York with everything so accessible to you, you’re definitely paying for the lifestyle. With that being said, there are ways to save money and spend less. I learned this pretty early on since the moving expenses seemed to pile on quickly.
Doing my grocery shopping at Trader Joes vs my local Food Emporium has put more money in my pocket. Cooking more instead of ordering Seamless (which I did a lot in the beginning) helps keep a higher amount in your account. Trust me, all those orders add up! Since most of my close friends that live in New York are married or in relationships, this has actually helped limit the amount of times that I go out on the weekends. It’s really all about creating balance with staying in and going out. I walk everywhere in my neighborhood and the train is my main form of transportation every day. I only take cabs and ubers when it’s later at night. It’s the little things like these that make a big difference for you financially.
It’s also important to put yourself on some kind of budget instead of swiping your card blindly. Something that has helped me a lot is depositing my checks into my savings and only transferring what I really need into my checking account. If I know I have more money in my checking then chances are I’ll end up spending it. I’m someone who almost never carries cash on me, but something else that seems to help with budgeting is only withdrawing a specific “weekly allowance” that works within your budget. I’m not really sure what else to call it, but this can ensure that you don’t go over that amount. Maybe it means you have to skip happy hour that week or you don’t eat out at all. Trust me, those little social life sacrifices make a big difference.
HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO AFFORD IT?
Ha, I ask myself this every day. Honestly, I saved my ass off before I moved. Building up my savings account was extremely important to me and I wanted to hit a certain amount before living in New York so that I could have that as a cushion/back-up when needed. Since I lived home for so long I was able to do this. I had to make some sacrifices in order to save so much, but it was all worth it in the end. I got into the habit of depositing my checks directly into my savings account. I would only put what I needed to pay all my bills (plus a little extra) into my checking account each time.
Being a full-time content creator has given me some incredible opportunities, but each brand partnership brings me a different amount depending on the job. Payment terms vary so much from 30-45-60 days. I don’t get paid every two weeks like most people, so this was another reason that I knew I needed to build up my savings. Some months are amazing with lots of opportunity, while others can be really slow. I also turn a lot more down now than I ever had before because I only want to take on partnerships that make sense for me. The inconsistency has definitely increased my anxiety levels since I now live on my own, but again I know that when needed I can dip into my savings and then replenish that with the next check.
I know that everyone’s financial situation is so different and not everyone has the means to save so much, but try to put a little aside with each check even if it’s a small percentage. It really does add up. My dad drilled that into my head at such a young age.DID YOU ALREADY HAVE AN ESTABLISHED FRIEND GROUP?
I did! A few of my best friends already lived here as well as a handful of other close friends and people who I have met in my industry. Having a small core group was definitely helpful for me. Living here has also given me the opportunity to be more physically present. I’ve been able to meet new people through other friends, workout classes, events, etc. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and introduce yourself to someone new.
DO YOU EVER FEEL LONELY OR GET SCARED?
The most honest answer that I can give is yes, sometimes. You’re never really alone in NYC until you’re back at your apartment. I definitely appreciate the quiet time and solitude, but there are times when I do wish that I had someone to come home to. With Kiko not living here with me full-time it’s definitely made me feel very lonely. Living alone is also very empowering though and whenever I do get sad, I remind myself that I worked really hard to make this life possible.
I wouldn’t say that I’m scared, but there’s definitely been a few times where I have felt a little anxious or uneasy. I’m always very alert and aware of my surroundings. When I have Kiko I make sure not to walk him outside past 10:30. I definitely see a lot of sketchy people walking around in the area. As much as I love my neighborhood, it can also be a little seedy. I know that some things have happened here recently. which makes me nervous at times, but I am definitely not living in fear here every day.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE MOVING TO NEW YORK FROM OUT OF STATE?
I actually got this question a lot. I know that it was different for me since I was only moving from New Jersey. My best advice would be to make sure you visit the city first. Take some time to explore the different neighborhoods. Do some research and chat with New Yorkers about their own personal experience. Save as much as you can even if it’s just a few months of rent. It’s good to have that as a cushion especially if you move here without having a job lined up first. Downsize a little bit. I even had to do this myself because I knew that I was not going to fit all of my belongings into this apartment. I hope this helped a little!
HOW DID YOU ADAPT TO THE FAST CITY LIFE? WAS IT A BIG CHANGE?
Since I grew up so close to the city and spent a lot of time here over the years, I knew what I was getting myself into in terms of the fast-paced life. That was only giving me a little taste of it though. Commuting and living here are two completely different things. It was definitely an adjustment for me. I basically threw myself into it and as each day passed it got easier for me. In a lot of ways, I love it. It keeps me motivated and inspired to hustle every day. It drains me at times too though and that’s when I slow down a bit and take time for myself. With anything in life I think it’s all about creating a healthy balance for yourself.
Thanks so much for reading! I answered these as best as I could so I hope that this helps in some way. Living in New York has been an adventure to say the least and while at times this city does kick my ass, I really do love it too. Definitely a challenging place to be, but that’s what is helping me to grow in ways that I needed. There were also some questions pertaining to living in a studio apartment so I think I might do a whole separate post on that topic! Any more questions on that? Drop them below! ❤️