I recently came across a video on YouTube of a woman who moved to NYC and was reminded of moving to NYC. She was fairly new to the city and shared a video of her bedroom including what she did to find it and the $1,800 she paid to live in one bedroom of a 3 bedroom apartment in lower manhattan. Suddenly I was transported back 4 years ago to my first apartment in a trendy neighborhood in Brooklyn and the biggest mistake B and I made when moving to NYC.
From seeing very similar messages out there when I first started to apartment hunt in NYC, I saw the $2,550 price of a studio loft we looked at and thought well this is NYC. I’ve heard rent is horrible, so B and I accepted it. I lived in Michigan and B was in Georgia so we couldn’t make a ton of trips out here to apartment hunt. Luckily, we only signed a 5-month lease, something long enough that we could get to the city and look somewhere else after moving to NYC. We also had no idea which neighborhoods to look in, so we were completely blind when hunting and I only knew one person out here at the time.
Our place in Brooklyn really did look like the movie version of what you expect an NYC loft to look like. I fell asleep staring at the skyline from my 5th-floor walk-up. I was able to hang out on our rooftop on summer nights and listen to the man next door play his saxophone on his roof at night. Sadly, eventually, reality set in, our very trendy brick wall had holes where you could see outside which resulted in our electric bill skyrocketing. Our hip, old, factory of a building had a cockroach problem with no one controlling it which made for a visit from a roach every two weeks. But this is New York City, right? This is how it is here, right? NO!
My biggest mistake when moving to NYC was accepting the vague idea I had heard about how expensive and hard it is to live in the city. This message typically came from mid-westerners who had never moved outside of their hometown. Don’t get me wrong, NYC is more expensive than most places in the U.S. but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make it work. As in every location across the world, there are expensive and affordable homes.
If you’re planning on moving to NYC and currently own a car, just sell it now. Your cost of transportation will go way down, to around $137 a month for a subway pass or even cheaper if the company you work for offers a transportation discount. You can find everything you need to know on the subway here. I’ve found that groceries are also very similar in price if not the same as small-town America. It depends on which items you’re looking for but I shop at Whole Foods and my almond milk is cheaper here then when I’m home in Michigan. You also have to remember that NYC has one of the highest minimum wages in the country and an insane amount of free things to do.
It took me about 2 years to find an apartment I fell in love with after moving to NYC. I now see the benefit of experience, not only do you get to check out different neighborhoods but you get to ask other people what they’re paying for rent. Which, may seem taboo but it’s very common for people to ask here and very informative.
When I say I’m obsessed with my apartment and my neighborhood I’m not kidding. My love for this place runs deep. I live in Washington Heights. It’s more residential but we have one of the most beautiful parks, great restaurants and we’re only 20 minutes to midtown on the train. Then there’s the matter of my gorgeous 1,000 sqft 2-bedroom for $2,050 a month. When we finally came to check out the place and asked all our questions including do the windows lock and unlock ( I swear to you this is something I’ve had a problem with every time) we ended up traveling 80 blocks the next day in a snowstorm to sign a lease. When you find real estate gold in NYC you do not sleep on it, snatch it before anyone else can.
We’ve been in our current place for about 2 years now and so far we’ve only had maybe 4 cockroaches, which sadly is inevitable in NYC. It’s the first place we’ve lived in that, even though we’re renting, feels like a home. If you’re planning on moving to NYC do your research and don’t make the mistake so many people do when moving here.
3 Short Stories of Rent
One friend lives in Brooklyn in a 3-bedroom with 2 other roommates and pays $1,000 a month in a large apartment.
One friend lives in Midtown East paying $1,250 for a 3-bedroom with 2 roomates in a mid-size apartment.
One friend lives in Washington Heights in a large 2-bedroom by herself for $1,720.
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