Oh, New York. How I love you so.
As most of you know, I moved here four weeks ago with two suitcases and a dream, ready to take on this big bad city. I packed the night before, starting at 10 p.m., and had a mild panic attack when the clock struck 4 a.m. and I was still not done.
Luckily, I made it out the door with my hair still wet and my bags just barely zippered up.
To say it was all a whirlwind would actually be an exaggeration. Planning was a huge part of it. I stressed a lot prior to the move (majority of it being how to decorate my room and here’s the Pinterest board to prove it), but the actual handiwork consisted of merely: booking my ticket, finding a roommate and apartment, and packing the necessities. Beyond that, there wasn’t really much else other than some mental adjustments.
If you’re planing on moving to New York (or any other city), I’d like to offer you the following advice:
Advice on moving to NYC (or any other new city)
6+ months prior to the move
Visit the city as much as you can. I think I made about 7 trips in the past 3 years so I definitely knew which areas I liked. For me, this was mostly guided by my dietary needs: dessert. I often find myself in the East Village every time I visit New York to eat at my favorite dessert bars. I even have an entire East Village dessert tour. Clearly, this was my favorite part of town. Had I not made as many trips as possible, I wouldn’t have learned which part of town I naturally gravitated towards.
2-4 weeks prior to the move
Start looking for an apartment. Depending on where you’re moving to, you’ll want to start looking about four weeks prior to your move-in date. However, the NY real estate market is a little different, and I found it incredibly hard to find anything more than 2 weeks out.
I highly recommend subleasing first, ideally at a place with furniture. That way, if you don’t like the area, you aren’t bound to the lease for a long period of time and you don’t have to stress about furniture.
Also, make sure you do your due diligence. If you go the Craigslist route (which I did), make sure you vet your potential future roommate in some way. Insist on a phone call or Skype chat. Get a sense of the vibe they send you. Do they appear sketchy or shady? Trust your gut. I was absolutely apprehensive about a Craigslist roommate. I felt a little better after we did a Skype video tour of the apartment. I also requested somewhat ridiculous (but not overly so) things like hey, would you mind measuring the distance from the bed to the wall on all four sides? This was not only for room planning, but also for peace of mind that this was a legitimate place. We also added each other on Facebook. Make sure they’re a real person!
1 week prior to the move
Pack simple. Most of the clothes I brought were basics in neutral colors (black, white and gray) with the occasional pop color. No one-off pieces that didn’t match. One formal outfit (little black dress), two pairs of heels (black and gold — these two colors go with almost anything), two pairs of flats (glitter and gold — these also go with almost anything), ankle boots and a pair of sneakers. I brought sample sized bottles of toiletries to get me through the first week, and then purchased the rest in the city.
Make sure you have a back-up plan. Since I did find my roommate on Craigslist and although I did the best I could to ensure he was a real person, you never know what could go wrong. I had two friends in the city that I spoke to and offered me a place to stay for a few days should anything go wrong. Infinitely thankful for that.
I Google mapped/Yelped the neighborhood and made a list of all the places I wanted to eat at, as well as noted where the essentials were: grocery stores, convenience stores, and laundromats. If you have pets, include veterinarians and pet stores.
Walk around the neighborhood to get a sense of the ambiance and check out places you want to go. Although I already made a list via the Internet, nothing beats actually seeing storefronts or finding places that were somehow excluded from Google and Yelp.
Start hitting up everyone you know in the city. A new city can be dangerously lonely. The best remedy is to start calling all your friends (most were happy to see me and have dinner — RIGHT GUYS??) who eventually invited me to hang out with their groups of friends, and that’s how I grew my personal network. Don’t be afraid to ASK what they’re doing that night/for the weekend. One thing I’ve learned about NYC — although most people on the streets aren’t that friendly, acquaintances and friends are VERY quick to invite you along to any event or activity they’re going to. Maybe that’s how we all cope with the toughness on the streets. (That or I’m just really cool and everyone wants me everywhere.)
Say yes to everything. As time goes by, more friends and co-workers started inviting me out to hang out or try things. My answer is always yes. Make plans, and try your best to not break them. There have been a few nights where I’m tempted to say no, and even nights where I have, and then I mentally kick my ass for it. You’re new to the city, and this city will only be new to you once. You should enjoy the heck out of it while you can and absorb the surprises, wonders and new sights and sounds while you can, before it no longer fazes you.
There is only one first experience, and you should make the most out of it.
Feel free to ask me any questions if you have any!