Over the years I've been asked why I live in New York. For starters: the people, the food, the activities - add about 187 more things and you have my list. But mostly I live here for moments like that picture. The odd, candid moment of a woman and her parrot, recapping the day on a public bench. These types of occurrences tend to be the norm and often a draw for newcomers who yearn for the unexpected.
I've also been asked how to go about moving to New York, as the thought is "exciting, but daunting." True, not everyone arrives with a job, an apartment or a network of friends. You just need an adventurous spirit and a few tips to get you started. So here we go:
Reach out to everyone you know.
Friends, cousins, friends of cousins. You never know who knows someone. I visited New York in March 2000 before moving that June. My aunt's friend was a travel agent and helped me plan the March trip. Her son lived in New York, when I moved she gave me his number. I ended up staying on his couch for 2 weeks, after a 9-day hotel stay. She also gave me the number of a family friend who had "been here for 10 years, not sure what he does, but call him." He turned out to be a recruiter and helped me find a job. I also posted on my college alumni message board that I was "moving to New York, I don't have a job, place to live or know anyone. Any help?" Out of that I got a new friend (that I'm still in contact with), another couch stay, and a date.
So you never know. It's all about networking so don't be shy: email, text, Twitter, Facebook. Mention to anyone and everyone you're moving. May as well start practicing your assertiveness. You're going to need it here.
Often easier said than done. But if possible, do it. New York is expensive. Space is at a premium and you'll pay for it: in rent, food, drinks, entertainment - and much more. But don't let that discourage you. There are plenty of things to do here on a budget, you just have to find them. However, cash flow equals more freedom and New Yorkers, for the most part, meet out to socialize, not at our space-challenged apartments. Plus, depending on what kind of living situation you find, you may need to be ready to hand over first month's rent, last month's rent, and security deposit (equal to one month's rent) before moving in. Not always, but it's a good rule to go by. More on apartments later. For now, think: SAVE.
If you need to know how to get from the airport to the city look here.
As for your stuff, unless you have your own apartment bring as little as possible, for mobility's sake. If you don't have friends to stay with, book a cheap(er) hotel while you look for more permanent housing. And last, if you do have a room lined up I'd still stick to the less is more theory, as landlords certainly stuck to it when dreaming up apartment square footage. Think tiny. And then go smaller.
Finding an apartment.
The first thing to know is even if you only have a week or a few days to find a place, it can be done. Things move so fast here that in one day you can find a listing online, see it, and put down a deposit. Chances are there will be other people there at the same time so whoever speaks up first (and then qualifies via paperwork) gets it. Remember when I suggested practicing your assertiveness? Yep, get to it.
The second thing to know is that most of your questions on how to find an apartment can be answered here. However, you're always welcome to contact me with additional questions.
You're in a new city and maybe you have a few friends, but you'd like more. What do you do? Get out and mingle! To find out what's going on around town grab a Time Out NY, NY Magazine or The New Yorker. Also, check out Yelp, Brooklyn Based and Brokelyn. Yes, the suggestions are Brooklyn-heavy, but even if you live in Manhattan there's so much fun (and cheap!) stuff to do in Brooklyn. Regardless of where you go just get out there, make new friends and of course, network.
More ideas: volunteer (NY Cares), similar interests (Meetup.com), bars (Yelp). New York has a big drinking culture and it's not weird to go a bar (or anywhere, really) by yourself. Granted, many will drink with friends, but if you're trying to meet people head out solo and don't be afraid to strike up a conversation. Despite the myths, most New Yorkers aren't rude and really, what do you have to lose?
Finding a job.
If you arrive without a job there are several things you can do. The first is tell everyone you meet you're looking for a job. Again, networking is key. To go the I-need-money-until-I-find-something-permanent route you can do office temp work (Google "NY temp agencies")--which sometimes turn into fulltime jobs; bartend/waiter, be a dog walker (big business here), nanny and look on Craigslist. There you'll find countless part time (and full-time) jobs.
Also, post what you're looking for on Facebook and Twitter and reach out to new contacts. And finally, the go-to sites: HotJobs, CareerBuilder, Monster, LinkedIn and Craigslist. Don't forget specialized sites like Mediabistro and StyleCareers (among others), depending on your profession.
The final piece of advice: embrace the adventure and make the move. And soon, you'll have your own New York story.