On Moving to NYC With No Job: 5 Lessons I Feel I Must Share

Photo taken alone in DUMBO while eating an $8 ice cream cone.

My 22nd birthday began in a swerving yellow taxi, 1,267 miles from the small Nebraska farm I had called home since birth. The ink on my diploma was hardly dry, and I was moving to New York City with only the little money I’d scraped together waitressing and a big dream. After a few uncertain months of endless cover letters and interviews, here’s what I have to say to anyone considering the risk of relocating:

1. Allow Yourself Time to Acclimate

Whether you’re moving two towns over or ten hours away, give yourself time to get accustomed. Moving to a new city requires more than just finding a place for all your shoes — like me, you may have to adjust or change your insurance coverage, set up a different bank account, make appointments to see new doctors and other local professionals, and wrestle with Ikea furniture.

2. Know Yourself Before You Know Your Budget

I spent months researching the cost of living in NYC, with the help of websites like CNN money and Street Easy. Before moving, I donated several bags of clothing to Goodwill to prepare for a tiny Brooklyn bedroom without a closet. However, I dramatically underestimated how often I’d eat out (and order in). Know where in your budget to make room — plan for a more expensive electric bill if you can’t live without an AC unit, and budget for pricey cocktails if you’re a social butterfly.

3. Practice Self-Care Everyday

I knew it’d be tough to adjust to New York’s unforgiving pace, but I didn’t realize how often I’d be gripping a subway pole with one hand and wiping away tears with the other. Self-care isn’t a luxury — it’s an essential (and often overlooked) step to professional and personal success. After a particularly disastrous interview I had after weeks of stress-induced sleep deprivation, I reprioritized.

4. Celebrate Small Successes (and Big Failures!)

Hanging on my fridge right now is a printout of an email I received after an interview — a rejection. I didn’t get the job, but I did get a personal message from my interviewer, telling me that I was a strong candidate with a bright career ahead. Looking at her encouraging words each day renews my ambition and reassures me that I’ll soon have a job offer to hang next to it. Cherish the little victories.

5. Remember the 3 H’s

Before heading into another interview or sending yet another cold email, I repeat the same three words, sometimes jotting them down on a Post-It: hustle, heart, and hard work. Taking a big risk is never easy, but putting those three words into action will always make it possible.