Yes, You Can Move to New York City

by Catherine Alford

New York City. The name alone inspires a bit of awe, so it’s no wonder so many people want to move there and create a one-of-a-kind lifestyle filled with amazing experiences, culture, food, and entertainment.

Unfortunately, because living in New York City is so expensive, many people believe it’s out of reach…so “Move to NYC” sits there lonely and sad on their bucket list, never having the chance to be crossed out.

However, I’m here to tell you that with the right mindset, it’s actually very possible to move to New York City, survive, and even thrive there regardless of your income. It just takes a bit of ingenuity, planning, saving, and perhaps a bit of luck.

Here’s how to start:

Find the Right Home

So, we’ve all heard that New York City has some of the most expensive real estate in the world. Small studio apartments in prime locations can cost as much as half a million dollars, plus building fees, each month. Rental prices are also astronomical compared to other parts of the country.

However, you shouldn’t let the prices scare you. After all, there are many housing options that are safe (and even void of critters) where you can enjoy living and seeing all the city has to offer. Here are some tips:

  • Embrace the Walk-Up: Walk-up apartments in New York City are just like they sound. Basically you have to walk up the stairs instead of having the luxury of an elevator. So, you might find an affordable apartment with the only catch being that you have to walk up seven flights of stairs every day to get there. Embrace it. (And think of how awesome your legs will look after that workout!)
  • Be a Grownup Roommate: Let’s be real. No one wants to have three roommates when they’re 35 years old, but try to put a positive spin on it. If you move into a brownstone with other professionals as a brand-new New Yorker, your roommates could be a valuable asset to you in terms of networking, friendship, and in general, getting acquainted with the city. There’s nothing lonelier than moving to New York City from Iowa and sitting in a studio apartment all by yourself trying to figure out the subway map. Embrace the idea of a roommate right when you move, and let your roommates help in your first year or two in the city before you’re ready to strike out on your own.

Find the Right Job

Finding the right job is the second component of surviving in New York City. After all, you need a decent job in order to afford the apartment and anything else you might want to do in the city, like try out new restaurants or see a Broadway show. Here are some tips for finding a job:

  • Use Your Network: Chances are, you know someone who knows someone who lives in New York City. You should network heavily to try to find a company or a job that suits you. You can start by updating your LinkedIn profile and see who your connections are in various industries. You really need to get in the trenches and do your research to try to make a connection with someone who is employed at a place you want to work. It’s very difficult to find a job by filling out random online applications.
  • Don’t Aim for Perfection: Since New York City has this reputation of being a “dream place to live,” many people feel like they need their dream job and their dream apartment to go with it. Try to let go of this idea, because much of what makes New York City a dream is the journey to get where you want to be. I’m not saying you should take a job you hate where you aren’t treated well, but what I am saying is not to turn down any opportunities. If you score an entry-level job that you don’t want to stay in for years to come, that’s okay. You never know who you’re going to meet or what skills you will learn along the way. It’s all a worthwhile journey that will take you where you’re meant to be.

Ultimately, moving to New York City is possible for anyone. If you’ve ever dreamed of it, but never had the confidence to go for it, I’m here to tell you that you absolutely should. Right now I live just 14 miles outside of the city with my family, and we love taking our young kids there on the weekends to stroll around Central Park and take in all the incredible sites.

What I believe made our move successful is that we planned ahead of time and saved enough money to cover our move, broker’s fees, and expensive first- and last month’s rent, plus our deposit. We’ve been very happy here and have even found many ways to save. Because of that and because we continue to grow our careers and find new opportunities in the city, we plan to stay as long as possible.

Catherine Alford is the go-to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions and take on a more active financial role in their families. Named the Best Contributor/Freelancer for Personal Finance in 2014, she is also the founder of, an award-winning personal finance blog.

This story was first published on the Society of Grownups blog.

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