1. The Subway is Hell
You know that movie scene where the quirky girl is riding the subway and writing in her journal about her quirky thoughts? She looks up and there’s a handsome stranger peering back at her. He smiles. She smiles.
Riding the subway every day is exactly like that except replace “writing in her journal” with “struggling to stand while the car sways and the man behind her pushes his briefcase into her leg.” Oh and the handsome stranger is an old woman yelling at the ceiling that the A train used to run all the way to Jersey City. Oh and there are no smiles.
2. Renting an Apartment is Hell
No, I don’t mean it’s hard or time-consuming, I mean it’s actual hell.
Because I moved to New York with Boyfriend, the option of subletting or renting a room wasn’t really on the table for us. So, I started looking for studios about 3 months out from our move date. I was quickly informed that this was too early and listings are only up about 30 days before renting. Cool, cue anxiety spike.
At about 6 weeks I found a listing on the Columbia Off Campus Housing site for students and met an awesome agent who took the time to explain the process. Here are some important pieces to renting basically any property in NYC:
– Your income must be 40x the rent annually – so if you want to rent a $1500 studio, you will need to make a minimum of 60k/year, for a $2000 place, you’ll need 80k/year. If you are really lucky, a rental company might accept 35x the rent, especially if you have good credit, but if not you’ll need a guarantor…
– A guarantor is a co-signer for the lease, this can be a family member or friend, but be warned, they must make 80x the rent ($1500 apartment = 120k/year). If you don’t have a loaded friend, there are many companies that will co-sign for you in exchange for a fee, which is typically one month’s rent.
– If a broker is showing you the apartment, that’ll be another fee which fluctuates between 1-2 months rent.
– If you meet all of these requirements and are approved before the apartment is rented to someone else, congratulations! Now quick pay a deposit, 1-2 months rent, renters insurance (in many buildings) and you’re in! Welcome to you 300 square foot apartment that costs 4x what it would have in the city you moved from
3. Taxes are Hell
I moved from a state where I could calculate the amount of money that would be taken out of my paycheck at about 10%. New York scoffs at that amount, New York giggles, New York promptly quadruples that amount and then asks how you’re going to make rent.
Granted I make more money than I used to, but my first paycheck was a bit of a surprise. Turns out, making 51k means I pay 38% of my income to the feds, state, and city. Cool.
I know there is a system that involved brackets and varying percentages, but I don’t know exactly how it works. Best I can tell, New York just adds up the amount of joy it’s sucked from you that month and charges the same percentage in taxes.
4. Getting Out of the City is Hell
Ok, once you’re out of the city it’s awesome, but the actual act of leaving is a pain, especially during the holidays.
For Thanksgiving, Boyfriend and I went to Virginia to visit my family and looked at just about every possible way to get there. Flying was $800-$900, the train was $500-600, renting a car was a minimum of $600 plus gas. Finally we settled on a 12-hour overnight bus and it still ran us over $350.
I won’t even talk about trying to fly back to the best coast for Christmas…cough $900 cough.
Granted these are long distance trips and we could get out a bit more locally, however then there’s the cost of travel, lodging and food. Day trips are rough if you don’t have a car and getting anywhere by subway/train/bus takes forever.
What I’m saying is, if you live here, you’ll want to get out once in a while and you will not succeed most of the time.
Alright so maybe it’s not that bad and NYC has some pretty beautiful and great bits too. But, be warned, it will try to get to you. Like a loud little brother, NYC will always be there yelling in your ear when you just want some space.
Anyway, I’d love to hear from you with any comments or questions!
Best of luck.