nyc // how two college grads can afford new york (or so they think)

Friday, December 20, 2013

when we tell people that we're moving to new york city, j & i have gotten used to anticipating one of two reactions - one being horror, the other being pity. i'm serious, you'd think we were telling people that we were voluntarily cutting off our limbs with the reactions we've been getting. you'd think we were delivering bad news! i'm pretty certain that some of our friends think we're being sentenced to new york for some unspeakable crime because why else would two, seemingly sane college graduates choose to move there?!

at first, i was really bothered by their reactions. how could i not be? to me, moving to new york sounded like an adventure, but apparently to the rest of the world it was a death sentence. are we making a mistake? i started asking j. should we really be doing this? i'm starting to wonder if he's some kind of superhero because apparently he isn't afraid of anything, and certainly not new york city. it's going to be great, he said. and then he patted me on the head.

here's the thing that people aren't saying, but are thinking: new york is expensive. 

if all this time you've been wondering (like everyone else), how in the world are they going to afford it? don't worry! we've been asking ourselves the same thing.

our plan is a pretty simple one. i'd say it's a combination of:
1. saving
for the past four years i have worked as a barista and a cafe manager. from the moment j & i decided to move to new york, i started saving all of my tips. whether i came home with $5 or $50, it went into my "new york jar". (j kept telling me how irresponsible it was for me to keep money in a jar like that because what if someone broke into our apartment and stole it? i mean, after all) nevertheless, i kept the jar and watched it get fuller and fuller as months passed. while it isn't exactly a trust fund, it's still nice to be able to move with a little chunk of change. (and besides, trust funds are boring)

2. living minimally 
if you had seen me last week on moving day with my 897lb suitcase and backpack big enough to knock out a small child, you might not take me for someone who was determined to downsize. but to you i say, au contraire! in preparation for moving to (what will likely be) the world's smallest apartment in nyc, i got rid of just about everything i owned, minus my favorite sweaters and a few anthropologie teacups. in my head, "living minimally" means knowing the difference between 'want' and 'need'. i want a king-sized bed, but i'm going to need a pump for the air mattress that we'll be sleeping on for the first few months (or years). i want a new pair of boots, but i need to be able to afford a bagel. you see my strategy?

3. taking it one step at a time (and taking it for what it is)
honestly, sometimes my stomach hurts when i think about how expensive new york is. (all of our friends were right!!!) i start to wonder what kind of insane person spends their hard-earned money on taxis and subway fares? who in their right mind pays $2,000/month for a 500sq. ft apartment, when they could be living in an apartment twice that size for half the price, anywhere else in the country? when the hyperventilation sets in, that's when i know i need to take a step back (and calm the f down). people who spend their money on taxis and subway fares aren't insane, they are people who love new york city. (and hey, i love it too!) when i start to panic about how we're going to afford living in new york, i have to remind myself that i get to live in new york.

with all the risks and expenses considered, i think the adventure will be worth the cost.

images via pinterest


  1. "Living minimally" is my favorite thing to talk about as of last week. I've never been to NYC but i expect from all I've heard and haven't heard that living there would most DEFINITELY be worth the price. Best of luck!

  2. I'd LOVE to live in New York. All the hustle and bustle sounds like a dream. The costs do discourage me though... it's so scary!

  3. I love this post, and you might as well follow your dreams whilst you get the chance, otherwise you'll be forever wandering <3

  4. Absolutely worth the cost. The adventure is totally worth it. Xoxo.

  5. i try to keep that living minimally rule as well. there are times of course when i ask myself if i make the wrong decision. i moved a lot. sometimes i only lived in one city for 3 days only or 2 weeks and then moved to other city. this time is the longest time i ever stayed in one city after college. and i still keep things low. just in case i need to move again. haha. i think it's worth the adventure too :) happy adventuring, Heather!

  6. congratulations on graduating and on your move! i just came across your blog and am already excited to keep up with your adventures :)

  7. love this! so excited for you! i think it is awesome that you two are going to MAKE it work. people are very practical. i admire your adventurous spirit! i think most people are just too scared to take a scaryish step like that. i am so with you! just do it! prepare the best you can, and then jump in! that is the only way to truly make it work.

  8. Aw! It really makes me sad when people react like this...and honestly it's probably out of jealousy. A lot of people dream of NYC but never think of it as more than a dream. You two are awesome for making this happen! And thank you for sharing a few tips... NYC is in my plans after college so yay! And the last part made me smile :) cause New York freaking city!! So exciting. xx

  9. You will love living in this city. There are certain realities you have to face when you move here, but it is so worth it. I can't wait for you to have a "New York moment" that will just confirm all of your excitement soon.

  10. Can I just say that I am so unbelievably happy (and proud of you guys!) -- NEW YORK. You're finally doing it! So exciting.

    I remember feeling the same anxiety and worry when I moved to Sacramento, right in the center of midtown. I cringe to think that I was once paying $1,200/month for a 340sq studio apartment. YIKES! But.. I don't regret it. I was living in the city I dreamed of living, right in walk-able distance to ALL of my favorite places!

    Now, I am happy to say my rent is down to $900 and I am living in a place twice as big. A few blocks away from midtown but still so close to everything. I love it!

    My husband and I are like you guys... we save, a lot! And we live reasonably. And we eat at home on some days when we really want to go out. But, we make it fun. And it's all worth it, because I'm living in the city I want... and you're living in freaking New York City. :)

    So happy for you! I hope things become easier and that you are enjoying your new place immensely.


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