As 2017 graduation approaches, I look back on my Carolina days with fond memories and a twinge of sadness that I’m out ‘adulting’ in the real world now. Chapel Hill was not only a remarkable place to grow up, but it was also an incredible place to go to school. I was a journalism major and felt that my classes more than adequately prepared me for what I was to face post-graduation. In fact, many students depart from Carolina only to realize they are more than capable of being high quality employees compared to fellow graduates from other universities.
One thing that Carolina did not prepare me for was moving the New York City. What I gained from UNC in book smarts did not translate to the street smarts I needed to navigate NYC. Chapel Hill residents can all admit that the town is a bubble of perfect picturesque living- with the occasional homeless person or traffic jam. Street smarts were great to have, but certainly not required. In New York, street smarts aren’t just invaluable- they are crucial to your survival.
For all of you 2017 graduates with New York on your mind, I have put together a 101 on living in NYC after school.
A job: If you’re in finance or consulting- this point need not apply to you. Graduating from the journalism program or with a liberal arts degree is difficult. There aren’t recruiting cycles, so when a position finally does open up at an agency or company, candidates apply in the thousands, and the finalists are picked within 2 weeks. Getting a job in New York requires that you live in New York, unless you get accepted into a post grad internship program that turns into a job. As terrifying as this is, you must have an NY address if you plan on getting a full-time job in NYC. Companies are much more likely to reach out for an interview if they know you can be there ASAP. Moving here without a job can feel overwhelming and irresponsible. The fact of the matter is that there are 3.8 million jobs in NYC. Moving up here first and figuring out the job second is okay, and you will get something in no time (I promise). Staying at home until you have a job, and then moving up, could yield little to no success. A company isn’t going to fly up a 22-year old they want to interview for their open coordinator position, so the locals will always prevail.
A Guarantor: Now that it is time to actually move to New York, this is when the real nightmare begins. Finding an apartment in NYC is the single worst thing in America. If you don’t have supportive and financially stable parents, this will be near impossible for you to do (if you would like to live in Manhattan itself). A direct quote from my father is “the paperwork I had to submit as a guarantor for your apartment is more information I provided then when I was purchasing our home.” If you don’t make 40x the rent for the apartment, then you are unable to sign on for the apartment yourself. This is where parents sign on to “guarantee” the apartment in case you fail to pay. A guarantor has to make 80x the apartment’s rent. Keep in mind, you can’t really find a 2 bedroom for less than $3000 or a 3 bedroom for $4300 a month, so that means you or your parents have to be raking in some serious cash.
A Broker: When moving from Chapel Hill, forget being able to find an apartment on your own. Online sites like Naked Apartments and Street Easy are only correctly listing properties 40% of the time. You have to email humans who you aren’t sure actually exist, and an apartment is put on and pulled off of the market usually within 24-48 hours because properties are snatched up so quickly. Flying to New York and spending a day with a broker (for example, I used a man from the broker company Cooper & Cooper who comes down to UNC to present) is really the only way to do it. Unless you are subletting from someone who already rents out an apartment, you cannot remotely rent an apartment. A broker takes you to 4-8 properties throughout the day. Once you see an apartment you like, you write the check and submit the paperwork on the spot to the leasing company, who will have someone on site. Even waiting 30 minutes to think about it could be your downfall if you like a unit you have viewed. This process is not for the faint hearted.
Renters Insurance: This is a necessary evil. Every lease stipulates that tenants must have renters insurance, but the leasing companies don’t actually make you send in paperwork and enforce this. You are completely screwed if your apartment gets broken into or god forbid, lights on fire. Renters insurance is about $150 for the entire year, and you can get it through the insurance companies everyone has heard of: Allstate (what I use), Nationwide, Geico, etc. Just do it.
Roommate friend becomes frenemy: Nothing will test a friendship more than living in a tiny New York apartment. You may be best friends with the person you are moving to New York with, but dynamics completely change once work becomes life and you don’t have the exact same agenda of activities like you did in college. People can get upset when you start hanging out with different people or doing different things. There are many spots in New York City that resemble the crowd and atmosphere of Bobs… but I moved to New York City to get away from this. People change, others don’t, and because of that, friendships don’t always last. There are those who want to be with the same people and do similar things that they did during college, and then there are people who want to become a completely new person. Both of these things are okay, and this is completely normal. College friendships sometimes only work in college, and this is something you should be prepared for when you decide to move to New York.
Moving to New York is a massive undertaking. It may be glamorous 1 year in when you have your dream job, new friends, and an apartment. For the first year, it is supposed to be difficult. No one who has moved from North Carolina to New York would tell you otherwise. Using these tips about finding a job and an apartment will hopefully make your transition a little easier.