- 1 Tips for Moving to NYC Alone
- 1.1 Moving to New York City alone is expensive
- 1.2 Amazing apartments with amenities in your price range might be hard to find
- 1.3 Understand the difference between subletting versus renting
- 1.4 Beware of unwanted critters
- 1.5 Be suspicious of deals that sound too good to be true
- 1.6 Utilize online resources to do your research
- 1.7 Get ready to carry everything
- 1.8 You need to put yourself out there to make friends
- 1.9 Get outside and interact with NYC on your own
- 1.10 Leaving early means you’ll arrive on time
- 1.11 Remember you’ll need to bundle up for the winter months
- 1.12 You can get almost anywhere using public transportation
- 1.13 Invest in good shoes; you’ll be walking everywhere
- 2 Can you have fun living on your own in New York City?
- 3 How much money should you have saved before moving to NYC?
- 4 Is it safe to live in New York City alone?
- 5 What essentials do you need to have for a New York City apartment?
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Living in New York City had been my dream since I was 9 years old.
From the first moment I stepped inside the concrete jungle, I knew. The city is like a magnet, pulling artists, thinkers, creatives, innovators, and go-getters into its sphere.
When I first graduated from university with a degree in Theater Performance, there was nowhere else on the planet I wanted to be than right here.
There was no other option–it was New York or nowhere.
It was a risk worth taking.
Whether you’re moving to New York City alone for work, or you’ve just graduated university and are moving with a bunch of friends, this is one of the most exciting, nerve-racking, fulfilling times in your entire life.
Since you’ve decided to do the bravest thing and make this move, let me be your virtual cheerleader, who also happens to have several tips for moving to NYC alone.
Tips for Moving to NYC Alone
Moving to New York City alone is expensive
No matter where you’re moving to, moving into your own apartment comes with several fees. And when you’re moving alone in New York City, it’s your responsibility to pay all of those fees on your own.
That may include a security deposit first and last month on the rent and potential hidden fees. Not to mention the inflated cost of living your life in a major metropolitan area or splurging to hire movers.
You’ll definitely want to save up before taking the plunge to live independently.
Amazing apartments with amenities in your price range might be hard to find
Finding an apartment in New York City is a significant challenge.
And finding the perfect apartment–with all the amenities you want in your price range and desired neighborhood–is basically like finding a unicorn.
Depending on what you’re willing to pay in monthly rent, you might have more luck meeting that elusive unicorn than finding an apartment with highly sought-after amenities in your price range.
Despite all the time you may spend looking for a one-bedroom apartment, whether you’re subleasing for a few months or simply on the hunt, be prepared to make some sacrifices for your apartment.
Maybe you grew up with a huge lawn so you’re used to private outdoor space, or you’re desperate to have a dishwasher or a washer and dryer in-unit.
Unfortunately, apartments with in-demand amenities can command higher prices. And even then, you might not get everything you were looking for.
Make a list of your “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves,” and be prepared to compromise.
Maybe it’s not so bad if the laundromat is across the street from your apartment and if you have a gorgeous roof access. Or, you can handle the no-dishwasher since you’ll have a washer/dryer combo in your apartment instead. Whatever works best for you!
Understand the difference between subletting versus renting
One of the great debates is subletting versus renting your New York City apartment.
When you rent an apartment, you’re signing your name on the lease. You are financially responsible for paying the cost of rent every month. However, it’s your space to live in as you choose, within the parameters of your lease agreement.
When you sublease an apartment, you are paying the original renter for their portion of the rent money every month. You have no legal or financial obligation and can move at any time. And frequently, you can sublet a fully furnished apartment, so you don’t have to purchase furniture immediately.
However, you will most likely have to abide by the rules set out for you by the original leaseholder.
Just like in any major city, finding an apartment space in a neighborhood you like, with amenities you need, all within your price range, can take time.
And, apartments get snapped up very quickly in New York City. If you’re moving to New York City alone, you might not have a network of people to reach out to yet to find roommates you need to secure a lease.
Finding a sublet provides flexibility when you first move to New York City. It gives you time to look for an apartment that fits your criteria, meet new people like your temporary roommates, and save up for your rental deposit.
Beware of unwanted critters
Critters are one of the great equalizers of NYC. From six-floor walk-ups to luxury high rises, just about every apartment building in New York City has something lurking in its walls.
The night before I flew to Split, Croatia, for the first time, a tiny little mouse was scurrying all around my room. I didn’t sleep a wink all night.
(This actually worked out since I was taking a redeye and fell asleep on the plane, but definitely would not do it again.)
That’s just one story. And don’t get me started on the cockroaches. My first roommates were incredible because they were equipped to handle them when I very much could not. But if you’re living alone in NYC, it’s up to you to deal with any and all unwanted, scurrying intruders yourself.
Critters you don’t want around have a habit of getting inside. Keep a few humane traps handy.
Be suspicious of deals that sound too good to be true
Unfortunately, hyper-vigilance is a quality trait on the apartment hunt when you’re moving to New York City alone.
Especially if you can’t visit the city to see apartments in person before you arrive, be wary of apartment listings or subletters that offer excellent amenities or showcase pictures of a beautiful apartment in a sought-after neighborhood for low rates.
When conducting your apartment search, ask every question you can think of, like:
- Does the apartment superintendent live in the building?
- How quickly will someone be able to come to the apartment if something needs to be fixed?
- May I please see a copy of the most recent Bed Bug Annual Report on this apartment?
Utilize online resources to do your research
There are several websites and directories that can help you make an informed decision when you’re moving to New York by yourself.
The NYC Department of Buildings Buildings Information System allows you to search through the city’s online query system to find any complaints, violations, actions, applications, and inspections that have been issued on the building.
Through the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Online system, you can search for complaints filed against the building over the past year.
Suppose you want to double-check that bedbug manifesto. In that case, you can review the New York City Bedbug Registry for recent reports.
The New York City Public Advocate complies a searchable The Worst Landlord Watchlist. Take a look at this year’s list to confirm your potential new landlord didn’t make the cut.
Did you use Rate My Professor in college? Whose Your Landlord acts the same way, but for tenants to anonymously comment on their landlords publicly.
Get ready to carry everything
Did you know that New York City buildings only require an elevator if they’re taller than six stories?
Unfortunately, unless you’re in a high-rise, have an apartment on the first floor, or just get realllly lucky, get used to carrying everything. All the time.
You need to put yourself out there to make friends
New York can be a lonely city.
If you’re moving to NYC without knowing anyone in advance, you’ll need to make an effort to connect with new people.
It might feel intimidating to walk into new spaces and situations on your own with the goal of making friends, but remember that everyone you’re meeting is searching for authentic connections, too.
If you’re looking for tips and ideas for making new friends in New York City, I have a guide to help you.
Get outside and interact with NYC on your own
Although it’s one of the more expensive cities, NYC is meant to be experienced.
With world-class museums, amazing public parks, and networking opportunities every time you walk into a bar, there is an adventurous opportunity to be explored on a daily basis.
Go by yourself and visit that famous museum you’ve always wanted to visit.
Buy a ticket to a Broadway show you’ve been desperate to see and revel in the performance with the other theatergoers.
Try an interesting gym class you can’t find in a small town.
This exciting city will keep you busy and entertained, whether you’re on your own or with friends. If you need any ideas, I have many recommendations for all over New York City.
Leaving early means you’ll arrive on time
There’s a saying in professional New York theater – early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.
In New York City, when you’re navigating the subway and running through the streets to reach your final destination, you will inevitably be met with some delay.
Whether it’s being held underground subway due to a signal malfunction, getting stuck walking behind slow tourists, or walking the wrong way to find your building, plan for extra time than you think you need in your commute.
Leave earlier than you think you need to to stay on time.
Remember you’ll need to bundle up for the winter months
There’s a potential for snow any time from November through March, and the temperature dips well below freezing on the coldest of winter days.
And, since you’re surrounded by skyscrapers, there’s a unique hell of accidentally entering a wind tunnel, where the already cold air gets even colder.
Ensure you have a trusty, warm winter coat, gloves, scarf, hat, and solid, comfortable boots. You’ll need it all to stay warm on the coldest of winter days.
You can get almost anywhere using public transportation
The good news is that since owning your own car isn’t as useful as in other areas of the United States, you save a ton of money by not paying for car insurance, gas, or a car loan.
That’s right, your $127 monthly unlimited MetroCard will be just about all you need to access the far reaches of the five boroughs.
If you need a refresher on using the subway in New York City, I have a complete guide to help you learn how to use the metro system.
And that reminds me….
Invest in good shoes; you’ll be walking everywhere
Unless you splurge for taxis or ride-sharing, you will inevitably walk from the subway to your final destination.
The New York City grid system is pretty easy to understand—I have a complete guide on it if you want to read up on it—and you’ll need to know since you’ll be walking more than you might be used to living in the suburbs or other cities.
There’s a perfect pinnacle where style meets form and function, and New Yorkers are the best at finding those cute, comfortable shoes.
Make sure that you can walk long distances in all of your everyday shoes; the worst way to end your day is to discover blisters on your feet that could’ve been easily prevented.
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Can you have fun living on your own in New York City?
Absolutely you can have fun living on your own in New York City! Many of the coolest activities and iconic attractions are fun to experience when you’re by yourself.
If you need any ideas, I have a huge list of ideas on things you can do in NYC by yourself.
How much money should you have saved before moving to NYC?
Determining how much money you should have saved before moving to New York City depends on your salary, savings, and average monthly spending habits. However, a good rule is to have at least three months of your necessary monthly funds saved before you move to New York City.
Is it safe to live in New York City alone?
Like all major metropolitan areas, there are risks to living in a city alone. However, generally speaking, New York City is a safe city to live in by yourself.
What essentials do you need to have for a New York City apartment?
And if you need more recommendations on essentials for living in New York City, I have a list with dozens of my favorite New York City apartment must-haves.
Congratulations on making this brave, life-altering move alone to New York City. Although you will be challenged, this will be one of the most extraordinary experiences of your life. What are your favorite tips for someone moving to New York City alone?
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