What it’s like to move to New York City when you’re young and not rich
A few days ago, The New York Times published an article called “The Launching Pad,” about four new college graduates finding their first apartment in New York City. Each had a budget of $1000-2000, and “by coincidence, all four wound up in Manhattan, despite the fact that Brooklyn, and increasingly parts of Queens, attract great numbers of renters.” Although it’s clear that the methods used were hardly scientific, this is the kind of article that could give you the idea that you can’t move to New York if you’re not rich or don’t have a lucrative job lined up.
This is not the truth. I can’t speak to whether it’s a great idea to come here straight out of college, without prospects or savings. In fact, I can’t even say that it was the right choice for me, because, seven years later (and despite relative job security), my future still feels uncertain. That isn’t the point, though. The point is, you don’t need to have $1000 a month in rent money to live in New York as a 22-year-old, and it matters that young people realize this, or our already considerable “entitled asshole” population is going to take over the city. Very few people I know have arrived here with that kind of income. I don’t pay that much in rent now.
Here’s how I got to New York City: I graduated from college in Baltimore, where I lived in a house with five other people and paid less than $300 a month in rent. A few days later, half-exuberant but also half-paralyzed by the idea that our lives were very much on the record from now on, four of us packed everything we owned (pared down considerably in anticipation of how little space we’d have) into a Uhaul. It took forever to pack that truck, because we were trying to fit everyone’s bed, desk, dresser, etc. into a vehicle that was only supposed to fit the contents of a one-bedroom apartment. We left in the dark — me, my boyfriend, two other guys — waving to our friends who were still in town. A group of them sat on our stoop watching as we got ready to go. Hopefully my memory isn’t embellishing this, but I think I remember there were some tears. It wasn’t just about us leaving, it was about everyone’s lives changing at the exact same time.