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Broadway shows and you

9 Jan

Why go to the theater as a transplant New Yorker? Isn’t that for the olds?

Absolutely not. And here’s why.

I moved to New York City at 25 and made just $30,000 a year, and I still saved for theater tickets. All of a sudden I could hop on the train and be in my seat at a Broadway show in 20 minutes? I was beside myself — and I knew I’d rather spend extra money on experiences than things.

As I write this, IN THE HEIGHTS is closing — a show I was privileged not only to see twice, but also to cover as a freelance writer.

Miranda has said that, as a younger man, he didn’t realize “you could write about the present.” For those who perceive musicals as cheese with melted cheese on top, musicals like In the HeightsRent and Next to Normal are a nontraditional portal into the genre.

As a transplanted local attending a Broadway show, both your dreams and the dreams of the actors are coming true at the exact same moment. After all your months of planning for NYC, there’s an undeniable link between you and those who’ve dreamed about being on that stage since they were five*. You both know just what it’s like to chase down a dream.

Need more tips on snagging theater tips? Read this and learn how to pull some strings.

You moved all the way here to experience something different. Forego a night at the bar every couple months and spend the money to see a show. It’ll feel fantastic.

*In 2008, I bought a $20 standing room ticket to A Chorus Line, and it changed my life. Now there’s a show for new New Yorkers. I highly recommend the documentary about its revival casting, Every Little Step, on Netflix instant. (It comes and goes, but the DVD—if those are still a thing—is cheap on Amazon.)


“How to move to NYC with no money”

5 May

Sarah’s note: We get a LOT of comments on this post in particular. If you’re here to ask a question or get advice from other newcomers, please join the conversation over at the NewNYers’ Facebook page.


Although there’s no sweeping answer for everyone out there dreaming of New York City (like I was), what I can offer are ways to help you answer that question for yourself. Only you know your circumstances and capabilities.

A little background: Though I didn’t have a job or an apartment when I moved, I *did* have savings. It took me 18 months to sock away the $3,000 or so I had in my hip pocket (not literally) when I arrived.

I hoped I wouldn’t have to — and didn’t — burn through all that money before finding a job, but what it bought me? Was TIME. Because hey, you don’t get something for nothing. You certainly don’t get New York City life for nothing. It takes WORK to save that money, but it takes more work to dig yourself out of debt. (And, might I add, it’s also work to stave off guilt while you’ve overspending on a life you know you can’t afford. There’s a reason you feel bad about that.)

As such, my honest take moving to NYC with “no money” (meaning no savings) is that you simply can’t. Yet people still ask me all the time if they can swing it. How much do you need to save? There is no catch-all answer, but I can tell you the answer is definitely not none or something close to none.

That said, there are obvious ways to put off a lot of the major expenses for a little while. Ask yourself:

• Can I bounce around at friends’ places for a time?
• How long am I comfortable staying there? How much could I chip in for rent and food?
• If I don’t know anyone in the city, should I research safe/cheap hostels? (As a comparison, a $900/month apartment equals $30 a night.)
• Am I willing to work almost anywhere, at least temporarily?
• Is there a good reason why going now is better than going after I’ve saved more?

If you’re bad with money and planning to move to NYC, I’d recommend getting good with money, and fast. Going into credit card debt in NYC is about as easy as going into a deli. (I’ve covered that before, so I’ll just do this.)

The cold, hard truth is that none of us are entitled to New York. It takes extra preparation for the extra expensiveness. But knowing you’ve earned your place in the city, even when you still can’t afford $14 cocktails — well, that is truly priceless.

**My latest book, The Guide for New New Yorkers, shows newcomers how to survive and thrive in your adopted city, with advice on everything from apartment hunting and salary negotiation to meeting friends and avoiding debt. Want more insight into what it’s like to build a New York life from the ground up? Check out Two Years in New York City, a memoir in snapshots of 20-something New York life, written as they happened.

In praise of Goldstar

9 Mar

Scene: You sign up to receive e-mails from Web site such-and-such, only to never read them or just delete them upon receipt — and that ‘unsubscribe’ button is conspicuously hard to locate! I’m happy to say, however, that’s not the case with Goldstar‘s, which I read every day.

They give discounts on UNIQUE things to do in the city. Every new New Yorker should take advantage of this site! Sometimes the odd pub crawl special sneaks in — not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I took this on the 'City Lights Cruise.' Go this summer!

Sign up here — it’s fast and free, and the e-mails are chock full of good stuff! For instance, there’s an orchid show on at the Bronx Botanical Garden, and tickets thru Goldstar are like four bucks. Goldstar is also featuring $9 skating at Rockefeller Center — a perfect activity to do with your out-of-town guests. (Drawback is the $4.50 per ticket “service fee.” Ouch.)

What I’ve done through Goldstar:

• City Lights Cruise (twice!): It is PERFECT for a romantic evening — a fourth date, say — or to impress your out-of-town visitors. This cruise isn’t running right now, but an ‘afternoon tea’ cruise is. You can sign up to be alerted when there’ll be more City Lights (about $22 a person) dates once it gets warmer.
• John Lennon exhibit: This was at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame Annex in Soho — you probably saw the ads! We went for half price, and as a massive Beatles fan, that was a dream come true for about $17 a pop.
James Cameron on “Inside the Actors Studio”: For $15, we sat for three hours and listened to the brilliant and egotistical James Cameron have a chat with the parody-friendly James Lipton. Wonderful!

Click here to browse the full list of activities for New York, NY. Go do something fun. Goldstar, I love you so — and no, they’re not paying me to say this. But they can if they want!