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Guest Post: Moving to NYC from the land of Oz

29 Nov

Recently I received an e-mail from a journalist in Brisbane, Australia, who just took the big leap and booked a flight to NYC. I asked her to share what it was like to chase the dream from halfway around the globe, setbacks and all. Enjoy.

When I first thought I might like to become a Manhattanite, I was 14. I’d never been to The Big Apple, but wore a ubiquitous I HEART NY T-shirt to bed, had seen Home Alone 2 more times than I care to admit and, with typical teenage aplomb, figured Friends was an accurate representation of New York life.

The Brisbane skyline (pictured). Looks vaguely like Manhattan's, no?

I may have been hoodwinked by a Los Angeles soundstage, but I’ve never been able to shake the New York dream. In October 2009, at 24, I was newly single, ready for a change and had a few years’ experience under my belt. I opted to make the New York dream a reality.

Once I’d decided to live on the Upper East Side with views of the park*, I started applying willy-nilly for jobs from my rent-free bedroom in Australia. But as anyone who isn’t a United States national will tell you it’s immensely difficult to secure a visa, especially one that enables you to work. Also ranking high on the difficulty scale is getting employers’ attention from afar, especially when they are bombarded with local talent. The hurdles seemed insurmountable, and although, as a writer, I am accustomed to rejection, by the beginning of this year, I’d given up.

However, this past June, at 25, I still couldn’t quell my New York yearnings. This time, before I started shooting off my resume to all and sundry, I scrounged the Internet for information on visas, spent days researching companies and publications and assessed whether I’d be valuable to them. I contacted Aussie friends who’d moved to the U.S., tracked down New Yorkers I thought could offer advice, got to work on a creating a portfolio, enrolled in courses to expand my skills and, in between all that, booked myself a trip to New York next year.

The plan? To send off my resume to a handful of companies for whom I would do a good job, then cross my fingers and toes and hope someone will meet with me (and maybe even offer me a job). You’re welcome to cross yours for me, too.

Of course I’m nervous — what if I never get a job offer? What if no one wants to hire someone from the other side of the planet? How will I make friends? What if I get bed bugs?…but I still want it badly enough to try, and keep trying — that’s why I read this blog. It’s daunting planning a move to New York all the way from Brisbane, but maybe one day, with a little luck and a whole lot of hard work, I’ll call The Big Apple home.

* Kidding! I would be tickled pink to live in a (preferably bug free) New York shoebox with (preferably sane) roommates.

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One year on: A reader’s reflections

18 Oct

One of my longtime readers — who happens to be a beautiful writer — sent this in, and I couldn’t resist posting it. I recall how excited I was to have lived one year in the city. Thinking back on how long I wanted to make it happen and that wow,  I really did it, the one-year anniversary is a big deal to any NYC transplant, whether you’ve moved here from the tri-state, Texas or Tehran.

Dear New York City,

It wasn’t long ago that your mesmerizing lure removed me from my simple midwestern life into the belly of your beast. You welcomed me into your arms as a visitor three years ago and the first moment I saw your beautifully structured skyline I fell — hard. A young impressionable woman, there was nothing I could do to stop it. I had determined long before that you and I belonged together, but it was during my second year at a small college in metro Detroit that your gritty garbage-lined streets gracefully laid the path for my future.

Guest blogger Lindsey W.

After we parted ways for the first time, I couldn’t get you out of my mind. You became an obsession. I impatiently awaited our second meeting and the day that we would be united long term. And now here I am, exactly one year after we made our commitment to each other as happy as I was the day we first met. The past twelve months haven’t always been easy, my love.

As I caught my breath after climbing my stairway to heaven, I looked wide-eyed at the fifth floor walk-up studio apartment where our love affair would begin. Those first few days on the Upper East Side were blissful. Our honeymoon period took us to a transforming Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I walked around the neighborhood with my roommate in awe of the fact that we had finally made it.

A few days later our journey took us to the crossroads of the world — Times Square. It was there that I arrived at my own crossroad, questioning the strength of my love. In my new work environment, I learned the naivety I had uptown didn’t fit into your midtown madness. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was to embark on as a Starbucks barista in one of your town’s busiest stores. After the initial culture shock, I quickly understood that tourists, God love them, are one of your biggest flaws. Often times, New York, your visiting friends cannot comprehend your complexity. However irritating that may be, they are yours and over time I have come to embrace your imperfections.

Our love flourished during autumn. When I wasn’t committed to the chaos of Times Square, I explored you inside and out taking long walks gazing at your towering buildings. Though you provided me with endless amounts of entertainment, I began to feeling lonely and neglected. The simplicity of our relationship was about to vanish.

I wasn’t here to only be with you. I had to commence my editorial career. As the bitter coldness blanketed the city at the turn of the year, I undertook an editorial internship at Time Out New York in addition to working at Starbucks. It is my understanding New York, that you never sleep and it was around this time I learned the reasons why. Your business is never done and neither was mine. We lost touch during those five months but I couldn’t have made it without you.

The renewal of our affection blossomed as spring sprung. We spent afternoons underneath cherry blossoms on the Great Lawn in Central Park, explored the beauty of Wave Hill’s serene gardens and strolled high above the streets at the High Line. Soon thereafter I fell into a deep period of personal discovery. As the summer heat wave began, we entered a bit of a wild phase. There were moments I felt I couldn’t keep up with you — you sure know how to party — but I felt lucky knowing you would still be mine.

I know you’ve had commitment problems in the past. Some people simply can’t make it with you after a year, and I honestly don’t know what the future holds, New York, but I’m looking forward to it. As we begin our second year together please know how grateful I am to have you in my life. Your inspiration is endless and I cannot wait to explore what else this relationship has in store for us.

Love always,
Lindsey Kay

Reader mail: “I have zero savings.”

22 Sep

I got the sender’s permission to repost this; I hope it’s helpful to you all. I know a LOT of you are worried about whether you have, or will have, enough money to move to New York, and what roof will be over your head once you arrive. Read on to see our exchange — his predicament, then my advice.

“So I just got a job in Times Square, and I’m moving to NYC ASAP. I’ll have an income starting October, but I have zero savings.  I have a friend who is looking to move out of his apartment in the next few months, and is willing to contribute a decent chunk of change to our rent if we move into a two-bedroom. The problem is: I cannot afford the security deposit/fees. He is considering taking out a loan. (AHHH! Stop. Please. Alejandro.) I have two options: Crash at my uncle’s (for as long as he allows) and friends’ places for as long as I can take the awkwardness, and try to save $3000+ or live in a room rental place for six months to save up enough. Thanks for your consideration and awesome blog!”

Hi Diego*,

Here’s what: Stay at your uncle’s. Watch your pennies like a hawk. You can’t go out every night in New York right away, so discipline yourself fast and know that not going into debt is the absolute best reward you can give yourself for following your New York dream. Racking up debt on account of “But I deserve it!” is cliché.

There’s no shame in easing into your new life slowly and doing the right thing.

I’d be careful about moving in with anyone — especially a friend — who’s promising to float your share of the rent to a disproportionate degree, let alone someone who needs a loan (!!) to do so in the first place. Things tend to get out of round quickly in situations like that. A better option is to move in with someone you don’t know via rooms/shares on Craigslist, show proof you WILL have income, and see if it’s OK to post-date your security deposit check until you have the funds. It can’t hurt to ask.

I would never advise someone with no savings to pay a broker’s fee. That $2,000 you’re giving them to open the front door? Better saved or spent elsewhere. Also, do your math: if your rent would have you treading near or above 45 percent of your income,  look around: A studio on a train line but a little farther uptown might save you a lot of dough. Ipso facto, more going-out money.

Cheers, mate, and good luck.
Sarah Protzman

*Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.