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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.


NewNewYorker of the Week: Erika Belezarian

2 Feb

The new year is bringing new New Yorkers! Although this isn’t a weekly feature, I like to post profiles of my readers whenever I can. If you or someone you know just moved to one of the five boroughs and would like to share their experiences on the interwebs, please let me know!

Today I give you Ms. Erika Belezarian, age 20, a student at John Jay College who has lived here less than two weeks! She’s living in West Harlem and plugging away on a combined Bachelor/Masters and doctorate in Forensic Psychology.

Erika Belezarian

My living situation is: Student housing near City College, hoping to move down to Chelsea or the West Village this summer!

I moved here from: Longmeadow, Mass.

The best advice I’ve gotten so far is: to wear comfortable shoes even if they aren’t the most fashionable!

I’m most unsure about: getting to Queens. I have friends that live there, and I’m terrified I’ll get lost on the subway!

My biggest achievement so far has been: NOT getting lost!

The New Yorker I want to meet most is: Joe Zee, editor-at-large of Elle Magazine. Or Martha Stewart! (Eds note: Check out what it’s like to attend a ‘Martha’ taping here.)

My favorite song that mentions New York is: “Empire State of Mind” by Alicia Keys & Jay-Z.

The person I miss most today is: my parents, but I mostly miss my puppy, Izzie!

An interesting person I recently met is: my Applied Anthropology teacher. I think she’s going to be awesome!

My greatest discovery so far has been: realizing that even though I live in a huge city where there’s always something going on, sometimes there’s nothing to do!

The Basics of Subway Mastery

NewNewYorker of the Week: Hunter, Tyler, Joel, Katharine

NewNewYorker of the Week: HUNTER BELL of “[title of show]”

5 Oct

So OK, he’s not TECHNICALLY a new New Yorker, but hell, he’s a funny and talented Broadway star who graciously agreed to talk to us about his days as a new New Yorker and what he’s learned since. WE’LL TAKE IT!

NewNewYorkers, please make welcome MR. HUNTER BELL.

Hunter Bell (seated)

Hunter Bell (seated)

My first apartment was: on 46th and Tenth with lots of other people and a few rats on the front stoop. Word.
The hardest part of my adjustment to NYC was: figuring out the Subway and
being brave enough to go temp.
The best celebrity sighting I’ve had is: recently I saw Jake Gyllenhaal…come on!
In my first few months here, I wish: I would have been braver, just in terms of auditioning, finding odd jobs, dating. I did all those things, but I carried around a lot of fear. Truth is most everyone has got to start anew in the city, and its OK to ask questions. No one expects you to know everything the first day you move here. I would have asked more questions and listened more and not tried to pretend I was
cool New Yorker.
My favorite cheap meal is: Subway…eat fresh! Or 99 Cent Pizza on Ninth Avenue.
A New York night I’ll never forget was: opening night of [title of show] on Broadway. Amazing.
I know this street like the back of my hand: 52nd
I wish I hadn’t wasted money on: porn
The New Yorker who inspires me most is: Susan Blackwell

(Full disclosure: I am a massive fan of this person. I first saw his musical, [title of show], in July 2008, and subsequently interviewed some of the cast for a freelance gig.)