Moving for the first time is not like moving to college. Moving to college means mixers and frat parties and resident assistants who can teach you how to not burn popcorn in the communal microwaves. No; moving up and moving on is not like moving to college. I’m here to enlighten you: there are important things nobody tells you about moving to New York. Give it a week or two, and you’ll see what I mean.
You will be tired.
Yes, this city is magical, and yes, there are endless possibilities, but god–moving is hard. Moving is tiring. Even optimism gets exhausting. There will be days when the moment you wake up, you’re physically fatigued. But none of that matters; you have a job to do. You have food to eat. You have a life to build. You will be tired; get up anyway.
You will be lonely.
This move came at a fortuitous time for me. A lot of people graduate from college and experience real loneliness for the first time–there’s suddenly no one down the hall to watch movies with on Tuesday night. I came to this city with dear friends and have seen them almost every day.
Even with friends, however, this kind of move is hard. Nobody tells you that this upheaval may make you feel low and despondent, or that you may never want to leave your apartment. Nobody tells you that after a few days you may realize that you’re not sick with allergies, but a strange brew of homesickness with no cure but the passage of time.
You will be hungry.
Again with the things nobody tells you: you can’t anticipate even half of the costs that will come your way during the first month of a move to New York. Between apartment costs, food and what it takes to actually use your apartment, you may think that the city has lost a bit of its luster. News flash: it hasn’t. This city shines even when it’s covered in grime and pee runs in the streets like rivers. If you can’t make it past the sacrifices necessary to be here, you may want to look into other options. I’m sure your bedroom at home hasn’t changed much yet.
You will need to buy your own shower curtain…
…and sheets. And bleach. And pillows. And air mattress. Unless you’re moving into a hotel (kudos!), there’s nothing pre–set up where you’re headed. If you’re moving to New York, there are multiple Bed, Bath & Beyonds in the city, an IKEA in Brooklyn, and a Target and a Costco up on 117th St. Hoard those coupons.
(Btw, get an air mattress. This one is $50 and will be way more comfortable than sleeping on the floor while you’re waiting for your bed. Also, get a coffee machine or a French press or something. Even this caffeine addict can’t justify spending $4.50 on a daily coffee unless I’m going to write about it.)
You will understand the subway… one day.
I know; right now, the subway map looks like the ugliest heap of a mess you’ve ever seen. Give it some time, and it will love you. Give those weekend trains a little more time, though. They’re a bit jaded and can be quite nasty. (P.S. The MTA app is a lifesaver for anyone who has trouble finding maps in the stations.)
You will mess up.
Failure is inevitable. Don’t let it get to you–the fact that you have failed today does not make you a failure in perpetuity. Someone once told me that New York doesn’t owe you anything, and that handouts are few and far-between. It’s scary, maybe, but it also means that New York doesn’t care that you’ve screwed up. Did today suck? Try again tomorrow.
You will be fine.
People want to help you. This is not a pile of lies. Anyone that I’ve met and told about this move has either smiled or gaped at me, but both types of people were willing to help me look for contacts and apartments in the city. (Note: this advice does not apply to prospective employers. Do not beg for a job “because you need it.” Go get a job because you can prove that you can do it.)
You will be fine. You will do great. Just give it some time.