Guest Blog by ELP Student Ankur Somani – Business Administration – Ross School of Business – Class of 2020
New York City is a melting pot like none other. The city that never sleeps brings together nearly 8.5 million people within an area that covers barely 300 square miles in area. Boasting unrivaled theatrical performances, numerous fashion districts, and bold American heritage, the city offers something for nearly everyone who pays it a visit.
But visiting a place is far different from calling it home…especially if the place is New York City. The very idea of moving into the “concrete jungle” may seem intimidating at first, even if for just a short period of time. And why shouldn’t it be? Hop on Airbnb and click through an endless list of broom closet-turned-bedrooms going for $5,000 a month. Or take a shot at navigating the city’s underground labyrinth of subways not too long before finding yourself in a part of New York you definitely don’t want to be in.
For first timers, these problems introduce only the start of many regrets and embarrassing “uh oh” moments. With just a year of college under my belt, moving to the city for a summer internship certainly had its fair share of challenges. That is something I can attest to. But now, with three weeks of hard-pressed experience, I can definitely say that taking on the cornerstone of the world isn’t as daunting as it once was. Here are a few things to keep in mind and look out for as you make your transition into the city that never sleeps.
Take a physical or mental map of the subways with you.
NYC subways will either make (a) travelling through the city easy or (b) you absolutely lose your mind. Make it a habit to always carry a copy of the different city routes or, at the bare minimum, plan your trip in advance, keeping in mind exactly where you want to get on and off at. Oh yeah, and don’t plan on using Google Maps. GPS doesn’t work too well underground.
Give the food trucks a shot
NYC is any foodie’s dream come true. But throwing on your one-off three-piece bespoke suit for Michelin-Starred restaurants can get a bit repetitive, not to mention expensive. To really get a taste of what NYC has to offer, try the unassuming food trucks scattered across the city. Mediterranean, Greek, American, Chinese, Indian, Mexican – you won’t be short of options.
Find housing IN the city without paying an arm and a leg
Living expenses in NYC easily trump most other cities nationwide, many times even globally. That’s why when you’re out apartment hunting, remember to look sooner than later and through nontraditional sources. It’s a good idea to begin looking at least 2-3 weeks in advance of your move in date. Also, try using sites and services not commonly used. Many times, people will advertise unbelievably low prices on safe and reliable sites such as Facebook housing groups and Airbnb.
…But at the same time, manage your money wisely
Living in the city without consideration for expenses can be the fastest way to break the bank. Use budgeting apps such as Mint and BillGuard to track your spending habits and avoid a fat $9,843,728,532 invoice for the last time you street-parked for 30 seconds.
You’ll be walking a lot, so stay hydrated
My first day of walking in the city ended with me logging 7.7 miles. While lost in the hustle and bustle of the city, it becomes easy to forget how much exercise you’re getting. With any type of physical activity, remember to stay hydrated by taking a few sips every so often and keeping a water bottle handy. Use a refillable one with indicator lines to know how much you need to drink and when it’s time to fill up.
Make a list of “must-sees” and plan ahead
Working in NYC can be a constant grind, sometimes to the point where weekdays start blending into each other. For this reason, remember to make your weekends absolutely worth the hustle. Attend a show on Broadway or take a ferry to Liberty Island. Regardless of what you do, even if it’s just window shopping in Times Square, plan ahead for ticket prices, block-out dates, and what sort of a crowd expectations.
Remember your Humans of New York story!
It could be while you’re standing in line for ice cream, leaving the office after a long day of work, or falling asleep in Central Park. Brandon Stanton approaches you with a camera and a notepad, and you say…
While you can take precautions and keep a list of things to be aware of when first moving to the city, mistakes will happen. You will try to go uptown by going downtown or, in my case, take a picture with Spiderman and five Clone Troopers in Times Square for a stupid amount of money. It’s all a part of the learning curve to becoming a seasoned New Yorker.