Tag Archive: moving

New York Is Cheap – Here’s Why

New York is cheap.

I know that sounds insane. New York constantly races San Francisco for the title of Most Expensive City in the U.S.

But it’s not true if you don’t have kids.

The Contrarian View of NYC Costs

Apartment rents are out of control, it’s true. This is no surprise to anyone who lives here. Renting an apartment can mean paying a broker fee totaling 15% of the yearly rent.

But consider all of the expenses a New Yorker simply does not need to have (compared with commuting from, say, New Jersey):

1.) Car payment (let’s be kind and say $300 a month).

2.) Car insurance (about $100 a month).

3.) Gas for the car (about $200 a month).

4.) Daily train commute (about $300 a month).

5.) Parking at the train (about $250 a month).

6.) Car repairs and maintenance (about $100 a month).

We just saved approximately $1250 per month. Now what happens?

Well, if you live in Manhattan in a no-fee studio apartment that costs $2500 a month (feasible even in high-priced neighborhoods), you simply re-allocate that $1250 into your rent. So, you are living the same as someone who pays $1250 a month in rent and commutes to the city. New York is looking better than the suburbs already.

Now let’s say you live in Brooklyn, perhaps in Greenpoint or Boerum Hill or Red Hook, and you pay $1800 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. Now you are living the same as someone who pays $550 a month in rent and commutes to the city.

Keeping the Price Down

Here are 7 major tips for making New York City more affordable:

1.) Rent a no-fee apartment. There are plenty of no-fee apartments, including luxury apartments in Manhattan. Don’t pay a broker fee unless your employer is reimbursing you — it’s 15% of your first year’s rent and is a completely unnecessary expense.

2.) Use StreetEasy. It’s an indispensable tool to research buildings and find real no-fee apartments. If you’re on a budget, check out the Listings Project.

3.) Consider less well-known Brooklyn neighborhoods. Greenpoint and Boerum Hill are much more affordable than Brooklyn Heights. The Upper East Side in Manhattan is also relatively affordable.

4.) Are you okay with roommates? If so, you can save money and probably get a much nicer apartment.

5.) Don’t bring a car. Don’t bring a car. Don’t bring a car.

6.) If at all possible, start your lease in late fall or winter (mid-November through mid-February). You’ll save hundreds of dollars per month on rent for the life of your lease, because rents tend to rise and fall seasonally in NYC. Occasionally there are crazy deals on apartments that become available over the December holidays, because nobody wants to move then.

7.) Conversely, avoid the late spring and summer months (mid-May through mid-September) for a lease start date.

Good luck and enjoy the city!

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The Last Days of Drifting

I wrote this during a long layover at Frankfurt Airport, on my way back from Barcelona to the U.S. in February. When I got home, I gave notice to vacate at my Manhattan apartment and gave away all my stuff, and this crazy adventure began.

At this point, I’m unifying my life, slowly merging my various social media profiles, learning and exploring and creating resources to help other people learn and explore. Looking back at where I was, I give thanks that I’m past that period.

Time in the airport spirals. It spirals in a haze of pleasant white light (in the business lounge) or harsh fluorescence (in the walkways) and becomes endless. I read half of a book (Nail It Then Scale It). I jot down ideas for iterating on a project. I get more tea. Then water. Then tea. Back and forth to the counter, aimless, sliding seamlessly on Lufthansa’s predefined paths. 

I’m bored. I thought a seven-hour layover was a good idea. 

I do like long layovers in a strange, undefined way. They are the fuzzy part of a trip. The pit of potential productivity. I could create something great here, in the airport lounge. I could write something, plan a new feature, get a new idea, implement new code, or just do nothing. Tea. More tea. Back and forth. 

Mostly people don’t talk to each other in the business lounge. I find I’m more productive, because I’m not constantly seeking the next conversation. I meet people on planes all the time, because we are stuck there and the proximity favors talking, at least before we fall asleep or tune each other out with headphones.

I imagine being stuck for days or weeks, walking endlessly from terminal A to Z in simulated comfort, buying boxes of Niederegger marzipan because it is the best thing in the airport. Washing it down with Courvoisier. Yuck. Or water, sold with a smile. Guten tag, Hola, Hello, Hallo, it all sounds the same. The food is better in Europe. 

The guy behind me left. That’s good, because I was uncomfortable writing with him there, felt that he was peering over my shoulder even though of course he was not. Airport privacy is transparent, artificial. We are each perfectly alone and completely seen. I am sure there are cameras in the ceiling. 

I wonder who is doing actual productive work here and who is aimlessly browsing the Internet or reading a book for pleasure or just staring into space. Staring into space is actually a good disguise for productive work, happening behind the scenes. 

Right now my life is in fragments. I am not on Facebook. I alternate between relief to have avoided drama, and wishing for a presence so I wouldn’t need to start a blog to post thoughts. I want to unify my social media presence, so my life is seamless and I can share what I want when I want with who I want. I have my LinkedIn persona and a new G+ page, a blog on organic food and general wellness, and a site for organizing MOOCs and online learning resources. I have a dormant site for people who want to move cities. 

I really want to unify my life, not my social media presence.

The airport is buzzing quietly with the noise of suitcase wheels and heels. People coming and going, in between. 

Day 8: Leaving Home Again, New Goals

I left Brooklyn yesterday. Took my three bags to the subway, got on the A train, sat down while stations whisked past. I struggled with my bags, impractical and heavy, and realized: Three bags is still too many. Even after a giant clear-out, my stuff still drags on me. Lighter is better, in all things.

I thought about how easy it was to leave New York, after six years of living here. I didn’t feel any ties, no, “I’m moving now” signs flashed in my head. Just the same subway stations brushing past as blurs. I’ll be back in a few weeks, then gone, then back. I won’t be buying souvenirs while traveling, since I have no stuff. Instead I’ll bring back experiences, new motivation, and refined goals.

Tomorrow I fly to San Francisco. I’m bringing one small backpack and a shoulder bag, which should get me through the week. I don’t think I could travel so light for a month-long stay, but I do see the appeal of switching to a much smaller rolling suitcase. The one I have now is a carry-on that always seems an inch too large for the aisle on the plane. And I think I should have two bags, not three — even for longer stays.

Major goals for this week are: 1.) Network and meet new and old friends; 2.) Work on my flashcard app at least a little; and 3.) Have fun and learn new things!