Lifestyle, NYC Life

Apartments, Money & Jobs: Tips For Anyone Coming To NYC on A J-1

One of the most asked questions on my Snapchat (StephanieOQ) and Instagram account is about coming to NYC after or during college and it’s so hard to answer then and there because there is so much you should know!

I’ve outlined some of the main factors that I’ve learned along the way and feel could be helpful to anyone making the big move!

Accommodation

It’s impossible to get an apartment until you land in NYC. Unless you’re willing to give over $2,000 deposit (a month’s rent plus a deposit) to someone you have never met.

The way it works, unless you’re spending thousands with a realtor, is you either a) sign a lease or b) become a subletter – the more handy option.

What is a subletter?

Someone who rents a room off the tenant and isn’t on the lease. It’s perfectly legal and means you’re not committed to a set period of time unless you have agreed to stay for a certain period between yourself and your roommate. If you leave without advanced notice,  you lose your deposit.

How do you find a room to sublet?

The best groups are called Gypsy Housing on Facebook. Either request to become a member or ask someone to add you in. Other websites are called Renthop.com and SpareRoom.com You literally have to be ready to view these apartments within the drop of a hat, apartments (especially the good ones) can get taken within a few hours.

How do you avoid being scammed?

It’s hard and I’ve read so many horror stories. Here are some tips I’ve picked up:

  • When you view the apartment, you should have a good gauge of a person and ask tons of questions about what they do, etc.
  • It’s not uncommon for you to ask for their I.D (especially when handing over a deposit and a months rent), they might do the same to you.
  • Ask how soon can you have the keys after you give the deposit (and make sure the key works in the door!), and try and talk to the current roommates that live there also.
  • It sounds silly, but you can tell a lot from social media profiles!
  • When you view the apartment, you should have a good gauge of a person and ask tons of questions about what they do, etc. It’s not uncommon for you to ask for their I.D (especially when handing over a deposit and a months rent), they might do the same to you. Ask how soon can you have the keys after you give the deposit (and make sure the key works in the door!), and try and talk to the current roommates that live there also.
  • It’s not uncommon for you to ask for their I.D (especially when handing over a deposit and a months rent), they might do the same to you. Ask how soon can you have the keys after you give the deposit (and make sure the key works in the door!), and try and talk to the current roommates that live there also.
  • Ask how soon can you have the keys after you give the deposit (and make sure the key works in the door!), and try and talk to the current roommates that live there also.
  • Ask for a receipt of the money, if you do give a deposit and have them sign it.
  • Make sure the person you are subletting from has the written consent of the landlord to sublease all or part of the premises.

How hard is it to find a place to live?

Yes, for all the following reasons:

  • You may find a place to live in, but you could only be allowed to stay for 6,7,8 months at a time meaning you’ll have to shift again really soon.
  • There will always be something you have to compromise on. For example, I am on a 1-flight walk-up in the middle of Chelsea/Meatpacking, but my apartment is small (albeit expensive) Whether it’s the 6-flight walk-up or no window or whatever it is but there will always be something!

Any more tips?

Typically, people move out before the 1st and 15th of each month so this would be the dates you would be moving in – I don’t know why haha! Ask for everyone living there to sit down and sign an agreement that is fair. For example, a rota of cleaning duties and what dates the rent is due.

Money

How much money do you need?

When you get a place to stay, you will likely owe a deposit and the first month’s rent. Sometimes this can include two months rent which could bring you up to around $3500 cash needed to secure the place. Finding somewhere to live is the second biggest hurdle (a job is the first) and this should be a priority once you land on US soil.

Money for food, transport?

You can read my blog post on ‘How Much Does It Cost To Live In NYC?’ to gauge what you’re up against for things like coffee, lunch, and drinks out.

Additionally, having a job is a big impact on actually having money. When you land in NYC without a job, and are up against an incredibly competitive market, you may be a while waiting on money to come in (the quickest I’ve heard a J-1’er getting a job is 4 months) and so you will need to ensure you are covered to actually live.

Jobs

How hard is it to find a job? 

Very. The European American Chamber of Commerce named NYC the “Most Competitive City In The World”  8.6 million people live in New York City alone, can you imagine how many of them come here to ‘make their dreams come true’. I’ve seen people leave the city after a few months because they can’t get a job. The biggest lesson I’ve learned here is that if you don’t step up, someone will step on you. So yeah, it’s hard.

Where do you find job postings?

The places I found most useful were

  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • Glassdoor
  • MediaBistro
  • Company websites

Any tips for interviews?

  • Preparation is key: Know what type and size of the company you are going into. Read all the Glassdoor reviews so you’re prepped in every way possible.
  • Take all interviews: Never believe what you read online about a company or what the job description tells you. It’s all amazing practice and oftentimes, they have multiple openings, not just the one you’re interviewing for.
  • Follow-up asap: They always expect a follow-up note. I helped an old co-worker of mine write a hand-written note to each person she spoke to in the job she interviewed for. She got the job.
  • Questions, questions, questions: I was told from an interview that I wouldn’t be moving on to the next round because “I didn’t ask enough questions.”

So I believe that is all the essentials and definitely the stuff I was freaking out about before I came here. I hope you all find it helpful or even just interesting. XO

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