I don’t recommend this to anyone, but someone asked about my famous …..”How I moved to NYC with no money” story, and well….here it is.
In the Summer of 2010 I was working at a theme park, singing and dancing in a country music show. I was basically living paycheck to paycheck (because of my bad money habits and you know…actors make next to nothing) so when we all got laid off, I was unexpectedly left without a job and no savings. I moved back in with my parents in Alabama because I couldn’t pay rent on the room I was renting at the time, and it was in general just a very humbling experience. The only job I could find, in any industry was a part-time gig at the Bath and Body Works.
I was also on unemployment, which was helpful, but the amount was laughable and after about 2 1/2 months of that I was severely depressed. Think quarter life crisis on steroids, no job prospects, no housing, I was single and it felt like there was no end in sight and I didn’t know if I had the patience to wait for the economy to recover or for something to “happen” to me. I wanted to take charge of my destiny, but I was scared. Moving to New York was something I always wanted to do, and finally after listening to me cry for the 1000th time my bestie, Tacky Jackie said to me, “Why don’t you just move to New York? There are tons of jobs here.” And that got my mind racing. The only thing holding me back was…my wallet…and my own fear of the unknown.
I Had a Back-Up Plan
Yes, moving up there was a hasty decision. But with any big decision, you always need an escape door or back-up plan. I strategically decided to move in the middle of October. I knew my parents would pay for me a ticket to come home for Thanksgiving. So, if I didn’t have a job by Thanksgiving I could call it quits and come home. Things didn’t work out that way, but I felt braver being able to say, “yes, I can come home if it doesn’t work out.”
I Bartered Services and Saved
I organized my Mom’s garage in exchange for my ticket up there. I squirreled away my scant earnings for six weeks and then headed to the Big Apple.
I Tracked My Spending
I did temp. But it took me about two weeks to get sent on gigs and finally paid for them. Based on my savings, I only gave myself about ten dollars to eat off of each day. So,I ate a lot of honey buns and Frito’s from the bodega around the corner to stay on budget. Walking everywhere helped keep the weight off from my poor diet. If I had an interview I would treat myself to Subway or Chinese food. This was probably the poorest I was in my life, and yet the best I was with money…probably ever. Even now.
I Got By With a Little Help From my Friends
Jackie was already in New York working, and a few of my other friends from summer programs and college had migrated that way as well. I had a semi-close relationship with my four people, and a handful of other acquaintances. So that helped, because I stayed on their couches, which is apparently the norm in NYC, but I couldn’t have done any of what I accomplished in NYC without the help from my friends who graciously let me live with them while I “got on my feet”. It took me almost 3 months before I could afford to move into an apartment of my own, because I moved up there with so little.
It was really uncomfortable sleeping on a futon for 3 months and living with strangers. But you know what I got in return? Some awesome friends who are going to share my wedding day with me in May, that’s what! Sometimes from discomfort grows the most amazing things. Those of us who lived at 106 Convent are bonded for life.
Moving far away from home on your own is hard. Moving far away from home without any money or contacts is fucking misery. It turned out alright, but I don’t recommend it to anyone. Make a plan, save your pennies, and do things the right way. It’ll be a much easier transition, but for those who are contemplating a big move AND have the money to make it happen? Well, you’re just being a big baby. Get out there and live a little!
New York didn’t work out for me, but I know I wouldn’t have the things in my life that I have now if I never had moved there. Not only did I return home richer than we I went financially, but I also came back with friendships, memories, and hard earned wisdom. Which, in itself, is priceless. The best part of having moved up there is being able to say that I did do it, and that I can sleep at night not having any regrets. I fulfilled a lifelong dream, lived it, and came home. The end.
It’s a short and sweet lesson on the site today, but it just goes to show you that with a little grit anything is possible.