Living and Working in New York City

Todd Smith, '95 | Steven Mattus, '92 | Roberta Parmegiani, '92

Todd Smith '95

I have lived and worked in New York City for over 5 years. I have lived in many neighborhoods in Manhattan, on Long Island for a while, and am currently in Brooklyn Heights in Brooklyn. I have gotten to know the city pretty well and absolutely love it here!

My major at Geneseo was Mathematics and Secondary Education. Upon graduation, I moved to Nashville, TN and stayed there for a few years working in Social Services and at Vanderbilt University. I moved to NYC to get my Master’s degree at New York University and have worked there ever since in Student Affairs. For me, NYC offers everything I want, right at my fingertips!

Neighborhoods, Boroughs, and Outer Areas:

One of the first decisions to make when moving to NYC is where to live! Many people decide only to look in Manhattan, particularly if that is where they will be working. Manhattan is a great place and has many great neighborhoods in which to live. Each neighborhood is quite unique and has a flavor all its own. Also, you can find better deals on rent and space in some of the ‘less popular’ neighborhoods, although that is less common than in the past, as many parts of Manhattan have been revitalized and many neighborhoods have received a face lift in recent years. While Manhattan does have its appeal, it is very expensive. In the five years that I have lived here, many more young people have moved out of Manhattan and into the boroughs. The other four boroughs are Staten Island, the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn. Staten Island and the Bronx and probably the cheapest boroughs to live in, but they are also the furthest from most parts of Manhattan. There are several great neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn that are less than 30 minutes from many areas in Manhattan. A 30 minute commute to work is probably considered quite standard and shouldn’t necessarily be frowned upon when looking for a place to live — in fact, many people probably consider that to be a short commute. In the outer boroughs, you can generally get more space for less money — always a great thing! New Jersey also offers some nice places to live within a short distance from the city. Hoboken, NJ is particularly popular among young professionals and offers many restaurants and a busy nightlife. Hoboken is a mere 10 minutes from Manhattan on the Path Train, a subway from Manhattan to New Jersey. Long Island is also an option and the Long Island Railroad can take you to most towns on the Island. However, this will generally require a significantly longer commute as well. In summary, be willing to look outside of Manhattan. Take some time to venture out a little bit and see what some other areas offer — not only might you save some cash, but some of these areas are really cool to live in!

Career Fields and Looking for a Job:

There are jobs in nearly every field in New York City. There are also some very unique jobs — be open to some of the ways in which you may be able to use your degree, your interests, and your skills. When looking for a job, look for ads in the many newspapers that exist, but also use on-line resources. Don’t underestimate the power of networking! If you know of someone who works in a certain field that you are interested in, ask them if there are any available jobs that they know of. Ask them to ask their friends, too. Word of mouth is often the most successful way to land an interview. Even if your friend works in an unrelated field, ask them who they might know — you’d be surprised how quickly one thing might lead to another.

Housing:

Finding a place to live in New York City can sometimes be harder than finding a job!! It can definitely be a daunting task, but stick with it — your place is waiting for you somewhere! Here are some tips and a couple of things to expect. Roommates — most young professionals have at least one! Sharing apartments is pretty common even with people you don’t already know. If you take an apartment with a stranger, have an interview with them and think about the issues you’ll want discussed. One of the strangest things about apartment searching here is the presence of real estate brokers. A broker is a person who helps you find an apartment but then charges you for their services. In general, brokers charge about 10-15% of your annual rent. This is usually a sum you have to pay once you take the apartment — you shouldn’t pay anything before that point. Some people are lucky to find an apartment without a broker. However, many apartments are only listed with a broker and brokers can also speed up the process for you. When using a broker, you may find an apartment rather quickly, without one the process may take much, much longer although you may save some money. Remember too, that apartments are pretty small in the city. Be sure to see several apartments before you take one so you have a sense of what you should be getting for your money, but don’t be shocked at the small size. One more tip — after you’ve done some searching be prepared to take an apartment as soon as you look at it. Many times if you take some time to think about it, the next person will take it before you get a chance. It is not unusual to put a deposit on a place as soon as you see it. It’s a tight market here and apartments are snatched up right away. There are many apartment-searching resources on-line now — check those out as well. Ask people you know here if they know of anything — word of mouth works, too. Get all the neighborhood newspapers. You definitely need to be able to invest some time in finding the right place for you but in the end, you’ll be glad you did!

Transportation:

In general, it’s not necessary to have a car here. The expenses of parking and insurance can add up, plus it’s pretty easy to get around without one. Subways and buses can take you nearly everywhere you want to go. Plus, there are taxi cabs as well. If you will be using the subway on a daily basis, it’s a good idea to get an unlimited 30-day card, which costs only $63. When you first arrive in the city, purchase a really good map! It will be a lifesaver at times and will save much confusion and time. The subways are pretty easy to figure out and are quite safe as well.

Cost of Living and Income:

Of course, the cost of living in NYC is high. Hopefully, you’ll be making a salary you are happy with in NYC. Do remember that the high cost of living means that what might be a lot of money somewhere else isn’t quite as much here. Some people do find a second job to have some extra cash, and there are plenty of jobs available here. When figuring out what your paycheck may be, don’t forget that along with state and federal taxes, there is a NYC tax as well. Rent is high and groceries cost more than in other areas. You can however, get by on a budget. There are plenty of great cheap places to eat and there are always lots of free concerts, cultural events, and other fun stuff going on — particularly during the summer. If you decide not to have a car, you will not have the bills that your friends in other areas have. In any case, plan out your budget when thinking about moving to NYC and be sure you can make ends meet.

Culture & Nightlife:

There is so much to do and see in New York City. I always advise to use all that the city has to offer. Go to cultural events. Check out different neighborhoods. One of the best guides to help you find out what’s going on is the magazine Time Out NY. It’s a weekly magazine that lists all that’s happening in film, theatre, dining, shopping, art, museums, nightlife — and it lists lots of FREE stuff, too! There are many other magazines and newspapers of interest to certain populations as well including various communities of color and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities - check out the ones that interest you. New York City is a very open and accepting place with a lot going on. There are many opportunities to check out various cultural celebrations that take place throughout the year. Nightlife is one of the things NYC is known for. There are countless bars and clubs, lounges and cafes, cozy music venues and concert halls. Finding what interests you most can also help you find community and friends. New Yorkers are not as rude as often thought to be. Many people may be in a hurry and don’t have time to be personable, but aren’t necessarily rude. The culture of the city is fascinating and can be a lot of fun to observe — and be a part of!

Weather:

The weather here is quite different from most of upstate New York. We get very little snow in the winter and it is generally not as cold in the winter months. Summers are generally quite humid and temperatures can remain in the 90s for several weeks at times. Air conditioning is usually a wise investment. Although we are in the same state as Geneseo, the weather really doesn’t compare!

Summary:

New York City is a wonderful place and it is often said that there is something for everyone here. It can be hard to meet people at times, so it can be a good idea to get involved in something you’re interested in, outside of your job. It’s a big city so it’s important to scale it down a little. Find your community — whether it’s at work, in your neighborhood, your building, or with a group you identify with. It can be hard to be in such an anonymous and large place - if you make part of it your own, you’ll be much happier!

New York is a culturally-rich and fun city, but is certainly not for everyone. It’s important to check out the city before you decide to move here. Think about what you would like about it, but also what you might find difficult — how will you deal with those difficult aspects? It can also take a little while to get situated and settled here. But once at that point, many people love it and would never leave! Good luck and I hope you love it here as much as I do!

Steven Mattus, '92

Name: Steven Mattus

Major/Year of Graduation: Economics / 1992

Current Employer: Credit Suisse First Boston

Job Title/Years in position: Branch Administrative Manager, Private Client Services

Job Description: Responsible for supervision and compliance for high net worth private wealth management sales office with 100 salespeople and $100 million in annual revenues.

What are the most rewarding aspects of living in New York City? New York has an energy that is impossible to find anywhere else. It is also full of opportunities career-wise, entertainment-wise, and culturally.

What are the most challenging aspects of living in New York City? Cost!! But remember, you don't need a car here (and all of the expenses that come with owning a car).

What is the current job climate for candidates in your career field? Tough right now because Wall Street is in the midst of a 3-year slump. During the boom (or any period of rising markets) job opportunities are far more plentiful.

What suggestions do you have for a Geneseo graduate wishing to live and work in NYC?

Find friends or family to live with and find an entry-level job in the field of your choice doing anything just to get your foot in the door. Then, do anything you can to learn and improve your credentials.

Roberta Parmegiani, '92

Name: Roberta Parmegiani

Major/Year of Graduation: Communication/ 1992

Current Employer: Starbucks

Job Title/Years in position: Regional Sales Manager, 1 year

Job Description: Secure meetings with major grocery chains and convenience stores.

What are the most rewarding aspects of living in New York City?

No 2 days are ever the same; the convenience of being able to walk out your door and go to the drug store, dry cleaners, etc.; great people, restaurants, culture, shopping, etc.

What are the most challenging aspects of living in New York City?

It's very expensive, there's a lot of traffic, and it can be a lonely place if you don't have a social network already in place; on the other hand, if you're resourceful, there are so many ways to meet people here.

What is the current job climate for candidates in your career field?

Similar to most cities, I think it's difficult to find a job.

What suggestions do you have for a Geneseo graduate wishing to live and work in NYC?

Don't be naïve about moving here; it's best to do your homework before moving to a big city. I suggest doing it with someone else or at least having a friend here.