By the time this is published, I will be a graduate of NYU.

Now begs the question every twenty-something year old is scared to answer: What do I do after college?

How about starting with this Millennials Guide to Moving to NYC?

Once you read through it, you’ll start to think about your next move.

The usual answers come to mind: Find a job.  Earn a steady income.  Look for a new roommate; my current one is moving back home after graduation.  And finally, actually become a real adult.

Right now, I only have one of those things figured out—a friend is moving back to the city after spending a year abroad in Shanghai, so my roommate situation is figured out. For the first time in my three years in New York, after putting up with strict dorm rules, the worst super of all supers at my first apartment, couch surfing, and a strange and uncomfortable sublet, I found an apartment where I would actually be willing to renew my lease—a sign that I’ve finally mastered the NYC real estate scene.

I’m not so much a master at everything else.  I feel like I’ve done the “millennial” thing a little wrong. Wasn’t I supposed to go to college somewhere else, get a summer internship in Manhattan between my sophomore and junior years, fall in love with the fast-paced lifestyle of the city, and relocate to an apartment in Murray Hill after multiple Skype interviews and a job offer?

Instead, after moving here as a naïve Californian, I’m now an old hat to NYC.  I already roll my eyes at tourists who walk too slowly, don’t bother looking up from my book when the C train stalls, and have established a friendly repartee with the staff at my morning coffee spot.  Now, I have some words of wisdom to share with you about my adopted home, from one millennial to another:

1. Don’t take New York City for granted.

If you asked me for things to do when you first get to New York, my list would be almost endless: walk on the High Line, get drunk off mimosas at Sunday brunch, camp on the sidewalk for tickets to SNL, eat at as many food booths as possible at Smorgasburg… These are all things I’ve done myself, but not in a really long time. Now I get too swept up in my day-to-day routine—work, class, internship, a quick lunch with friends if I can find the time—and forget that I’m in the greatest city in the world. Slow-walking tourists can get annoying, sure, but sometimes I feel like they’re experiencing more than I am. Don’t let that happen to you.

2. Go with the flow, man.

This may be my California talking, but New York moves fast, and it can be hard to keep up at times. I came to this city with a full plan: go to college, graduate, get a job immediately. Though I cherish the knowledge and experiences I gained from NYU, some of my best opportunities have popped up from places I never would have expected: working at a restaurant in the Lower East Side has graced me with a second family and a sense of monetary security I never would have imagined, and accepting a weekend receptionist position at a boutique real estate agency got me this great blog writing gig. If I had stuck to the narrow goals set by my 19-year-old self, you probably wouldn’t be reading this now.

3. You can’t be a real New Yorker if you’re not willing to work.

I realized something my first year here: this city will eat you alive if you let it. The reputation that New Yorkers have as tough, uncaring people isn’t because we’re not nice—contrary to popular belief, I can smile at a person I walk by and have them smile back at me, and whenever I’m lugging a suitcase through Penn Station, someone always stops to help me carry it up and down stairs. The hardness that characterizes a New Yorker is resiliency: the ability to bounce back after hardship time and time again. This is a city of start-ups and comebacks, and a true New Yorker is no stranger to failure. Fall down, stand up, dust off, and try again.

Maybe you’re moving to New York with everything figured out. Maybe you’re moving to New York with nothing figured out.

Either way, this city will move, shape, and change you.  It’ll help you grow into a better person—I know it did for me.

Is it your first time moving to NYC? Start your search with this guide.

Learn about the neighborhoods, apartments, and how to qualify for a New York apartment.
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