Happy Friday! Following on from my Snapchat Q & A last weekend, I thought I’d round up the main questions around New York life and share them in today’s Friday Five. Hopefully this post won’t be as long as my Snapchat story last weekend…
1. How did you find moving on your own and how did you get the courage to do it?
Honestly, thinking back I can’t believe I moved to New York, on my own, with no job, and no place to live. Like, was I absolutely out of my mind? By the time I decided New York was the place for me, I was ready for a change. So many of my friends had travelled or were living in different parts of the world and while I had travelled, I had ever lived away from home really. I’d spent so many years sitting at my desk, staring at a computer while I doing my PhD that by the end of it I was dying for something different. So one day (in a moment of madness/not really knowing the extent of what I was doing) I just booked it and then the freaking out started, but I had it done at that stage and that was it.
I think the fact that I booked my visa and was on the plane 6 weeks later really helped me. I didn’t have much time to think about it. I also had a friend over here (who has sadly gone home since) that I stayed with for a few days when I arrived and honestly I think having that one familiar face over here made all the difference. It made getting on the place that little bit easier and I had someone who had been through exactly what I was about to go through here too, which was fab.
If you are moving away and have even the remotest connection to anyone where you are going, reach out to them. Trust me when I say it’ll make your life so much easier to have that familiar face there for you.
2. Did you find the visa situation difficult?
HELL YES! Visas complicate things… Visas complicate everything! Applying for jobs, trying to get an apartment, just everything. I think the J1 is probably the most difficult of them all because it’s so restricting and most employers don’t have a clue what it is.
I say it’s restricting because there are certain terms and conditions that need to be met for your job and company to be deemed acceptable (that you don’t really know about before you accept a position). My first job over here was rejected because the company didn’t meet the criteria. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have taken that job but I was stressed, scared I guess and just needed a job at the time. I think that’s a major problem with the J1. The sponsors over here don’t realise just how hard it is to get a job on the visa.
It’s hard for a few reasons. First of all employers don’t know what this visa is. They don’t understand it. There’s tax exemptions, a training plan, a potential inspection and a few other things that can be quite confusing. Second of all, employers prefer hiring people who have an American passport or Green Card because they won’t have to spend more money sponsoring a new visa down the line. A J1 is only for a year and realistically by the time you have a job it will be less than year, so your employer will know they are going have to sponsor you if they want you to stay on, and sponsoring someone means spending a lot of $$$. This is of course if sponsorship is an option for you.
I spoke briefly about the importance of timing. I have always so firmly believed timing is everything in life and it’s no different with a visa. If you want to apply for a H1B, the deadline is April 1st, which means you need to start getting your application together in February, so you need to have been in your job a reasonable amount of time before then to prove your worth.
A quick side note, because you’re on a restricting visa some employers think they can take advantage of you and pay you nothing or next to nothing. Don’t let that happen. You will get a job if you can just wait it out.
3. How much money do you need to move to New York?
How long is a piece of string? You can never and probably will never have enough money in New York. On Snapchat I said €5,000 is a good figure and I do think it is, if you aren’t planning on living in Manhattan. If you’re planning on living in Manhattan you’re gonna need a hell of a lot more. You may need to pay a brokers fee and rent is higher which means your deposit will be higher. Some places look for first and last months rent with the deposit, so there is your $5000 gone.
This isn’t so much of a problem if you’re thinking about living in one of the other Boroughs (Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx). Rent is cheaper and broker fees are less or non-existent.
Then there is the fact that you probably won’t start working right away, so you’ll need $$$ to be able to support yourself in those first few weeks.
4. How did you know where to look for an apartment?
I don’t really know how I knew but I had used Craigslist before so I know that existed and Gypsy Housing. I had done a J1 over here one summer too and I knew the Irish Centers over here were a good place to find accommodation, so I followed their Facebook pages, saw a place on The Aisling Center’s page and that was my first apartment.
The Irish Center pages are a great resource and a great start if you’re getting set up.
5. How did you know where to look for a job?
As fate would have it, my aunt was also looking for a job over here at the same time. She was in Ireland a few weeks before I moved over and she told me I should be uploading my resume to every job site going and that I should change my location to New York. So I did just that and in eventually I ended up getting my J1 job without ever applying for it. My boss saw my resume on Indeed, liked the look it and vóila. Sounds easy, but trust me when I saw it wasn’t!!
Some job sites off the top of my head:
Internships.com (it’s late and I’m super tired so I’ll update this if I remember anymore).
Then of course there is LinkedIn, which is a power house un to itself. Make sure your profile is up to date and in top notch condition. Like groups related to the area you want to work. Quite often you’ll see jobs listed there.
So there you go… Some questions that crop up time and time again finally answered in a more public place! There is so many more but these are the main ones I get asked most often. I actually got such great feedback on my Q&A, so I hope you find this post useful too. I do have a bigger ‘Moving to New York’ post in the works, so keep an eye out for that too over the next few weeks.
Have a great weekend,