A.K.A The ‘Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of’
Well that was quite literally the case for me. The first time I visited New York was one Christmas a few years ago. It had been six months in the planning; Christmas Day at Maddison Square Garden to watch Bulls v Knicks, dinner at The Four Seasons and various other restaurants plus VIP tickets for NYE at Jay Z’s club. Lil Wayne had just been let out of prison and was at Times Square – it was all very exciting (ha!). It wasn’t the glitz and glamour that drew me to my decision to try to move there though but the atmosphere, the people and the culture. It was then I decided, I had to move to New York alone and get a job.
At the time I was working at Hearst. It’s a company in London that publishes magazines and websites like Cosmopolitan, Harpers BAZAAR and Mens Health etc. During my time there, I was lucky enough to go visit the NYC office where I begged anyone and everyone (including the Publisher of Oprah magazine after fainting on her) for a transfer. Alas, no joy.
Six months later
Through my job in the UK I was again given the opportunity to travel to NY and have a couple of days working at the Hearst office for a second time. For those who don’t know (or those who haven’t seen E!’s So Cosmo), it’s where they filmed ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic!’ and the building is phenomenal.
Both times it became evidently clear that a transfer to the NYC office wasn’t going to be easy. So difficult in fact that I actually gave up on the idea of a transfer and started to seriously consider other employment options.
Things had ended with my then boyfriend and the contract was due to close on my rented accommodation in London and I needed new stimulation. What better way to notch it up a gear than to move to the capital city of the world? Sadly, what I learned is that without a residence permit (Green Card) or a visa granted by the government of the United States it seemed almost impossible to be able to get a job and stay in New York legally. Cue a gruelling four month effort of trying to find employment or discovering a way of being able to move without working for a short while.
A Green Card
I needed a Green Card. It was a logistical nightmare for firms to recruit from outside of the US (true story) so I needed to find a way of getting a (notoriously difficult to come by) Permanent Residence Visa. Also known as a Green Card, essentially it entitles the holder to live and work anywhere in the US on a permanent basis rather than just being granted 3-6 months access without work.
Applications and granted permission is usually based on:
- Employment in the US (where the employer ‘sponsors’ the application)
- Family ties (including marriage to a US citizen)
- Possessing professional qualifications, skills or specialities which are in demand in the US
- Investing in US business
- Through winning one of 50,000 immigrant visa places distributed by lottery each year to applicants born in certain countries (yes, the ‘Green Card Lottery’ is a real thing!)
When I first moved to London, someone told me to multiply my monthly rent by 45 and if that equates to my yearly salary then I can afford it. In London, on average it’s £950 a month for one room in a house share – this is roughly the same as NYC so the same rule applies.
- Health Insurance
In the US there’s no NHS. Healthcare is paid for. I’m fortunate to have BUPA cover in the UK so it didn’t make a huge difference to me as I already pay for private healthcare but it’s worth bearing in mind if you don’t currently spend on this.
As insane as it sounds, I’ve seen apartments in NYC with no kitchen. Instead, it’s converted wardrobe space or a shoe rack (come on, flats are tiny here). Eating out and socialising is a huge deal in NYC so expect to pay for frequent eating out. Obviously this is negotiable, you don’t have to eat out but why not embrace the culture?
My travel card is around £200 a month which is roughly the same as the subway in NY. Taxis however are so much cheaper in the US. It’s important to also budget for coming back to the UK in emergencies.
I was single and so drawn to their dating etiquette. The dating game is all about numbers and not being exclusive. During my work visit, I met girls who dated twice in one day (brunch and evening drinks). The appeal was massive. If you’re single, bear this in mind.
My Dream Now
When my NYC dream became difficult, I stayed in London for a little while and eventually met Daniel my now husband-to-be and future father of our baby. Around the time I met him, not many people know that I actually contemplated going travelling with my two best friends Laura and Jo (who four years later are still away, now in Australia). While things have changed (for instance owning a home near Dan’s family has made London pretty permanent) and we’re now expecting a baby in September, deep down I know that one day my NYC dream will be a reality. I appreciate that life is long and I’m still so young with so much to look forward to so whilst it’s not feasible right now, here’s hoping that at some point Sassy In The City (and LittleInTheCity.com) may be brought to you (even very briefly) from New York!